That was my first and only request, when I found out that I would be having a daughter.
And who could blame me after 8 years of raising two sons, picking up smelly soccer socks from a mountain of dirty laundry, cricket bats, feeding bearded dragons, hamsters, dogs and birds and living with the fact that burping and the passing wind is one of the many things that bring joy to little boys’ lives?
After lots of shopping, painting, furniture moving and swollen ankles, Ava Elizabeth was brought home from the hospital to a pink and white room … with fairies, flowers and lots of cushions. Aah, finally my male-dominated home had a little feminine touch to it.
(Note to pregnant ladies … husbands should do the painting and moving. That is, after all, what they’re there for).
So how does one create the perfect nursery?
Window shop if you must, but start shopping early
Many women are too nervous or superstitious to start shopping early on, fearing they’ll jinx their pregnancies. There’s nothing wrong with a little window shopping though girls. Get an idea of what shops have to offer and how that gels with your idea of the perfect nursery.
Keep a journal and a camera with you. As you go from one shop to another jot down ideas, prices and take photos of the items or shop display’s that you like.
Knowing your baby’s sex makes life much easier, but you can opt for neutral furniture and basic linen until baby is born. Many babies spend their first few weeks in a crib in mom and dad’s room anyway, so some of your maternity leave can be spent adding little bits and pieces to your baby’s room to make it more girly or boyish.
Make a budget and stick to it or go broke
If I had my way, Ava’s room would have been decorated using only the best furniture, linen and accessories. Realistically though, that would have cost me the national debt of a small island nation.
Instead, I opted to buy two really good quality pieces of furniture and a beautiful duvet set from a baby boutique. The rest came from the local supermarket and other big retail stores.
Remember that your baby is only going to use certain things for two to three years before she outgrows them, so don’t go overboard with the spending.
Also make a budget and stick to it. It’s difficult, I know, when you’re faced with a variety of fairies, teddy bears, beautiful blankets and trinkets. Think long term though; nappies cost a fortune!
Remember safety first
Make sure that your baby’s cot, compactum and other furniture is made properly and that there’s no risk of her hurting herself when she starts getting mobile.
A mosquito net, embroidered with butterflies and ribbons may be beautiful, but will your baby be able to strangle herself on it when she starts standing in her cot one day?
You also need to sit on the floor and look at the room from a small person’s perspective.
Where could the baby stick her fingers, get them caught or fall? Have you got plug protectors? Have you placed that adorable toy box up against the wall under the window? Will your baby be able to climb up onto that box when she’s a toddler and fall out the window?
Let’s be practical about this
It’s often easier to buy your linen and create the theme around that. So find that beautiful fairy duvet, bumper and pillow and then look for the decorations.
If you’re going to go the whole hog, painting the walls, drilling fixtures to your walls and buying everything according to a certain theme, stop, think about how practical it is and whether you’ll have to redecorate the room again in three years time.
Teddy bears may be cute when your son is a baby, but I’ll guarantee you, he’ll want a Spiderman room when he’s about three years old. Why not then, make your son’s room variations of blue, white and/or red. That way, when he’s older you can add things to his room, instead of being forced to redo the whole thing.
When you arrange your baby’s furniture, place the cot away from the window. This will keep her warmer in winter and away from draughts in summer.
It’s not just about the pretty things
Decorating your baby’s nursery is not just about finding that cute fairy chime, the gorgeous curtains and the pretty shelves. Your baby’s room should also be comfortable and practical.
Get a night light that you can quietly switch on at 2am for that early morning feed.
A rocking chair, with great padding, will make those feeds much more comfortable.
Consider buying a compactum or baby changing station that is wide enough to accommodate your baby when she’s older. I found it difficult to change Ava’s nappies on her compactum when she was around 8 months old as the top was very narrow.
If you don’t want to put brightly coloured pictures or fixtures on the walls that will clash with your pink and white theme … consider getting educational toys and mats that you can tie onto your baby’s cot when it’s playtime and take away when it’s nap time.
One or two containers, displayed on the compactum, will make nappy changing times much easier. Keep some nappies and wipes in one open container or basket and the creams in another.
Storage is also crucial in a baby’s room. You will, no doubt be swamped with gifts and goodies that you bought for your baby, so make sure that there are enough shelves and cupboards to store everything.
Lynne O’Connor’s children love their bedrooms:
Ciaran and Braedan (10 and 6) have a super-hero bedroom that often looks like a disaster zone, complete with their bearded dragons, cricket bats and books.
Ava’s (2) room pretty much resembles a marshmallow packet complete with cushions of various shades of pink, pink and white rugs, pink dolls and yes, pink and white linen and curtains. Needless to say, Ava will probably hate pink when she’s older.