neutral nursery for a baby

Decorating Mistakes We Made With Our Baby’s Nursery

[Disclosure: this post contains gifted products.]

When Terry and I were putting Max’s bedroom together before he was born, we had absolutely no idea what we were doing. Like, none whatsoever.

Inevitably, then, we made a few mistakes along the way, which we’ve had to spend a bit of time correcting: and as the room today looks a little bit different from the one we brought Max home to, today I thought I’d take a quick look back at some of those mistakes, and what we’ve done to fix them. Starting off with…

The wrong flooring

Back when we started transforming this room from the junk room it had previously been, into a nursery, Terry campaigned pretty strongly for a wood or laminate floor. I, however, was adamant that I wanted to keep the old cream carpet we’d inherited when we bought the house: not because I thought it looked particularly good, but because I thought it would be both warmer and softer – especially once the baby started crawling.

I got my way with that decision, but regretted it almost as soon as we brought Max home: because, I mean, sure, the carpet was softer than a wood floor would be, but that didn’t really do much to make up for the fact that it was a dingy beige carpet – which was only going to get grottier as time went on.

Sure enough, a few incidents involving bodily fluids later (Er, Max’s, I mean: not ours…), and that carpet was already starting to look significantly worse for wear – as was the rug we’d put on top of it, which had developed an attractive little worn patch right at the spot we always stand in to use the changing table. What’s more, the colour might have been inoffensive, but it was also pretty drab, really, and it made the room feel similarly drab – especially during the dreary Scottish winter, when we don’t get a huge amount of daylight coming in.

I knew within a couple of weeks that I wanted to replace it, but, of course, by that point Terry – who’d originally been all for replacing the floor – had already had to replace our bedroom floor after we’d flooded it in the final weeks of my pregnancy, and he now didn’t want to even THINK about floors ever again.

Luckily for me, though, the people at UK Flooring Direct came to my aid, and kindly provided us with this gorgeous white engineered wood, which completely transformed the space. The room now feels so much lighter and brighter, and we no longer have to worry about spillages staining it forever, either, which is handy, because there are a LOT of spillages with a toddler on the loose, let me tell you…

(And no, it’s not remotely high maintenance, either: in fact, it’s much easier to keep clean than that carpet was, to be honest… The replacement rug, meanwhile, is obviously paler than the last one, so stains will be more visible on it: it was super-cheap, though, so I’m less bothered about the prospect of having to potentially replace it!)

A pale fabric sofa

In our defence, we knew this one was likely to be a mistake even as we were making it: I mean, I’m sure no one needs me to point out that babies and light-coloured fabric don’t really mix, do they? We knew this too, but we couldn’t really justify the cost of a new sofa when we had a perfectly good one looking for a new home (This sofa was originally in our bedroom, but we replaced it with a new one a few months before Max was born…), and I really wanted somewhere we could sit and feed him in his room, so we decided just to go with it, and hope it didn’t get too badly stained.

Well, folks, that sofa DID get badly stained. Several times, actually. All of those incidents happened in the first few months of Max’s life, and were courtesy of the projectile vomiting he would occasionally indulge in back then, because of reflux. We had to clean stains off that sofa more times than I care to remember (Although I DO still vividly remember the time I tried to clean it with soap, which immediately lathered up into a frothy mess which I thought I’d be mopping up for the rest of my life…), but each successive attempt at cleaning just created more watermarks on the pale fabric, which is now at least two shades darker than it was to begin with. I’ve now attempted to hide the worst of the stains with the chunky blanket shown above (Which was from LIDL, of all places. LIDL.), but if you look closely, you can still see the water stains along the bottom of it.

As I said, we didn’t really have a ton of options here, but if there’s one piece of advice I could give to anyone planning a nursery right now, it would be DON’T BE LIKE US. Don’t put a pale, fabric sofa within reach of a person who isn’t yet in full control of their bodily functions. Just… don’t.

Prints in glass frames

This one’s actually a decorating mistake we originally made throughout the entire house, not just in the nursery, and it involves buying prints in glass frames, rather than canvases. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the way the framed prints look, it’s just that I rarely actually got to SEE what they looked liked, because of all of the glare on the glass. OMG, THE GLARE, PEOPLE. It drove me crazy. I know you can’t see it in these photos, but there’s actually another window in this room, opposite the changing table, and the light it brings in meant that, when we looked at the prints on the wall, all we’d ever see would be the reflection of the room in the glass. It seems like a small thing – and, indeed, IS a small thing, really – but it had always annoyed me, so we’ve gradually been replacing all of the framed prints in the house with canvases instead, which I feel make more of a statement – mostly because you can actually see them properly.

