How to Create a Stylish Nursery Without Lifting a Paint Brush

Katie Yonke BubbleThe following post was written by the amazingly gifted Katie Yonke.  Katie is an Incredible Infant columnist, focusing on home organization, nursery design, and DIY projects.  Get to know her better.

How to Create a Stylish Nursery Without Lifting a Single Paint Brush -

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “It’s time to decorate the nursery for your little one”?

  • Do you think about buying the crib and changing table?
  • Do you think about hanging a cute saying on the wall?
  • Do you not even know where to begin? It just seems like such an overwhelming process!

Well, for many people, it starts with painting the nursery walls – blue for boy and pink for girl. Right???


Here’s the thing, I HATE the process of painting!

Painting is Evil Reason #1:  You have to pick the “perfect” paint color that will match all that stuff you’re going to put in the nursery.  (No pressure…)

Painting is Evil Reason #2:  You have to tape off baseboards, trim, and ceiling which takes

Painting is Evil Reason #3:  You spend hours of arm-breaking labor painting the walls (multiple times if you’re doing more than one coat of paint) and smelling those wonderful paint fumes. *cough*

Painting is Evil Reason #4:  You peel off the tape only to find paint still managed to seep through onto nearby surfaces anyway. (UGH!!!)

Painting is Evil Reason #5:  Worst of all, you finish and realize YOU DON’T LIKE THE COLOR!!! It always looks different on the wall than on that tiny paint swatch in your hand.

Are you with me on this?

There are twelve million color options at a bunch of different stores and most of them are not the right one for you. It can be so overwhelming, right? How do you choose?

This is my answer: Don’t paint!

Say whaaaat?

Yup.  No paint brushes are needed in order to create a colorful and dreamy space for your baby. *big sigh of relief*

Today, I’m going to show you just a few of the ways in which you can add pops of color and create a stylish nursery without lifting a paint brush.

The Perfect Design Solution

Before we dive into the deep end of “How do I do this amazing no-painting thing?”, let’s look at a few of the reasons why you may find this NO PAINTING design technique particularly helpful.

  1. Do you live in an apartment with white/neutral walls and aren’t allowed to paint?
  2. Do you have an established nursery but want to freshen it up for a new sibling?
  3. Or are you a procrastinator (like me) and waited until the last minute to throw the nursery together?  Ain’t nobody go time for dat!

Enter the “Fab Four Design Method”.  It’s your white-walled knight in shining armor!

It’s guaranteed to take all the groans out of any design project in ANY room, not just the nursery.

So let’s start with the cornerstone of this Anti-Brush Movement.

The Theme.

Who Needs Paint When You Have…

Picking a theme or several primary colors that you want to use in the
nursery is actually the best place to start.

Picture in your mind’s eye what you want your adorable baby’s nursery to look like.  (If you’re struggling with this, don’t worry.  I’ve got suggestions!)

  • Is it nautical with boats and anchors everywhere?
  • Is it frilly with a lot of hearts and flowers
  • Do you want the feel of the Jungle? Perhaps with elephants
  • Or maybe your theme is just a color? Orange
  • Or perhaps you want to focus on a character like Winnie the Pooh or The Cat in the Hat. 

Basically, a theme is when you have something in mind for the overall “feel” of the room.  (Let those motherly hormones do the work!)

The virtual nursery we’re creating today uses the theme “Into the Woods”.

BTW, have you seen the latest Into the Woods movie?  I was introduced to the musical in college, and fell in love with Bernadette Peters’ version of the Witch.  (Sorry Meryl!)  Anyone with me?

The woodsy/outdoors theme is really trendy right now, mostly because it’s incredibly versatile.

It can be molded to fit boys OR girls, depending on the colors used.  It can focus on foxes, owls, and bears, or skip the animals and lean towards birch trees or flowers.  The possibilities are endless!

The Fab Four Elements of Nursery Design

Once you have the theme chosen, next comes implementing the theme using colorful items  in four different categories. Or what I refer to as “The Fab Four” elements in your design!

#1:  Nursery Furniture

We’re talking the basics here: crib, changing table or dresser, a  rocking chair, maybe a bookcase or end table. These will be the most noticeable  items in the room and can make the biggest statement toward your theme.

#2:  Crib Bedding

There are so many options out there! It’s just a matter of finding crib  sheets and a crib skirt (and maybe a cute baby blanket) that has the right colors and  pattern to contribute to your theme. Google it and you’ll probably find it!

