Designing a Gender-Neutral Nursery

Designing a Gender Neutral Nursery
The Land of Nod

You know the rules: pink is for girls and blue is for boys. According to today’s decorating standards, this rule is outdated and limited. As these traditions change, neutral sophistication is becoming more popular in nursery design. With many conventional decorating options still leaning towards traditional, gender-based decor, neutral nurseries can seem difficult to design. However, your options stretch far beyond yellow and gray, Don’t become discouraged, become inspired!

Traditional by Decorating Den Interiors- Corporate Headquarters
Decorating Den Interiors

Start with your color palette

A palette of gray or beige creates a relaxed space that can be customized over time. A neutral wall color is a great rule of thumb when it comes to decorating any space, but is especially important when designing a gender-neutral nursery. This allows you to start incorporating themes and other colors once the baby is born.

Transitional Nursery by Interior Motives
Interior Motives

If a totally gray nursery is too basic for your tastes, don’t be afraid to add color or patterns. The use of color is what helps to differentiate a child’s room from any other room in your home. Painting an accent wall or adding a fun and playful wallpaper are great ways to add visual interest to the space.

Transitional Nursery by Beckwith Interiors
Beckwith Interiors

Less is more

If you want to incorporate a theme, a few key pieces are all a room needs to appear cohesive. Geometrics, animals, and under-the-sea themes are very popular in gender neutral design. Resist the urge to stencil a Pinterest-worthy, intricate jungle scene on the wall. Rather, incorporate the theme with small touches through accessories. Bedding, throw pillows, blankets, and a few decorative elements are great ways to introduce a theme. This also allows you to swap themes as your child grows and their interests change.

Wayfair

 Choose function over fashion

Adaptability is a desirable feature for any child’s space. For many new parents it can seem like it only took a few months for their newborn to grow into a toddler. When the new baby arrives, the once very important design of the nursery becomes an afterthought. A design that is able to grow with your child eliminates headaches that your future, child-chasing self will thank you for.

Wayfair

You and your baby will be spending a lot of time in the nursery, making it essential to choose pieces that work well and are comfortable. Choose your furniture wisely, do you really need a separate changing table or can you utilize the top of a dresser that will last well beyond the diaper years? Additionally, some cribs are made to transform into a twin size bed, eliminating the need to shop for a big-kid bed when the time comes. Purchasing a gliding chair in a neutral pattern and using simple wicker baskets for organization make these easy to re-purpose in other parts of your home when they are no longer needed for your baby.

Philosophy Design

 

There are plenty of options for gender neutral design and following these tips will help you create a serene yet playful nursery. If you are still looking for ideas, the talented designers at Babel’s would be happy to give you even more tips and advice for creating the perfect nursery to grow with the newest addition to your family.

Five Design Ideas to Beat the Winter Blues

Traditional Landscape by James Martin Associates

By this time of year, the winter seems endless. The snow has lost its cozy appeal and our favorite hat has gone from cute to snow-soaked. With shorter, colder, and snowier days we often find ourselves trapped indoors. It is easy to become tired of the décor around us and become desperate for a change. Instead of cursing the snow and the cold, be inspired by these five home design ideas that will put you in a warm weather state of mind.

1. Embrace Outdoor Living 

Award Winning Alpine Chalet
Photo by Nicole O’Mara Design

In a list of design ideas to put you in a warm weather state of mind, embracing the outdoors may seem like a crazy concept. However, rather than letting your outdoor space become barren in the winter, decorate for the cold. Whether it is a fire pit, a balcony, or covered patio, decorating to embrace the winter will help you get year round use out of the space. Envision yourself toasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate at a luxe ski chalet when designing your winter outdoor space. The proper use of candles, blankets, furs, and pillows will transport you from the slushy suburbs to the fluffy, snow covered Rockies.

Patio Terrace Summer Evening
Photo by Susie Watson Design

2. Hanging Chairs

Surf Shack
Photo by Andrew Howard Interior Design

Hammocks and hanging chairs are the ultimate in outdoor relaxation. While these comfortable seats began as outdoor pieces, they are gaining popularity in indoor spaces as well.  Not only do these hanging chairs offer comfort and relaxation, they are also available in a wide variety of materials, styles, and colors making them a versatile statement piece. A great way to bring the outdoors inside, set it in your living room or bedroom and enjoy the comfort and functionality of this fun piece.

