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Budget Rooms: Gender Neutral Nursery

You may have seen my Facebook Live yesterday where Brian challenged me and my opinions on wanting to paint Elliot’s room a light pink because she is a girl, but it’s not because of her… it’s my chance for that paint color. I want a light pink room really bad and maybe it is because in our current house our kids rooms are rather gender neutral. Sure, Elliot’s has some blush pinks, but the wallpaper, furniture and rug are totally gender neutral. Same with Charlie’s. So clearly gender neutral nurseries or kids rooms are trending, especially for people who don’t find out the sex of their baby (HOW DO YOU PEOPLE HOLD OUT FOR SO LONG???). So for those of you who were requesting another budget friendly series – here you go, a gender neutral budget nursery.


Crib Sheet | BlanketArt Above Crib 1Art Above Crib 2Mobile | Pillow 1 | Pillow 2 | Pillow 3 | Crib | Watercolor Art | Rug | Table Lamp | Mirror | Dresser | Bin | Pouf | Rocking Chair | Pillow | Side Table | Floor Lamp

Even though colors shouldn’t be gender specific (and I’m sure I’ll get in a lot of trouble for even writing the next sentence) when there is a lot of pink in a baby room it leans more “girl” and blue leans more “boy”. I’m not saying it SHOULD be that way, it just kinda is – but fortunately that is changing. I should probably NOT paint Elliot’s next room light pink in protest, but I want my pink room!!!

I love that black/white/wood/neutral version we created. It truly doesn’t feel gender specific. Nice job Ali (she is the one who pulled these together and should know more than anyone as she has 3 kids – one of them a brand new baby).

After she created the first one above, which we love, she worked her magic and somehow she chopped the price in half:


Crib Sheet | Blanket | Art Above Crib 1 | Art Above Crib 2 | Mobile | Pillow 1 | Pillow 2 | Pillow 3 | Crib | Watercolor Art | Rug | Table Lamp | Dresser | Dresser | Bin | Pouf | Rocking ChairRug | Pillow | Side Table | Floor Lamp

By the way I have that rug and it is a lot whiter than it is on their site and in this rendering which I think would look better than it reads in the picture. It’s cream, not bright white, but on the site it looks like the above image which has some yellow in it. I love this version!


Crib Sheet | BlanketRocking ChairArt Above Crib 1Art Above Crib 2 | Mobile | Pillow 1 | Pillow 2 | Pillow 3 | Crib | Watercolor Art | Rug | Table Lamp | Mirror | Dresser | Bin | Pouf | Rocking Chair | PillowSide Table | Floor Lamp

Last but not least #3 comes in at just under $1, 500 – not bad, folks. I’m wondering how many budget makeovers we can possibly use that mirror in – it’s just so good for so cheap, and round mirrors are wildly prettier for some reason than rectangular ones (right now).

Show of hands, how many of you like the gender neutral versions we created or still lean towards the traditional themes or colors like blue and pink?

P.S. Brian wears a decent amount of pink and yet somehow Charlie HATES pink – like he refuses anything that is pink. I’m not sure if it’s because at his pre-school none of the big boys wear pink and maybe the girls wear too much of it, but it’s so weird how he already has that opinion. I’m going to have to work on that…in the meantime what are you guys ready to see next in the budget series? We have a very fun bedroom coming up in the next round which is inspired by some of what I have been pinning for my new tudor cottage – which we made some major decisions in today on Facebook live.


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78 thoughts on “Budget Rooms: Gender Neutral Nursery

  1. I was all set to have a gender neutral nursery – pale green with vintage details – UNTIL finding out we were having a girl, then HOLY COW the PINK!!!!!! I wanted it all. Fuschia, pale pink, magenta, I couldn’t get enough.
    I’m glad we didn’t commit to gender neutral too much before the pink obsession hit.
    And speaking of pink, off I go to get my squawking baby girl out of her crib to play!
    Love the style of this post, even if it’s gender neutral 🙂

  2. I generally stay far away from the color pink in my wardrobe and house but I painted my daughter’s nursery a light pink (BM Blanched Coral) and I LOVE it! It’s the perfect neutral backdrop for lots of reds, royal blues, and greens in the accessories, art, and textiles in the room. She’s 17 months now and I still love her room (and still avoid pink everywhere else :).

