How to design a neutral nursery

Designing a nursery? Would you like some of my top tips for designing a neutral nursery? Then you’re in the right place!

When we found out we were having a baby we both agreed that we did not want to find out the sex. Sure, there are many positives to knowing whether you’re having a boy or girl, for example, choosing names, buying their first clothes and designing their nursery.But for us the anticipation of not knowing whether we were going to meet our son or daughter just made it all the more exciting, the biggest surprise of our lives and one we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of.

Like all your birthdays and Christmases in one. And for me, I felt that the not knowing might help me with the final push.

But that’s not to say there weren’t moments along the way that I really wish we had found out. Before the 20 week scan we both looked at each other and asked if we were really going to keep it as a surprise and when the midwife asked during the scan, we each looked at each other once again and for a split second we almost caved. But I cannot describe the overwhelming joy I felt when handed my tiny baby and the midwife said,

…”do you know what you’ve had”…

and I cried,

…”a boy, a baby boy”…

It is a moment I’ll never forget and I don’t regret not finding out. Even if it did make some decisions harder.

To be honest, I think even if we’d known if we were having a boy or girl the nursery would still be very much the same, OK maybe there would have been the addition of some blush pink if we’d known we were having a girl! But regardless, I didn’t want a bright and colourful room, I wanted a nursery that was soft and calming. After all, the next few months… years even, would be filled with anything but calm so anything to help promote a peaceful existence at home was welcomed.

So, whether it’s just your personal preference to have a neutral nursery or you’re designing a gender neutral room for your unborn baby boy or girl, here are my tips to keep a neutral colour pallet feeling inviting and interesting.


    • Choose a theme.
      A nursery room welcomes themes so to begin you can either choose your specific theme or if you’ve already found and fallen in love with something to furnish the room; a blind, chair, art, a pattern… then decide a colour pallet based on this. Once you have made this decision you will be on your way to creating a cohesive nursery. We already had a suitable wallpaper in the room that was to become the nursery and this grey stripe wallpaper served as the start of our design. We kept to a pallet of grey, white and taupe to create a modern, airy room, suited to either a boy or girl and our personal tastes. This neutral base has since allowed us to build on the design with plenty of personalised items and toys just for him.

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  • Use pattern.
    William’s nursery is fairly neutral in colour and pattern but that works for us. However, it is important with a neutral colour pallet to inject some pattern because it stops the room from feeling dull and boring. Imagine if these walls were plain white or grey? It would be dull and cold. A lot of the pattern is from the walls so I can afford subtle patterns elsewhere and these stripes give the space some character. If you’d prefer plain walls then take into consideration how and where you can use different patterns elsewhere in the room. A quick way would be with the use of soft furnishings, art and paintings, rugs…

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  • Use different textures.
    Again, you need different textures to introduce interest into a neutral room. As above, think about the different fabrics you can incorporate with rugs, blinds or curtains, chairs and cushions. How can you use contrasting materials like wood, wicker, metal… I absolutely love Williams cotbed, when choosing I didn’t want all wood or all white because it would have been too much for the wood floors or large white chest of drawers but the wood top against the white cot and furniture adds the perfect contrast and warmth.

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  • Style and function.
    A functional space does not have to equal a boring space. I had grand ideas when I first started thinking about Williams nursery but the room is a small double with built in wardrobes which were staying as this is where all of Jamie’s clothes live. There was certainly no way we could share my wardrobe space! This meant the cotbed would only fit one way leaving us with limited space for everything else, like storage for all his clothes and nappies! Who knew these tiny babies needed so much storage! and it only gets worse as they grow. Ultimately we couldn’t have the large chest of drawers I wanted or the layout but we found alternatives and I started pulling together a more functional plan for the room but this doesn’t mean it isn’t stylish, in fact, this is one of my favourite rooms in the house.

    • I used small wicker baskets to store toys on bookshelves and large ones for toys and blankets. They look stylish, add texture and provide great storage.
    • I fitted a shelf on an empty wall that would have otherwise remained a blank space thanks to the radiator below. We customised an Ikea shelf with a hanging rail and I was able to display books and toys on top, within reaching distance and keep clothes on the hanging rail to give us some more drawer space.
    • The large chest of drawers is another Ikea purchase but I’ve dressed the top with the essentials I need to hand such as a glass jar filled with cotton wool balls and a basket with nappy essentials, while one of the chest drawers is crammed with stock of nappies, wipes, creams… and then more books because I’m hoping one day he’ll love reading as much as I do. Right now, he just likes to turn pages.
    • We added a bookcase in the corner because what was a very awkward, unused space then became functional, housing a growing book collection and more toys. It can be organised and stylish all at the same time and I love changing the bookcase around and styling this little corner of the room.


I think designing our nursery for William has been my favourite project to date and I hope these few tips will help you design a neutral nursery too, but if you’re after a gender neutral nursery with a little more colour rather than a neutral colour pallet take a look at these fantastic accounts over on Instagram for some inspiration.


Happy designing.


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