Contemporary Pool by Charline Lancel

3. Decorate with bright Colors 

Windsor Road Residence - Austin, TX
Photo by Martha O’Hara Interiors
                       

Brighten up the interior of your home by decorating with pinks, yellows, and oranges. Pillows, cushions, or other accessories are easy ways to bring a cheerful mood to any space. Since they are simply accessories they can be changed out as your tastes, desires, and the seasons change. Consider incorporating bright and warm colors in unexpected areas like the kitchen or bathroom. Use bright dishes, hand towels, or place mats for a small pop of color to turn the winter blues around.

Master Bedroom2
Photo by Cristi Holcombe Interiors, LLC

4. Incorporate Flora and Fauna 

Oceanfront, Laguna Beach, CA
Photo by Abodewell Interior Design

Plants add a subtle sophistication to any room and in the winter they can serve as reminder of what is to come in the spring. Succulents are a great option due to their hardy nature. Additionally, their interesting shapes and colors can also lend themselves to the visual interest and depth of the design of a room. Consider the pots or containers you are using as well. Unique and brightly colored pots are also a great way to bring in those summer colors as mentioned before. An indoor herb garden in the kitchen or simply bringing in new flowers from the florist are other low maintenance options to bring freshness and life into any space.

Midway House
Photo by Studio McGee

5. Winterize Your Screened-In Porch

Sun Room in Winter
Photo by Whitten Architects

A screened in porch is typically thought of as a three season space. A relaxing refuge in the spring, summer, and fall goes without use in the winter. Replace the screens with glass to protect from the elements and install a wood-burning stove or fireplace to provide warmth.   Whether you use the porch for mid-day naps, dining alfresco, or as a place to enjoy the falling snow and a book, small steps can make the coziness of the porch last all four seasons.

Contemporary Porch
Photo by Lawrence Architecture
Although the outdoors may be snow covered and cold for a little while longer, following these easy home design ideas will help keep that end-of-winter-blah feeling at bay. Do you have other tips to bring energy and life back into your home? Share your ideas in the comments!

Breathe Easy with Zero-VOC Paint

icedmauvebedroom_ironbed
Walls: Iced Mauve, 2115-50, Natura Eggshell.

Are you dreaming of freshening your home with new color? Do you detest the smell of wet paint? Today’s Benjamin Moore paints are not what you’ve experienced in the past. Culture has shifted, consumers are now leaning towards more eco-friendly products and companies need to keep up with this growing demand.  Home painting projects are no longer just about changing the color of a room. You may have heard low- or zero-VOC as a way to describe many paints in recent advertisements. What are VOC’s, why do they matter, and what does it have to do with being “green”?

VOC’s are volatile organic compounds that are emitted as gasses from certain materials. They include a variety of chemicals and are found in several different household products such as paint, cleaning products, cosmetic products, aerosol sprays, some building materials, and furniture. Concentrations of VOCs are consistently higher indoors than outdoors, typically two to five times.

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Wall: Breath of Fresh Air, 806, Natura Flat

When these compounds enter the air, such as when a room is painted, these volatile organic compounds react with other elements and cause air pollution. Not much is known about the effects that VOCs may have on your health. Some people report eye, nose and throat irritation or headaches. Individuals with asthma and/or allergies are particularly susceptible to irritants in the air. The current federal recommendation to reduce exposure has been to provide adequate ventilation when using products that emit VOC’s.

heromarchcamp2016

Customers have been demanding that these products be made in a healthier, more eco-friendly formulation and manufacturers have delivered. Benjamin Moore is proud to offer their entire paint line in a low-VOC or zero-VOC formula. Benjamin Moore’s Natura is a zero-VOC and zero-emission paint that has been certified asthma and allergy friendly with users reporting very little to no smell when using the paint. The asthma and allergy certification program independently tests consumer products and certifies those that considerably lower your exposure to allergens.

natura_uscancut

 

Under current regulations, for a paint to be considered low-VOC the amount of VOCs must be under 250 grams/liter.  While there are many paint lines that are considered zero-VOC, this can change upon tinting when colorant is added. Usually, the VOC levels of a product are reported as they are before colorant is added . To maintain the zero-VOC certification not only must the paint be zero-VOC, but the colorants as well. Benjamin Moore offers zero-VOC colorants, ensuring the VOC levels in the paint does not change upon tinting.

natura

So you can breathe easy — Natura offers superior coverage, durability, and is available in over 3,000 Benjamin Moore colors. To learn if Natura is the right paint for your project, visit any Babel’s or National Lumber location and speak to one of the Benjamin Moore Paint Experts on staff.

