Nursery Trends and Safety: Podcast Episode #150
Kristin chats with Naomi Coe, founder of Little Crown Interiors and author of Your Perfect Nursery about nursery trends and nursery safety. You can listen to this complete podcast episode wherever you find your podcasts.
Welcome. You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting. Let’s chat!
Kristin: Welcome to Ask the Doulas. This is Kristin, and I’m here today with Naomi Coe. Naomi is the founder of Little Crown Interiors and the author of Your Perfect Nursery. Her design studio focuses solely on nursery and child spaces, blending together beauty, functionality, and safety. Naomi’s work has been featured widely in print, web, and on television including Domino, People Magazine, HGTV, and many more. Little Crown Interiors is located in southern California and also does e-designs across the US. Welcome, Naomi!
Naomi: Hi, thanks for having me!
Kristin: So excited to chat with you. So let’s get into some of the topics related to nursery design and prepping for baby.
Naomi: Yes, so as you mentioned, I specialize in nursery design, and it’s a very interesting specialization because I’m dealing primarily with first-time parents. So there’s a lot of kind of specialized information. There’s a lot of safety and functionality that goes along with it. So it’s very different than typical interior design for a living room or a kitchen or things like that.
Kristin: That makes perfect sense. So what are you seeing to start out with trends that are coming up with nursery design, and what is out there as far as the newest furniture pieces or accessories for nurseries?
Naomi: So there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that there is so much out there now, and any trend that you see that you want to take part in for your nursery, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find pieces and décor that fit with that, and that’s also kind of the bad news, which is that there’s just so much out there. And a lot of my clients come to me, and they’re just completely overwhelmed. So if there’s a specific style or trend that they’re looking for or that they’ve saved some Instagram images, then I definitely can help guide them towards that. As far as trends that I’m seeing now, I would say some of the bigger ones are definitely neutrals, and that goes both for neutral color palettes and also gender neutral spaces. We’re seeing a lot more of just those colors, the soft, you know, whites and creams and layered texture, but then also a lot of parents who are choosing not to find out the sex of the baby or who want to specifically not plan around that. So those are both things that I’m seeing a lot of in the last six months to a year, which is kind of exciting, I think, especially the not working specifically within the gendered baby idea. So it doesn’t have to be pink for girls and blue for boys anymore, which is great, and not only for just the well-being of the families, but also for creativity in the space. It lets you out of the box.
Kristin: Definitely. And then if your clients end up wanting to expand their family and keep that room as a dedicated nursery, it could work with future babies, as well?
Naomi: Exactly, yes. It’s much more versatile. And I think that versatility has really become something parents are looking for post-COVID. I’ve noticed this switch whereas before a lot of people were more open to very individualistic spaces, and now because everyone was forced to stay at home for that period of time, everyone’s looking for versatility. How can I use this space for multiple functionalities? Maybe it’s going to end up being an office. Maybe it’s going to end up being a shared room, all of this stuff. So that versatility is something people are very aware of now.
Kristin: That makes sense. So as far as your clients that are on a tight budget, what are the things that you would most recommend spending your money on versus what you can find a different way to either do it yourself with some of the décor items, or what is worth hiring a professional, whether it’s a painter or whatever it might be?
Naomi: There’s a lot of wiggle room there because the bare bones nursery as far as just the items you need, and when I say need, I mean, you know, for function and safety, there’s very few things. So a lot of the rest of the nursery ends up being décor and things that just make you feel good. So of course, my job, being an interior designer, is to make the space feel really nice for the client, and the budget’s going to get allocated depending on what they think that means. So I have clients who find a crib that they just are obsessed with, and they have to have that crib, and it’s expensive. So then we can do non-custom window treatments, or we can do art work from Etsy or things like that to kind of layer in. No problem at all with doing some pieces that are splurge and some that are save, assuming of course that they’re safe. So as far as generally, I would say the crib and the changing table or dresser and your glider, so the three kind of cornerstone pieces, should be good enough quality that they’ll last, because you don’t want to end up in a situation where you have to just buy new furniture in a couple of years, which ends up costing more. So the crib, you might not use for too long, but you might get one that’s convertible, which means it can turn into a toddler bed and then give you a couple more years, but you want a piece that’s strong enough to hold up to a toddler who might chew on it or jump around on it or all the things that toddlers do, and the same goes for the dresser. You know, they might slam the drawers. They might try to climb on it. You want a piece that’s going to be sturdy and not tip over because that’s of course a safety issue, especially with lighter weight dressers. So you want a heavier, good quality dresser; strap it to the wall with earthquake safety straps, things like that. The glider is really just the piece that you as a parent are going to spend a ton of time in and fall asleep in and do midnight feedings in, so you want to make sure that it is comfortable and a nice piece that you can really enjoy. So that’s my advice for splurging. Everything else can be worked around, I think.
