Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Create a regal space for your new prince or princess...

Without spending a royal sum

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From a fantasy carriage crib costing around $19,000 to a machine that warms up your baby's wipes, there's little doubt there are many products around to make a baby feel just like a little prince or princess.

With pictures emerging almost daily of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge and her "bump" -- including a recent snap of her buying a Moses basket in London -- there's a hint of a regal twist to new motherhood this year.

Over in the U.K., the news has translated into such hot-ticket items as a palette of soft, tranquil hues at one of the smartest paint companies, Farrow & Ball (also available in Canada), as well as a clutch of design tips from such legends as Kelly Hoppen (widely tipped as the royal nursery creator) and Lucinda Croft, who designed the nurseries for both Princes William and Harry.

There's no shortage of stores and advice to make nurseries equally majestic, but perhaps without needing to have a royal purse. For as interior designer Donna Lorimer points out, the first consideration should always be the budget. Right off the bat she suggests one trick of the trade is to subscribe to your favourite baby stores online so you have a heads-up when the sales are coming. "List the items you are interested in and don't be afraid to purchase early if the price is right -- nine months goes by faster than you think," she says.

When planning where to set up the nursery, think practically: Next to your bedroom or down the hall? ("The closer the room, the more you save on zombie walking time in the middle of the night," adds Lorimer, who has worked on myriad nurseries in her 25-year career.) Is it properly insulated from noise and cold or heat? Is there a window? Will you be able to darken the room during the all-important nap time? Install dimmers, perhaps, to avoid waking up the baby when it's time to feed and have night lights "to avoid tripping or stubbing of toes, followed by profanity," she says with a laugh.

Once that's decided, it's time to measure the space and draw it up on graph paper. This way, you can ensure the furniture fits into the space, continues the Ryerson University-trained Lorimer, adding she's seen many clients buy too-large furniture that had to be returned. "Think about furniture placement, keeping in mind windows -- cribs should be located away from potential drafts -- and locations of electrical outlets so there won't be any extension cords, for example," she says. "Draw up the room how you would like it to look and where each piece of furniture will sit. To avoid unnecessary purchasing, set a plan and don't stray unless it's something extraordinary."

When it comes to that furniture, Lorimer and her colleagues at Modern & Affordable Design Solutions (MAD) rattle off a checklist: Crib, mattress, bedding, chair, side table, table and floor lamps, ceiling-mount fixture, dresser with contoured change pad that attaches to the top, easy-to-clean rugs, shelving, storage (toys and books), window coverings, art, accessories, laundry hamper, Diaper Genie, music and safety gear (baby proofing-outlets).

On Kate plumping for the more eco-friendly Moses basket, Lorimer explains there's a trend for cribs made of organic and sustainable materials, as well as in blond or pale woods.

"Some parents are also choosing materials such as Lucite cribs," she adds, with a nod to singer Beyonc©'s latest purchase. "Cribs now come in a wide variety of surprising shapes, with shelving and unique cubbies for storing baby products."

As for the parental chair, perhaps it's a glider or a rocker, as there will be much time spent here, of course, with nursing followed by years of bedtime stories. Adding an ottoman is a nice touch as well, Lorimer says, although she emphasizes parents should think about the furniture's style and whether the pieces will be reused in another room at a later date.

Whereas in the past, new parents would bring home complete sets of one brand, the designer believes people want a different design look today. Forget matchy matchy, the senior MAD interior designer stresses. "By choosing separate bits and bobs based around a central idea, the room will feel more individual and creative," she says.

Those central ideas vary greatly, obviously. She knows one couple who, while on a trip to Italy, came across reproduction prints of the original book of Pinocchio, which they then had matted in white (they were painted in primary-colour watercolours) and framed in glossy red lacquer frames. "So the room was designed around these beautiful prints -- inspiration can be as simple as that," she explains.

For overall decoration, it's all about picking a hue that will work well with such a theme: Cream, yellow, beige, grey and pale green. Neutrals on the walls, in other words, that are great married with punches of accent colours or interesting patterns via accessories, the mobile, drapes, artwork, bedding and items such as nubby throws and rag rugs. "We know that colour stimulates babies, however, for a nursery we also want to create a soothing, calming and maybe chic environment," Lorimer adds. (And don't forget that includes the ceiling, which your newborn will be spending much time admiring.)

What's trending now includes themes such as animals, flowers or nautical as well as butterflies, stars and planets and the ever-popular nursery rhymes or fairy tale characters. Also in vogue are large-scale stripes and chevrons in wallpapers and bedding, or try a simple black-and-white palette and then add accents of colour. "There are also tribal prints Ikat and Suzanis cropping up, which are child friendly in terms of subject and colour," she adds. "By keeping it simple, the decor can evolve as your child's tastes and interests develop."

Meanwhile, it's important to think about how you want the room to fit in, potentially, with the rest of the house. As Lorimer concludes: "You are the one spending the most time in that room and until that baby speaks, you are in control of decorating."

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 22, 2013 F2

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