Popular Interior Design Styles Explained

A significant challenge that people often face when designing or redecorating their home is understanding the large vocabulary that is used to describe interior design style. Determining what interior design style works best for you can be a daunting task. Often, a variety of these styles are combined to create the perfect blend, reflecting the client’s personal style.

As you begin your design journey by searching magazines and the internet for inspiration, having a fundamental knowledge of the various styles is essential. Below, read about elements that create the foundation of each design style.

Traditional

Traditional design reflects consistency and attention to detail. It evokes a comfortable feel with rich wood furniture, muted or conservative colors and soft edges. Fabrics are usually classic patterns such as floral or plaid. Traditional spaces are decorated with an abundance of accessories and a variety of textures and layers to create dimension.

Apartment Therapy Interiors

 

Contemporary

The opposite of traditional, contemporary design is fluid and regularly evolving. Unlike the rest of the styles on this list, contemporary does not have a definitive design style. Rather, it follows the design trends of the moment. Sometimes confused with modern design, contemporary is rooted in the here and now whereas modern design strictly follows the minimalist design style developed in the 21st century.

NEW HOUSE IN ARDEN OAKS

 

Mid-Century Modern

Most recognizable by the clean, simple lines, pops of color, and a combination of woods and metals. This design style was born in the interior design boom of the 1950’s and 60’s.  Look for pop art, geometric shapes, and retro nostalgia. Mid-Century Modern pieces are known for being highly versatile and can make for a seamless pairing with other design styles.

Ragley Hall Residence Living Room

 

Farmhouse

Transporting you to a farm-like setting or the French Provence, the exposed beams, reclaimed woods, and neutral colors bring a rural state of mind. Traditional country style pieces like rocking chairs, picket fences, and apron front sinks are complemented with mismatched quilts, unfussy linens, and nature inspired accents. The warmth and coziness of this style can be created even in the middle of the city through chalkboard paint, lantern lighting, or a claw-foot tub.

Kirby Ridge Barn House

 

Nautical

Relaxing, airy, cool neutral shades, and accessories inspired by the sea are at the center of this design style.  Whites or beiges are paired with unfinished wood and classic linen upholstery. Green, blue, and glass accents accompany classic nautical accessories like jute rope, sailboats, oars, and nautical maps to create the feel of a classic New England beach house.

Kate Marker Interiors

 

Industrial

Based on the industrial era, this style emphasizes generous use of exposed structural materials, brick walls, and distressed wood. Inspiration is drawn from the unfinished simplicity of a warehouse or urban loft. Typically seen with high ceilings and open concept floor plans, this style is compliant with any taste whether it is soft and feminine or dark and chic. Unique items are often repurposed as accessories such as old trunks into tables or ladders into shelving.

SOMA Loft

 

Eclectic

A cohesive blend of styles, colors, textures, and trends, eclectic design is about breaking the rules and having fun. However, the lack of guidelines can make this a tricky style to achieve because it is often confused for “anything goes.” While giving the immediate appearance of chaos and disarray, the pieces chosen in eclectic design often have a thoughtful connection with one another and are a true reflection of the homeowner’s personality.

Eclectic Living Room

 

Bohemian

The resident of a bohemian home reflects a carefree, adventurous, and unconventional lifestyle. Typically styled with nomadic, tribal, and global tapestries, it is not uncommon to find floor pillows, well-worn fabrics, and flea market collection style accessories. Presented with a purposefully messy look, textiles are layered and chosen in vibrant colors, mixed woods, metallic, and animal hide.

