When decorating a nursery, one doesn’t simply layer on “paint.” One hems. One haws. One considers norms and other people’s unsolicited opinions about gender and culture. Eventually (hopefully), one settles on a color that’s somehow cheery, relaxing, inspiring, and conducive to sleep. That’s not just for the kid, by the way. They don’t get to have any opinion on the matter at first. It’s just as much for the parents, who will spend many hours over the first few years chilling cribside. The nursery paint color must therefore simultaneously inspire wonder at the miracle of life and obscure poo stains. That’s a lot to ask of latex.
So, do what parents do and overthink it with a bit of help from the experts. Design with Science principal Sally Augustin, Ph.D. is happy to help.
“A baby’s vision becomes more acute over time,” she explains. “Initially, I’m more concerned about creating a relaxing space for the parents.”
Cool. Got it. Oh, wait, here comes a designer.
“A kid’s room is their own personal space,” says Maria Killam of Colour Me Happy, who consults for Benjamin Moore and teaches classes on color theory. “We want our kids to be happy so we give a little extra effort to find a color that kids love.”
Okay, so the scientist and the designer don’t quite agree on who the nursery paint job is primarily for. That’s fine. Because they do agree on the effects of certain colors that parents should consider as they seek to craft a relaxing sanctuary for their children as well as themselves. Better to break it down that way.
What the Experts Say: Research has linked green to calming effects and enhanced creative thinking, making it an ideal bedtime story backdrop. Calming effects to soothe them to sleep and a creativity boost for you to iron out that tugboat voice you’ve been workshopping.
Choose Your Hue: “Relaxing colors are relatively bright, not saturated,” Augustin says. “Sage green mixed with a lot of white is grayer than kelly green and more relaxing. Kelly green is a truer green, not very bright, and more energizing.”