Colourful nursery ideas – 10 ways to make your nursery pop

Bring a colour splash into your nursery, or use colour for an easy update to toddler and pre-schooler bedrooms

Nursery painted dark pink with two white IKEA shelving units used to create an activity area
(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Nurseries can be colourful places, with bright toys, clothes and furnishings all competing for our attention. Yet with a little planning and design, you can create a colourful yet coherent space that will work for years to come.

Start by collating nursery ideas you love, then do an edit to see what’s the common colour – is it a punchy bright or a soothing pastel? Use this as the starting point for your moodboard – how much depends on the effect you want to create – will it be the hero colour or an accent? 

Interior designer Ursula Wesseling at Room to Bloom starts with a beautiful wallpaper used just on one wall. ‘I then take the colours from the design to decorate the rest of the room for an instantly coherent look. Keep furniture simple and timeless, then add a few decorative touches and you’re done!’

Colourful nursery ideas

Add fun colour to your nursery with our simple-yet-so-effective ideas.

‘We recommend calming colours for nurseries and bedrooms to create a relaxing space for both baby and parent. The current trend is toward more gender-neutral warmer colours,’ says Laura Williams, founder of The Modern Nursery.

1. Add a colour pop to white

White, grey and pink nursery with bright pink stars on the wall and a round pink rug

(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith)

An all-white or grey nursery idea can still be colourful – just go heavy on one accent colour. Try a blush or coral pink, for a look that’s Scandi cool and not too feminine. An upholstered chair and footstool are ideal for nursing, or you could introduce your accent colour easily with a simple rug. 

Use colourful stencilled designs or wall stickers for a quick and easy way to add a splash of colour to a plain wall.

2. Go wild with wallpaper

White nursery with ceiling wallpapered in cactus print design, and an ochre canopy above the white cot

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Make use of the fifth wall in a room – the ceiling – to be brave with a colourful wallpaper, keeping the other walls white. Little ones will love looking up at the colours and shapes. A botanical inspired design is a winner when it comes to gender neutral nursery ideas. Again, a canopy provides colour, but this time in a lovely warm mustard shade. 

Make use of your little one’s wardrobe to add pops of colour around a nursery, displaying colourful knits on cute hangers – it’s a great way to boost an accent shade without buying anything new.

3. Paint an alcove

White and blue nursery with wallpapered alcove and a white play teepee

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

Try a deep blue in an alcove or nook, creating a night sky area, which can be decorated with some stick-on stars. Keep to the blue scheme, bringing in different shades – this will help keep the room fresh and not too dark. If you’re looking for baby boy nursery ideas, then we’ve plenty here. 

Painted furniture is a great way of making an older piece of furniture work in a new nursery. Try a chalk paint for a quick makeover, adding new handles (there are some lovely children’s themed designs around). 

4. Section an activity corner

Nursery painted dark pink with two white IKEA shelving units used to create an activity area

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Use colour to divide up areas of a nursery, with a fun colour use to create a reading nook. Paint a feature wall and use two bookcases end-on to provide easy-accessible storage. This can be draped with a colourful canopy (lightweight fabric works best), adding to that ‘secret nook’ sense of space.

Terracotta, coral and burnt orange work brilliantly with shades of blue (they are opposite each other on the colour wheel) and are idea for a shared sister-brother space.

5. Give furniture a colourful makeover

Light wood stools with colourful painted legs in front of a wallpapered wall

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Paint your own fun designs on simple wooden stools, adding pops of colour around a calm, neutral nursery. Choose a gloss or eggshell, adding a shine to the painted areas. Section off with masking tape, working a fun geometric look. ‘Painting inexpensive or second-hand furniture like cupboards and chest of drawers makes them colourful and unique,’ says Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown. ‘Rub down, then use a wood primer before adding a topcoat of satin or gloss.’

A colourful rug is an easy way to boost a nursery’s colour credentials and bring the look together. Try a colour-with-white stripe to keep within the light yet bright scheme.

