It's hard to know where to head for design inspiration...

It's hard to know where to head for design inspiration when decorating a nursery, but color is always a good place to start. With a color that departs from the standard nursery playbook, the look is fresh, current and, in this case, gender-neutral. Credit: Handout

A starting point

Using color as a starting point for decor opens up a field of design possibilities. With a color that departs from the standard nursery playbook, the look is fresh and current and can play to a variety of themes. If you select blue as your color, avoid traditional baby blue in favor of another shade - medium blue, for example - that is suited for either a girl or a boy. Making a contemporary color choice like this gives parents more options if they're waiting until delivery to find out the gender of their baby. It provides them a way to be ready for baby with a room that's both beautiful and appropriate for either gender.

Nonstandard touches

The nursery pictured is an inviting room for parents, too. With the overstuffed chair in a coordinated color, Mom and Dad will have a comfy spot for late-night feedings. On the windows, ivory background drapes with a pale blue floral print lighten up the blue walls. A valance of pale blue and yellow stripes tops the floral print of the window panels. The cream-colored ceiling and light beige carpeting help keep the room light and from becoming too heavy from the blue on the walls. The room's focal point, a simple iron rail crib with blue draping, creates a perfect spot for a mobile of tiny bluebirds.

A shot of elegance

Elegant crystal sconces flank the crib, giving the room soft light. For more elegance, a chandelier is brought out into the room with a chain and hung to light the dresser that does double duty as a changing table. By repurposing the dresser as a changing table, the parents are sure to be ready when baby becomes toddler and needs more storage space, and they save money, too. A shelf above the dresser conveniently stores changing necessities and keeps them out of the way of little hands - and can be used later to display accessories once baby is out of diapers.

Dreams take flight

Fun and trendy accessories help to feather baby's little blue nest. Bird motif prints complement the bird mobile and echo the bird theme from the robin's egg blue on the walls. A fanciful peacock pattern on the blue painted short dresser next to the upholstered chair keeps the bird theme from becoming too cute. For balance, a vase of peacock feathers carries the theme to the other side of the room.

Unique decor

Adding traditional upholstered furniture and pieces of painted furniture looks elegant and grown up, and offers future benefits, too, which are both helpful and cost-effective.