Welcoming a baby into the world undoubtedly brings huge shifts—not only in the day-to-day activities, lifestyle, and decisions of a family, but in the way new parents (and those closely connected or in proximity) shape, prioritize, and spend their time.
Over the past few years, the world has seen a new sort of ‘baby boom.’ Whether caused by the amount of time we've been spending at home, a generational shift in priorities, or simply millennials shifting into the home-buying stage, family-building has grown significantly.
In the world of home design, a new baby means changing how the home looks and operates, where different items go, and how new parents (and guests) spend their time. As such, bringing home a baby impacts how people design their homes dramatically.
Whether you’re having a baby, thinking about having a baby, or loving on someone who’s bringing home a baby, here is what you need to know about this little bundle of joy’s impact on a home.
Unique & Creative Spacing
First and foremost, families with new babies are looking for ways to creatively make and use space. For new parents, there are, essentially, two different lives—the day-to-day life with the child, and the evenings and weekends where the house has to transition from a playpen to something a little easier to navigate.
One of the trends that interior designers have seen recently is a demand for custom millwork—doors, molding, paneling, shelving, etc.—to create unique yet usable spaces.
“There has been an increased demand for custom millwork as a solution to adding storage while simultaneously hiding children's toys and items,” say Oshri Adri and Jillian Dahlman Bhatia of Adri Dahlman Interiors.
“Parents want their children's items in close proximity to where they spend the most time. While our clients with older children can use a basement space for this purpose, younger parents want to design spaces that allow their children's belongings to be in the main living spaces, but have a place to hide and store them in the evenings or when they have company."
Practicality of Layout & Items
Families are also shifting how their homes look and feel—with the changes over the past two years, and otherwise. Most notably, this is seen in the home office or spaces that serve more than one purpose.
As far as decor items, many young families are turning to products that make the work-life balance (or perhaps work-baby-balance) that much easier. For functionality, ‘all-in-one’ desks provide sit-to-stand options that are preferred for flexibility—doubling as both a work area and a diaper-changing surface simultaneously.
Other trends are finding products that not only help with work but provide ample opportunities for connection. The big idea, as far as decor and room layout goes, is focusing on what makes sense for both areas of life—work and play.
Sensory-Friendly & Human-Centered Design
Another prominent aspect of design, for babies and young children in particular, is a shift to what is considered ‘human-centric’ design—focusing on the needs of the person first.
“For young children who may not be able to communicate their needs, it is important to create a wellness-focused and comfortable environment to support their mental, physical, emotional, and sensory wellbeing,” shares Sarah Barnard, WELL and LEED accredited designer and creator. “By choosing items with adaptable features, a child can be empowered with options to meet their needs.”
Examples of this are dimmer switches on lights to empower children to set their own light levels, reconfigured tables that children can rearrange, or a bed with a canopy to create a ‘hideaway’ feel for the room.
Other, simple changes would be softening the edges of furniture to increase safety, or adding Montessori and other learning-based toys to encourage natural, independent play. Making these subtle but powerful changes can reshape a home to truly become a space that honors the new baby and new family as they transition together.
Sustainable & Affordable Furniture
Another notable shift, as far as decor goes, is the quality and longevity of materials. Millennials and new parents are looking for practical, sustainable, and high-end items (without the hefty price tag, of course).
“There is a growing interest in vintage furniture,” says Noel Fahden, VP of Merchandising at Chairish, quoting their 2021 Home Furnishings Resale Report. “As [millennials] come into homeownership and start their families, they are becoming especially enthusiastic about vintage furniture.”
One of the biggest reasons is affordability.
“Many young families may be on a budget,” Fahden says, “so vintage can be an economical choice. In most cases, vintage furniture costs up to 80% less than newly made.”
Other vintage items have become popular based on materials, and specifically more natural and eco-friendly materials taking priority.
"I'm embracing vintage rugs with babies," shares Georgia Hoyler owner of Passerine. "I have a Persian rug in the living room that I am happily keeping. I feel better knowing my son's face is inches from vegetable-dyed wool fiber during tummy time instead of a synthetic rug manufactured with who-knows-what chemicals in its glued backing."
Vintage pieces—from chairs and rugs to everything in-between—are often one-of-a-kind, too, which lends to the creativity and uniqueness that many families are looking for when it comes to creating a home. However, rather than making a statement with something flashy, expensive, or even new, parents are prioritizing the practical and eco-consciousness of vintage décor first.
New & Fun Trends
As far as uniqueness goes, some families are taking this focus a step further by creating new trends for design.
"The millennial demographic is a lot more carefree and adventurous, with parents being a lot more creative in their home decor choices,” shares Jess Munday, Co-Founder of Custom Neon. “New parents are expressing their creativity in the way they design their home and newborn's bedroom, using unique, custom neon signs to add a bright pop of colour to the space and an individualized flare. It also makes a space feel more inviting and homier.”
Whether purchasing a sign, making a DIY project, or simply adding items and stylistic changes that work, new parents are shifting design for good.