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Cheerful Nursery Decorating Ideas

Updated on February 3, 2012

Decorating Your Nursery

Nursery room decorating is perhaps the most challenging and most fun of any decorating project in the house. The challenge comes from the enormous realm of possibilities that you have to choose from; it can be daunting to narrow those choices to a reasonable collection. With a theme in mind, however, the challenge becomes manageable and the fun begins.

When choosing a nursery theme, consider what research has told us about human development and about the effects of color on behavior. Bright colors are great for stimulating cognitive development, but too many “warm” colors, like red and yellow, may make getting baby to sleep more difficult. Use more of the blues and greens--the “cool” colors--and then add a pop of red or yellow as an accent.

Of course, baby won’t always need a nursery, so you may want to consider a theme that can grow up with your child as he becomes a toddler and then a young child, as well. Working with a theme will also let you "go green" by recycling furniture and accessories from garage sales and resale shops.


Animals in the Wild

An animal theme is one that you can easily continue as your child gets older. In fact, it can become a learning tool, as she explores the characteristics and habitat of the animals sharing her room.

Start your with a series of murals depicting various animal habitats. Place the lions, tigers, giraffes, antelope, monkeys and zebras in their natural homes. Use textured paints to add depth to jungle trees or savannah grasses. For a simpler look, paint the walls a soft jungle green or a light sky blue; add a few fluffy clouds, or some trees and rocks.

For the window treatments, hang animal print tab-top curtains, held back with wooden cutouts of monkeys with their arms linked to form chains. Alternately, cover roller shades with the same animal prints and some fun fringe, or hang valances made of mosquito netting.

Paint the crib with khaki-colored paint and embellish the ends to look like safari clothes. Paint dressers, bookshelves and old trunks with animal prints.

Accessorize your room with a lion or tiger diaper stacker. Hang a pith helmet on the wall and make a mobile of different animals to hang over baby’s crib.


On the Farm

Barnyard youngsters and nurseries are a natural pairing. Paint the walls a light tan or green. If you want the mural effect, paint a barn on one wall, with the animals in the stalls or in the barnyard; on another wall, paint a flourishing vegetable garden, complete with bunnies nibbling on the carrots and cabbages.

Gingham or calico curtains continue the farm theme at the windows, while a straw-hat valance adds to the whimsy. Cover the chair and other furniture cushions with bandanas, or more calico, to add color to the room’s décor.

A faux denim look on the furniture expands the theme even more, especially if you replace some of the dresser hardware with overall buckles or blue jean buttons.

Accessorize with stuffed cows, pigs, horses and geese, along with kid-safe miniature gardening tools. Use vegetable-print fabric to create a mobile.


Rainbows and Butterflies

Rainbows will bring loads of color to your nursery, while butterfly embellishments give you the chance to add some glitter to the room.

Paint a flower garden on the walls and stretch a brilliant rainbow painting across the wall’s sky above the floral display. Paint in some flitting, glittered butterflies among the flowers and let them share the garden with dragonflies, grasshoppers and a frog or two.

Hang pastel sheers over the windows and embellish them with gossamer butterflies from the craft store. Add strings of crystal beads to catch the sunlight, and create natural rainbows around the room.

Paint your furniture in bright rainbow solids. Rubber stamp butterflies, dragonflies and flowers to add charm. Another option would be to decoupage the painted pieces with pictures from magazines, scrapbook or wallpaper, or even photographs of butterflies and gardens.


On the Road

Go big with a transportation theme. Paint the walls with cars, trucks, trains, airplanes, hot-air balloons and every other kind of transportation vehicle you can imagine.

Hang a toy racetrack flat on the wall and glue some toy cars in place, as if they were tearing down the oval.

Bring the raceway to the room with checkered flag curtains; tie them back with wooden trains or cars. If you don’t like the racing idea, drape the windows with fabric to look like a parachute.

Paint the end of a crib, dresser, or shelf to look like the dashboard of a car, or the cockpit of an airplane. Paint the blades of a ceiling fan to mimic the propeller of a boat or an old plane.

Fill small orange traffic cones with beans, and cover the bottom with cardboard to create bookends for shelves, and scatter some toy boats, dump trucks and airplanes on the shelves around the room, as well.

With these themes, nursery room decorating becomes a snap. Use these ideas as your starting point and let your imagination take you to new places.


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    • pjmartin profile image

      pjmartin 6 years ago

      Absolutely -- it's certainly POSSIBLE to start from scratch when the child reaches the toddler stage, then the next age level, etc., but finding a theme that can carry through (1)is MUCH less expensive, and (2) creates that "safe" feeling of home better, and (3) encourages creativity by giving children the chance to explore how they can "age" the theme to keep things fresh and age-appropriate without giving up the familiar.

    • Jakob Barry profile image

      Jakob Barry 6 years ago

      Wow! That was an intense flow of creative possibilities. I think the most essential thing to consider in the big picture, as you mentioned, is if the room will be theirs for years. It's an important part of the planning stages.

    • Emma Larkins profile image

      Emma Larkins 6 years ago from Manchester, MD

      Great ideas!