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Paint and wallpaper are boring. How can I bring a little ‘wow’ to my nursery walls?

Your squalling newborn doesn’t give two poopy diapers whether you paint the nursery Witty Green or Banana Crème. But you should care....


Your squalling newborn doesn’t give two poopy diapers whether you paint the nursery Witty Green or Banana Crème. But you should care. You’re going to be spending a lot of time in that room: 2am feedings, 4am diaper changes, afternoon playtime.

1 [Nursery decor] is really for the mother,” says Debbie Cerone, an Elmhurst-based mural artist who says nurseries are a huge part of her business. But that doesn’t mean you need to plop down a small fortune on designer furniture or go with the mass-market flow. (Unless you want to, and then that’s totally cool. Really.) “The thing is, the baby’s going to outgrow it, no matter what you do.” That said, Cerone advises picking designs with some staying power, like her popular nature-themed murals, which might include a large, branching tree festooned with birds, dragonflies and other creatures. She charges roughly $450 for a design like that, which takes up much of a wall.

2 If money’s no object, Michael Colligan may be your go-to nursery muralist. The artist behind Chicago’s Aki Mural Studio creates stunningly detailed nursery designs that can take him up to several weeks to complete, with prices ranging from $350–$4,000. The higher price tag typically covers a large-scale, whole-room piece. Nurseries make up 40–50 percent of his business, and Colligan says he caters to a range of tastes, from whimsical to classic. Recent projects have included a realistic solar system, Noah’s Ark and penguins in the Arctic. “I can go from one extreme to the other,” he says.

3 Commitment-phobes will appreciate walltat.com, Chicago interior designer Jordan Guide’s supercool wall decals that range from athlete silhouettes to wildlife to fairytale castles ($30–$350). “It’s do-it-yourself,” Guide says. “It’s a peel-and-stick process. You can remove it the day after you put it up or keep it for five or ten years.”

Guide often advises parents to paint a nursery’s ceiling in fun colors or patterns. “You can still bring drama into a child’s room without it seeming too sophisticated,” she says. “Design a room that more suits the adult and give them more of a subdued, calm feeling that the kid can grow into.” She suggests looking for whimsical room accents, too, such as beanbag chairs, gym mats, creative mobiles or retro furniture. Design slaves can go whole hog, too: “A lot of postmodern furniture is now in children’s sizes,” she says. “You can get an Eames chair in pint-size.” ($900, littlenest.com).