Transcript: Baby Nursery Ideas – Tips For Designing Your Baby’s Nursery

This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Baby Nursery Ideas – Tips For Designing Your Baby’s Nursery and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.

Helen Thompson: Designing a nursery for your little one is something that is often an afterthought for many parents and many mums often share their frustrations with me. You really need to start with the planning of your nursery early on, to ensure that you end up with something that works for both parent and baby.

Also, with the current madness sweeping the world, don’t assume that you can get hold of materials quickly and easily. Trust me, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy once your little one has arrived, so there’s no better time to get started with your nursery designs than right now.

To help with your baby nursery design I was delighted to speak with Naomi Coe, the author of Your Perfect Nursery. Naomi is an interior designer who specializes in nurseries, so she knows her stuff and her book is a must for any expecting parent. In this episode, you’ll hear Naomi share some great insights and tips on creating the nursery of your dreams.

After all, it’s your space and it’s important you feel comfortable and cozy and safe. And when you feel that way, then the baby will feel that way.

Now onto the interview.

Hi Naomi, and welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat. It’s a pleasure to have you here. I’m really looking forward to talking with you about baby nursery ideas.

Naomi Coe: Sure, thanks so much for having me. Yeah, so I am an interior designer and I specialize specifically in nurseries which is a, definitely a niche that has a lot of specific challenges. So we’re definitely very different than any other type of design studio.

And you know, we work on kids’ rooms as well, but I would say probably at least 85% of what I do is nursery specific.

Helen Thompson: Ah, let’s say if a mum’s sort of comes to you for the first time who’s wanting an nursery and is feeling a little bit overwhelmed and thinking, gosh, what do I actually need? How do you help them cause I know in your book, you have a roadmap. How does it work?

Naomi Coe: Yeah. So the book is more or less in kind of a chronological order as far as where to start and then how to progress through designing your nursery and there’s definitely a couple of major points that I outline in the book. The roadmap you’re referring to is, the getting started phase. So the first step would be evaluating all of the products that you already have, and that can be any little baby items or furniture, or even things like hand-me-downs or a special piece of art that maybe you have that you want to use, because it’s important to gather all of that information before you start.

So, you know what things you want to include, and you know what areas you need to fill in, not only with products but budget wise, when you start thinking about your budget. So that’s the first step is definitely to do that evaluation. And then the next thing I recommend is what I call identifying a seed item.

And what I mean by ‘seed’ is kind of your inspiration from which the rest of the design will grow. So that’s why we call it a seed item and that can be anything. I mean I’ve had a client come to me with a photo from a vacation and they say, we want this feeling in the nursery. And so we build around that. It really can be anything, even a feeling, or a memory or things like that.

I’ve done pieces of clothing. We’ve had people bring clothing to us and say, I love the vibe of this. Anything like that for the new person who is looking to do their nursery, it doesn’t have to be so abstract. You can just look around for styles that you like, images that you like, things like that to just get a feel for something that’s going to inspire you.

Helen Thompson: And does it have to be very expensive because some moms will say, or think, oh gosh, help, I want to do my nursery and I want it to be really nice, but I may not have the budget that I want. I know designs can be quite expensive.

Naomi Coe: Correct and the answer to that is no, it absolutely does not have to be expensive. Just the nature of my job. Most of the nurseries, I work on tend to be fairly expensive, but they certainly don’t have to be and back to that same checklist, one of the things that I recommend is to think about your budget as early as possible, because what happens with nurseries, especially for first-time parents who don’t know what they need. Those costs add up over time as they realize things that they need. So I always recommend working through a checklist upfront, so you can budget out what you have, where you want to put that budget, do the research on what items you’re actually going to need for this space and where they’re going to fit, so when it gets towards the end, you’re not scrambling to find money to fill in the things that you forgot.