  3. I love all these choices, particularly the animal prints. Two of my nephews just had babies. Although none of them asked for my decorating opinion (boo hoo), if they had, I would’ve suggested a blush pink ceiling for the one that had a girl. She chose black toile bedding, which I thought was a bit 90s – and maybe that’s why family does not ask me to decorate for them – ha!

  4. I love these budget room posts and this one is definitely my favorite (may or may not be because I have total baby fever right now 🙂 But this is just so great. I love the idea that you could create this gender neutral room, and as your child grows into his or her own you could swap in accessories (or colors!) based on their preferences. Thank you so much for this, bookmarking this post!!

    Also, I have the Ikea crib from version #3 for my son and we LOVE it. So simple and versatile, and in retrospect I am so happy I choose to spend the money elsewhere instead of investing in some of the more expensive cribs available. Also the footprint of this crib is a bit smaller than some on the market, so if you have a really small nursery its a great buy!

  5. I love a gender neutral kids room, but I think NOT painting Elliot’s room pink because it’s a “girl color” is just as bad as painting it pink for the same reason. I say go for it – I’d love your take on a pink room!

    I love your budget rooms series, and I actually think the cheapest option is my favorite here. They’re all a little TOO neutral for me (I love color) but I love how you could just add a few colorful accessories and totally mix it up if you wanted. I also have the round mirror from Target and love it! It’s so pretty and definitely feels more expensive than it is.

  6. Gender-neutral all the way.

    When my daughter was born, there was SOME pink in her room – the curtains and changing pad cover. EVERYTHING else, clothing included, was pretty gender-neutral. Personally, I’m not a big fan of pink as a color, so that worked for us.

    Now that I’m pregnant with a boy, we’re still hitting gender-neutral… and man am I glad that the baby clothes can all be re-used. 😉 But I find most ‘boy-themed’ things to be very… military/construction/sports. Which… ugh. So, we’re going pretty gender-neutral again – woodland animals (and we live in the country and regularly see deer from the window of that bedroom, so that works) and furniture that can be re-used elsewhere; lots of leather and wood and natural colors, which is also what I’m most comfortable and happy with.

    I didn’t want my daughter to think that her interests should be limited to ‘girl-things’ (and it mostly worked – she loves make-up and nail polish and babies and trucks and tractors and farm animals, so, balanced interests). I also don’t want my son to think that his interests should be limited to ‘not-girl-things’. So… yeah. Gender-neutral, open imaginations, no restrictions, and work from there. And if, in practice, that means that I have a toddler with painted toenails riding a tractor… I’m 100% ok with this. 🙂

  7. current plan for my office: pale pink! (and white, navy, copper/rose gold, marble)
    I absolutely love pink and buying a new house with a dedicated office space was the perfect opportunity to FINALLY get to paint something pink. I love mixing “typical gendered colours” (please don’t hate me internet…) with totally gender neutral design elements. The rooms Ali created would be perfect with a white wall or a pink/blue/green/yellow one

  8. Would really love to see a budget friendly office. I recently moved and I work from home – finally got an office space but have no idea where to start!

  9. LOVE this post! We’re gearing up to move my daughter from her tiny nursery to a regular-sized bedroom and I am very resistant to go pink – but there are just so many great pink options that it’s a shame to avoid it just for the sake of being different (this is her current wallpaper, which is a bit pink-heavy in person:

    Definitely going to go through these products in detail to see which we can use! Thanks!

  10. We painted our baby nursery blue, even though we did not find out the sex. It’s a really pretty, pale fresh blue, and the room is still totally gender neutral (with adorable/cool animal bedding from dwell studio.) But people were shocked– SHOCKED– when they found out I was painting the room blue even though it might be a girl (which it was!) I always replied, “well, I’m a girl and I like blue so I think it will be fine,” but people were not so sure. I still love the room and the color, and feel like I haven’t harmed my infant daughter at all by putting her in a blue room (and occasionally dressing her in clothes from the boys section, too.)
    All that to say, I think it’s totally fair to paint Elliot’s room pink if that’s the color you want! I always say I get to decide what the room looks like until she’s old enough to have an opinion, then we’ll negotiate.

    1. We’re having a girl (any day now…hopefully) and I painted the nursery a soft greyish greenish blue. I love it! People are dumb.

  11. I’m a sucker for any kind of black and white + natural wood combo, so I love this! And that star pillow is so cute, I kind of want it for my own bed.

    As for suggestions: what about a porch/outdoor dining space?

