Nursery Painting Guide For New Parents


Expectant parents have a lot on their minds. Parenting styles, birth preference plans, car seat safety, health insurance, doctor’s visits, daycare options, diaper rash cream and a college savings plan, just to name a few. And among your top concerns? Creating a safe, soothing environment for baby. With so much to do before your little peanut arrives, you don’t have time to second-guess your nursery paint colors. Take the guesswork out of your nursery decor with this painting guide. From choosing calming colors to avoiding harmful compounds, rest easy knowing you’ve made the right paint choices.

Use Safe Paint

Your first and foremost concern for your new bundle of joy is safety. Unfortunately, many paints carry high concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which could cause negative health effects such as headaches, nausea, and eye, nose and throat irritation according to the EPA. To ensure your baby has minimal exposure to toxic pollutants, look for paint with low or zero VOCs. Just keep in mind that you may need to apply more than one coat, since VOCs affect performance. For even greater assurance, look for Green Seal Certified paint, which looks at raw materials and performance as well as VOCs.

Choose Calming Colors

You’ll be spending a lot of time in the nursery with your baby, so it’s important that you like the wall colors. Beyond your personal preference, you should also consider the mood that certain colors create. Yellow can feel cheerful and happy but, like red or orange, this playful shade could be too energetic to foster quality sleep. Instead, choose colors like white, green and blue for a calming effect. White can give the room a sense of purity and innocence, while the color blue suggests serenity and loyalty. HGTV recommends opting for a monochromatic palette to make the space feel more expansive. Complete the look with matching, noise-reducing curtains. Light-blocking curtains in a dark color could also help lower the level of light in the room to help with nap time.

Opt for an Eggshell Finish

Once you’ve chosen your color, you’ll need to choose your paint finish. A matte finish will hide imperfections better but will be difficult to clean. (Warning: cute and sticky jam fingers are coming for those candy-colored walls.) A glossy finish is easy to wipe clean but highlights any flaws in the painted surface. So unless you’re confident that your late-night painting session is up to professional standards, it’s best to avoid a high- or semi-gloss finish. Save that for your trim. A good compromise for hard-working nursery walls is an eggshell or satin finish, which is durable, stain resistant and hides imperfections well.

Consider the Light

The intensity and temperature of the light in a nursery depends highly on the direction the windows face. For example, a north-facing window will cast a cool, bluish light in the room all day, making blue walls feel too cold. Conversely, a south-facing window will cast a warm orange-yellow light all day, making bright walls too intense. New parents should also consider the amount of light the wall colors will reflect. Generally the more white there is in a color, the higher the Light Reflective Value (LRV). This indicates the percentage of light that is reflected — rather than absorbed — by the paint. If you want a nursery that is good for napping, it would be wise to consider a paint with a lower LRV.

5. Play with Pattern

An infant’s eyesight isn’t as developed as an adult’s, so your baby may not be able to discern between subtle shades of color. To provide appropriate visual stimulation, use contrasting colors in the nursery. You can achieve high color contrast that will fascinate your baby and aid in development by painting a striped or checkered pattern on the wall. Or get creative with a mod chevron or plaid pattern. Use painter’s tape for crisp lines on a simple pattern like stripes, or use stencils for more detailed or curved patterns like safari animals or tree branches.

6. Try a Mural

It may sound too ambitious, but painting a wall mural can be quite easy. Plus, murals are a great way to infuse some whimsy into the room without spending a fortune on expensive artwork. Simply rent or borrow a projector to cast the silhouette of a favorite cartoon or children’s book character on the wall, trace the shape’s outline with a soft pencil, and paint away. Use leftover latex paint from other house projects or acrylic paint from a craft store along with high quality synthetic brushes in several sizes.

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