Parenting

Decorator Says Gender Neutral Is Hot, Hot, Hot!

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It used to be that a couple would decorate their nursery in yellow or green because they intentionally wanted to avoid knowing the sex of their baby until birth. Today, however, gender-neutral nurseries are all the rage for reasons that should come as no surprise. As one mommy blogger recently chronicled, the creative director of Fisher-Price has declared fall to be the season of gender neutral décor:

If the first thing that comes to mind when decorating a nursery is whether you’re styling the space for a boy or girl, designer Jonathan Adler has news for you: It shouldn’t matter. The home décor guru and creative director at Fisher-Price says nursery trends are taking a gender-neutral turn that will direct fall trends.

“I think [the reason] is twofold: There are fewer adherences to traditional gender roles in general—boys can wear pink, girls can play with trucks. And number two: It’s easier!” Adler tells MyDomaine. “If your nursery is neutral, it’s easier to fit into the rest of your décor. It’s cohesive and doesn’t punch you in the face the way a pink, frilly princess palace would.”

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From the looks of it, Adler is a big fan of lots of white, which can either be bright and cheery or deadly dreary depending on how you use it. He also digs modern accents with a metallic edge that can last beyond the baby years. The pictures, however, look more like designs for a chic retiree than a little one on the loose.

What many designers and new parents fail to realize when it comes to decorating a nursery is that you can literally use cardboard boxes for furniture and your kid will be thrilled. For the first six months of their life they’ll spend little to no time in that room at all. Depending on your sleeping arrangements, their lack of interaction with the nursery may last even longer. So, as long as you have your basics, including a changing table and a crib (if you’re into that sort of thing) on hand, everything else really can wait until after the arrival of your little one.

But, if you’re like me and prefer to have everything ready in advance.

Next page: A few practical tips.

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Once your child is mobile he’ll start noticing the décor inasmuch as he can interact with it. Shiny knobs on dressers are a surefire hit, as is any three-dimensional wall décor within reach. (Letters spelling out a name or nickname are always a hit.) This means safety first: Make sure your furniture is secure enough that a toddler’s pull or whack won’t move it. Put all those lovely collectibles and cherished gifts either away or out of reach of little curious fingers.

Your child knows nothing of gender beyond the biology he’s been given. If you want him to play with cars, decorate with cars. If you want her to be a scientist, put a Curie poster on the wall. Seriously, you are the teacher, not popular culture. The message you want to convey will be their foundation for personal identification as they grow, gender interests and all. One very unique “gender neutral” nursery I saw last summer was designed around a geography theme by a former social studies teacher who didn’t want to know the gender of her baby, but did want to teach her child about the world. Don’t be trendy, be you. You’re the one you want your child to know.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to decorate your nursery. Mine was done mainly with a collection of odds and ends from around the house, including some old furniture pieces that were a lot sturdier than the stuff you’d buy in most baby stores today. Hit up flea markets, antique and consignment stores, even Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Elbow grease and a creative spirit will give you a personalized piece you’re proud to share with baby, whether for a year or a lifetime.