  12. Wow, these look amazing!
    Also, don’t bother working with him on liking pink, ha ha. Just give him a couple of months and he will dislike green, then yellowed, etc. It’s funny how passionate kids get about colors!

  13. I love this series, it’s so great seeing multiple options for the same room. I’d love to see an office next. I’m really struggling with how to organize all of my art supplies in a way that my cat won’t throw them off the shelves. Open shelving and a cat-rascal don’t mix. I also need a large work surface for crafts and a desk for a computer. Multi-functional + creative office please!

  14. I’d like to see different options for what goes on the wall behind the sofa. I’ve been living with a print of a colonial girl in a very formal gold frame above my sofa in my useless living room for 30 years now – my 2 boys grew up believing she was an ancestor 😉 I’d like the room to feel less formal and more transitional than traditional. Maybe someone would sit in there if it was less stuffy!

  15. My older boys (8, 10) LOVE pink. The hotter the better! I’ve used hot pink in decorating their bathroom and in accents in the younger’s room. I can’t quite get to hot pink walls, like he wants, for boys or girls! I used a bright-colored Ikea rug for my baby boy’s room, which ties in orange, blue, green and hot pink.

    The gender norms around color are definitely changing, at least up here in Seattle!

  16. How does the art go from $248 to $84 when they’re the same pieces from the same website? Also to note that the crib mattress is not included with any of these cribs so don’t forget to tack on another $60-500 (depending on the type/brand etc).

    I don’t have kids but overall I really like these options. For me I find they still run towards reading as “girl” though but I think it’s just the art/mobile which could easily be switched

    1. The art price changes from having them custom framed to just buying store bought frames:) We should have mentioned that.

      1. Ah! That makes sense. I should have guessed that was it but didn’t even think of framing 🙂

  17. I’m not sure I would paint a girl’s room pink just b/c it’s so predictable and passé. BUT I highly recommend pink. My dining room is the seashell pink of the inside of a conch shell. You can’t believe how pretty it looks in daylight and in candlelight. People glow. It is the most flattering neutral ever.

    1. I have a friend who did the interior design for a local restaurant that was only open at night for dinner, and she painted the walls a blush pink for that very reason. In low lighting/candlelight, it’s just so pretty and flattering to everyone!
      Also, on a funny note, she always referred to that color as “labia pink”…and I laughed every. damn. time.

      1. Hmmm….maybe that’s why people have so much fun at our dinner parties…I always thought it was the top-shelf liquor and my husband’s excellent wine cellar. But it probably got everyone in the mood for the afters at their own place.

  18. I absolutely love these rooms, especially the fantastic plaid rugs.

    Just a quick note on some the links: in the second room, there are two items marked “dresser,” and the first links to the mirror. Also, there’s no link for the second rocker.
    In the third room, the link for the rocker (I think IKEA?) sends you to the muslin blankets.

  19. I have the rocker listed in the $2K room and it is AMAZING. We have twins and it can fit me and a baby on each side for story time.

    1. KKHH, can you source the rocker for the $2K room? I didn’t see a link. Did I miss it? Please and thank you.

        1. I also have that rocker and it’s amazing! I’m on my 2nd baby with it. Perfect width for curling up cross legged, which I often do.

  20. Hey Emily! Love this post! Could you tell me where the second rug could be found? The link takes you to the rocker (which is awesome, but might not fit so well in my living rm ?)!

  21. Love these!

    Can you update the link for the rocker in the second set? The link (actually listed as “rug”) goes to the same Pottery Barn kids rocker as in #1. I’m on the hunt for a nice-looking, not-too-expensive rocker. Thank you!

    1. That’s the Nursery Works Sleepytime Rocker – we have it as well and it looks great but I personally don’t think that it rocks very smoothly. If I hadn’t bought it online, I’d have returned it for a smoother rocking or glider so maybe try it out in person somewhere.

  22. This isn’t related to this post, but what do you recommend when using a flat woven rug on carpet in a bedroom, like this or for an older child, to help keep the rug in place? I’m torn between a pretty plaid rug like the second option or a much heavier, wool rug for my son’s room. Love this series, by the way!

    1. Look for a rug pad made to go over carpet. I’ve had success with the kind that is reversible (one side for carpet, one side for smooth floors).

  23. I just found out we’re having boy/girl TWINS so this post comes at the perfect time! How did you know?!

  24. I would say that any color, including pink, can be gender neutral. And, it’s only paint after all. If Elliot decides she doesn’t like pink later on you can repaint! Knowing you, Emily, you would enjoy a new project!

