08/22/2014 08:39 EDT | Updated 10/27/2014 05:59 EDT

Top Tips for Transitioning a Nursery to a Toddler-Friendly Bedroom

Amanda Blakely


When it comes to matters of home design, we entrust the professionals. So when facing a recent decor conundrum, we went straight to the source. Interior Designer, Montana Labelle, a fresh face on the Canadian design scene, but with a stylish eye and well-honed sense of design, her portfolio is impressive. Her mission is to transform the mundane into timeless environments for modern living. We recently sat down with her to gather her top tips for transforming a nursery into a fun toddler room that still has a design sensibility that resonates with the parents.

What are the most important things to consider when creating a sophisticated space for children that will appeal to the child as much as the parent?

Nurseries and children's rooms are an excellent place to have fun with your home's décor. Thankfully, in 2014, traditional children's colors of pink and blue are no longer de rigeur for cool kids rooms. The modern nursery or toddler room is gender neutral, mixing unexpected textures, clean lines, and artwork to create a space that is as unique and fun as they are.

What are the 5 MUST pieces that can help transition a nursery into a toddler room?

1. The bed - Whether choosing a toddler bed (which has a limited time span of use) or a single (twin sized) bed its important to select something that feels fun, grown up and will make your little one excited for bedtime! In my opinion, a toddler bed is well worth the investment. Not only for the excitement your child will feel sleeping in it during the younger years, but also for the older years when it can be used as a cool storage area for toys or a seating area for playrooms. In addition, it can ultimately be handed down to subsequent children for additional years of use.



1 Buisjes & Beugels Bed /2 Leander Junior Bed /3 Ikea ÖVRE Bed /4 Rafa Kids R-Toddler Bed /5 Similar Day Bed here / 6 House Bed / 7 Similar here

2. Soft textures - this can be anything from furry throw pillows, blankets, or rugs. Their comfy touch is perfect for gentle skin. Delicate fabric and surfaces make the space inviting for curling up with a book or puzzle or simply playing on the floor with their toys. A soft area rug or carpeting is a must.


1 Moroccan Wedding Blankets / 2 Zebra felt rug / 3 Heirloom Bear Blanket, Similar here

3. Artwork - that shows that it is not a baby's room anymore. Traditionally, every kids room I have arrived at is littered with pink or blue paintings of giraffes, cartoon ducks, and teddy bears. This artwork is entirely outdated. Instead, select something unexpected and interesting. I have noticed a trend towards large wall murals in nurseries using unexpected scenes or artists not commonly associated with a child's taste, like the below Goya artwork. Wallpaper is also a fun addition to add color and personality.


A great example of using children's art work as decor and the above mentioned Goya wallpaper, brain child of artist and designer Maryam Keyhani

4. Storage - as babies turn to toddlers and toddlers turn to children their collection of toys and books will continue to grow. Having appropriate storage for all of these toys will help keep the room looking clean, fresh and organized. Whether it happens to be an antique wooden armoire, a modern white lacquered bookshelf, or some simple white or grey felt baskets on the floor, storage is ESSENTIAL!


Storage is the name of the game to keep some semblance of organization in your toddler's room


1 School House Wire Basket / 2 Restore Basket / 3 Moroccan Wedding Baskets / 4 Metallic Woven Baskets

5. A play area all their own - like a tepee, fort, large doll house, mini kitchen... a make believe element or little hideaway to add some magic to their space.



1 Gourmet Fridge / 2 Puppet theater 3 / Gourmet Kitchen / 4 Little House Fort / 5 HouseInhabit Teepee / 6 Brio Stove / 7 Wooden Castle / 8 Custom Castle

What are the key takeaways for parents making the investment to redecorate a room for their toddlers?

- A gender neutral room will allow parents to use the pieces for longer as the children grow up, add additional siblings and possibly even use the pieces elsewhere in the home.

- Look for furnishings that serve more than one purpose, that will grow with the child or that can be put to use in another room later on - especially when you're dropping a wad of cash. Good long-term investments include a bassinet that transforms into a toy basket, a crib that turns into a toddler bed, or a rocking chair/reading chair that you can pull into the living room once your rock-a-bye days are done.


We love this chair for a kids room and eventually a study or den


  • Blue For Girls
    Chip Lay
    Blogger Joni Lay found her "baby blue" room paint on the more aqua end of the spectrum, a shade that could easily suit either a boy or a girl, especially since it's anchored by black and white. An arrangement of family photos above the changing table stand in for overly babyish art and double as a "family tree" of sorts.
  • Dark Walls
    Nadia Drapos Photography
    Chocolate brown stands in perfectly for the more predictable pink in this twin girls' room by designer Natalie D'Urso of Milka Interiors. D'Urso brought in feminine flourishes by way of polka dot wall decals, pastel bedding and a set of pink suitcases instead, which means there's no repainting required if the room ever assumes another use.
  • Grown-Up Patterns
    Daniel Stingu
    Sleek surroundings (like the New York City skyline) call for equally streamlined sleeping quarters for one Manhattan-based baby. Design firm Lily Z. brought the traditional boy blue into more neutral territory, pairing navy with gray and yellow, throwing in some more grown-up nods to new life, including a Womb chair and an Egg lamp from Hive Modern.
  • Real Artwork
    Trevor Tondro
    A James Rosenquist screenprint titled "for the young artist" was the inspiration for Tilton Fenwick designer Anne Maxwell Foster's daughter's room. "People are often scared to buy real art for kids' bedrooms," Foster's design partner Suysel dePedro Cunningham says. But "it is impossible for a room to be too babyish when you have amazing art to anchor the room," she adds. To balance it all out, the duo added less expensive whimsical elements like a custom mobile from Etsy made of leftover fabrics from the room.
  • Black & White
    Maria Agustin
    Black and white are the ultimate equalizers, especially when layered over a gray backdrop as they were in this little lady's room. Patterns like polka dots and trellis keep the space from feeling too stark, while the wall decal from Urbanwalls pretty much sums up how we feel about the space.
  • A Mini Man Cave
    Men's suiting served as the inspiration for this "mini man cave" designed with items that could easily transition from one space to another. "If it can't be used in any room in my house, I don't want it," Project Nursery user Krob wrote.
  • Used Goods
    Heidi Geldhauser
    For her son's animal-themed nursery, designer Erica Loesing scoured Craig's List and thrift stores for the perfect sideboard-turned-changing-table and a collection of creatures, which she painted all the same hue. Other found objects include a mid-century ottoman that she had reupholstered and a vintage metal basket that holds baby blankets now, but could easily stow toys later on.
  • Fashion-Inspired
    Kelly green and white stripes are a dead giveaway to the inspiration for this room -- the original Kate Spade shopping bag. To create the look, Project Nursery user awightwick recommends buying a laser level for the painting job and using a credit card to seal painter's tape before painting stripes. It will make for a clean rip when you're done.
  • Save The Sex For Last
    Kelly Stuart
    Not only was fashion editor Violet Gaynor too busy writing a book throughout her pregnancy to decorate her baby-to-be's nursery, but she also left the baby's sex a surprise until birth. That means she was forced to keep the tiny office-turned-nursery neutral, which was a far cry from the lavender wall-to-wall carpeting that covered the space when it served as her own bedroom back in high school. Check out the adorable little person who occupies the room now.