Kristin: And then what do you see as far as clients who want to room in initially with a bassinet near the bed? Are they factoring some of those things in as they’re in the nesting stage and really planning out their space, and all of the different areas of the house the baby may be in at different times of the day?
Naomi: Yeah, so that’s actually kind of a funny little side part of my job, which is kind of – there’s an overlap between just the nursery and then these other things that you’re planning for as a new parent. So there is going to be overlap with what’s going on in the bedroom and maybe even what’s happening in the living room or kitchen. If there’s a two-story home, we might need to do a separate little changing area downstairs or have a little travel changing pad in a drawer somewhere, things like that. And the bassinets, of course, I recommend no matter what, even if a parent isn’t really planning on having one, because things change and you may kind of try the bassinet, try the crib, see what works for you and the baby. Some people may skip the bassinet and then realize that they are just terrified all night long and need the baby close to them. So there’s a lot of transition and trial and error in those first few months.
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Kristin: And as you mentioned, having different set-ups throughout the house because depending on – you know, with that healing phase postnatal, some women may not be able to go up and down stairs and really need to have different stations set up within their house, and they probably wanted to still be – you know, have a similar design feel to the rest of their house, so either stowing it away or having a set up in the bedroom, living room, or a guest room downstairs.
Naomi: Exactly. And this actually – it’s funny that you brought up the bassinets because one of the big, popular ones, I’m sure you’ve heard of, is the Snoo.
Naomi: Yeah, it’s super helpful, but one thing that I’ve found a lot of people don’t realize when they buy it is how heavy it is. It’s not something you can just bring downstairs.
Kristin: No, not at all.
Naomi: So I always people specifically, are you planning on getting the Snoo or any other heavy piece like that because if they haven’t thought about how they’re going to deal with the up and down stairs problem or if they have a different area, something like that, then they might need two, or a Moses basket or some other little safe spot to park the baby.
Kristin: And I know you are very concerned about safety. So what are your top tips as you’re planning out different nursery and household items with your clients about staying on top of recalls, making sure you’re, again, spending on the important things? So like the crib, for example, and saving elsewhere? So what are your top tips for safety?
Naomi: I’ve got a bunch. Safety is such an integral part of our design process, so I would say the first thing is the placement of the crib. I don’t think a lot of people realize how important that is. Now, I’m in California, so of course we have to deal with earthquake safety. But I think people who are not in earthquake areas think that it’s not as big of a deal, but it still is. With the crib, you definitely do not want to place it under a window, even if you’re not in an earthquake or hurricane area, because there’s other things that can happen with the window, such as drafts, or even a sunburn can happen through a badly placed window. You’ve got a neighbor who, you know, hits a baseball through your window. There’s all kinds of scenarios where you just don’t want to place a crib in front of a window. So there’s definitely first and foremost. Try to find a wall in your space that doesn’t have any openings, and aside from that, keeping other furniture and other items away from the crib if possible, so when you get little arms sticking through the crib rails, there’s nothing that they can grab or use to kind of crawl out or climb out of the crib. That’s another thing, as well. And then of course there’s the sleep issues with cribs, so bumpers, we don’t use anymore. Any blankets and pillows that go inside the crib, we don’t use those anymore, at least for a certain amount of time. So there’s a lot with cribs. So I definitely recommend researching the safety and placement of the crib. I recommend talking to your doctor about the sleep safety and then also signing up for the CPSC newsletter. CPSC is Consumer Product Safety Commission, so they’ll send you a newsletter that has recall information specifically for juveniles. I just got one this morning with seven recalls. It’s crazy. So definitely sign up for that. It’s cpsc.org, and then you can at least know that if something happens with a stroller or a car seat or a crib or anything, you’ll get an email. The second thing with safety and nurseries I always run into is window treatments because a lot of people will have – they’ll plan on using the window treatments that are already in the room, which is usually something like blinds or a Roman shade or something that has cords that hang down, and cords are a huge problem in nurseries because children can get wrapped up in them and they can become a strangulation hazard. So I definitely recommend any cords either have to be removed or completely tied up and then monitored, as well, which is even more important in the nursery, having a good monitor where you can see what’s happening. Because some children just don’t care, and they will never try to get the cord, but some children will make it their life’s mission to get the cord, so I think monitoring really well and paying attention to your child’s specific habits is also very important.