  25. When I read this post it made me think of this essay I read on Designsponge a few years back: It is an interesting dialogue about gender in design, something I often think about. As an Elementary Art Teacher, and design lover, I reflect on my language a lot. Does describing color as masculine or feminine have a negative effect on children and people? I would like to hear more of your perspective about this? What do you think about the language you use as a designer? Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    1. I loved that article by maxwell!

      I was a little confused about this post. I am really annoyed by the pink and blue invasion, but I’m more confused that somehow the only alternative always is ‘neutral’. Don’t get me wrong, my favourite colour is grey and that is reflected in my house, but I feel like gender-neutral should not just reduce colour and I don’t see a reason why it couldn’t integrate pink and/or blue, just not necessarily according to stereotypes and not in a monochrom way.

      There actually is an instagram # in Germany which basically translates to ‘#colourful’ for referring to trying to bring up your children without the pink-blue-binary and just be colourful when choosing their clothing etc. (which in my experience is what kids love the most anyway, especially when they are not brought up in an environment where they the pink-blue think is constantly mentioned by other kids and adults).

  26. I love this post! My daughter just turned one (she’s almost has the same birthday as Elliot!), and we just moved from an apartment to a house. I hesitated to paint her room pink, but my husband insisted, and we all really love it! A soft pink is just so cheerful, and I say embrace some of the girliness!

  27. This is all beautiful! I don’t have any babies yet, but when I do, it’s gender neutral all the way (I think — for now anyway)! Ali is a champ.

    Maybe I’m just missing it, but what’s the source for the rocking chair in the middle version?

    1. I agree with you! The gender neutral is so nice and clean, and lays a great foundation for them to layer their own personality in over time.

      I did notice they didn’t list a source on the mid-priced option, but somehow two rocking chairs got listed in option 3 (but the first link doesn’t point to the correct URL). Hopefully they’ll remedy soon 🙂

  28. We decided we wanted to be surprised for our December baby and actually it helped with decorating the room because we didn’t feel forced to pick a theme or color. We wanted bright colors (in small doses), but decorated for us mainly at this point. I picked the Nuloom Marrakech Loose Kite Rug as a jump off point and love the bright, bohemian nursery we have.

  29. Gender neutral shouldn’t mean lack of color, and personally I think that is what’s missing from the 3 choices above. Your home should be about you, your family, what you love, and what works for you, not what’s trending or what you think people want to see on your blog. If you want to paint your daughter’s room pink, do it. Your rooms always look great, so do what you love and what makes your family happy.

  30. We waited until our 3 kids were born to learn their genders the same way people wait til Christmas to open their presents. Except infinitely better. Best lifetime surprise ever. Such a moment of precious joy seeing that baby arrive and discovering that aspect of who they are!! We came to having pink, teal and lavender colors in our girl’s room after we had to wait decorate
    her room for a year and a half due to remodeling. By then she had so many inherited treasures and collectible gifts and toys that it was already “her” room. I just did a pretty base for it all. And as for gender neutral toys and colors for the sake of not stereotyping? That makes me laugh because your boys and girls are who they are and they play in the style and manner that’s them regardless of the colors or type of toy. I do get weary of all the apologizing I read about when a girls room is pink (but it’s not too sweet, they rush to say). So what if we let little girls be little girls and have pretty feminine rooms? And many boys love their trucks tractors and faux swords and army guys. It’s okay. Let them be kids and have bedrooms that reflect their precious and fleeting childhoods.

    1. Except kids don’t play in the style and manner that’s them regardless. Because society in general is not letting kids be themselves, it’s putting a box around them and saying you are a boy or a girl, these are the only things you are allowed to like. I had a friend tell me trains are for boys when we bought our daughter a train set. And DD came home from school age 6 to tell me people laugh at girls who like science. And a friend of a friend actually took his toddler son off a little girl’s pink flowery tricycle and put him on an identical blue one at a birthday party. And the mall’s holiday activities are bracelet making for girls, light sabre making for boys. It’s pervasive. Those gender inequality issues affect us as adults too, and it’s dangerous. So I think Emily should decorate her kids’ rooms the same way as every other room in the house and if she wants a pink room somewhere, it can be her own 🙂

  31. Emily and team, I’d love to see a budget office or library set up, because I’m currently struggling to find non-ugly desk chairs that don’t break the bank and I’m curious to see what you all can find.

