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There's not much that can ready you for the life-changing event of having a baby, but creating a nursery is a good way to start. A well-planned room can make life run smoother, just when it's at its most chaotic. Plus, during marathon feeding or settling sessions, resting your eyes on something beautiful can be comforting.
There's no need to signpost your baby's gender with walls in baby pink or blue. A palette of sophisticated neutrals is soothing to the eye, provides a versatile base to build on, has longevity and won't clash with the eventual tide of toys in primary colours. Interestingly, they may even have a calming effect. “Pacifying palettes of soft muted hues are best for a nursery, as the subtle undertones within many of these colours can help a baby to relax,” says Andrea Lucena-Orr of Dulux.
Stronger colours, like navy or charcoal, are also appearing. A monochromatic scheme is another bold choice with a positive side effect; newborn babies can only see in black and white, and strong monochromatic colour is said to boost brain growth and visual development.
* Paint colours may vary on application
All a baby really needs is a bed to sleep in, but a few optional extras could be incredibly useful. “A great armchair is a must. It makes a room feel balanced and inviting,” says interior designer Belinda Kurtz of Petite Interior Co. “Look for armchairs with a good armrest height that's comfortable for feeding.” Choose a chair that you love and it can always be moved into the living room down the track.
A change table will save your back and can be an extra storage solution. “It's the hub of all the action!” says Alanna. If you prefer to invest in forever furniture, try a chest of drawers with a change-table top.
Although newborns don't do much except eat and sleep, it's worth allocating a play space. “It won't be too long before your little one is a toddler and they might enjoy a toy area,” says Belinda. For babies, all you really need is a play mat and a basket for toys.
Much of life with a new baby revolves around sleep, so it makes sense to look at the light sources in your new nursery. Blockout blinds aren't essential but can be useful for early risers and reluctant day sleepers. “The beauty of blockouts is that they can be layered with another window treatment to ensure a beautiful finish,” says interior designer Alanna Smit. Markisol's range of blockout roller blinds comes in soft colours that will work with just about any colour scheme. Safety first: ensure blind cords are tucked away, out of reach of baby and small children.
Good electric lighting is a worthwhile investment, too. “Low lighting is essential for keeping things in a dreamlike state,” says Alanna. Dimmers are a good inclusion for overhead illumination, but a secondary light source can be useful for night-time settling. Plug-in night-lights and sensor lights are a must, plus a shaded lamp for when you need a bit more light – touch models are great, as you won't always have a hand spare; try Luce Bella's ‘Giraffe' LED touch lamp, for added cuteness.
Not every home has a designated nursery, or you may prefer to keep the baby in your room for the first few months, but you can still set up a space that works for everyone. An armchair for night-time feeds can also work as a visual divider, positioned on an angle away from the parental bed. Alternatively, a pretty screen can divide the space and ensure minimal disturbance to the lucky parent left asleep.
Minimising clutter is key to making a shared room work. “If pushed for space, I'd suggest having your change area in another room or having a change pad that you can put on a bed with a caddy of nappy-changing essentials,” says Belinda.
To get everything you need to set up your nursery for your newest edition to the family, check out your local Bunnings.
Photo credit: TI Media and Dulux