Making room for baby: Today's nurseries are sleek, sophisticated

  • Article by: ERICA RIVERA , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 25, 2014 - 2:18 PM

Say bye-bye to cutesy-pie. Today's nurseries are more sophisticated and designed to grow with the child.

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So long, Winnie-the-Pooh. Today’s new parents are opting for eclectic sophistication when it comes to decorating their nurseries. “Everything is more modern,” said Tiffany Hanken of Tiffany Hanken Design in Minneapolis. Gone are the pink-or-blue color palettes, the matchy-matchy furniture sets, the cartoonish animal themes. Newborns are increasingly coming home to rooms with gray color schemes, hardwood or laminate floors and minimalist furniture. On the walls, you’ll find graphic prints and framed fabrics; beneath your feet, a faux fur rug.

“When children are small, it’s about texture and feeling, so layering those textures everywhere is trend-forward right now,” Hanken said.

While the classic nursery setup once included a crib, dresser, changing table, bookshelf and rocking chair, today’s new parents are flexible with furniture must-haves and often choose pieces that multi-task. Long dressers can double as changing tables, Hanken said. More mature custom-order swivel chairs are replacing traditional rocking chairs for rocking babies to sleep.

Cribs are still a major purchase, however, and often become the focal point of the nursery, said Tracy Hains of Che Bella Interiors of Burnsville. “That’s often the jumping-off point.”

But when it comes to cribs, clean, European and convertible are what parents crave.

“I haven’t seen a traditional-style crib in a really long time,” Hanken said.

To liven up today’s subdued nursery palettes, Hains finds ways to incorporate bursts of color. “There’s a quilt or art that the color is pulled out of,” she said. “The pops come from different sources.”

Navy blue is an up-and-coming color for nurseries, Hains said, while Hanken leans toward aqua. Both hues are being used in a gender-neutral way, with accents adding a feminine or masculine bent.

Modern moms and dads are also open to DIY projects. One of Hanken’s clients has been scouring antique stores to find a classic piece to refinish and paint herself. Hanken estimates that at least one piece in each nursery she’s done has a homemade element.

Nurseries also are getting greener. Paints that are low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) are now the norm for new parents, according to Hanken.

When it comes to big purchases, Hains encourages parents to think long-term. She recently encouraged an expectant mother to choose a neutral-colored glider. “I said, ‘What about baby No. 2? This is such an investment, do you really want it to be useful only in a female nursery?’ ”

And parents are investing, especially for first-borns. Designer rooms typically range from $5,000 to $10,000, depending on the quality of the furniture. Parents who also want drapery panels, artwork, murals and lighting can expect to pay on the higher end of the spectrum.

Initial design for a professionally designed nursery takes about four weeks (if the parents-to-be are decisive); implementation lasts from four to six weeks.

Design aside, nurseries must be useful and practical to accommodate baby care, Hains said. “You can build the most beautiful nursery in the world, but if it doesn’t provide you with functionality, we’ve missed the mark.”

Tale of three nurseries

1. Designed by a pro

Laura Engen found out that she was expecting last August, but didn’t start hatching plans for her baby’s room until after the new year. As the owner of Laura Engen Interior Design in Minneapolis, she approached her son’s nursery from the perspective of a design professional as well as a first-time mom.

After finishing her basement and relocating her home office there, Engen went to Pinterest for inspiration, keeping in mind that the nursery should complement the gray-and-white palette of her Lake Nokomis-area home.

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