When I was pregnant, I was determined not to know the sex of the baby. I imagined this perfect little round Gerber baby, and didn’t want to battle the gendered stereotypes that early. I rolled my eyes at bibs with “Daddy’s Future Princess” or “Stud Muffin” scrawled across the chest. Luckily, my best friend hadn’t found out the sex of her baby either, and delivered a huge box of white, yellow, and gray onesies and sleepers. My dream!
I wanted to preserve every moment of round fingers, chubby wrists, delicious cheeks, and the baby smell without thoughts of ballet versus baseball.
So my husband and I set about to design a gender-neutral nursery, deepened by my desire for a calm and serene place for my baby to sleep and grow. A few people asked me what the theme was, and truthfully, we didn’t have one. We chose a color palette of light grays and whites, with a dash of mint green and gold highlights. Everything else sort of fell into place.
*NOTE: Many of our pieces were hand-me-downs, lent through family, or purchased at Home Goods. For everything else, I’ve included sources to any items that still exist online. For any items no longer available, I’ve tried to link to similar products. This post may contain affiliate links. Read full disclosures here.
1. Set the Backdrop: Those Walls!
We painted three walls a light gray for a calm, serene feel, and added a bolder accent wall. Several people looked at this wall and thought it was wallpaper. Nope. My very pregnant self handed my hubby a stencil and some paint, and relaxed with Gilmore Girls while he toiled away with August sweat running down his face. He was thrilled!
But he did an amazing job, no? I can’t pretend that the stenciling was a breeze, but we used the Endless Circles Lattice Moroccan stencil from Royal Design Stencil. It was not flimsy and did not rip. I do know that he found it a little small to cover the whole wall. There are similar stencils that are a bit larger and a lot larger that may be easier to work with.
YouTube has helpful tutorials if you decide to embark on this project! The end result was really impressive.
2. Create a Registry
Isn’t this one of the most delightful parts about being pregnant? Get that wishlist together! I created registries with both Amazon and Babies ‘R Us. I loved the flexibility of Amazon because it has many more organic items and things that are harder to find. For example, it was almost impossible to find plain white hats or bibs at the bigger box stores without loud prints and words like “Heartbreaker.” Our style is more low key.
You can get going on your Amazon registry here. Once it’s set up, start adding your favorite items below!
3. Mostly Neutral Furniture
In our case, it’s mostly all white furniture for an easy, modern canvas. We wanted a white crib with smooth lines and the ability to transform into a toddler bed. This 4-in-1 from Delta fit the bill. When our tot started standing up in the crib, it was very easy to lower down the mattress to the lowest level. Of course, then we had to remove the crib skirt. (Waah!) Speaking of….
Weirdly, my biggest “splurge” (in comparison to other available products for the same item) was the crib skirt. Because this was one of the very few pops of color in the room, I wanted it just right. I got kind of obsessed with this Herringbone Pleated mint crib skirt from Carousel Designs. After staring at it online for months, I finally pulled the trigger and was glad I did. The quality is excellent and it hung really well.
If you’re looking for a better deal, Etsy has a very similar crib skirt that is more reasonably priced.
The gray and white polka dot crib sheet is no longer available online, but this one is similar and this flannel one looks comfy. Mixing prints here was fun; it gave the neutrals more depth, but kept the sophistication.
This glider was probably the best baby gift we received! Thank you, family! Online, it almost looks gray and white striped, but it’s not. Rather, the glider and ottoman fabric has thick texture, almost like a super-soft corduroy. It easily conceals spilled formula, breastmilk, baby snots, and the occasional cracker crumbs. Everyone laughed at our risky reliance on white, but this chair has honestly not shown any signs of wear and tear yet. And we have spent (and will spend many more) hours in this chair with the babe. The back sits high enough to rest your weary head at 2am, and the rock is nice and gentle, without too much creaking.
We purchased the white shag rug at Home Goods, but Safavieh makes a very similar one.
4. Add Decorative Accents and a Shimmer of Color
I made the polka dot art myself. If you’re interested in more detail, comment below and I’ll post a tutorial. The white frames are from Michaels. They’re not the best quality, but they did the job for low-cost homemade art. I purchased mats separately.
Before getting pregnant, I had never heard of Aden and Anais, but quickly learned it was all the rage in the baby world. Despite the hype, I must admit their breathable swaddle blankets are perfect for warm weather or simply when you’re terrified that your baby won’t be able to breathe. (Hello, new parent fears!) Our little one still takes naps with these super-soft blankets, which all have tasteful and subtle designs.
While hunting for nursing bras and “hospital pajamas” at Burlington Coat Factory, I picked up this white owl. I know, who knew they had a cute home decor section? You can find similar ones here at Amazon and Overstock.
We created wall art for the gender-neutral nursery that is low-key and affordable. I simply downloaded a few cool printables from Etsy, chugged them out the color printer and framed them with assorted frames hanging around the house. RepublicaDeCali made both the elephant print and the world print, but this shop is currently taking a break. You can find a similar elephant landscape print here, an elephant with a portrait landscape, and a striking gold glitter printable world map at other Etsy stores that are just as charming.
The elephant and the starfish are an unlikely combination, but who cares? Combined with the owl, frog statue, and Pooh bear, the lack of theme is evident. But I found it allowed more creativity. If you like the underwater animals, here is a cute gold single starfish.
Pro tip: buy a bunch of inexpensive bins and fill them with burp cloths, tissues, and both disposable and reusable breast pads (if you’re hoping to nurse) and keep them scattered around the house. I was so glad we did this before the baby arrived! In every room that we spent a lot of time – the living room, baby’s nursery, and our bedroom – I had whatever I needed, especially during those marathon nursing sessions.
What are the two best things about a gender-neutral, or gender-inclusive, room?
- This room will grow and evolve with our little one as she gets older. This palette would easily welcome pops of bright colors as she develops her favorites. You could switch out a multicolored rug or bright curtains without the need to redecorate the room completely.
- We achieved the desired effect: calmness and serenity. I feel very peaceful in the nursery, and think our child does, too.