How to Decorate a White Nursery

When it comes to creating kid-friendly spaces, white isn’t typically on the design agenda. However, white can actually be a very practical choice for children’s rooms, especially nurseries.

Clean and bright, a white nursery provides a fresh and flexible canvas that grows with your child. A sweet, lacy-white haven can easily shed its traditional trappings and adapt to suit any style, from cottage to contemporary. When it’s time for an update, simply re-dress the space to reflect your child’s changing tastes, incorporating their favorite colors and motifs as you go.

Envisioning a wonderfully white nursery for your little one? Working with white can be a little trickier than you’d think. Learn how to take a white room from blah to breathtaking with these simple tips for getting white right.

  • 01 of 04

    Get Tonal

    Photo via Babble.

    Think any old can of white paint will do? Think again! White is not a single color, but the sum of many. As such, it has tremendous range. Look carefully and you will see dozens and dozens of shades boasting undertones of blue, pink, yellow and even green. Pink and yellow whites soften and warm a space; whereas, icy blue whites create a stark, bright atmosphere in keeping with a more minimalist design. Thinking pastel accents and country cottage chic? Choose a warm shade. Imagining something more modern? Go for a brighter, cleaner hue.

    If you’re dressing an existing white space, don’t assume that all whites match. They don’t. For example, creamy white crib bedding that looks fresh and appealing in the store may look dirty in a nursery adorned with a cooler shade. For a clean blend, stick to a single over-arching tone.

  • 02 of 04

    Create Contrast

    Dark accents add definition to white rooms, grounding the space and creating contrast. Just as dark wood flooring creates a fabulous foundation for an all-white space, black accents and accessories give a white room substance, providing the eye with a much-needed place to rest. For a softer look, use brown instead of black.

  • 03 of 04

    Incorporate Texture and Pattern

    White rooms require a subtle complexity. Usually, we rely on color to create visual interest, but in the absence of color, texture and pattern take on a staring role, creating depth and adding character.

    When working with whites, be sure to layer in a variety of textures and patterns to keep the room from looking flat. White on white wallpaper is both subtle and sophisticated, but you can achieve the same look using a stencil and two complimentary shades of white paint. Stripes are also easy to recreate. You can even incorporate texture by alternating between flat and glossy paint. Natural textures, such as hemp, wicker and wood also add warmth and richness, while stone and metallic accents create drama in contemporary design.

  • 04 of 04

    Introduce Color

    Want to make a white room pop? Introduce a little color. Choose a single bold accent color and use sparingly throughout, or incorporate a variety of soft pastel accents, placing them around the room in small clusters. When your “big girl” eventually decides pink is passé, simply swap out a few accessories for a fresh look.

    For a more dramatic touch, consider painting one or two prominent pieces of furniture, such as a headboard or a dresser. Painting the ceiling in a pale pastel can also help to draw out colored elements from around the room, but be careful! Pastels can be deceiving, and what seems like a light color can actually be quiet powerful once it’s up. Decide on a color and then opt for a far frostier version of your chosen hue - a shade that is almost white with just a tint of color. Then look for accents in a slightly darker color.

    Not sure white is for you? Learn how to decorate with a variety of different colors on our color palette page.