When thinking about how to successfully create a dark and moody nursery design, it is important to think outside the box.
I am not a the biggest fan of traditional nursery themes. The pink flowers for a baby girl and dark blues for a baby boy may have stood the test of time but I feel it is time for a change. Why do you only find white furniture all over the inspiration boards when you search 'neutral nursery design' ? Where are the darker neutrals? Why have they been left out? Who said nursery furniture has to be white? What about paint colors for the walls? Who said the whole room should have a white color scheme with pops of pink or blue? Where's the personality? What about wooden furniture? What about a more modern design? What about a room that can work for the long run and grow with your child? Now that sounds like a good idea... something new and a bit unexpected.
There are a few things to consider when going with a dark and moody nursery design. From the perfect wall color to the furniture selections to the decorative accents that are in the space, there is a lot of stuff to consider when creating a beautiful nursery space. These design elements all work together to make the perfect place for your little one to call their own.
The Wall Color
When my client called me to tell me that she and her husband had a new baby on the way, I could not have been more excited for her and her sweet growing family. The new addition meant that her current little one was getting a new room. She was going to be a big sister and needed a new big-girl nursery that could grow with her.
When my clients moved to their new house, the walls in all of the bedrooms were painted this moody, deep gray. Perhaps charcoal walls is not generally the go-to paint choice for a nursery, but we decided to work with it and I absolutely love the vibe.
I find that many people are nervous to paint a small room dark out of concern that the room would look even smaller. But, if you have good natural light coming into the space and by adding some lighter elements to the room, choosing dark paint can actually make the space feel bigger. Natural light here is key. My client's room has a large window which allows the sun to shine in and bounce around the room making the dark tone on the walls feel sophisticated instead of dreary.
Don't know where to start with the wall color? Take inspiration from the other rooms in your home. Remember... you want this room to have it's own personality but you don't want it to look out of place. If the rest of your home has cream, tan and beige tones maybe a chocolate brown or muddy green would work well. Do you have whites and grays? Think of starting with a charcoal palette.
Painting a nursery (or any room for that matter) a dark color can be a big move so make sure you are 100% positive of your color choice. The best way to be certain is to try a few options out. I use color sample wall stickers to try out a bunch of different options. They are way easier and far less wasteful than getting small paint samples and painting them on the wall. That's the old way of doing things and it not only creates a mess but you're always throwing away so much paint. I love that the paint sample stickers are now available. You can get almost any color or brand you want at Samplize.com.
The Nursery Furniture
A great way to make the darker walls work was to lean in to the moody vibe. The first thing we did was incorporate this beautiful natural wood furniture my clients had from her old house. The dresser and the side table were mid-century inspired and may not scream 'baby's room' but that is exactly what we loved about it. This was the perfect place to use these beautiful pieces that will grow along with my clients' daughter.
Wood tones pair beautifully with rich, deep colors. Don't be afraid to add wood tones to your nursery space. They are gender neutral and can be the perfect choice to grow with your child's changing decor. With the cool tone of the charcoal wall paint, this warm wood is the perfect pairing. If your moody wall paint is warm, you may want to choose a cool-toned wood color for the furniture like a grey wash or driftwood. Creating these opposing tones balances a room beautifully.
And remember, you do not need to (and should not) have ALL of the furniture in the same wood tone. Mixing and matching is the name of the game. If you have a few pieces of furniture that are a warm wood tone, consider painted pieces for some of the other furniture. Keeping everything all wood or everything all white is where you can easily go wrong with the space. Mix and match and watch the magic happen.
Open floor space was something that was important to allow for play time and this is where we brought in a floral print in a beautiful, soft rug. Although the rug doesn't have bright colors, it does have pretty blue background with a warm shade of coral pink and dove gray in its design. Rugs are such a good way to bring in a bit of fun and pops of color in any room but it is especially a good choice in a nursery. We added gold accents in the drapery hardware, leg detail of the crib and floor lamp to also add a bit of femininity to the room and paired those decorative accents with a dove gray crib, cool rocker as a nursing chair and gorgeous window treatments.
I'm so glad we stuck with the darker tone in this nursery. It was such a great choice and I hope to see more of this moody vibe in the searches for baby nursery inspiration.
