Butterfield: Finding the chic for a nursery

A nursery should be a cozy little retreat for you and baby; adding soft and plushy textures to the space is a must.

  • Aug. 26, 2015 6:00 p.m.
Learning and design in baby's room.

Learning and design in baby's room.

Expecting clients ask all the time for my take on what chic nursery life looks like. What colours and themes will last long past the baby stages and into little person living?

I’m not big into Disney or the ‘classic cult nursery.’ Instead, I love a more modern approach, something fun, something unexpected, a little bit grown up, and a little bit baby.


Alphabet letters on a wall, framed in gallery-style collections, embossed on a rocking chair pillow, or simply as oversized book ends—every nursery needs some graphic font or writing. It’s minimalist, eye catching, and educational all in one.


A nursery should be a cozy little retreat for you and baby; adding soft and plushy textures to the space is a must. Sheepskin, mohair, brushed cotton, and corded velvet are all gorgeous finishes you can use in smaller doses in the forms of area rugs, accent pillows, draperies or roman shades, ottomans, and throws.

Most of baby’s finishes need to be durable and washable, but a few hits of luxury will turn any nursery into a treasured gem.

subtle colour


Forget blue for boys and pink for girls—colour knows no gender these days when it comes time for setting up your little one’s abode.

Lime greens and teal blues look airy and amazing in off white or linen-toned spaces, and if you’re looking for something even more inspiring, watery shades of robin’s egg blue and tangerine are popping up everywhere on nursery-themed blogs and postings.

But maybe you’re wanting something more subdued with just a smattering instead of all-out colour?

Consider a pale shade of silvery gray mixed with a demi-tone lemon yellow or coral. The results are calming, soothing, and slightly edgy.


You and baby will be in the nursery throughout different times of the day (and let’s not forget night), so having a mix of bright, clear, soft and dreamy lighting is essential.

I always suggest a corner floor lamp with either a paper or linen shade to help diffuse the light at night. And a few small scale desk/table lamps near the change station or on a neighboring bookcase help to add light when it’s needed.

Basic central light fixtures with fluorescent bulbs are too jarring. Instead, opt for something more decorative (and appealing) with lower wattage.


It used to be you could only find a wooden (or sparsely semi-upholstered) rocking chair for a nursery, which made for numb behinds and bopped little foreheads once baby started crawling. But now, the array of stylish and oh-so-comfortable side chairs that rock, swivel, and allow you to curl up with ease is amazing.

I recommend sticking to a soft neutral fabric in a linen, wheat, or soft gray that can easily fit with whatever colour scheme you go with. Pair it with an oversize ottoman and you may find it hard to leave the room.


I know they can seem overdone at times, but a really witty accent wall eliminates the need for other visual clutter and knick knacks. Think of tone on tone and do a wide stripe in alternating paint finishes (semi-gloss and eggshell), or tape off a chevron pattern and opt for something a bit more eye popping. Just like an area rug helps to pull a room together, a clever accent wall gives your little one’s space personality and charm.