Nursery Inspiration: Serene or Bold?

So now that I am halfway through my pregnancy and beginning to feel the little lad move around I have to get down to designing my nursery. And it turns out, this project is my kryptonite.  I have two schemes going- one more bold and one serene. And I CAN. NOT. DECIDE.  Since it was so difficult for me to get pregnant, who knows if I will get to do another nursery again? And since it was such a long, highly anticipated journey I feel so much pressure to make it AMAZING. So it’s got me a little freaked out and incredibly indecisive. But let’s face it- this kid’s room will be redone a few times in his choldhood, so if I go more babyish and soothing for the nursery, I could always make it more bold when he’s 3 or so….right?? :)

So I gathered up a bunch of boy nurseries in both varieties to compare and contrast. Let’s start with the serene and soothing:

Simple, bright and lovely.

This nursery by Christine Dovey  is the definition of serene- I’ve posted about it before I love it so much.

Caitlin Flemming’s nursery in Rue is a great example of serene-chic.


Love the neutral star wallpaper with the modern sconces in this nursery.

Allison K

This nursery implements neutral stripes on the ceiling and sleek furniture pieces for a modern touch.


I’ve had this one by Amber Interiors pinned for months- love the light, serene tones mixed with the vintage rug (the flatweave style seems to be a smart pick for babies room- cleanup is much easier).


Brass, wood and linen tones look great in this nursery.


Sarah Sherman Samuel’s baby boy nursery adds a couple colorful accents to an otherwise light and bright space.


Fellow blogger Camille Styles revealed her son’s chic nursery recently- love all the textures.


Love the slight nautical influence in this adorable space.


LOVE this one. The ceiling, the texture- masculine but light.


This one kind of bridges the gap between bold and serene nicely, don’t you think?


A bold paper mixed with solid green accents and light wood tones in this space.


Sarah Richardson designed this nursery with TONS of bold patterns!


This room is bold but yet still calming with it’s accent wall and small navy accents.


Emily Henderson’s nursery is the definition of fun and whimsical.


This one only uses bold color on the ceiling, leaving the rest of the space light and neutral.


This space has SO many windows (jealous) which makes patterned drapes a great choice.


This one uses a familiar rug pattern on the wall for a graphic focal point.


Red, black and tribal patterns make this room fun and bold.


This one isn’t TOO bold but does employ a fun wallpaper backdrop and hints of orange.


I like the black and white mixed with mint and gold! Funky and cool.


Love the blue wallpaper offset with the bright yellow in this nursery!


This one is very reminiscent of Jenna Lyons’ “nursery seen round the world”.


This one uses my favorite Woods wallpaper from Cole & Sons as a focal point.


So what do you prefer- a bold, fun nursery or a soothing, serene one? I’m SO TORN!!!!



  1. I had the SAME dilemma when designing my baby girls room. Bold or serene. Ultimately I ended up going serene, which I was so happy about. Not only is it calming for my little gal, I feel like when you’re trying to calm your baby, you want serene, or just enjoying some snuggle time with your little one, a serene space is the perfect spot. =) Ultimately though, go with whatever feels right for you! So excited for you, Erin!

  2. I have the Cole and Sons Woods wallpaper in the softer beige color way, wall to wall seagrass with layered tan cowhide, lots of crisp white linens, and the Regina Andrew bird chandelier in my son’s nursery and I LOVE it. It’s so peaceful.

  3. Serene!!! And then bolder for the big boy room!! (Which happens much faster than you’d think!)

  4. It sounds like you answered your own question. You will undoubtedly play with this baby’s room decor many times before he is old enough to kick you out of the process (like you will ever let that happen). Go serene. Your version will be beautiful. It isn’t like you aren’t allowed to mess with it along the way if you change your mind. Enjoy.

  5. Hmmm. These rooms seem over-designed to me. I seem to recall reading somewhere that babies can actually distinguish plaid, and lo and behold, my mother recorded in my baby book (I was the firstborn) that the first thing I noticed was the plaid on the couch. Kinda fun.

  6. I prefer something with color. It just seems warmer for a baby. And as you will learn, spit up stains. Horribly! White would be a no go until they are about 25 years old in my house. Maybe not even then!

  7. I love the bold nurseries. In fact, I did bold for my second daugther. BUT, turns out she is very easily over stimulated. She looks at the curtains and I feel like her little head might pop off. Haha, poor thing. So now, at 5 months in, I have to re-do everything to a more soothing palatte. So, my recommendation would to be to start soothing and figure out your baby’s personality and change up the room as he grows. But that’s just me. I can’t wait to see what you do!

  8. You will do a beautiful nursery and we are all anxious to see it. I agree with Casey’s comment on over stimulating. My 7 month granddaughter gets that way. ANYTHING that can get the baby to sleep is worth trying. But I have to say I love the wood ceiling, star wall paper (omg that yellow light fixture – love) and the tribal. Have fun. Be well.