#3: Textiles

This refers to the type of cloth and pattern used on curtains, area rugs,  baskets, and pillows. They add another dimension to the “feel” of your theme and  help contribute more color. These are what make a place feel “homey”.

#4: Decorative Accessories

Here’s where your colorful theme can really be taken up  a notch. Whether it’s art on the walls or stuffed animals on a book shelf. These items  provide a custom look to your space and make it appear “FINISHED”. Which is the end goal, right?!

Okay, so let’s see these Fab Four in action!

“Into the Woods” Nursery
A Boy’s Wilderness Adventure!

Instead of choosing paint colors for the walls, select colorful items that have a sleek boyish feel.

For our example, I choose navy, green, and orange.  They are rich masculine colors that look great when paired with woodsy browns and grays.

How to Create an "Into the Woods" Themed Nursery for a Baby Boy -

1.  Bamboo Hamper |  2. Toy Storage Baskets  |  3. Uptown Navy Dresser  |  4. Arrow Quilt  |  5.  Nature Trail Hooks  |  6.  Fox Pillow & Pebble Pillow  |  7. Arrow Bedding  |  8. Beaver Caddy  |  9. Leaf Rug  |  10. Carousel Crib  |  11. Joya Rocker  |  12. Checkmate Lamp  |  13. Bookcase Tree  |  14. Dot Curtain Panels  |  15. Overhead Lamp

Looking at the round­-up of items above, you can see all four design elements included. 

See how easy it is to transform a white-walled ho-hum nursery into a sophisticated nursery you can be proud of… without lifting a single paint brush??  Heavenly.

Your friends will be wondering what interior designer you hired!

The Wilderness Nursery Furniture…

Simple straight lines was the name of the game. It’s a tad on the modern side but has no frills. It’s screams “a boy lives here”.

The gray crib and rocking chair match, but the navy dresser (or you could use a changing table instead) stands out on it’s own. But all of it will pop against white walls.

Also, these staple pieces can easily be reused in a toddler or big boy bedroom in the future.

Take it from me, if you’re trying to conserve money, think LONG TERM. The “baby phase” may seem long in the day-to-day, but it really goes by quickly, and you don’t want baby to outgrow these expensive items too quickly.

The Wilderness Crib Bedding…

Nothing says “color” quite like the color ORANGE. You can’t miss it.

That said, we don’t want the color to hit you in the face like a brick wall… to make it a bit more of a subtle accent color, pick bedding where the masculine arrow pattern is in orange and the background is white. Your eye definitely takes notice, but it’s not overpowering. Perfection.

The Wilderness Textile Choices…

These items add to the “feel” of the nursery by adding more patterns and textures. We’re talking rugs, curtains, baskets, pillows, and blankets.

The leaf green area rug (leaves = woods … get it??? 😛 ) could be used on either a hard wood floor or on top of a neutral-colored carpeted room. It adds color to the floor.

Meanwhile, the curtains add both color and pattern to the vertical space in the room – the walls.

Throw pillows could be used decoratively in the crib or on the rocking chair. Both fit the theme perfectly in different ways and with different colors.

The laundry basket is a neutral brown color but has a great textured pattern to it.

The Wilderness Decorative Accessories…

Lighting, wall art, organization bins, and hooks all decorate the nursery with color and help contribute to our “Into the Woods” theme.

I love, love, love that green tree bookcase! It stands out as a major focal point against the white wall. Trees are “woodsy”. And it’s functional – it holds books!

Side Note: This happens to be an expensive bookcase, but this Tree Bookcase Tutorial has instructions on how to make your own for a fraction of the cost.

Another large scale option in place of the tree bookcase is a wall decal like this one. You can stick them on and peel them off as needed. Super easy.

The little beaver storage caddy could be used to hold diapers and wipes by the changing pad, and the gray and navy-patterned floor bin could hold baby toys. You just can’t beat items that are stylish and super functional. It’s a win-win.

Bonus Hint! There are some free gorgeous arrow-themed art prints available compliments of We Lived Happily Ever After.  You just add the colorful picture frames! *winkwink* #cantbeatfree

Now that you’ve seen how this all came together for a boy nursery, let’s quickly look at a colorful girly version of this theme using the Fab Four Method.

“Into the Woods” Nursery
A Girl’s Wonderland Adventure!

This nursery uses many of the same necessary items as the boy version above, but with different colors and patterns.

  • Replace the navy, green, and orange with a softer variety of pinks, coral, and aqua shades.
  • Replace the adventuring bears and beavers with sweet little girl birds and bunnies for a gentler feminized wonderland.

