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INTERIORS : Make Way for Baby to Grow : Decorate Nursery for Flexibility

September 25, 1993|From Associated Press

With the range of bedding, wall coverings, window treatments and other furnishings designed for babies today, it's tempting to choose the cutest pattern and outfit a nursery from top to bottom. But if flexibility and longevity are your goals, try to resist this temptation. Keep in mind that the patterns that seem cute for your newborn's room may become obsolete by the time your child heads to school.

Instead, save the juvenile prints for inexpensive or easy-to-replace items. For example, choose a simple stripe wallpaper that coordinates with a whimsical wallpaper border, which can easily be replaced with a more mature pattern later. The crib bedding set, too, is an ideal spot to indulge in cute patterns, as it will be replaced when your child moves to a bed.

With this idea in mind, plan these nursery basics:

It's likely that a crib tops most nursery-planning lists. Today's styles range from traditional to contemporary in a variety of woods and painted metals. A crib need not be a big expenditure, either. You can often get a good deal by checking garage sales, flea markets, auctions and even your grandmother's attic. An antique crib can be charming, but be sure your secondhand crib has: lead-free paint, smooth surfaces free from cracks, a sturdy construction, secure hardware, no missing slats and no decorative cutouts in the headboard or footboard where a child could get stuck.

You'll also probably want a changing table. Options include tables that can fold and be put away, the type with open shelves and units that adapt to dresser tops. Although there is no guarantee of safety, be sure to look for solid construction and a high guard rail.

If you don't plan to use the crib and changing table for later children, consider buying convertible models, such as a crib that can be turned into a twin-sized bed or a dresser with a removable changing-table top.

The best type of storage for a baby's room can be adjusted for the child's ever-changing height and capabilities. You'll be putting away clothes and toys at first, but as your child grows older, he or she will be more likely to pitch in if drawers, shelves and clothes rods are within reach. Invest in bookshelves with adjustable shelves and dressers with easy-to-open metal slide drawers. A chest with a hinged lid (equipped with safety hinges) can hold toys now, clothes later.

To screen light in a child's room, blinds and shades are practical choices. Fabric shades are available in a variety of colors, as well as in styles with juvenile motifs. Opaque shades can instantly darken a room at nap time.

Teaming up two treatments offers even more flexibility. For example, invest in a good-quality roller shade or set of shutters, then top it off with a valance in fabric that coordinates with your nursery scheme. It can easily be replaced or removed later. For safety reasons, be sure that any cords used to operate blinds and shades are tucked away from a youngster's reach.

When selecting wall coverings, look for durable vinyl coverings. Turn to wallpaper borders for adding splash to a wallpaper or paint treatment.

Carpet remains the most popular flooring for bedrooms because of its warmth. Vinyl flooring is a good choice when it comes to spills.

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