If the first thing that comes to mind when decorating a nursery is whether you're styling the space for a boy or girl, designer Jonathan Adler has news for you: It shouldn't matter. The home décor guru and creative director at Fisher-Price says nursery trends are taking a gender-neutral turn that will direct fall trends.
"I think [the reason] is twofold: There are fewer attachments to traditional gender roles in general—boys can wear pink, girls can play with trucks. And number two: It's easier!" Adler tells MyDomaine. "If your nursery is neutral, it's easier to fit into the rest of your décor. It's cohesive and doesn't punch you in the face the way a pink, frilly princess palace would."
Convinced? Think beyond pastels, florals, and trucks with Jonathan Adler's tips for styling a gender-neutral nursery every cool mom will love.
It's tempting to splurge on a statement piece of furniture for your nursery, but let's be real—as with clothing, children quickly outgrow décor. To overcome this issue, Adler says to look for furniture with smart, convertible features, a trend which is set to grow in popularity.
"It's important to make sure your nursery furniture multitasks," he says, noting that he designed a crib that turns into a toddler bed and a dresser that converts into a changing table for moms who want their furniture to last beyond the baby years. "It's like dating—you’re looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right, not just Mr. or Mrs. Right Now."
Searching for ways to make your nursery adult-friendly, too? Adler says one accessory will help bridge the gap: "Throw pillows, throw pillows, throw pillows!" he stresses. "Adding in colorful throw pillows will make the baby stuff feel less incongruous with the rest of your décor. You can also accessorize the crib with style and function." Adler points to graphic prints as a simple trend-focused design that works in nurseries, too.
"A nursery should feel cohesive with the design of the rest of your home," says Adler. "If you live in a '70s party pad, it's jarring to suddenly walk into the nursery and see it all shabby-chic chintz and wicker."
He predicts that nursery trends will take a modern, fashion-forward turn as parents realize it's a space for them to enjoy, too. "Millennial parents-to-be see their baby purchases as a reflection of their personal style—they are people who value style and are not afraid of bold sophistication," he explains. "Mom wants to love it—after all, she's bringing it into her home alongside any other home furnishings. It has to mirror the beautiful aesthetics within her home met with functional, chic design."
Our top tip? Transition a traditional child's room by adding furniture from nearby rooms. A statement accent chair or floor lamp with brass detailing adds a modern touch.
We've seen bright florals and pastel watercolor prints become popular in modern nurseries, but Adler predicts fall 2016 trends will feature contrasting patterns. "Go bold! We used high-contrast patterns in the Crafted By collection because babies love graphic patterns, and bonus: They hide spills," he says.
He's right—research suggests black-and-white contrasting patterns help stimulate babies' brains. Stronger signals caused by bold patterns are believed to be linked to more brain growth and faster visual development. As the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute puts it, "Surround a baby with soft pastel colors, and you might as well be blindfolding him. Surround your baby with black-and-white or light-and-dark pictures, and watch your baby's eyes light up."
If black-and-white adult-friendly décor leaves your nursery feeling a little lacking, Adler says to add playful, inexpensive accessories. "The table lamps are where you can be fun and irreverent and not have to spend a lot. Enjoy 'em while Junior is little, and then swap 'em out when he or she gets older," he says. Searching for playful accents that don't scream "boy" or "girl"? Opt for animal-themed accessories. A plush sheep rocker or giraffe print adds a touch of quirk for a baby's room, regardless of their gender.
Courage ML, Reynolds GD, Richards JE. Infants' Attention to Patterned Stimuli: Developmental Change From 3 to 12 Months of Age. Child Dev. 2006;77(3):680-695. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00897.x
Visual Stimulation for Newborns. Ask Dr. Sears. 2020.