A Girlish Wonderland - Nursery Design Themes by

1. Laundry Tote  |  2. Bunny Blanket Buddy  |  3. Bunny & Stars Pillow  |  4.  Arrow Prints (free!)  |  5. Gray Changing Table  |  6. Jenny Lind Bookcase  |  7. Teal Book Caddy  |  8. Tally Rug  |  9. Arrow Hooks  |  10. Cottage Glider  |  11. Jenny Lind Crib  |  12. Chic Bird Hooks  |  13. Drop Changing Pad Cover  |  14. Eden Lamp  |  15. Half Moon Panels  |  16. Owl Print  |  17. Arrow Bedding

The Wonderland Nursery Furniture

The Jenny Lind crib and bookcase both have wood carvings with a girlish curve, instead of the straight lines of the boy furniture.

The aqua colors of the bookcase and caddy and the gray changing table and cottage glider will be noticeable, but not too much color to handle against white walls.

The Woodland Crib Bedding

When it comes to the bedding, color is your best friend for a strong contrast.  Here I chose pink, aqua, and gray in the crib skirt and bumper pad.  Choosing a white crib in this scenario works really well because the colorful bedding really stands out!

If you’re not a fan of crib-bumpers, you can easily eliminate them and still have all the colors you need in the remaining bedding.  (Btw, Heather thinks crib-bumpers have been given a bad rap!  Read her bumper suggestions here.)

The Woodland Textile Choices

The area rug is a neutral gray, but has a great basket weave pattern to it – giving a lot of interest to the floor space.  It also coordinates with other gray elements in the room.

The fabric patterns on the curtains, changing pad, and ohsocomfy glider rocker also look more feminine with their curvy features.

Finally, two decorative pillows were selected – one a plain gray, but with a frilly texture your baby will love to grab on to while you’re nursing, and another that has an adorable bunny pattern that will grab her curiosity.

The Woodland Decorative Accessories

Many of the items selected in my example are not merely decorative, but are actually very functional. (Score!)

A light pink basket can be placed on the changing table to hold diapers, wipes, clothes, hair pretties…anything you need to grab quickly with one hand.

The aqua and gray patterned tote can hold baby’s dirty laundry while the bird wall hooks and the over-the-door arrow hooks can be used for hanging baby blankets, hooded towels, and spring jackets.

Finally, a variety of well-chosen pieces of wall art provide color surprises and tie everything together into a soothing rhythm of design.

Paint-Haters Unite!

The next time you’re tempted to break out the brushes and force invite all your relatives to come and paint, take a deep breathe and remember the Fab Four Method!

  • No looking through countless swatches picking out the “perfect” color! (Which may not actually look so perfect once you’ve spent 45 hours applying it!)
  • No taping off the windows and trim!
  • No spending hours of armbreaking and backbreaking labor!
  • No worries of accidentally getting paint on the trim, floor, or ceiling! (Not to mention your clothes, hair, and children!)

It’s time to put the proverbial paintbrush down and get to work making a little den for your arriving cub.

You’ll have a cute and colorful nursery in no time that will have your baby hibernating all night long!

Now YOU tell ME:

  • Do you have a love/hate relationship with paint?
  • Did you paint your nursery walls?
  • What splashes of color did you use?
  • Which of the Fab Four design principles is your favorite to use?

I’d love to hear your comments!

Katie Yonke Guest Poster

Meet Katie Yonke

Katie is a wife and mother to a toddler boy and baby girl. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and taking care of her family. She’s a self-proclaimed neat-freak and loves organizing! Spending time with family and hanging out with friends are high on the priority list. In her free time, you can catch Katie drinking a warm mug of hot chocolate, browsing Pinterest, and watching Downton Abbey.

Get to know her more here or visit her blog J&K Homestead.

 I ♥ honesty. Affiliate links may be present. (See what this means.)
How to Create a Stylish Nursery Without Lifting a Single Paint Brush

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  1. Chelsea says:

    When we moved into our new home, the room that is now our nursery was painted in a taupe color. We only had the extra cash to paint one room (the neon green pre-teen room), so we stuck with the taupe and found navy, white and taupe pinstripe curtains to match and used copper musical instrument wall hangings that we had used in our old bathroom. It’s one of my favorite rooms of the house!

    • That sounds so cute Chelsea! It’s amazing what a difference LIKING the nursery can make, especially if you’ve got a challenging baby to take care of! It’s an extra layer of calm as your fighting the storm. 🙂

  2. It can’t be true can it? This made me breathe a sigh of relief that’s for sure! Fab ideas for redecorating without the fuss (or the terrible paint smell)!

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