In these cost-conscious days, first-time parents may not be able to buy a larger house upon the birth of a little one. And a nursery might have to accommodate a home office or a place for grandma to sleep while she's in town. Instead of painting and decorating the room in a very gender-specific, infantile style it could be wiser to apply a more grown-up feel to a room performing double duty.
There are dozens of answers to this dilemma of combining an appropriate theme for the sandbox set with more typical adult needs. Consider starting with your color selection. This whimsical pattern is part of the Peek-a-Boo collection from York and is called "Garden Butterflies and Birds Mural" and sells for under $200. For a finished panel of 72-by-120 inches, the reasonable cost is very attractive. While it is offered in three-color ways — white on lavender, white on pink, white on grey — this color choice is the most adult friendly. Introduce vibrant color by way of the crib bedding or an area rug that can spice the room up when designated for baby. Once the child has moved out, you could either remove the 3-D birdhouses or leave them. Office furniture or adult bedroom furniture could take the place of baby items.
This sort of gender-neutral approach might also be useful in the grandparent's home where the home office or guest room now might host a grandchild a few afternoons a week. Of course you want to make the room baby friendly, but not so much so that a guest will feel like they are spending the night with Bambi. Many grandparents use a portable crib that can easily tuck away into a closet and out of sight, thus removing the overt baby presence in a room.
Regarding the use of paint, the most inexpensive decorating tool, select a low VOC paint because that's best for baby. Colors such as aqua, sage green, sunflower, salmon, tan or grey can be gender neutral when combined with other complimentary color choices. This mural is made from harvested renewable resources and has no cadmium or mercury. It is made with water based inks and coatings. Check into peel-and-stick design motifs as another way to add infant appropriate decoration that can be easily removed once the room is assigned another purpose.
Window treatment does not have to be over-the-top either. A practical blind or shade that either matches the wall color or the trim is best for blending. Resist the temptation to have a frilly, super feminine curtain or a toy-driven theme for a little boy. You can imprint the space with plenty of appropriate items that are less permanent. Pleated honeycomb shades are a great way to let in filtered light while blocking out sun and keeping a room tranquil.
Another way to keep the room baby-friendly might be to introduce a kid-friendly area rug, shelves lined with stuffed animals that might later hold books, or portable cubbies that might hold toys and clothes. It is much easier to move accessories around whenever you need the room to perform in a more adult way than to try to disguise nursery rhymes or ABCs on the walls.
Photo Credit: York Wallcoverings
Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at [email protected] To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.