Kristin: Yes. And then do your clients discuss blackout curtains and things for optimal sleeping environment?
Naomi: Yeah, so that’s a funny one because the sleep training process is so difficult for a lot of people, and it’s something that may not even come to fruition until after the baby is born. So we try to plan that in advance, and I usually tell people – you know, most people end up with blackouts, like a blackout drape, but some people want to train their baby to sleep with some daylight. Other babies absolutely cannot sleep if there’s the tiniest bit of light, and so it really again comes to that trial and error. But since we’re doing the nursery beforehand, we usually just start with blackouts, and we can kind of adjust if needed. And then if a sleep consultant comes in, things might need to change a little bit. It really just depends, unfortunately.
Kristin: Right. And like you said, some families may not ever need it, but you’re right, a lot of people just, especially if they just purchased the house, I see a lot of our doula clients are going through a lot of major transitions at once, so buying a new house or remodeling their current while they’re expecting, and so they might not even think about changing up curtains and blinds and so on. So it’s good to think about that.
Naomi: Right. And one thing we do fairly often if budget allows is to do a double layer drape. So we’ll do a non-blackout layer, and then a blackout layer on top so they have flexibility to use either down the line.
Kristin: That’s very helpful. So as far as women who really want to look at holistic planning of not only the remainder of their pregnancy but also for that first year postnatal, what are your top tips for that nesting phase and how to really plan for this time when you’re going to be homebound for a bit and bonding with baby?
Naomi: Yeah, so there’s a couple of things there. The first, of course, is – you may have noticed, my book is called Your Perfect Nursery, not “the perfect nursery.” That’s because it’s very important to make this space something that you as a parent feel comfortable in. The baby won’t care, I promise. So I think that that’s the most important part is making it a space that you’re comfortable in, that you feel safe in, that you can fall asleep in, because that’s going to happen, and you’re going to have late nights and uncomfortable moments, so I think that making the nursery as comfortable as possible is great. It will give you a space that you can share memories in but also just feel good in.
Kristin: So do you find that your clients are thinking about their own bedroom during maternity and paternity leave and wanting to transform that space, in addition to the nursery, as they’re planning out this time when they’re homebound for a bit?
Naomi: Not usually in any major way. Sometimes we will do a – you know, like we mentioned before, a bassinet. Occasionally we’ll do a second glider or a little cozy corner or something if they have space in their home. And again, we’re in California, so we don’t have as large real estate. A lot of nurseries are very small, and bedrooms are also fairly small. So it just depends. But yeah, the other thing I just remembered is that during the nesting phase, a lot of parents get heavy into organization. And they start getting gifts, and they start shopping, and then they have just piles of clothes and things and toys, and nowhere to put them yet. So I think that planning for organization is something that makes a lot of expecting parents feel really good and feel really satisfied. So working on those things can be great and coming up with little bins and things to put all your little knick-knacks and blankets in and shelving for books and all these things.
