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How to decorate your nursery like a pro

November 1, 2016


For many of us, one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy is getting our homes ready for the new arrival, with Pinterest boards ablaze with inspiration shots, and endless mall trawls to find exactly the right accessory. 

If you don’t know where to start, read on, as artist, designer, photographer and founder of Design K Karen Wandrag shares her expert tips for creating the perfect nursery…


Though most of us are renting accommodation in the UAE, we still want to make our houses feel like home and, especially when there’s a little one on the way. There are so many creative design ideas that won’t cost you an arm and a leg and combined creatively will make a huge difference on the final room design. It really doesn’t have to be crazy expensive, you just have to be smart in selecting and combining items.

Whether you are starting with a clean slate and can dictate the layout, or are working with an existing floor plan, these tips and ideas would be very useful in designing a balanced and tranquil nursery room with a reasonable budget.


Space planning

I know this may sound silly, but make sure to measure your room before you shop. It is painful to fall in love with a crib, glider or changer that simply won’t ft. A great measuring trick is to lay out newspaper in the space where you want your furniture to be, so you get a good feel for depth. Make sure to bring your measurements with you to the store so that the salesperson/designer can help you achieve the proper room layout. There is also loads of on-line floor layout programs to be utilised as well.

Also remember to place your crib, changing table and nursing chair close to each other (ideally in a triangle). This is a nursery must in the beginning to make your nights less sleepless, as it will quicken your processes.


Design starting off point

A room design always has a starting point, it could be wall decals, a beautiful cushion, an artwork, or fabric that you fall in love with. Having that starting point makes planning the rest of the room more targeted. It keeps you on track with a colour scheme and overall tone of the design.

nursery design furniture neutral

Select key pieces first

Select your key furniture pieces before you start decorating. i.e. cot, table/dresser/dhest of drawers as well as the rocker or glider Chair. A comfortable, oversized chair can be utilised in a reading corner that you and your little ones can enjoy for years to come. If you do require a daybed or sleeper couch, and have the space available, select it during this phase as well for design and layout purposes. Be clever and choose unisex designs so you can use it should you have more children. If you are using second-hand furniture or have furniture that doesn’t match, just paint it all white and it will look stunning; nothing is cuter than white furniture in a nursery ( you could even add new handles). A side table next to the chair is optional.


Avoid a theme

As tempting as it my be to buy that purple Barney bed or Little Miss Muffet nightstand, keep your selections simple and allow your furniture the flexibility to grow with your children. I believe in starting off with neutral colours and then adding some colour with accent pieces and accessories, which always provides a more elegant look. Rather consider choosing soft, tranquil colours that are calming and nurturing, which will make mother and baby feel even more relaxed. With the demands of a newborn, most mums need calm and soothing environments more than anything.



The easiest and most cost effective way for wall decoration in a nursery is to paint the walls in white, and then adding a focal wall, which could be painted in a colour and/or decorate with decals (only a few stickers required, you don’t have to fill the whole wall even and they are so easy to remove). There are so many different beautiful options for decals to choose from these days. Another option is by painting  the bottom part of the walls in a colour and the top part in white throughout the room.  You could opt for wall paper as focal wall, but this becomes a bit more costly. Always choose a satin finish paint to be able to easily wipe the walls clean.




It is a very important aspect of the design and often gets overlooked. As many of us are expats living in Dubai, it is not always an option to redo the flooring, but a really quick and easy solution is to have a light coloured plain rug custom made to fit the entire floor area, creating a very soft and cosy environment. This will also allow for crawling and future playtime and dampen the sound with all the tip-toeing in and out of the room.  There are loads of options in the local market. Remember to choose subtle colours else the room could  look smaller and boxed in.



A beautiful main ceiling light should be incorporated with either a table lamp, standing lamp or wall light (cloud below). The latter will provide an easy way to check on your baby without flooding the room with light and is useful at night when you are doing a quick feed or a nappy change Even fairy lights could be used as a decorative light in the room.  If possible add a dimmer switch on the main light, which will add a great effect in terms of ambience. Some ideas for lights below.


nursery design furniture neutral lighting


Window treatment  

There are two options .i.e. roman blinds or curtains, both are beautiful. If you have a smaller room, roman blinds are better suited, as it creates the illusion of a larger room. If you require total blackout, then rather  opt for curtains (including blackout) to keep the room dark during the night for better sleep patterns. I almost always use subtle colours, which creates harmony and balance and can easily be utilised as the room requirements change over time. There are loads of ready made options available locally.


Accessories and art

Inexpensive accessories can be selected and placed creatively to combine all design elements which will add a playful fresh and colourful feel to room. These elements include cushions, blankets, garlands, mobile, framed artwork, as well as book shelves. Various types of  bookshelves and art frames are available locally. Bookshelves could be used for displaying books and/or accessories including a beautiful garland draped from one side to the other. If you want to be very creative you could even make your own mobile and  garland and washi tape artwork on the wall as shown below.



Storage baskets are beautiful, portable and, best of all, so easy to toss things into. They can be used for stuffed animals, books, blocks, magazines and random messes that you want to hide before company arrives, and also serves as a decorative element to the room. There are beautiful wooden boxes available from IKEA (bottom right) that can be painted to create a more contemporary look and feel.


nursery design furniture neutral storage


If you have the space to create more magic in the nursery room opt for adding a teepee tent or a wooden framed bed house. This is where the little ones can just escape into their own little cocoon. These can be accessorised as much as you want. This teepee (Dhs400) is from DEN. Handmade in Nepal to support local artisans, they’re made from sturdy cotton canvas and come in natural, blue and green.


teepee den dubai




Karen says…

“I’m a passionate human, wife, artist, designer, photographer and founder of DESIGN K.  For as long as I can remember, I have had an affinity for design, art and photography, and  I just love creating… anything and everything.

My passion is creating and I am constantly visualising new designs and ideas.
Originally from South Africa, I have lived in London, Australia, and for the past eight years in Dubai. I am actually a qualified civil engineer,  however my move into the creative world  stemmed from a deep yearning to express my artistic passion.
It was a slow process with lots of learning along the way, but deeply satisfying and fulfilling. I definitely believe our homes are integrally connected to all aspects of our souls, and that our surroundings ultimately affect our mood, well-being and experience of life. 
Balancing functional and aesthetic elements are key to the creating  nurturing surroundings. Nowhere is this more important than in the environment into which we bring new-born babies, and raising young children. Nothing makes me happier than  creating spaces and art that bring others a sense of delight and peace”.


For more information and Karen’s services, visit her website here and Instagram here.



2 responses to “How to decorate your nursery like a pro”

  1. Carla says:

    This is a helpful info. I say invest in good storage, kids accumulate so much toys, I sometimes go crazy organizing my kids toys and where to put them all after

  2. Super helpful post, and love the idea of starting off with neutrals because it really is so easy to get sucked in with themes!

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