  32. i vote no pink for her room. i have a 4 year old and all the gender messages she gets are so bad. it’s so hard to fight when all the kids at school are doing it that i think i need to be super strong about her environment at home.

  33. These “How Low Can You Go” posts are my favorite!

    About Elliott’s room, it sounds like you want a pink room somewhere. To that end, I’d say why not a pink kitchen or a pink dining room or a pink office or a pink master bedroom? It sounds like you’re unnecessarily limiting yourself to just her room. If Charlie hates pink, then you, Brian, and Elliott can still out-vote him as far as other rooms in the house going pink is concerned. Plus, maybe he just hates pink clothes or pink toys, but not pink walls. If he really, really, really hates all pink that much (which is hard to imagine), then I guess next I’d ask myself why you’re willing to paint Elliott’s room a color that screams “GET OUT!” to Charlie. Ideally, Charlie would feel welcomed all over the house. Just to be clear, I’m pro pink everywhere, unless Charlie super mega hates pink, in which case I’d advocate against putting it anywhere.

  34. Don’t shoot me but I find these room designs…bland. I get people wanting rooms that either or a boy or girl could transition into but does there have to be no color!? I needed my nurseries to be happy and bright otherwise I prob would have gone mad-you spend a lot of time in those rooms!! I found these nusery ideas on Pinterest the other day

    Don’t scream boy or girl but they are vibrant and fun!!! After all a kid is going to be living in it 🙂

  35. This post could not be better timed! We are having a boy (our first!) in two months and our house is currently under major construction so I haven’t thought about the nursery at all. Ali gave me a great base of ideas to work off of and using her post as inspiration, I went ahead and created a mood board for the baby’s room:

    I am curious if a rocker/glider is absolutely necessary? I hated the rocking chair as a baby (makes sense as I’ve had major motion sickness my whole life) and see the chair as more of a place to nurse/read/potentially fall asleep so I’m leaning towards a bean bag chair as an alternative. However, as I have zero experience, I’d love to hear what moms think about this.

    Anyway, thanks, Ali for all the great ideas and resources!

    1. Nice mood board! And congrats 🙂 I agree on the glider, I get vertigo and motion sickness too, plus both my babies were extremely meh about being rocked or glided so totally nothing wrong with a comfy chair instead. I love the look of the bean bag chair, a lot, but first you’ll just need to check you can get out of it holding onto several pounds of sleeping baby while you have stitches or various other ailments in uncomfortable places! Sometimes you need a chair you can get your feet right under your centre of gravity to stand up.

  36. Preggo with second baby and again decorating a gender neutral nursery. Neither pregnancy did we find out in advance what we were having. For the first nursery I picked turquoise and red colors, black furniture, and Snoopy artwork but not much other decoration. Once our little boy arrived, we brought in more masculine decor.

    This time around we’re going with primary colors (to be able to reuse a lot of the red pieces from the previous nursery and adding in new items in yellow and blue) and safari animals. Found the sweetest prints on Etsy where it’s the profile of a zebra, lion, etc. with primary color backgrounds! EEEEEeee! Depending on what shows up in a few months we will again tailor it to suit their personality.

  37. Lovely room — and I totally get the pale pink thing, but you are not going crazy Pepto-Bismol with, it’s nicely subtle. I am at the other end of the spectrum: mom of two boys (9 and 12), and even our cat is a boy (you can’t really control which cat picks you at the shelter any more than the sex of your kid). Heck, I planted a dogwood tree WITH A PINK TAG and the darn thing bloomed in white. So I seem destined for no pink — will enjoy it vicariously through your daughter’s room! I would be interested in a tween boy’s room layout. We plan to move in the spring and our two boys, who have shared a room with bunk beds up until now, will be in separate rooms. My 12 year old is asking for something more grown up — and will need his own full sized bed and desk — but he is still a kid, though not much longer. This room might eventually morph or double as a guest room, not sure yet. Thanks!

  38. Love the plaid rugs! I have a client (single guy) who needs a rug for his living room. He wanted “modern preppy”. Bless you…

    And that floor lamp is some really good stuff. I want that for me!

  39. Since you’re not sure how you’ll be using your dining room in the new house and since so many people have dining rooms that sit unused, I’d love to see a budget roundup on a multi purpose dining/office work space. Really love all the nursery rooms here and think option 3 is amazing for the price.

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