Kristin: Yeah, that’s a great thing to do during that nesting phase when you’re waiting for baby is to organize, wash all the clothing. And we always tell our clients to register for services rather than things, because people will buy whatever they want. They’ll even go off the registry. You don’t need all of the things immediately, so services like design or a postpartum doula or sleep consultant or a meal delivery service, whatever it might be, versus having all of these extra things with nowhere to put them.
Naomi: Yeah, and I see a lot of clients, too, registering for toddler items, like little plates and forks and things. I have the same conversation because I end up dealing with a registry because we end up with a crib mattress, diaper pail, stuff like that will be kind of a crossover that I’ll work on, and yeah, I usually end up telling them, you don’t need size two clothes on your registry. You don’t need this stuff because you’re just going to get overwhelmed by it, and chances are in two years, you’re going to want something different.
Kristin: Right, because everything changes as far as fashion. It’s so true. Good tips. So I’d love to get more into your book, Naomi, Your Perfect Nursery. It is such a labor of love to become an author and go through that process. What inspired you to devote your time and talents to creating this beautiful book?
Naomi: Thank you, first of all. So it definitely – it was a very long process, but I do a lot of research, and I’ve read, you know, the preparing for baby books, and I have a list of all of those and stuff. And I started noticing that most of them only have a very small chapter on the nursery, and it’s not very specific. It’s usually just kind of some function and some safety, and that’s it. And then when you combine that with the just insane amount of imagery we’re all exposed to now on social media and Pinterest and whatever, there was no resource to guide people through that. It’s just, here’s a little bit of safety, and then here is ten million images. You figure it out. And my brain is very – I’m, like, a spreadsheet person and super kind of hyper-organized. So I just started creating an outline really just based on exactly how I design nurseries, and over the years, I added and added and added, and eventually was like, okay, I could turn this into something. So I was lucky enough to get a book deal with Simon & Schuster, and then we got it published, and it’s comprehensive. I mean, it really is, like I said, everything that I do when I design a nursery, which is everything.
Kristin: Yeah, it’s wonderful, and I’m so excited to be able to share it with clients and with our Becoming a Mother students. What a wonderful resource!
Naomi: Thank you! I didn’t want to write a book that, when you’re done reading it, you just feel like you have to hire somebody to do it. You know? I think that there’s a lot of books out there like that where they don’t really give you all the secrets, you know what I mean? So I really wanted this to be a resource where people can use it, and they can get the exact information and then they can do it. They can do it themselves.
Kristin: Perfect. So how can our listeners find your book?
Naomi: It is anywhere the books are sold, so it’s on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, all of those book websites.
Kristin: Perfect. And how else can our listeners connect with you? I know you have a website and different social media avenues?
Naomi: Yes, my website is littlecrowninteriors.com, and I’m also on Instagram @littlecrowninteriors. Pretty easy to find; you can Google me. Little Crown Interiors or Naomi Coe.
Kristin: And you have a lot of great content on your website, and as you mentioned earlier, you work both virtually and in person with clients in California. So our listeners from anywhere have the opportunity to either buy your book and/or work with you one on one?
Naomi: Yeah. We’ve been doing e-designs, virtual designs, for years, and then of course when COVID happened, that just blew up. So we’ve been doing a ton of virtual designs and guiding people through the installation process and ordering process themselves. And then we do just one-hour virtual consultations, and we have a very active blog, which has a lot of information on it, as well.
Kristin: Perfect. So any last minute tips for our listeners?
Naomi: Oh, there’s just so many things. I think what I always try to drive home, which I mentioned a little bit, is just to make the space really about you. And it doesn’t necessarily require a lot of money to do that, you know? There are so many things that you can get to make a space feel really special and personal that aren’t expensive furniture. And I think even things like heirlooms or hand-me-downs, things that are special to you, to fill out that space. I always recommend trying to put as many touches in there as possible that make you feel really nice and make you feel good, and that goes for one parent, both parents. If there’s even another caregiver in the home, I think just rounding it out so when you walk in there, you just take a breath, and you feel good. You feel great.
Kristin: Thank you so much, Naomi! It was wonderful to learn from you, and I hope all of our listeners check out your book because it is beautiful and so comprehensive.
Naomi: Thank you! Thank you so much!
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