My Houzz: Bohemian Home Inspired by Organic 1970s Design

 

Discovering your personal interior design style is an exciting part of the design process. It is not surprising to find that your style does not fit perfectly into one of the molds listed above. Often we find individual aspects of each style that are considered “must haves” and blend them to create a truly one-of-a-kind space.  If you are having trouble defining your personal interior design style, the talented designers at Babel’s will help you to discover new ways to approach each design style to fit your specific needs.

Modern Sophistication: Decorating with Geometrics

Stemming from ancient Greek art and fashion, the use of lines and shapes has made its way to the center of interior design. Geometrics is defined as the use of lines and shapes to create a pattern or design.  Using geometric designs in a space creates visual interest and expresses feelings and mood.  However, using these designs can be overwhelming to the inexperienced designer.  Follow these simple tips to add some modern sophistication to any room in your home.

Laurel Lane Residence

Popular geometric designs include stripes, chevron, diamonds, hexagons, circles, and waves that repeat to create a pattern. When you are first starting to use these patterns, start small by using them on accent pieces like throw pillows or area rugs.  This will allow you to play with different patterns and determine your preferences.  Also, using smaller pieces makes it easier to change the pattern if your preferences change or you are looking to refresh the design.  Additionally, think of the practical uses of geometrics when deciding on what piece to use them on.  For example, a geometric area rug is very forgiving on wear and tear and makes an excellent option for a high traffic area or child’s room.

Fair Haven

Keep in mind the scale, or size, of the patterns that you are using.  By nature, all geometric patterns are bold and loud regardless of size.  However, a larger pattern will draw more attention than a smaller one.  Do not be afraid of variety and using more than one pattern in a room.  Off-set a large scale geometric wallcovering with smaller scale accents.

Consider the feelings that are evoked when looking at different patterns.  Are they hard, like a chevron or stripe, or are they soft, like circles or waves? Finding balance between these hard and soft patterns is a good way to introduce more than one geometric print into the same space.  Determining what type of feeling you want the space to have can also help you determine what type of print to introduce to a room.

River Ridge - Southwick

Be mindful of your color choices. Find a color family and pick a few shades from that family.  Too many colors and patterns in a space can become overwhelming but sticking to one color can take away from the dramatic effect of the design.   For example, if decorating with blues, choose pieces in navy and compliment them with paler blues or grays. Also, don’t forget about solid colors when experimenting with pattern.  The solid colors give your eyes a space to rest from the geometrics.

Color Pop

Don’t become overwhelmed when introducing pattern and geometrics into your space.  If you would like help finding the best pattern, the talented interior designers at Babel’s would be glad to assist in the design of your home and can help you navigate the endless possibilities available to you.

Welcome to Babel’s Paint & Decorating Blog

Babel’s Paint & Decorating is a Benjamin Moore dealer with five locations in Massachusetts. We are a member of the National Lumber Family of Companies, a family owned and operated business that has been providing building materials and services to homeowners, contractors and builders in New England since 1934.

Our knowledgeable paint specialists are here to help you choose the perfect paint product for the interior and exterior of your home, plus the right supplies for your project. Color Consultants offer their expertise for an introductory in-store consultation free of charge for color selection and home design. Please be aware that our Brockton store has Benjamin Moore Experts on staff, but not a designer or consultant.

We also have experts in window treatments, wallcoverings, upholstery and furniture. Our talented interior designers are located in our Norwood, Needham, Canton, and Foxboro stores. If you would like individual attention, or have a large project, Babel’s provides services by appointment.

All questions are welcomed, no matter what you are working on. It is our pleasure to help you select colors and assist in home design. We hope that you will find the subjects covered in our blog helpful, and encourage your participation with questions and comments.

How to Select a Paint Finish

When choosing a paint for your latest project, the decisions don’t end with color. The finish you choose is just as important.  If you are unfamiliar, “finish” (or sheen) refers to the amount of shine the paint will have when it dries. Below is a list of all paint finishes available in Benjamin Moore Paints. These are listed from the least amount of sheen (flat) to the highest amount of sheen (high gloss).  A flat paint has no light reflection and each sheen will gradually show more reflection the further you go across this list.

