gender neutral nursery with sheepskin rug, daybed, white walls, forest mural

Designing a Gender-Neutral Nursery for a Traditional Modern Home

As part of our Glenwood new construction home, we were lucky enough to help our clients design the perfect gender-neutral nursery for their first-born, who was on the way while the house was being built.

The concept for the nursery was to create a calm and peaceful space, in the modern traditional style of the rest of their home, that could adapt to the changing needs of the family as their son grew into a toddler. Our client wanted this space to be flexible enough for future children, boy or girl, without needing to completely redecorate.

gender neutral nursery by Morris Lare, Des Moines, Iowa interior designers

The bedroom reserved for the nursery was on the second floor of the home with southern views to a nature preserve and forested park. We wanted to bring in organic textures and design elements to draw on this connection to nature.

As the first step in the design process, we created a series of space plans showing the potential furniture layouts.  We landed on a simple arrangement with the crib visible immediately upon entering the room with a comfy chair in the corner next to it. Locating the crib in this spot allowed the client to easily peek in on the baby without disturbing him or coming fully into the room.

a crib with black and white animal art and a stump table in a gender neutral nursery

A whitewashed stump is the perfect petite accent table next to the upholstered swivel glider chair. A floor lamp illuminates the corner and provides reading light for story time. Soft wool carpeting in a soft beige grounds the space. A trio of frame animal sketches in black and white bring in a playful element.

a stump table with a book in a gender neutral nursery designed by Morris Lare, Des Moines Iowa Interior Designers

A large double dresser provides plenty of storage for folded clothes and diapering supplies. Not pictured…the topper for the dresser that turns it into a changing table. A large reach-in closet (not pictured) with custom shelving across the room adds plenty of extra storage for books and toys. 

The upholstered daybed is the perfect spot for the family to snuggle together during story time. It also works as a twin size bed for sleepy parents and can easily repurposed elsewhere in the home as their family gets older.

gender neutral nursery with sheepskin rug, daybed, white walls, forest mural

We selected the Rebel Walls Bellewood mural to act as large scale artwork in the room. We love the depth and dimension the mural adds to the space, and its sophisticated palette of earth greens, ochres, browns, and blush are perfect hues for a gender neutral nursery.

Since our client’s first child was a boy, we played up the more masculine tones in the paper and brought in dark greys and blacks in the accent textiles. If they should find themselves welcoming a little girl in the future, we can easily swap in pinks and soft greens.

Rebel Walls Bellewood Mural in a gender neutral nursery designed by Morris Lare, Des Moines Iowa

Woven baskets tucked in the corner provide storage for toys and extra blankets. A cozy throw draped over the arm of the daybed is just right for cuddling up to read or doze.

a brass wall sconce over an ivory daybed styled with throw pillows in a gender neutral nursery designed by Morris Lare

On one end of the daybed, an articulating wall sconce adds direct light for reading stories when the room is dark. A trio of throw pillows add to the cozy factor.

a neutral daybed styled with pillows and a throw blanket against a forest mural in a gender neutral nursery designed by Morris Lare, Des Moines, Iowa Interior Designers

The natural sheepskin rug layers over the wool carpet for tummy time. We selected woven Roman shades for the windows, with blackout liners, to add natural texture at the windows. The cordless shades are safe for children and pets and easy to operate.

Rebel Walls Bellewood Mural in a gender neutral nursery designed by Morris Lare, Des Moines Iowa

This nursery is such a delightful room, and our clients have thoroughly enjoyed it as their little boy has grown into a toddler. We love how it turned out, and we can envision it transitioning perfectly into a big boy bedroom or a nursery for a future sibling.

black and white animal sketch art over a crib in a nursery

We hope you enjoyed this little tour of the nursery at our Glenwood project. If you’re interested in creating your own gender-neutral nursery baby room, keep reading along for our best tips on how to create this look at home.

Tips for Creating a Timeless Gender-Neutral Nursery

Start with a neutral color palette and avoid bold or bright colors that are typically associated with baby’s rooms like pastel blues or pinks.

Choose a consistent undertone for your color palette – warm or cool. Then select a variety of colors that work with that undertone. For example, a warm neutral palette like the one we chose would include beiges, creams, ivorys, tans, and warm grays, charcoals, and blacks. A cool neutral palette would feature grays, whites, and blacks with blue undertones and will look better with accents in blues, lilacs, and cool greens.

Create a neutral base for the room – the base includes the wall color, the carpet or flooring, trim, and ceiling. The base should be as flexible as possible so that it works with a variety of accent pieces that can be easily swapped out later.

Select furnishings – crib, chair, dresser, nightstand, bookcase – in classic shapes that don’t feel too trendy. Aside from the crib, choose pieces that could adapt into a big kid room or be repurposed to another room in your home. Avoid “nursery” furniture sold through big box retailers. Consider vintage.

Bring in personality with a statement element like our mural. You can opt for a feature wall like we did, a large piece of artwork, or an area rug with color and pattern. Make sure this element works with the overall color palette and could potentially work in another room of your home. In other words, it shouldn’t feel too babyish.

Use small accents like pillows, lamps, and framed art to add a touch of whimsy and play. They are easily changed for future children and can veer more masculine or feminine based on your preference.

Bring in natural elements through potted plants (safe varieties, of course), woven textiles, textured elements like baskets, and organic fabrics like cotton and linen. Avoid anything shiny or plasticy.


Let us know in the comments if you enjoyed these tips and if you have any of your own advice for creating the perfect gender-neutral nursery.

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