The canvases shown above were all courtesy of Posterlounge, and Max loves them – in fact, I’m pretty sure these could be the reason behind his current obsession with “doggies”, now I come to think of it…

IKEA Kallax shelving unit in baby boy's nurseryNo open shelving

When we were originally planning this room, one thing I was absolutely certain about was that I didn’t want lots of open shelves filled with clutter: because not only does tons o’ clutter not exactly lend itself to the whole “minimal” vibe we’ve got going on in the rest of the house, I was sure the baby would just pull everything off them, anyway, so what was the point? Instead, we put in lots of storage designed to keep things out of sight, the way I like them: so there are two separate toy boxes, lots of drawer space, a built in wardrobe… and, at first, absolutely NO SHELVES.

Yeah, that situation lasted about three months, basically.

The fact is, I may not love the look of open shelving, particularly (I mean, I don’t HATE it, either, it’s just all… well, it’s a lot of STUFF, isn’t it? STUFF that’s just sitting there gathering dust, and making me feel slightly itchy every time I look at it.), but it turns out I don’t exactly love rummaging through a toy box to find that book I want to read Max, either – and that’s what I was having to do before we bought our IKEA shelving unit. It’s that eternal battle between laziness and minimalism, isn’t it? In this case, it wasn’t just laziness on my part that led us to the storage section of IKEA: it was the fact that, as Max got older, and started to be more aware of his surroundings, we figured it would be nice for him to be able to explore his room properly, and have easier access to all of his toys and books. So we bought the shelving unit, and it was an instant success, because having all of his favourite things out on display not only made the room a bit more interesting for him, it also allowed him, even as a much smaller baby, to point to the toy he wanted to play with, so we could get it down for him.

He obviously can’t reach the very top shelves on this unit (And neither can I unless I stand on something. We use those top shelves to store things we don’t use every day, or which he’s either outgrown, or not yet grown into, though, so it’s not a big deal…), but he does thoroughly enjoy rummaging through the ones he CAN reach. And yes, he absolutely DOES just pull everything off the shelves on a daily basis – there is that. Pulling things off shelves is one of Max’s favourite pastimes, though, so who am I to deny him that pleasure? Who indeed.

Amazon Echo Review

The Complete Lack of Alexa

OK, this last one will sound totally ridiculous, because obviously most people manage to function perfectly well without an Amazon Echo doing their every bidding. And we function perfectly well without one too, of course (That’s a total lie, by the way. I’m just saying it to make myself feel better…): it’s just that… well, we don’t really WANT to, basically. And there’s no denying that when you’re busy trying to change a nappy, or get a cranky toddler off to sleep (We’re currently in the process of weaning Max off his dummy at night, which basically means having to start from scratch with the sleep training we thought we’d done so well with last year…), Alexa makes things a whole lot easier, doesn’t she?

We use the Echo in Max’s room to control the lights (We installed a smart bulb in here, which changes colour, as well as dimming and brightening as required…) and heating, to play music during the day, and to play white noise at night. We’re presumably going to have to re-think this arrangement once he realises that he can command Alexa himself (I’m still laughing at the time our friend’s little boy came into our living room, and spotting the Echo on the coffee table, immediately tried to use it to order something from Amazon…), but for now, it’s really handy to be able to turn the lights off and the white noise on, all from the comfort of the (stained) sofa. All hail Alexa!

And I think that’s it – until we find the time to make some more mistakes, obviously…

P.S. I write a weekly diary which goes out every Friday to my subscribers. Sign up below to get on the list...

books by Amber Eve
  • Myra


    Good advice, as ever. Were you aware you can get non-reflective glass for frames, which is great, especially if you like prints in frames (and canvases get dusty and marked)? You won’t get it in stores like IKEA though as it is more expensive, but if you have something special, a framer will make the frame with non-reflective glass.

    May 13, 2019
  • Amber


    We had our kid’s dresser in the closet, which meant that the closet was not being used well. We have finally moved it out and it is so much better. I wish we got one of those corner nets that hold all the stuffed animals. I think we are going to get one now and add it to the reading nook space we are making. I wish we had had time to paint his room.

    May 17, 2019
  • Liz


    Where did you get the sofa for the babies nursery from? I love it and want one just like that.

    June 23, 2020