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How To Design A Neutral Nursery: Part 1 Know Your Neutrals!

Posted on February 13 2020

We all know how addictive Instagram can be, so there I was, scrolling Project Nursery’s IG feed- they're one of my absolute favourite accounts to follow, btw. It's such a visual treat! So I was at it, getting my daily dose of stunning and came across this beautiful beige baby girl room! And there was a question in the comments about how to get the textures right, how not to make it look too beige or match-y when they attempt decorating on their own. I answered her Q’s there but thought hmm... this subject begets a post or two or three.

So in order to perhaps help out some of you parents out there who want to achieve a similar look, and might have similar questions on your minds- we're diving into Neutral Nursery Design for the next three weeks. This is a 3 part series in which we’ll be looking at understanding, identifying & applying the principles behind putting together a gorgeous neutral space of any kind, but nurseries in particular!

In this post- which is Part 1- We’re going over some thumb rules to keep in mind that will ensure you have the most GORGEOUS, serene, neutral nursery of your dreams. Whether you’re using these to create gender neutral nurseries or just going for a sea of whites look, these pointers will come in super handy.


Now, here's where the issue arises: the options that we explore to style our rooms rarely come from one source. We’re usually browsing different companies and retailers to see what catches our fancy. Sifting among those and bringing them together to create a cohesive look can be extra challenging when it comes to designing a neutral space. 


So I’m going to give you 5 of what I call “Rules for The Bending”. Yes it’s called this because I truly don’t want you to believe that there are any set rules or step by steps on how one should put together their spaces. Our homes are as unique and wonderful and beautifully eccentric as we all are and that is what makes the spaces we build interesting & different- just like us! So let's embrace this wonderfulness about ourselves, use these as guidelines and then blur them up in your own beautiful way:

Our homes are as unique and wonderful and beautifully eccentric as we all are and that is what makes the spaces we build interesting & different- just like us! text above home decor illustration

1. What Is A Neutral Colour?


Truly once you understand this, it will be much easier for you to pick out stuff on your own. Without going into too much colour theory here, there are two undertones in any colour. There is a cool undertone- meaning it has some hues of cooler colours- mainly violets or blues or greens. And then there’s warm undertones- meaning the colour has hues of reds, oranges and yellows. The actual true neutral colours are just three: White, Gray, and Black. The amount of cool or warm colours added to the true neutrals is what gives you either the neutral with a warm undertone or the neutral with a cool undertone. Also keeping in mind, the cooler your neutral the more reflective it is by nature and the warmer you go on the scale, the more absorptive of light it becomes. 

Cool Neutrals text below Shades of gray in rainbow illustration

2. Pick Your Neutral


So now that you’ve understood what neutral colours are, how do you pick the one that’s best for you? It’s the one that draws your eyes to it! So hop onto Pinterest or Instagram and search up Neutral Nurseries. Now observe the rooms that made your heart flutter. Really study them. What undertones do those beiges or whites or grays carry? It takes some practice to be able to spot the subtle differences, but once you get it, it’s like riding a bike, your eye is trained and you’ll never forget. Whether they’re the warmer neutrals or the cooler ones, you now have your playground. Stick to either one of them when deciding what to add to your cart--especially for larger items like cribs, arm chairs, dressers and rugs. This is by far the easiest and safest way I know to ensure your neutrals don’t clash and every item comes together to form the larger canvas of your nursery.

Warm Neutrals text below rainbow illustration in warm gray tones

3. Create Depth


When going for a neutral colour palette, it’s important that the room doesn’t feel flat. Like everything is painted in one stroke. Unless you like that kind of look, which is totally awesome, then go for it! But if you’d like to provide any kind of visual interest to your room, one way to do it is add in layers. By layers, I mean adding in objects and furniture to the space to stop the eye from receding to the very background. Which usually in a nursery would be the crib, the rocking chair, maybe a dresser or a change table? Other decorative objects would be wall arts, wall hangings, even utilitarian items like books which can double up as decor?! When playing with neutrals, it’s super useful to have this building of layers and not be too sparse because neutrals themselves have a sense of airiness and openness. And a nursery does love a bit of cozy. Which brings us to the next point.

4. Create Warmth Or Cozy.


Since there is an absence of colour in a neutral nursery, a super easy way to create a cozy space when using neutrals is to go for textures to draw out objects. So pay attention to materials you’re using here. Use of natural materials and materials that are naturally in the neutral colour spectrum will bring such beautiful cozy vibes to your space, you won’t want to get out of there. Think natural fabrics like cotton, linen, canvas or burlap for furnishings and accents. Materials like wicker, cane or wood for furniture, frames, fixtures even!

Also think of textures in two ways: Sight Textures & Touch Textures.

Our eyes send as much information about the texture of an object as does touch but in different ways and our brains put the puzzle pieces together to form an appropriation of what we're viewing.

Sight Textures text below a photo collage of weaved circular basket cover, marbled texture in shades of navy, orange and maroon
Touch Textures text below photo collage of curled sheer fabrics, braided wool fabric, and rough natural texture

4. Make Your Neutrals POP!


Anytime we want to bring focus or appreciation onto something, we need a bit of contrast. So sprinkle in some contrast to really draw attention to those beautiful beiges or whites or grays. Almost like in life itself--we need contrasting, challenging people & experiences in order to identify and evolve our true selves. And those contrasting, challenging elements are a thing of beauty on their own. They’re there to prop up other perhaps even unknown parts of your personality. But coming back to design, the contrast can be as heavy or light as you want to go. It could be an emerald green wall hanging or soft pink pastel on throw pillows. It’s the picture you want to paint- you’re the artist, so you decide what pleases your eye the most!

Make Your Neutrals Pop! text on neutral interior with soft gray wall and sofa and green and warm accents

In Part 2 of the blog series on Neutral Nurseries- we’re going to dive into some case studies and see how the points we spoke about today come together to create gorgeous neutral nurseries!!



HOW TO DESIGN YOUR NEUTRAL NURSERY PART 1 text on wall art print hanged in a neutral nursery

Sophia Gandhi

Welcome to, where we design beautiful, meaningful decor for babies & kids. Our blog here is a design playground where I explore concepts and ideas around building spaces for our young ones! I'm also Mama to a sprightly 9 (almost 10, but we'll hang onto 9 for as long as we can) year old who is the inspiration behind everything you see on ChildBeWild.

If you're looking to put together a neutral nursery, have us customize the colours on any of our designs!

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