  9. Hi Erin, Wow, tough choice! I love the serene, but then you could put a beautiful, bold, colorful quilt in there for punch! Whatever you decide will be perfect:)

  10. Hi Erin! I love the serene and after having two girls I’m so glad that’s the way I went to. I would have hated the bold look after awhile. Spit up stains are the worst, so definitely don’t choose a white rug which I made the mistake of doing! A fun colorful rug might be the way to go to bring in a pop of color and hide those awful stains. ;)

  11. *sigh*…wished I WOULD HAVE designed that Stockholm rug…I’ve seen it everywhere and luv it still in my home. franki

  12. Love both directions. Just keep in mind as you design that brightly colored toys are unavoidable! So a serene neutral space might not actually look that way once baby arrives :)

  13. Washable fabrics, my dear, no matter what the color scheme! Personally though, I find kids’ rooms, like powder rooms, to be little jewel boxes you can experiment with. It would be totally acceptable for Baby Gates’ room to look completely different from the rest of your house, IMHO. I lean toward colorful spaces for kids. After all, bedtime can also be learning time. My kids first learned about animals, shapes, and colors from their rooms’ decor.

  14. Hi Erin – If it helps you make your decision, infants can only see high contrast in colours, so from the baby’s perspective, a more bold room would be more interesting and stimulating for the baby.

  15. Babies have trouble seeing subtle differences in color, so from that perspective I would go bold with some bright colors and lots of contrast.

  16. Have you seen the new cole and sons woods *with* stars? It’s amazing… Would be so pretty in a nursery. Babies tend to get a lot of toys and books that brig pops of color (and fill!) the room pretty quickly. Congrats!

  17. Choices, choises…! Love the two star wallpapers and personally would only go bold with easily exchangeable pieces like cushions, blankets , toys etc. A unique painting is great, too. My baby has a small painting of a sleeping dog on her wall.

  18. I am very amused by the number of first world mothers that have commented. You ladies must have a bunch of time on your hands. Keep it up!

  19. Bold! Bold colors and high contrast visuals get babies neurons firing and have positive impact on brain development.

  20. I second the comment that babies need contrast. I think a mix of neutrals and textures with a bold color and maybe a pattern or two could be a good combo. Some of it can then maybe transfer to toddler room. Plus, light rugs are a b!tch. :)

  21. Dating myself as a forever reader but this post reminded me of your post a thousand years ago debating on buying that green boho-esque Serena and Lily sling for your future baby…just fyi, it is discontinued and I have the large (for tall girls) and never used it (well once, to get the mail and then took my daughter out ha) if by any chance you’d be interested. I just hung it in the nursery and don’t regret buying because regardless of use, it IS the cutest sling in the history of forever.

    And I vote serene, and bold for big boy room. :)

    1. serene is nice for US to admire but bold is more interesting for the babies–I think…
      that said, bold but not overwhelming…

  22. I have 4 children and from my experience the calm, relaxing, softer colors are best for the bedroom. It’s true that bold colors are stimulating to babies but you don’t want to stimulate your child at bedtime, you want them to feel cozy and relaxed. Save the bolder colors for toys at playtime (or even a playroom, if you’re lucky enough to have one.) Whatever you do, it will be fabulous, as always. :)

  23. As a new mom, my advice is to create a space that works for both of you. You’ll spend a LOT of time in this room, feeding your baby, changing him, playing with him….
    My baby is 3 months old and she is IN LOVE with wer mobile and with the tree with birds we created in her room’s wall. I put her in her crib and she would spend a long time observing every single detail, and that is so convenient for me because I get ready for my work while she sees beutiful colors, and at the same time I enjoy so much beeing in her room.
    Greetings from México!!!

  24. Go serene, all the way! The serene nurseries are so lovely and alluring, while I found the bolder nurseries overwhelming, busy, and not cohesive feeling.

  25. I had the same debate when I was expecting and ended up with the serene scheme. Truth is, there’s just a small window of time when you won’t have total color domination in their spaces by hoards of primary colored toys!! Enjoy that time as long as you can!! Mine’s 2 1/2 now and the rainbows of color everywhere are in full swing… Likely until he hits puberty. Cannot wait to see what you create for Baby G!

  26. Erin, Love the first four or five images, just so pretty and calming and lovely. Having pretty artwork and soothing music or a radio to listen to NPR etc is a nice idea as you’ll probably spend many hours in the room and having something else to look at or listen to while baby Gates is busy nursing etc. And don’t feel too trapped by the choice, as I have found that I have to do constant mini updates with getting rid of nursing chairs, getting bigger beds etc so there is always another design project down the line if you want to make it bolder or a different at a later stage. You will be on the floor a lot once crawling starts, so opt for a texture that you like to sit on as well as baby Gates :-) And having it not be too precious is good as weird projectile things may or may not happen in the room. I just reminded myself of the day that I wiped an itch on my noes while changing a baby diaper and you know what I wiped all over my nose right?

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