Cradle of civilisation: Nurseries rock a contemporary new look
Grey comes into its own as neutral shade while pink and blue are banished
Baby Ventura cot: In a post-gender society it is hard to believe that the colour-coding of pink for girls and blue for boys was once the reverse
The nursery has moved on from its Victorian origins as a room hidden from view at the top of the house, where children were expected to be seen but not heard.
These days the room is at the heart of the house. It is most likely a box room adjacent to the soon-to-be parents’ accommodation. While there are no end of ideas on social media on how to decorate your baby’s room, there are several practical considerations that should be taken into account before you open your wallet.
In a post-gender society it is hard to believe that the colour-coding of pink for girls and blue for boys was once the reverse. Boys were attired in pink, then considered a stronger colour to dainty baby blue. It wasn’t until after the first World War that the paradigm we are familiar with emerged with Time magazine printing a chart showing gender-appropriate colours for girls and boys according to leading US stores in 1927, the Smithsonian recently noted.
And it was not until accurate prenatal testing in the 1980s, in conjunction with the rise of consumerism, that would-be parents started shopping for blue- or pink-themed nursery furnishings before baby showed up.
While paint technology has moved on to create far softer shades of both colours, the whole “colourscape” has also evolved, says Arlene McIntryre of Ventura Design. Nursery rooms are now big business and she is about to launch Ventura Baby, a furniture collection for the smallest member of the family, inspired by the fact that two of her design team have had children in the last 12 months and that she was often being asked to kit out nurseries for private clients.
The collection comprises three key pieces of furniture; a changing table you can order in any colour which features a top that can be removed so the chest of drawers can be used as the child grows; a cot that McIntyre has done in grey for her display at the forthcoming Ideal Homes Show – a colour you don’t usually associate with a child’s bedroom but is now a seriously strong neutral according to McIntryre; and a well-upholstered nursing chair. Finishing touches include stencilling, wall decals and cute, decorative soft toys in the shape of balloons and stars.
But before you get the builders in to make any structural changes remember that teeny tiny tots are only teeny for a shot time. Don’t dramatically alter a room counsels Denise O’Connor of Optimise Design who also says you should factor in storage. “A deep drawer under a changing table or bed can house toys, soothers, teething paraphernalia, nappies, baby-wipes and blankets so they’re all within easy reach but out of sight.”
You can bring in oodles of personality by adding cool prints as well as colour. Cute accessories abound. Ikea has an extensive nursery section while Sandymount-based Mira Mira has great letter banners. UK-based Nordic House stocks lovely ideas that you should hint at as gifts; ceramic wall balloons, about €23 in three pastel colours; or a woolly mammoth rocker, about €159; as well as big cloud nightlights and letter banners.
Finally, don’t be tempted to drown the room in synthetic smells, suggests O’Connor. “Fresh air is the nicest scent of all,” she says.
See Ventura Baby at the Colourtrend Design Forum at the upcoming Ideal Homes Show.
Optimise Design is also at the event in the RDS, which runs October 27th- 30th, and will offer affordable architectural design packages for the whole house, including the nursery.