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Creating a Vintage Style Nursery

Within the walls of your nursery, your sweet little one learns about his new world. A nursery provides a warm, calming space for infants to be nurtured, mothers to find rest, and families to gather to enjoy their young ones. In the first few months of your child's life, your nursery will likely be a favorite, familiar space. So take care in creating a special, loving room for your baby. If possible, begin decorating your nursery well before your baby's due date. The last few weeks of pregnancy tend to be a very busy time, and although expecting mothers often feel a "nesting instinct" to make preparations, they will need the rest for the delivery and newborn care, soon to come. You will save yourself a lot of headaches later if your nursery is finished at least one month before your due date, so that a special, inviting space is ready for your new addition (even if your baby arrives earlier than expected).

Because children in their first few years of life grow and change so quickly, it is also important for your nursery to be designed and decorated with the future in mind. A nursery for your infant can soon become a playroom for a toddler, or bedroom for your young child. In order not to purchase too many items which will only be used for a short time, look for pieces which have multiple purposes. A dresser with a changing table on top can be used for many years to store your child's clothing and accessories. Long after the changing pad is removed, you can use the tabletop to display mementos, photo frames and figurines. You can also convert an old piece of furniture into a changing table. A sturdy, old-fashioned secretary desk, dresser, or buffet can function as a changing table with the addition of a comfortable padded bumper top and Velcro straps, as well as provide storage for wipes, ointments and other necessities. Some baby furniture stores offer armoires that have a changing table which slides out (like a drawer). Rather than purchasing a bassinet which can only be used for a few months, consider using a crib from the beginning, or a convertible "play yard" which usually can be used as a bed, changing station and later, a play pen.

In addition, because nurseries tend to be smaller rooms, take care not to overdo your baby's surroundings. Begin by determining which pieces of furniture are necessary for you and your baby. A crib, changing table, and glider are nursery staples, but parents can also add other pieces for the unique needs of each family. For example, a playful area rug or child-sized couch might be convenient if there are older siblings who may sit in on afternoon storytime sessions. Or, if both parents will be involved in feeding and caring for a new baby, an armchair or upholstered bench may provide additional seating next to a mother's rocker. If space allows for it, consider a piece of furniture for an adult to curl up for the evening. Parents who are stationed in the nursery for a vigil to care for a sick child or need to get up often for a fussy baby in the first few months may appreciate a small daybed, futon or sleeper sofa, or at least a slipcovered chaise or extra-wide easy chair. To save space, consider wall-mounted shelves or Shaker-style peg hooks, that can grow with your child and display all the special keepsakes from his or her baby and childhood years. Plenty of shelf space leaves floor space available for what it was intended: play!

Once you have determined the necessary items of furniture, decide on a theme. Some parents choose a theme based on the gender of the child, while others prefer to keep it neutral. The history enthusiast can create a vintage style nursery using a variety of themes. For example, a Victorian style nursery will include dark woods, classic prints, antiques and heirlooms. Consider purchasing a few antique reproduction toys, such as wooden planes or trains, or Victorian teddy bears or dolls, as special touches. Nurseries for little girls can include a mix of lace fabrics, toile upholsteries, cradles with intricate details, and hand-painted furnishings. A whimisical, hand-painted pendulum clock can provide a sweet addition, and is perfect for mothers during late-night feedings and babies (who love the motion of the pendulum). Parents fond of eclectic, casual decorating may want to adopt a Shabby Chic style for a nursery. Find a crib painted in a distressed white finish, and then choose a mix of light, cotton fabrics. A cozy, upholstered glider and unique vintage finds can complete the look. Keep the nursery bright and white; it will make a relaxing space and cheerful palette for your child's imagination. Finally, fairy tale and castle themes are also very popular, and allow for royal touches inspired by the medieval and Renaissance times. There are plenty of ornate, regal cribs, armoires and toy chests that can be personalized for your little prince or princess.

Every nursery should include a touch of whimsy. If your budget allows for it, consider splurging a little on one special item that can serve as your "inspiration piece" for the room. Companies such as PoshTots, Babystyle, and Cradle n' Crib offer unique and beautiful baby furniture, bedding and accessories. Our favorites include a dresser that is shaped like a giant carrot (a wonderful addition for a nursery inspired by an enchanted forest, bunnies or Beatrix Potter characters), upholstered child-sized armchairs, and an over-the-top magical pumpkin coach (an unforgettable touch for a true princess)!