Q: My sister and her partner are about to have their first baby, and my other sister and I want to help by surprising them with a painted nursery. No matter if they have a boy or girl, we all want to keep the room gender-neutral. What about purple instead? Or green, or sunny yellow?
A: This is a really great question and congratulations on your status as auntie-to-be! Color has a lot of impact on all of us, even newborns. Though newborns can’t focus on anything farther than about a foot or less, and won’t really see colors for a few months, the color of their room will affect parents and eventually the child. Bright, warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow are bold and exciting, but could create anxiety and even aggression. Yet cool colors such as blues and greens or neutrals are calming for most people. Purple seems either cool or warm, depending on how bright it is. I recommend soothing, quiet colors for anybody’s bedroom, though for kids’ rooms, more color and contrast with accents helps keep things interesting for developing eyeballs and brains.
For a nursery, consider starting with a tranquil wall color such as soft sage green or maybe a grayish lavender since you’re avoiding blue. And there is nothing wrong with a creamy off-white or beautiful soothing gray. Then have more fun and be really bold with your accent colors. Newborns need high contrast to help stimulate their brains. Think about those black-and-white spirals and striped mobiles for over their crib. Also think about dramatic black-and-white or colorful art and a boldly striped or patterned rug. Paint furniture white with black drawers and white knobs or variations on that idea. Add blankets and throw pillows in bright colors, on the chair Mom or Dad will sit in to read. Toys will come in lots of bright colors, of course.
Remember when we decorate a nursery, we often unintentionally do it for ourselves, not the baby, so keep that in mind and go bolder than you would for yourself. Good luck and have fun with this project.