Nursery Design: Does Painting Come First before the Bedding?

Posted by Bobbie Stucki on

Designing your baby-to-be’s nursery is an exciting project to tackle. But, many new moms don’t realize the importance of organizing their design process before they ever even start. It might seem intuitive to begin working with what you have--an empty room--and then take the design from there, but choosing the paint color before anything else can leave you with a nursery that clashes once the design is all assembled.


What’s The Focal Point?

If you want your nursery to have a beautiful design fit for any little prince or princess, you’ll want to ask yourself, what will everyone be drawn to when they walk into the room? Obviously, the crib! You should always start your nursery design with the bedding so that you can set the tone from there. Maybe you choose to go with crisp ivory colored bedding, a fun space pattern, or even a barnyard theme.

Whichever bedding style you choose, it’s going to have an effect on everything else that goes into the room. For example, you might be planning fairy-tale decor or perhaps a soothing, monotone look with a splash of color here and there.


Before you can determine which color the walls need to be painted, you need to pick out your bedding. That’s the first step to determining where the overall design needs to go.


What Pieces Do I Need?

So, now that you know that you need to begin with the bedding, what all do you need to purchase?


When it comes to adding bedding to your nursery, there are actually multiple pieces you’ll need to put together for a complete crib:


  • Crib Sheet: There are no flat sheets in cribs as they pose a suffocation risk. So, the only sheet you’ll need to be buying is the fitted sheet that will cover the mattress. You might want to splurge on a higher-quality fabric because it will be easier to remove any stains that may occur.
  • Crib Bumper: Used to stop infants who have begun getting mobile, but can’t yet stand up on their own, from getting their limbs caught in the crib bars. You will only need one during this stage of your baby’s development, but it’s smart to pick one out now while you’re in the crib design phase.
  • Crib Skirt: The skirt will wrap around the bottom part of the crib. Also called a “dust ruffle”, the purpose of it is to tie the room together. You might actually pick this part out after you’ve chosen a paint color just to help the paint color and bedding mesh perfectly.
  • Crib Quilt: Though this will initially only be a decorative piece until your child is old enough to stand, the crib quilt will also need to match their bedding and overall design. It can also be used later if you have a convertible crib that can be turned into a toddler bed.
  • Decorative Pillows: Pillows are a great way to soften the look of your nursery. Accent pillows are also the perfect way to make a certain color pop by bringing out a pattern or shade.
  • Window Valance: Though it’s not part of the crib’s bedding itself, most nursery bedding sets include a window valance that matches the design. This also helps to tie the whole room together so that it looks like one perfect design, rather than a mis-matched set of furniture.
  • Diaper Stacker: While also not used in the crib itself, a fashionable diaper stacker can help hide the otherwise eye-sore that will become of all your extra diapers in the nursery!


Where Should I Shop?

With your crib bedding shopping list in hand, the next question in your mind will likely be: Where can I buy all of this stuff? If you want everything to match, or especially if you have a specific theme in mind already, you might want to go online where there are more options. You can choose to buy a complete set, which can be limiting but convenient, or you can piece these things together one-by-one.


The latter method will give you a lot more design options, but it will also take a bit longer to check everything off your shopping list.


Additionally, when you’re shopping online, there are some considerations to make:


  • While shopping online gives you more options, you might have to bounce from one site to another to find coordinating items, or a complete set that you really like.
  • Finding coordinating items can be easy depending on your theme, but keep in mind that sometimes monitors and photos can misrepresent colors. What may look like a perfect match online could be two totally different shades in person.
  • You should account for shipping time, and make sure you check your items in person before the return window runs out!
  • Always have a look at the completed crib before making your choice about other design paint color!

Choosing A Theme

Finally, before you head out to begin shopping for bedding, you may want to go ahead and get a basic theme in mind that can guide your endeavors. If you go into the baby store with no idea of what you want your nursery to look like, you can easily get overwhelmed with all of the different colors, patterns, and themes that are currently on the market. You may wish to begin your search online by looking at Pinterest boards of nurseries, or just design blogs that feature nursery photos.


A final consideration when determining your bedding should be, obviously: Will it be a girl or a boy? If you don’t know, you should go with a unisex design that can be dressed one way or the other once they arrive. You can do this easily by saving some accent pillows and small details for later that will really compliment whichever gender your baby happens to be!


Matching Paint Color

Once you have finished shopping for your nursery bedding and it has been assembled inside the room so that you can see it all together (along with pillows, window coverings, and any other small accessories you grabbed), now you can start thinking about paint colors.


There are a few different ways that you can go about matching paint colors to your nursery bedding.


  • Pick a color already in the design to highlight. You can choose one color that’s already present in the items you have purchased and have the walls help bring that color out. For instance, this would work really well with an ivory and sweet pink bedding set in which you want to bring out the softer (ivory) tone.
  • Pick a complimentary shade. In a color wheel, complimentary colors are directly across from the color you have. This can result in brightly colored walls that don’t really fit with your design, so always consider your other options too.
  • Pick a split complimentary: This will be the main color and the two colors to either side of its compliment. This can result in a cheery, bold design.
  • Pick a triad shade: This means choosing three colors at equidistant points on the color wheel. Always be mindful of the overall design!
  • Go monochromatic: This is a top choice for nurseries because it keeps everything together, typically in a more soothing and calming fashion. Monochromatic entails picking deeper shades of the same color. So, if you have light blue bedding, you may have navy blue walls.
  • Go analogous: Pick colors surrounding your color on the color wheel.
  • Go neutral: Reduce the color you have chosen by adding black.
  • Go achromatic: This means there are no colors at all, just white, black, and grey. This can build a solid foundation for accent pillows and other pops of color.


You don’t necessarily have to use any of these color matching points as a guideline, but they can help you begin thinking up ideas. At the end of the day, just go with what your eye thinks looks best!