Once upon a time it was pink for girls and blue for boys. That may still hold true, especially in clothing choices, but more parents are looking for gender-neutral ground when it comes to decorating the nursery or a toddler’s bedroom. 

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As with many trends, a few influences have converged to create this trend. It’s not just that parents are veering away from blatant gender colour bias but that interior styles like the Scandi look have tempted us with a softer neutral palette. So instead of hot pink and cobalt blue walls, along came dove greys accented with icy turquoise, pale apple green, soft yellow and pale timbers. 


A rustic vibe and botanic green walls for a toddler’s bedroom; this concept is from Nature Baby, featuring a Kalon crib bed and muslin duvet cover. 

Another trend is for bold colour such as black and primary shades. These are still fairly gender neutral but have a much stronger look – perhaps more suited the bedroom or your toddlers or young children than babies. As interior designer Annabel Berry of Design Federation advises: “Do not hold back, your children are only young once. Their lives should be filled with colour and fun and creativity.” 

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Blue is still popular for the bedroom of your toddlers’ but not always just for boys; this one features Hibou Home Starry Sky wallpaper from Artisan. 

Heavy-handed theming has also taken a back seat and with the growing awareness of eco-friendly alternatives and green living, subtle woodland themes and animal motifs have grown in popularity. Think floppy-eared bunnies, fine-legged fawns, woodland fairies and rustic teddy bears. They are quirky and cute, full of whimsy and often with a vintage twist.

On a practical note, the bedroom with neutral-coloured walls which have bolder accents isolated to the bedding and accessories can easily grow with the child without having to redecorate. Or the bedroom can be more easily used for another purpose altogether.


Mother and artist Kylie Rusk painted this cloud-effect wall for her daughter Elsie’s bedroom using a range of Resene paint colours. 

Says interior designer Rachel Steinmetz of Appletree Designs: “Many clients still want something that can grow with the child and can last a minimum of five years. Rather than theming a bedroom, we tend to create beauty and interest by introducing lovely accessories and using organic texture, pattern and muted tones.”

She suggests having one feature and one hero in a bedroom –  this will often be the bed and the wall behind. “Bring in elements to complement this, not compete.  Don’t get too matchy matchy. It is so important to mix tone, texture, pattern and scale. Also think about functional storage and an area to sit and relax. My favourite is a hanging chair or a sheepskin beanbag.”


Mum Monica Lee created this whimsical bedroom for her daughter Zara, using a bed canopy and Mrs Mighetto wallpaper from Concrete Blush.

Annabel says to consider soft ambient lighting for night feeds and feature lighting for an older child for reading.

Flexible furniture has gained in popularity with cots converting from bassinets where the base is higher, to cots then to beds as children get older. There’s a heightened desire for timber cots and rattan bassinets, or for baby hammocks. 


Go safari with a cute scheme from Freedom, featuring the Hideout bed frame with Expedition bed canopy. 

Whimsical vintage styles are in with white wrought-iron beds and bunks. Canopies and nets are draped over beds and little tepees have popped up in bedrooms and playrooms. Open shelves  and big storage boxes allow for easy access to books and toys.  


Architect Eva Nash chose this bold geometric Bein Fait Mosaic Classic wallpaper for her son’s bedroom so that the room’s look would last as he grew; the crib is by Stokke.

Gender-neutral schemes using soft greys and beiges are recently popular along with cute animal motifs, like those on this Resene Wallpaper Collection 292404. 


An easy-to-achieve but eye-catching painted feature wall visually anchors the bed in interior designer Katy Post’s son’s room.

Sharon Newey/NZ House & Garden

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