I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Genevieve Gorder, of HGTV's "Genevieve's Renovations," "Dear Genevieve" and "Town Haul." I asked her about her favorite nursery designs and what budget-friendly tips she has for parents. I was pleasantly surprised to hear almost all of her favorite tips were not only inexpensive-ideas, but also a complete shift from the usual pink and blue gender-defined rooms.
Genevieve started by saying, "Nurseries are so overly designed and sold in big sets, and that's absolutely unnecessary. Everything is so overly packaged and licensed. Who is making these decisions for our child's room? Every family has a different space, style and child, so why should we all have the same nursery?" Buying packaged nurseries can put too much focus on one theme; this can lead to overkill and boredom before for both you and your baby.
"The most important thing is that your baby is in a protected natural environment, and most of all, not overcrowded. A nursery should be a fun, safe, learning environment that is interactive, sophisticated and beautiful. That's truly what makes babies happy, and when babies are happy, moms and dads are happy!"
When designing the room, Genevieve says it's important to honor your child's true needs and think beyond the first few months of the baby's life. During those first few weeks, a baby can only see a few inches in front of their face, so it's important to keep the room airy, clean and free of clutter. She suggests: "In the beginning, only buy half of what you think you need." For some ideas of what you'll really need, check out our "The Baby Registry: What You Really Need."
Stay away from pink and blue
Babies love bold colors, fun prints, odd shapes and animals. Genevieve says sticking to gender-specific colors and toys creates a one dimensional room. Babies need textures, colors and shapes to interact with, not just pink ruffles and blue teddy bears. Start with a neutral wall color that allows for easy incorporation of different design elements. Then build the color palate through design pieces. The neutral wall also makes it easy to change the room's design throughout the first few years of your child's life.
Bring the outside in
Look to nature to bring in free or relatively inexpensive design pieces. Genevieve suggests finding strong tree branches and wrapping them in bold yarn colors in varying textures, using the room's existing color palate. Then, attach the branches to the wall to create additional shelving for small pieces. Her favorite design element in her daughter's nursery was a large dried root from a tree that cost under $50. She hung it on the wall using a large hook and fishing line. The root was large enough to hang photos and other child-friendly elements that were easily interchangeable as her daughter grew. Although her daughter is now 6 years old and the root is no longer in her room, it's still in the family hanging at the top of the stairwell in their home. Her daughter calls it her, "Tree of Life," and cherishes it. She may even have it in her own child's room one day. Click here to find out how to create an "Eco-Friendly Nursery."
Incorporate multiple generations
Genevieve suggests looking to family members for furniture, folk art, antiques and other design elements to add a personal touch to the room. For example: Use your grandmother's old chest of drawers as a combination changing table and storage unit to add sentimental value. Do you have a painter or photographer in your family? Ask them to help add a piece to your nursery. Old mirrors can add both light and interactive fun for your child. Ask family members for old mirrors and place them strategically by the changing table or across from the crib.
Explore other cultures for design ideas
Genevieve loves the way Scandinavia focuses on simplicity and clean lines. She also loves Japanese designs that incorporate simple animal prints, bold patterns and colors. She suggests exploring your own family's heritage to honor your child's background.
Spend your money where it matters most
When I asked Genevieve if there was one nursery splurge that was well worth it, she said, "Yes, buy organic sheets!" Since your baby will be spending the majority of the first few months of her life sleeping, spend your money on good linens that will not harm her sensitive baby skin. Spend your budget on the items your baby will come in contact with the most.
Every nursery should have...
I asked Genevieve if there was one element she incorporates into every nursery she designs. I was amazed to hear her say, YES! A soft, fun mobile." Mobiles have caught a bad rap over the years, due to falling and injuring babies, and for that reason, she did say that it was important to find one that was soft and light, should it accidentally fall.
Genevieve says she spent entirely too long looking for the perfect mobile for her daughter's nursery. Eventually, she found bright yellow bees that played a sweet lullaby as they spun around. She said the searching paid off since her daughter spent hours during the first few months of her life mesmerized by the mobile.
Genevieve says regardless of your design or vision, first and foremost, focus on your child's needs. Keep the room airy, light and free of clutter. Stick to as many natural products and design elements as possible. Most of all, think beyond the first few months of your child's life. Babies grow quickly, so the last thing you want to do is paint and redesign your child's room every couple of months.