Helen Thompson: Yeah and I think that’s important .To me, it’d be much better to have it nice and cozy and have a nice cozy chair where you can just sit and be with your baby. And when your baby gets up at night you’ve got somewhere comfortable to sit and just comfortable to be, even if you’re just sitting next to them while they’re in the cot and just reading a book. You need to have something that’s really comfortable and cozy and light to the eye. Something natural to the eye, but not too loud. Babies don’t really know what the room’s going to be. It’s going to be when they get older that you were talking about, you’ve got to have it open to expansion. So you start basic and then you can build from there.

Naomi Coe: Yeah and with my company, a lot of clients want to design it top to bottom, right from the get-go and that’s totally fine too. But I do recommend, especially with people who aren’t really sure if they’re going to have more kids, maybe they don’t know if they’re going to stay in the home they’re currently at, you can just start with those basic items and build it out, down the line. I don’t recommend going crazy with things. As you mentioned, the kid isn’t going to care yet and they will. That’s the thing too, is that they will start to care. There’s an age when they’re going to start developing their own wants and desires for what they like and it’s great to be able to take advantage of those first couple of years when they can’t. So when it can be your space, when it can be comfortable for you because you are going to be the one that’s the parent who is going to be using that space the most.

Helen Thompson: Yeah and you are going to be the one that’s going to be in there changing their nappy/diaper, you’re going to be wanting to have all the things to hand that are easy for you to get hold of. So that when you’re changing them, you’ve got it all there, but when they get older, they might say, no, I don’t want that there, I want this here and a toddler’s quite informative about what they want.

Naomi Coe: Yes. They can be very opinionated.

Helen Thompson: So is there any sort of safety? I know here in Australia, we have SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) which is a safety thing, but is there anything, apart from the obvious, any safety aspect that you would recommend that parents think about at least before they design their nursery.

Naomi Coe: Yeah, there’s an entire chapter about this in the book, just because it can be very extensive depending on how much you’re going to do in this space. But like you said, obvious things. Electrical cords, pretty much any cord. So a cord that’s got electrical, but also a cord that maybe is hanging from lines or other window treatments, anything that’s flexible that could get wrapped around a neck or something like that, is definitely something you want to very carefully deal with.

And placement of furniture is something else that I think a lot of people don’t really know about. Mainly the crib or the cot will be the piece that you need to pay attention to the most. I definitely recommend keeping that away from windows and direct sunlight. And let’s see, you want to also keep it in a position that’s going to be functional for you.

So if you can see into the crib from the hallway, that’s always a really good thing because you don’t have to walk into the room or turn a corner before you can see into the crib. So having that visual line is always great and of course, monitors are super helpful if you want to keep an eye on things. I can keep going, there’s so much safety information!

Helen Thompson: I know. I was also thinking about, you said not close to a window. I was also thinking about blinds because sometimes the cords on blinds. Babies like to tug on things.

Naomi Coe: Absolutely anything like that needs to be tied up or secured or even removed, depending on what it is.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, I think those are the commonsense ones then I guess the seeds, but that’s got nothing to do with design. That’s more to do with how they sleep and,

Naomi Coe: So the SIDS, for those who don’t know, stands for sudden infant death syndrome. And a lot of it is unknown. Doctors don’t know a hundred percent what causes it. So there’s a lot that we do to try to help with that situation and airflow is definitely one of the biggest things. So ceiling fans, good air circulation in the room. That’s also one of the reasons why you don’t want to have direct sunlight on the crib because it can overheat the baby.

No blankets, no pillows, no stuffed animals while they’re little inside of the crib. And I’m sure it varies a little bit, depending on what your doctor says, but, whether they’re placed on their back or on their stomach when they’re sleeping, I know that varies quite a bit, depending on their exact age. And if they’ve got colic and various other things. But that’s a doctor question.

Helen Thompson: I agree. I just mentioned it because I know a lot of parents worry, but that’s a doctor’s question or it’s a safety question that we can give them the basics. Yeah, so, we’ve covered the first step to designing a nursery, but what’s the next step after you’ve done your budgeting and you’ve decided you want X amount to budget.

