Every mom-to-be delights in dreaming of baby’s room. Whether the dream’s imbued with pastel shades of blue or pink, or veers outside of tradition with neutral-shaded palettes that allow whimsical and bold accents to shine, baby room décor always has heart, as the primary resident is fiercely beloved. And, though nurseries’ themes are as varied as the babies who sleep in them, we always protect what we love. Is there a way to make baby’s room safe without compromising on style?
Mary Puntillo, neonatal nurse clinician for Community Hospital in Munster, recalls the first time she saw a local store get it right when it came to showing a baby-safe nursery in its floor display. It was three years ago, when she walked into the Schererville Bed Bath & Beyond’s Buy Buy Baby section. As part of her job, she says, “I scope out stores for baby supplies, and seeing unsafe elements incorporated into showroom displays would get my blood pressure up. I absolutely loved what I saw at Buy Buy Baby. Families are drawn to pretty stuff, and this set-up was also perfect for safety. It’s a service to the public.”
Puntillo was so impressed that she sought out a store rep to commend them, and met Patricia De Boer, bridal manager and baby registry representative and expert for Bed Bath & Beyond, Schererville. De Boer says, “I’m proud to be in a registry department that doesn’t just hand a scan gun to a customer. We’re trained to know our products, assist customers in choosing what is best for their homes, and help them with information on how to install such items.” De Boer’s and Puntillo’s shared passion for baby safety led to a partnership between Bed Bath & Beyond and Community Hospital in which Bed Bath & Beyond provides baby bags filled with vendor samples, coupons, and a baby book with safety advice to new moms. The two entities have also sponsored baby fairs with vendors and baby care and health experts.
Puntillo stresses that safe doesn’t have to be ugly. While it’s true that items such as adorable throw pillows, ruffled bumpers, and luxurious comforters shouldn’t be in the crib with baby, there are other ways to beautify the crib. “You can add a beautiful skirt to the bottom of the crib,” she says. Likewise, there is a variety of quality pieces and accents that meld security and beauty.
As a style maven, Kristen La Rocca, owner of Mink in Crown Point and new mom to son, Sevastian, admits that she puts pillows and throw blankets in the crib, but quickly follows with the reassurance that, “Yes, they are removed when we put him in there to sleep!” La Rocca loves her cute, handmade fitted sheets, and says, “It’s much faster to make a baby’s bed than an adult bed.” To baby proof without creating an eyesore, she recommends incorporating monotone color for safety such as clear outlet covers. “This allows for safety, but doesn’t take away from the design of your home,” she says.
La Rocca is a modern mama who refuses to be constrained by traditional baby pastel shades and themes. Her inspiration in decorating Sevastian’s room came from the colors of the rest of her home: white, gray, cream, and black. “I am afraid of color!" she says. "Color feels so permanent to me, so I like to play it safe with neutrals and textures, adding in accent colors if need be.” Deriving inspiration from Instagram, she incorporated unique, quality pieces such as a repurposed dresser from Est. 1964 (her mom's company), a caramel colored tufted leather ottoman, and floating shelving built by her craftsman brother to design a classic, not clichéd, room with personality. “My husband said, ‘This is not a baby’s room; this is a little gentleman’s room.’”
De Boer notices many customers are bucking tradition, and says the current overriding trend is parents putting their personal stamp on baby’s room. “The new trend seems to be the chevron stripe with soft grays and accents of any color,” she says. “Nautical accents are popular too.” She tells of a couple she recently worked with who based their baby room décor on their son’s name, Theodore. “They will call him Teddy, and are doing the room with teddy bears.”
For Ashley Carson of LaPorte, decorating her daughter Charlie's nursery was all about maximizing the space. "The bedrooms in our home are small, so I knew I wanted to do something fun but also quiet," Carson says. "I wanted an accent wall but I didn't want it to 'scream' at you when you walked in." The inspiration piece—which lead to a geometric pattern on the wall—was a cream pillow with gold geometric shapes Carson found at Target. "As soon as I saw it, I knew that was it. That was what I wanted this wall to be," she says. Some other special touches include handmade pom-pom garland, a framed record of Ashley and husband Ben's wedding song, and a storm cloud mobile and lighting bolt marquee to highlight the middle name baby Charlie shares with mom: Thunder.
For La Rocca, her husband, and their son, the nursery is an oasis of serenity. “Every piece in his room is special to me,” she says. “They all serve a different purpose and come from somewhere or someone special.”