6. Go green

Green nursery with warm wood cot and mobile above cot

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Sage green nursery ideas are a hit, and green is a great colour choice for a nursery, especially if you want to decorate before you know baby’s gender. It’s a colour taken from nature, so is soothing and relaxing. Try a pale-to-mid green, which works well with white and natural wood furniture and accessories.

Add layers of texture, with a cosy rug – one will help protect your carpet from any accidents in the early years too.

7. Use leftover paint

White wall with yellow painted box shelves and chest of drawers in a children's room

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Turn storage crates into a colourful wall display for a nursery or bedroom – it's a great solution for what to do with leftover paint. Don’t be too neat with the painting, lending a vintage feel. The same colour can also be used to upcycle a set of drawers too.

For an extra hit of colour, line each crate with comic pages, vintage wallpaper, or patterned gift wrap.

8. Fill a corner with colour

Corner of a pink nursery, with colourful paper decorations tied in a cluster

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Paper decorations are a speedy way to inject colour into a nursery. Try grouping a selection of honeycomb and pompoms in varying shades and fixing to a discreet hook secured into the corner between walls and ceiling.

Personalised bunting is another no-decorating way of adding colour to a nursery. If baby’s name is short, then add birthdate or a few plain flags at either end – that way you can used to decorate a whole wall.

9. Showcase collections

Book shelves in a children's room with colour accessories and books on display

(Image credit: Future PLC/Barbara Bazso)

In a vintage-inspired nursery, let the collections of bed linen and toys provide the colour, thanks to open shelving and a cabinet with glass doors. Books, toys and collectables can really bring colour to a space – you can choose to randomise colours or create colour-coded sections, which can help with tidying up as children grow.

Choose a fun wallpaper that brings the vintage look together – a design inspired by a storybook you’ve loved as a child will always create a special space.

10.Choose a soft backdrop

Soft pink painted children's room with white fireplace, and elephant head on wall above

(Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Snook)

Powder or the softest of blush pinks makes a lovely, calming backdrop to toys and books. Paint alcoves, floating shelves, and the walls the same shade, making the storage recede and the colourful accessories pop. 

Such a soft shade of pink is the ideal choice if you aren’t a fan of those sugarier shades. If you’re looking for baby girl nursery ideas, then it’s not all about pink as these ideas show, you can choose something more neutral that can be styled to suit.

What colours are best for a nursery?

‘Although pink, blue and of course grey continue to be popular paint choices amongst expecting parents, over the past few years there has been a surge in yellow nurseries,’ shares Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown. ‘It’s commonly thought of as a gender-neutral shade and considered a stimulating and happy colour.’

How can I make my nursery brighter?

‘For smaller nurseries that lack natural light, we recommend light base colours and avoiding heavier feeling colours and textures,’ says Laura Williams, founder of The Modern Nursery. ‘If you are looking to add brighter colours, then do so with colourful soft furnishings, such as cushions, wall decor and bean bags. Wall stickers and feature wallpapers not only add colour in a playful way but also spark imagination and encourage children to learn.’

Don’t forget lighting either, as Ursula Wesselingh, interior designer at Room to Bloom explains, ‘Use multiple light sources rather than one central pendant to layer light, with directional light sources illuminating light-coloured surfaces, such as walls and ceilings, to reflect light back into the room.’

Jennifer Morgan

Jennifer Morgan is an award-winning editor, writer and stylist, with over 25 years’ experience writing, styling and editing home interest magazines. Jennifer was the deputy editor of Ideal Home from 2008-2010, before launching Ideal Home’s sister title, Style at Home in 2010. Jennifer went on to launch several craft magazines and websites, before going freelance in 2016, with a client list that includes John Lewis, Dunlem and Nordic House. Today, she writes for Ideal Home, Real Homes, Waitrose, Woman & Home, Sainsbury’s Magazine and Homes & Gardens. But it was during lockdown that Jennifer realised her dream of publishing her own magazine – Simply Scandi.