Forget powder-pink walls and cartoon-character sheets. The modern nursery is gender-neutral, sophisticated and as fun as it is sweet. “Parents are trying to impart a casual elegance, creating what I like to call un-nurseries,” says Toronto interior designer Montana Labelle. Instead of a designated kiddie room, parents are creating a contemporary space that complements the rest of the home. And moms- and dads-to-be are investing a lot of time, and money, to get it right.
Over all, Canadians are investing increasingly large sums in every room of their homes. According to 2013 data from TD Canada Trust, spending on renovations and home improvements has seen an uptick of 7 per cent a year since 2003. And that includes kids’ rooms. According to Toronto interior designer Paula Velez, who specializes in baby-room makeovers, “some parents are definitely going all-out.”
Cribs that ring in at $1,200 (for a base model) are more popular than you’d think, she says, and organic cotton blankies (which are probably nicer than what’s slung over the end of mom and dad’s bed) are de rigueur. According to market-research firm IBISWorld, the luxury baby market is in an upswing that could reach a hefty $10.6-billion in the United States for clothing alone. It attributes part of this growth to older and more established parents-to-be who are able to afford the pricier baby goods, from booties to bedding.
But you don’t have to break the piggy bank to create a gorgeous nursery. Once you’ve decided on a theme, “Invest in key pieces that will grow with your child and repurpose items from other areas of the house,” suggests Labelle.
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Open any design magazine and you’ll see that wallpaper has been making a big comeback. It requires a bit more effort than paint, but paper is one of the chicest ways to update any room. For the most payoff, make it the centrepiece. “I like to hang paper on just one main wall to make that the focal point of the room, and I usually place the crib there,” says Velez. When it comes to wallpaper colours, some clients are going all-in and choosing high-contrast navy, black and white or emerald green, she says.
When searching for prints, she opts for mature patterns that can grow with the baby and the room. “You might move the child into a larger room later and convert the space into an office. In that case, the paper will still work – it can last for years,” says Velez. For those who still aren’t ready to commit, wall decals can create the same look without the permanence of paper.
A stark paint job can be the perfect backdrop for colourful furniture and accessories, but white can be seen as more than just a blank canvas. White with black accents is a classic combination, and white-on-white can be a colour palette in itself, says Labelle. A glossy white side table against a white wall will sparkle. “Everything for kids is so colourful anyway, from books to toys and clothing, that once you hang everything up and fill the shelves the room will still be vibrant,” says Velez.
For an even more modern vibe, mix in some mid-century-modern furniture. A good-quality rocking chair, dresser or bookshelf with the Scandinavian aesthetic will be totally on-trend and can be considered an investment piece.
Geometric prints are popping up everywhere, from wall decals to bedding and even furniture. Herringbone was trending at the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas earlier this month, where companies previewed products for 2015. The masculine print was seen on sheets, throws, pillows and more, from a number of different manufacturers including popular brands Babyletto and Oilo. “I saw a lot of ikat prints, too,” says Gerry Lewarne, co-owner of Crocodile baby stores in Vancouver. Manufacturers seem to be borrowing inspiration from the runway, where both menswear and Aztec-influenced designs are hot.
Going geometric creates a lot of DIY opportunities, making it ideal for a budget-friendly baby room. Painting chevrons on a used dresser, for example, is a money-saving update that anyone can pull off. All you need is a measuring tape, roll of painter’s tape, a small brush and roller. Likewise, it’s fairly simple to paint fat horizontal or vertical stripes on a feature wall.
Traditional (with a twist)
The classic nursery themes, including zoo animals, storybooks and traditional pink and blue colour schemes, are being executed with a nod to modern sensibilities, so the look is still decidedly less babyish. Instead of bubble-gum pink, parents are opting for shades of coral and fuchsia. Blue is often translated as navy, indigo or teal – and used as frequently in a girl’s room as a boy’s.
Woodland and Canadiana-themed rooms are particularly popular with urban dwellers looking for a little bit of nature, and it’s easy to pull off.
Wooden toys and mobiles are natural additions to a little nature lover’s room. And they appeal to the ecoconscious set, too, because many are more Earth- and baby-friendly. Toys and furniture made with low-emission paints, and textiles manufactured with formaldehyde-free fabric dyes, are easier than ever to find. The classic Oeuf crib is a favourite among ecochic moms. It’s made from low-emission MDF, manufactured with a carbon-neutral footprint, and even the packaging is recyclable. All of these types of products are becoming more mainstream, says Lewarne. “We’re at a point where we only sell organic mattresses in our stores. Parents are understanding that this is more than a trend.”
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