Naomi Coe: So the first thing that I usually do, and I recommend this for anybody, whether you have a designer or not, is to work out your floorplan because that’s going to determine how many pieces you can fit, what size pieces you can fit and you can’t really start shopping until you know those things. So whether it’s measuring the room and drawing it out on graph paper or using an app on your phone, or even just using tape to tape out where you want to put certain furniture, figure that out soon, so you can then use that to create a shopping list. You know, I can fit a dresser that’s, this many inches wide, so you know what to look for when you’re shopping.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, that’s really important cause somebody designs the beautiful nursery and they go out and do all the shopping and they’ve got all this beautiful furniture and they think, oh gosh, help this doesn’t fit.

Naomi Coe: Yes and with all of the shipping delays and all the issues with furniture now, you definitely want to make sure when it finally arrives that it fits.

Helen Thompson: Yes, that’s the last thing a pregnant mum wants, stressors. She’s finally done it all and about a month before the baby’s due it all arrives and she’s thinking, oh gosh, it doesn’t fit, what am I going to do?

Naomi Coe: Yeah, same goes with things like drapery. If you’re going to do curtains, measure them first, measure your wall, your window, anything you can do to make sure that the pieces you get are correct. Because returning things and dealing with shipments and all that when you’re pregnant or expecting a child is a pain.

Helen Thompson: Yes, it’s overwhelming enough but having that to contend with as well, because you want it to be a nice space for when you come back with the baby, whether you have your birth at home or in the hospital, you still want the nursery to be a nice space for both of you.

Naomi Coe: Exactly. Yeah and I think it’s also important to mention that the nursery doesn’t have to be done by the time the baby comes home because they don’t necessarily need a full size crib, they don’t necessarily need a full changing table at the beginning. So if something gets delayed, which it happens all the time now. I always tell my clients not to worry as long as they have a safe bassinet or a cradle or a co-sleeper. You can change a baby on a bed on the floor. You don’t need a changing table.

So it’s going to be okay if things get delayed, if things get backordered, there’s not a ton that you really absolutely need to have.

Helen Thompson: Yeah and I think that’s important because you don’t want to overwhelm parents, giving them too much to contend with.

Naomi Coe: I’ve also worked with quite a few clients who don’t want to complete the nursery beforehand because it’s bad luck in their culture. So if that’s the case, same thing, you can prepare with the necessities and then have your plan for what you would like to purchase for the rest of the nursery and then just wait and you can always get that stuff later or start the rest of the design. That’s surprisingly common.

Helen Thompson: I think that’s very interesting, especially if a mum doesn’t know if they’re having a boy or a girl and they may not want to do a design that’s particularly for a boy or particularly for a girl. It doesn’t have to be gender specific.

Naomi Coe: Exactly. We did a little design a couple of years ago for a boy that was floral and I thought it was so sweet because the client had a family history of farming and they had a honey farm and so flowers were very important to her and like bees and honey and those kinds of visuals. And so we did florals in this boy’s room and it was great.

Helen Thompson: Yeah. I guess it’s the design of the parent and of the family as well. It’s not just for the baby. You’re creating a space that’s very much you, which is also incorporating the life of the baby, does that make sense?

Naomi Coe: So I think also one thing that especially when we’re talking about budget is important to consider. There’s a couple of things. There’s shipping costs, sales tax and then installation. So if you order wallpaper, you might have budgeted for the wallpaper, but have you budgeted for the installation?

And some people are comfortable with DIY (do it yourself) and they want to do things themselves, which is great but what happens occasionally is they try and realize this is too much. I need to hire a contractor or handyman to come. So allowing for those types of things and trying to anticipate in advance what those costs will be, painting the room or installing a chandelier that requires electrical, anything like that.

Sometimes people forget to allow for those costs and those costs always happen at the end. So again, it’s one of those things that kind of springs up towards the end and can add to the budget.

Helen Thompson: And they might be costs that you didn’t budget for.

Naomi Coe: Exactly. Yes and on the flip side, one of the advantages that could work is baby showers. So some people will add some of these nursery items to their registry, so they’ll get them as gifts. So the smaller things, maybe your crib sheets or little decor pieces, the in-laws purchased the crib or something like that.

