How To Decorate The Perfect Gender Neutral Nursery

According to Motherly, many families choose to wait until their baby's birth to discover the child's sex for many reasons. Some might want to build anticipation and excitement around the birth of their child, others might have concerns that the sonographer could be wrong, and some simply want to buck the trend of gender reveals and have friends and family wait just a little bit longer for the news. However, even if you do not wait to find out the sex of your child, creating a gender-neutral nursery can be fun and chic.

This is because when a person announces they are pregnant with a child of a certain sex, that child begins to experience gender socialization well before birth (via UNICEF). Even if the statements made are positive, members of the community begin to place different values, judgments, and expectations upon the baby according to its gender. Parents may choose to create a more gender neutral nursery to mitigate some of these effects on their children. However, some parents may choose the design option simply because it fits more with their personal style, while others might want to have more children and reuse the space for each of them. Whatever the reason, a gender neutral nursery is a great addition to any home.

Focus on a nursery theme instead of gender

Some parents interested in putting together a gender neutral nursery might be overwhelmed by where to start. This is because once you break out of the more traditional pink and blue mold, the sheer number of potential options is very large and can be overwhelming. A great way to get around this choice paralysis and get a head start on the design process is to focus on the theme you would like for your nursery instead of the potential gender of your baby.

That is, instead of choosing things commonly associated with either boys or girls — like sports teams or princesses — pick a nursery theme like farm animals, ocean life, or even forest scenes. These are great options since they typically have less association with a particular gender, per Readesh. If you don't want to choose a theme, go with a color palette instead to help narrow things down. Once you have your theme decided, you'll find that the rest of the nursery designing and decorating process is a lot more straightforward.

Focus on color combinations, rather than just pink or blue

When designing a gender-neutral nursery, the first thing you need to do is to break out of the classic "blue is for boys" and "pink is for girls" binary that has gripped nursery design since the mid-19th century. In fact, before this, pink was considered a strong color for little boys to wear. It was also fashionable for them to wear dresses until age six or seven, per Encyclopedia Britannica. Nowadays, couples can choose to have fun with their favorite colors instead of sticking to the gender binary.

In the past, those wishing for a gender neutral alternative to pink and blue only really had green and yellow as options (via Galaxy Draperies). However, things are a bit different now and couples are encouraged to explore other options like bright whites, warm browns and tans, and cozy grays (via Top Dreamer). Even better, since the nursery is every bit for the parents' comfort and enjoyment as the child's, consider painting the nursery your favorite color instead.

Combine fun patterns to create a unified look

While spaces designed for adults tend to be more muted and unified, when creating a space for your new arrival, it's totally okay to go a bit overboard and make something bolder than you might for other areas of the house. By mixing and matching textures and designs throughout the nursery, you can create a bright, upbeat space that's perfect for your baby, according to The Spruce.

Successfully mixing patterns can be tricky to do correctly, however. First, always pick a main pattern to bring unity to the space (via Nursery Design Studio). Without a dominant print, things can quickly become scattered and overwhelming. Then, when considering the additional two to three patterns you'll add to the room, consider their composition. Are they tightly wound, like a floral design, or looser, like large shapes? Prints that are too similar to each other might end up visually clashing. Finally, you might consider working with patterns within a similar color scheme for a sleek, monochromatic look.

Set the mood with bold design elements

A gender neutral nursery is a perfect place to think outside the box and let your creativity flow. Whether you want a playful atmosphere or a calming aura around your baby, you can set the tone by using bold wallpaper, fabrics, and decorations. If the rest of the nursery is a bright, cheerful white, consider adding pops of color with bright bed linens and curtains or a vibrantly painted crib. Another way to spice things up is by including some greenery, whether it be a solid succulent or your favorite fresh flowers, per Homes & Gardens.

A bold design element that might not work well outside of a nursery is fun wallpaper. Many interior designers might consider brightly colored and patterned wallpaper a bit busy, so if it's your taste, adding it to your nursery is the perfect way to incorporate the bold look into your home. However, keep in mind that bold design elements like this are best supported by more neutral accents.

Stick with natural materials for major furniture pieces

Keeping the baby safe from all harm is the number one priority in any nursery. To this end, knowing the materials of most items in the room is very important. You want to avoid materials that might contain certain toxins and gases. According to The Gentle Nursery, natural furniture is non-toxic and creates a solid base for a gender neutral nursery. When selecting items, keep an eye out for things like toxic glues, veneers, and even formaldehyde. This is one of the reasons that solid wood furniture is such a great choice for the nursery, as it's normally a bit safer (via Simply Nursery).

If you decide to paint any furniture, only select paint with low VOC. VOC is short for "volatile organic compound." It is a part of the paint's makeup that can become airborne and is harmful when breathed in. Fortunately, the compound is easy to spot and can be avoided by choosing paint with a low VOC or no VOC label.

Fun rugs can make a bold statement

A bold rug is a perfect addition to any gender neutral nursery, as it can add both comfort and visual spice to the space, according to New York Magazine. Since a nursery is likely to be a high-traffic room, it's best to consider a rug that is easily washable and can hide dirt well. Rugs with bright colors and fun patterns work very well, as the stains tend to start looking like part of the pattern after a while. You might be tempted to purchase a beautiful, expensive rug for the room, but because of the nature of a nursery, it might only get the chance to look great for a week or two before it becomes soiled.

According to Love & Lavender, the size of the rug you choose can also have a large impact on the room you are decorating. If you anticipate needing to wash it often, a smaller woolen rug will do just fine. However, if the nursery floor is wooden or tiled, a larger rug should cover most of the floor and end just below the feet of the largest furniture pieces, thus anchoring them.

