Gone are the days when an infant's room had to be pastel. Today's babies are more likely to hang out in room that's black or gray and accented with pops of color and sparkling accessories.
First comes love, then comes marriage and then comes time to pick out the baby carriage — and decorate the nursery.<>
Already the tabloids are speculating on the room where England's heir to the throne will lay his royal head when Prince William's and Kate Middleton's baby is born in July. And even though Kim Kardashian and Kanye West aren't quite in sync with the old rhyme, the gossip magazines are anticipating the extravagant nursery the couple will add to their $11 million mansion in Bel Air.<>
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Not to mention the nursery that Joe Flacco and his wife, Dana, can create for their second child with the Ravens quarterback's new $120.6 million deal.<>
But decorating a nursery fit for a prince or princess — or the next reality TV star — doesn't require a royal treasury, decorators say.<>
The key to creating a nursery that is both chic and affordable is to focus on functionality and adaptability. Most cribs (even the $7,300 one Kate Middleton reportedly is eyeing) convert to toddler beds or even twin beds. Designers say expectant parents also are moving away from pastel pinks and blues and creating rooms that will be suitable as babies grow into toddlers and even teens.<>
"I wouldn't say there is one style," says Jackie Bayer, a designer with Amanda Austin Interiors in Baltimore. "People are more daring in expressing the things they like."<>
Interior decorating, even that for nurseries, frequently follows fashion trends, designers say.<>
"One of the things I'm seeing a lot more of is elegance to the nursery," says Mary Bauer, owner of Baltimore-based Bratt Decor, whose clients have included Jennifer Lopez and Kourtney Kardashian. "People are really breaking out of that [idea the] baby room has to look very different from the rest of the house."
Increasingly parents are looking to decorate nurseries with elements they might use in other rooms, including chandeliers, antique furniture and elegant colors, designers say.<>
"Nurseries are moving away from the traditional matchy-matchy look to a more sophisticated look," says Melissa Smith, a Westminster interior designer. "I think parents are trying to look a little more to the future and design a nursery that goes with their kids."<>
Gray walls with neon accents have been hot in recent years, but some designers say black is becoming popular in nurseries.<>
Sherri Blum, a Harrisburg, Pa., interior designer who helped design nurseries for former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott and TV star Tori Spelling, also predicts a soft linen hue will become a popular neutral color in the coming year. She says she also expects to see more emerald showing up in the nursery after Pantone named it the color of the year.<>
"We will most definitely see more of this color popping up in our bedding, rugs and more over the next year or two," she says.<>
Horizontal stripes and chevron patterns are also growing in popularity, she says. "Chevron is fun and gender-neutral, making it a great choice for any nursery," Blum says.<>
Designers say a popular and affordable decorating trick is creating an accent wall with wallpaper, a mural or a contrasting color.<>
"The most affordable way to get high designer impact is with color," Bauer says. "Definitely have fun painting the wall. Also, paint the ceiling a different color. Put a stripe on the wall. It's so cheap, and it adds so much punch to your room."
Parents decorating the nursery ought to pay particular attention to the ceiling because babies spend so much time looking up at it, Smith says. "I think it's really important to add some ceiling detail. Cool paint jobs, stickers, 3-D butterflies, molding on the ceiling. …That can really complete a design."<>
Baltimore designer Paula Henry added ceiling interest to a nursery she designed for a Baltimore Symphony Associates show house two years ago by hanging a glass chandelier over the crib. The sparkling glass was complemented by glitter-infused black paint on the walls.<>
"The whole room literally sparkled," she says.<>
Written by: Liz Atwood