Flat → Matte → Eggshell → Pearl → Satin → Semi-Gloss → Gloss → High gloss

walls-castleton-mist-hc-1aura-flat-stair-wainscot-castleton-mist-hc-1-aura-semi-gloss-chairs-coral-essence-2007-40-advance-semi-gloss
Walls Castleton Mist (HC-1) Aura – Flat.  Stair Wainscot Castleton Mist (HC-1) Aura – Semi-Gloss.  Chairs Coral Essence (2007-40) Advance – Semi-Gloss

What is the difference?

There are many different factors to keep in mind when choosing a sheen.  As the sheen increases, so does the durability of the paint.  However, with more light reflecting off of the surface, any imperfections (such as filled nail holes or other patches) will become more visible as well.

Flat – No sheen at all.  This paint is perfect for ceilings or other areas where there is likely to be little to no foot traffic, like the inside of a closet or a master bedroom. Due to it’s porous surface, if flat walls are scuffed or dirty they need to be touched up with new paint as cleaning will only damage the paint further.

Matte – With little to no sheen, this is a great alternative to flat because it can be spot cleaned while still appealing to those who like the appearance of a flat paint.  A great option for bedrooms, offices, dining or living rooms with light to moderate traffic.

Eggshell – The most common option, this finish has only a slight amount of shine. There is enough shine to allow for washing yet it is dull enough to downplay most imperfections on the wall.  A great option for children’s bedrooms, hallways, or any area with moderate to heavy traffic.

Pearl – A finish with slightly more shine than a typical eggshell.  A great sheen for those who are looking for a velvety finish for their walls or for those with children and pets who would like extra protection against dirt and scuffs. Perfect for hallways, children’s bedrooms, or mudrooms.

Satin – A high shine finish that offers outstanding protection against surfaces that are hit hard with dirt and grime.  A great option for kitchens, this paint makes cleaning things like grease or other sticky substances a breeze.

Semi-Gloss/Gloss/High Gloss – These finishes are most common on trim, cabinetry, and accent pieces like furniture.  A very durable finish, it is perfect for places that will see heavy foot traffic, like baseboards, or will be heavily used, like tables or dressers.  However, it’s high shine makes any defects extremely noticeable and would look best on brand new pieces.

char-brown-2137-20-advance-satin
Cabinets  Char Brown (2137-20) Advance – Satin.

What paint should I use in a bathroom or other humid area?

In places like a bathroom or basement where humidity causes concern for mold, semi-gloss paint used to be the go-to answer.  The high shine made it extremely durable and a great solution for places like these.  However, as the matte look becomes increasingly popular in interior design, paint companies have had to keep up with the demands of their customers.  Benjamin Moore offers Aura Bath & Spa, a matte finish paint specially formulated with antimicrobial technology to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

breath-of-fresh-air-806-aura-bath-and-spa-matte
Walls  Breath of Fresh Air (806) Aura Bath & Spa – Matte.

What is best for touchup?

Lower sheens will touchup better than higher sheens.  However, it is important to make sure that you are touching up with the exact same finish that the wall was originally painted with.  If the wall is painted in an eggshell and touched up with a matte, the difference will be noticeable. Additionally, some manufacturers may call their sheens by a different name, despite the finish being the same.  For example, a can of Sherwin Williams Satin finish will have the same amount of shine as Benjamin Moore Eggshell finish. If the walls were painted by a previous homeowner and you are unsure of what the finish is or you have a left over gallon of paint, visit a Babel’s or National Lumber location and speak to one of the Benjamin Moore Paint Experts on staff.  They will be able to provide ways for you to determine which sheen is on your wall and which paint is best for your project.

walls-af-300-dinner-party-aura-egshell-trim-chalk-white-2126-70-aura-grand-entrance-satin
Walls Dinner Party (AF-300) Aura – Eggshell.  Trim & Door  Chalk White (2126-70) Aura Grand Entrance – Satin.

Whether your project is interior or exterior, Benjamin Moore offers a product designed to perform to the needs of your space.  If you still are having trouble deciding on a finish, the best way is to see it for yourself in person.  Visit any of Babel’s or National Lumber’s 13 locations, consult with one of our Benjamin Moore Paint Experts, and be amazed when your walls look just as great on Day 1,000 as they did on Day 1.