Cribs range in price from cheap and crappy to outrageously expensive. Although you may not want to get a crib that seems like it could collapse at any moment, you also may not want to spend a ton of money on a piece of furniture that has a finite lifetime. There are so many cribs these days that are reasonably priced and are quite beautiful. Another great feature many cribs have - many convert to toddler beds (and some to twin beds!). If you're going to spend some money on a piece of furniture it would be nice to spend it on something that can last for at least a few years.
We opted for a painted crib so the nursery wouldn't have a 'bedroom set' feel. Whether it is a nursery or primary bedroom I always mix and match furniture for a more luxurious look and feel. When you get all of your furniture in one wood tone or paint color, it feels like you walked into a store and said, I'll take that room. It lacks personality and cheapens the overall look of the room.
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Nursery rocking chairs used to look like an old LazyBoy. They were big and clunky and didn't ever really look good in the room. Now I am happy to say that there are so many that are really quite beautiful. We chose this gorgeous mid century inspired rocking chair but you aren't limited to that style. Here are some of my favorite rocking chairs.
SHOP SOME OF THE BEST ROCKERS IN TOWN
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Open floor space was something that was important to allow for play time and this is where we brought in a floral print in a beautiful, soft rug. Although the rug doesn't have bright colors, it does have pretty blue background with a warm shade of coral pink and dove gray in its design. Rugs are such a good way to bring in a bit of fun and pops of color in any room but it is especially a good choice in a nursery. Wallpaper or large scale artwork are other ways to incorporate pattern and personality into the nursery.
Rugs, wallpaper, crib sheets, baby blankets and artwork are all great ways to incorporate pattern into the nursery. Here are some options to get you started with the dark and moody feel.
SOME THINGS TO GET YOU STARTED
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Metal accents are another great way to add a little sparkle in a room with a darker vibe. I think of metals in a room like jewelry. You don't want to overdo it but adding just enough gives you visual interest. Just like when we talked about wood tones against the wall color, the metal accents works the same way. Gold worked beautifully with the charcoal walls as opposites generally attract. The charcoal is a cool tone so the warmth of the gold pairs beautifully. If you go with a warm brown, a cool pewter would be a beautiful and interesting pairing. If you don't know which metal works, get a piece of gold jewelry and a piece of silver jewelry and hold them each against your wall color. You'll instantly see what works well.
We added gold accents in the drapery hardware, leg detail of the crib and floor lamp along with the hardware that holds this gorgeous drapery. A note of caution: it is easy to overdo it when it comes to metals so just as Coco Chanel used to say "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off", before you finalize your decor, pull all of your metal accents together and take one thing out.
When it comes to the nursery, textiles are so important. This is an area where softness reins supreme. Babies and toddlers roll around on the floor, cuddle up to their blankets and snuggle in the rocking chair with their parents. Here we have used a soft plush rug, rope footstool, linen drapery and woven wood roman shades. As you can see in this space, texture added some much needed interest without overwhelming the room.
Window treatments were an important feature in this space as I believe they are in most spaces. With this large window we knew we needed to do something both beautiful and functional. The woven wood roman shade has a blackout liner and goes all the way down to the windowsill creating the perfect dark room ready for nap time. Adding linen drapery softened up the space and added another layer of natural materials.
Just as with any other room we design, there are other elements that may not come to mind when you are thinking of redesigning a space but which make quite an impact in the room. Scent is one of those elements. In a nursery I think scent is often overlooked. There are areas in the home where we always have a candle going but the nursery isn't one of those spaces. Although you may not be putting a lit candle in your baby's room, what you can do is put a diffuser with some calming essential oils. Not only does this make your baby's room smell great but it also create a calming effect in the room, potentially helping your baby to sleep.
Please do your research: some say that you should not diffuse oils when your baby is sleeping, others say to wait to diffuse essential oils until your baby is 6 months old but when done correctly, essential oils such as Chamomile, Lavender or Eucalyptus diluted and diffused properly can be such a great addition to your nursery space.
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The nursery isn't only for your baby to get a (hopefully!) restful sleep. It is also where your child plays and learns. Luckily now there are companies out there who understand that plastic is not the only answer when it comes to all things baby. Not only are the plastic toys often boldly colored but they are full of, well, plastic which just isn't the best option. Wood toys come in more neutral shades and are safer for your baby to be playing with.
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I'm so glad we stuck with the darker tone in this nursery. It was such a great choice and I hope to see more of this moody vibe in the searches for baby nursery inspiration. If this has inspired you, be sure to tag us @elementdesignnetwork - we would love to see your nursery design!
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