Use heirlooms to surround your baby with love

No matter the baby's gender, they will be loved by all who know them. Consider incorporating gifts from family and friends in fun ways to surround your new addition with a legacy of love. During the particularly exhausting moments of new parenthood, it can be encouraging to look around and be reminded of the great community you and your child have. Caden Lane recommends making a shadow box of family items to place in the room. You can also include framed photos of parents, grandparents, and other important figures in the baby's life.

According to Project Nursery, even items not originally used for children can still be great additions to a nursery space. For example, your favorite recipe pages from your great grandmother's cookbook, or even a cherished painting from a beloved family member, work as decor. Family heirlooms are best displayed in shadow boxes, as are any other special items you would like to have on show. These could be things like sonogram photos, birth announcements, and any sweet souvenirs from the baby shower.

It's okay to match your existing décor

If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the design options available for your child's nursery, don't stress. Your child's nursery space can simply be an extension of your home's aesthetic, per JR Decal. If you don't want to spend hours converting your guest room into a Pinterest-perfect nursery and would prefer to add a crib, rocking chair, and changing table, that's more than fine. You don't even need to repaint it.

However, if you were hoping to do a bit more redecorating but still keep the decor similar to the rest of your home, you can take a page out of Joanna Gaines' book. When she and husband Chip had their son Crew, Country Living reported that his nursery looked like something out of a "Fixer Upper" episode, meaning that the couple allowed their personal style to influence their new addition's room. Since you will be using the room just as much as your new baby, it's okay to decorate the nursery in a style you already enjoy.

Focus on functionally, not decorations

A sleek nursery is filled with items that serve both the baby and their parents. When designing your gender neutral nursery, try not to overfill it with toys or decorations that could be hard to keep clean down the line, Planet Maids warns. This is because a nursery will go on to be one of the most heavily used rooms in the house; home to late-night feedings, diaper blowouts, and plenty of spit-up.

Instead of attempting to make your new baby's nursery too fussy, consider designing it with the function that you might give to a utility room (via Covered Goods). You can do this by having plenty of baby-safe cleaning items readily available in child-proof storage, as well as a designated diaper disposal bin that is regularly deep cleaned. Purchase linens that are easy to chuck in the wash after an accident and never hang any artwork low enough that any projectile liquids might come into contact with it.

Mix neutral statement pieces with bold accents

A gender neutral nursery doesn't necessarily mean you have to have an entirely neutral space. When most people hear "neutral," they think plain, muted colors that won't cause too much of a stir, but nurseries are way more playful than that. Parents can call on endless possibilities of fun color combinations to make their nurseries stand out. For example, if you have bright white walls, pair them with a rainbow area rug. If you decided to paint your walls a warm copper color, you might paint your crib a bold, leafy green to complement it. You can also consider pairing neutral tones like gray with lighter colors, like pink and blue, Tulamama suggests.

Bold accents like this bring balance to the room, as they offset the monotony of the calmer colors (via MyMove). However, remember to follow the 60/30/10 rule to keep everything in proportion when choosing your accents. The neutral shade should be the dominant color and take up about 60% of the space, followed by a secondary, complementary color that is about 30% of the room. The vibrant, bold color should be about 10% of the room.

Invest in exciting light pieces to invigorate the space

Gender neutral doesn't have to mean bland. Playing with light fixtures can create the perfect environment for your baby to blossom, as good lighting is an essential part of a successful nursery. According to The Spruce, you'll want to have plenty of bright overhead light for dreary days, as well as plenty of pockets of softer light for those moments when you don't want to overstimulate your baby. This could be during late-night feeding sessions or when they've just woken up from a nap.

While there are dozens of ways to light your baby's room, designing a gender neutral space gives you the fun opportunity to play with statement pieces for overhead lighting. You can use woven lighting to add a nice natural feel to the room, a beaded chandelier to add a soft touch, or even a more traditional crystal chandelier (via Nursery Design Studio). If you go for a neutral overhead light, you also have the opportunity to include fun and eccentric lamps that match the theme or color palette you have chosen for the nursery.

Consider your own interests as you design

Creating a gender neutral nursery is the best time to let out your inner child. Are you and your partner big Disney fans? Then Happiest Baby suggests going all out and creating a room that Minnie, Mickey, and Dumbo would love. You can complete with a mural of Cinderella's Castle (which is most definitely for boys, too) and some delightful mouse-eared decorations. If you prefer to go rock climbing every weekend, you could create a nursery with hunter-green walls, cute forest wallpaper, and carabiners as hooks to hang things on.

Decorating your child's room is the best chance you'll have to embrace your childhood fantasies and combine them with your adult interests. If you've always wished the circus was in town, you can create a nursery for your child that is fit for the center ring with colorful rugs and a mobile that belongs under the big top (via Jen Spends Less). The fun design possibilities are endless when you aren't restricted by trying to match a nursery with a child's gender.

Think about finishing the nursery after your baby is born

All the main nursery essentials should be in place well before the baby arrives. These would be things like a crib, a safe changing station, diapers, and any health devices or other items recommended by your doctor. But, according to Mother, as long as your baby has a safe place to sleep and be changed when they first come home from the hospital, you might consider holding off on any major nursery decorations until well after the baby arrives.

This is because some parents have found that molding their nursery around the personality of their new addition is the perfect design choice, allowing them to make the space more personal to accommodate their baby's ever-changing needs. Finishing the nursery after the baby arrives also allows parents on a tighter budget to spread the expenses out a bit more, so it's less of a financial strain. And, according to Smart Money Mamas, some families are choosing to forgo the nursery altogether as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that new babies sleep in the same room as their parents until at least six months for easy monitoring.