So using your registry can also be helpful in that way. And I see a lot of people putting things on their registry that they don’t need. Especially, they don’t need now. So I see people putting those little seats for toddlers, it’s a little inset that goes inside of a chair and I think you won’t need that for two years. Get that off your registry, focus on the nursery. They’re not going to need baby silverware for a couple of years, things like that. So, if you can focus it to the nursery and things that your baby is going to need, pretty soon, that’s going to save you money and also allow you to kind of tailor and simplify what you’re going to purchase.

If you’re looking to streamline and simplify and cut costs, then certainly just focus on those nursery items and that’ll help a lot.

Helen Thompson: And it can be very basic. Nurseries can be beautiful and gorgeous without having to cost a lot and you can have a designer like you, who can say, right, I can help you with the budget that you’ve got. So let’s think about what’s important.

Naomi Coe: Exactly, yes and of course, most of my clients do want a very cohesive designer look. So that would be the bulk of the types of people that I work.

But in writing the book and even just in my life watching my friends have babies, my family, and everything, then that’s a much more common way to go about it.

Helen Thompson: So what’s the name of your book?

Naomi Coe: It’s called Your Perfect Nursery and I titled it that actually on purpose, because as we talked about a little bit before, I wanted to really get across the notion that it’s for you, it’s yours, not the baby’s not Instagram’s, not anybody you’re trying to impress. You know, it’s for you, it’s your space where you should feel comfortable and cozy and safe and when you feel that way, then the baby will feel that way.

Helen Thompson: Yes, I think that’s important because it’s got to be a cozy space, as we said at the beginning, where you can feel comfortable to get out of bed in your nighty and your slippers and just go and pick up baby and breastfeed or doing whatever you need to do.

So, I think there’s probably umpteen questions and I could spend hours talking to you about designing a nursery.

Naomi Coe: I get a lot of questions about where to start and I know we talked a little bit about some of those steps as far as where to start, but people sometimes get hung up on the style. So they see images, they’re pulling inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest and the internet and whatever, and they can’t figure out what direction to go in because sometimes if you have saved, let’s say you’ve saved 10 pictures, they’re all a little different. Maybe one’s one style, one’s another style and they have a hard time figuring out what their style is based on what they find themselves liking and that is super, super common. And I usually tell those people that they don’t have to stay within one particular style, and you can certainly combine styles and see if you are able to evaluate those images based on, if you could pull out what the things are that you like from that image. Maybe it’s the crib in this photo, maybe it’s the light and airiness in the next photo, maybe it’s the style of drapery in another photo. So if you can pull those things out, then that will give you a better idea of what you’re looking for, rather than, I have to do mid-century modern because that picture I like is mid-century modern. You know what I mean?

Helen Thompson: Yeah. You can adapt. You can make it modern and yeah, you can do a bit of both. I get that and you mentioned at the beginning too, that you don’t want to have too much of a design style beginning, because it’ll change as the baby grows.

So if somebody wants to find out about you and find out about your book and how to get in touch with you, how do they go about doing it?

Naomi Coe: I can do many things online. So we do e-designs and virtual consultations. But generally we stick to USA and Canada for those because the safety regulations are different and I’m not familiar with other countries safety states. The book is available pretty much everywhere. So it’s on Amazon, Target, Barnes and Noble.

And it’s called Your Perfect Nursery and my company is called Little Crown Interiors and I’m on Instagram at Little Crown Interiors.

Helen Thompson: I highly recommend having a look at your book. I haven’t read all of it but it’s very interesting and for a new mum, I would say that it’s very informative and it’s very helpful. So to any new mom, I highly recommend that they take a look at it. Okay. Naomi, thank you so much for talking to me. I really enjoyed talking to you. I learnt so much from you about design.

Naomi Coe: Yes. Wonderful.

Helen Thompson: Naomi shared some great tips and insights, and I’m sure you’ve picked up some ideas on getting started with your nursery design. I know for me, there were a few points raised that I had not thought of before. I suggest checking out Naomi’s book, her website, Facebook page and Instagram, and I’ve included links to these in the show notes, which can be accessed at