How do you design a nursery that will be home to both a boy and a girl? Decorative artist Anne Pamfilis tackled this dilemma head-on in a nursery for the Baltimore Symphony Decorators' Show House.
Her plan integrates subtle pinks and blues. She normally avoids these stereotypical colors, but, she says, "I wanted to show how you could decorate a room for a boy and girl, and it could be in harmony."
Pink and blue come in the details; the room's foundation is actually gender-neutral: yellow-and-white striped walls, white woodwork, white painted furniture, and wood floors.
On the cribs (which convert to toddler beds), the gingham pattern is carried to the bumper pads in pink and blue. Different sheets distinguish each baby's area: blue stars for the boy and pink pigs for the girl. These motifs play off the pig mobile overhead and the sculpted star rug below, which Pamfilis had made at a local designer flooring store.
At the windows, Pamfilis lined each multicolor valance with either pink or blue fabric. The simple squares hang from tension rods, with a flap tacked back. Underneath are shutters she purchased unfinished from a home center and then painted.
For a changing table, Pamfilis topped a dresser with a changing pad that can be removed when the twins move out of diapers. Like icing on the cake, touches of metallic silver on the mirror, picture frames, and shelves over the closet tie the whole scheme together.
Leslie and Scott Ryan were expecting triplets -- two girls and a boy -- and needed to convert a guest room into a nursery suitable for all three babies. "I didn't want the space to be all pink or all blue," Leslie says. She turned to interior designers Denise Antonucci and Jerry Sanfilippo for help.
A painted-furniture collection that Leslie found inspired the nursery's design. The cribs, changing tables, armoire, toy chest, shelves, and children's table and chairs feature similar but different garden and nature images, preventing monotony. Crackled finishes and checked knobs have homespun appeal.
A Beatrix Potter wallpaper and border were a perfect fit for the room. The creamy background keeps the space from looking overly cute, as does the understated white crib bedding with embroidered details.
With the furniture and wallpaper selected, the design team called in a decorative-painting firm to give the nursery consistency. The painters added clouds to the ceiling and softened the look of the lower walls and woodwork with a ragged finish. They pulled the pink and blue from the wall covering to trim the woodwork.
Furniture arrangement was also critical. "We changed the floor plan a couple of times," Antonucci says. It worked best to put the cribs on the longest uninterrupted wall, so the artwork on the cribs can be seen as you walk into the room.
A rocker was strategically placed next to the cribs so Leslie can feed the babies as they wake up. The comfy upholstered rocker wears a patchwork of pink-and-blue, bunny-print fabric; a pillow and throw reemphasize the patchwork look.
In the center of the room, the adult-size seating area is anchored by a sofa bed covered in blue quilted cotton that has been treated for stain resistance. A trunk makes a practical coffee table: It's sturdy and provides extra storage for bedding; it also has child-safe hinges that close slowly. Until the babies are old enough for their own rooms, they can sprawl in the play space near the table-and-chair set.
Tips for Twins and Triplets
- If you're having two or more babies, you'll need more space. Think about transforming a larger room in your house, such as the master bedroom or formal living room, into a nursery for two or three years.
- Provide at least as many comfortable adult seats as you have babies -- for those simultaneous 2:00 a.m. feedings.
- If you have the space, include a sofa bed or daybed in your nursery, so an adult can sleep there when necessary.
- When there are more than two babies, have at least two changing tables.
- In most rooms, position cribs along the same wall where you otherwise might place a double bed. Visually link the cribs by creating a "headboard" with decorative painting, artwork, or architectural millwork.
- Use every inch of closet storage by dividing and organizing it for each baby. Consider hiring a professional closet organizer to help you. You can leave closet doors off for easy access or replace doors with easy-to-move fabric panels.
- Add extra storage with armoires, bookcases, trunks, and toy boxes (the latter two with safety hinges). Think about using an unusual piece, such as a china cabinet or buffet, and painting it to match the rest of the room. Use wall-mounted safety anchors on tall pieces to prevent tipping.
- Though you are birthing a set, each child is his or her own person. Individualize each baby's space, perhaps with different sheets, toy displays, or mobiles.