Baby Beach Bungalow
Updated: Feb 26
How I designed a gender neutral nursery
(Spoiler alert...It's a boy!)
"It was challenging trying to create a nursery that didn't lean more towards one gender or the other, and I had to constantly reassess the decor, which entailed a few returns and swapping out along the way to tweak it."
First, a little back story.
As long as I've known Matt, he has wanted kids. He has also always wanted a gender surprise. Not a gender reveal party, but an old school gender surprise when the baby is born. I thought that was sweet and endearing...how could I say no to that? Especially when it took us 5 years to conceive. He was SO excited about just having a baby, but then waiting to know the gender made it even more thrilling!
I even entertained the idea of being surprised myself for...a hot minute. But let's be honest, I knew there’s no way I could wait that long. I could not contain the excitement, so I decided I'd be the only one to find out the gender. I had no idea though, how hard it would be to keep a secret for almost 9 months! Not only did I slip up several times saying "she" this or "he" that, (which I would continually mix up to further confuse Matt), but I had family and friends pulling me aside constantly to tell me, "you can tell me...your secret will be safe with me." I had to constantly disappoint. I was a steel trap, even my own mother didn't know! There is NO WAY my family would be able to contain the excitement and not accidentally slip up in front of Matt so I had no other choice than to tell NO ONE.
Matt could not have been more happy and proud to find out he had a beautiful healthy BOY, exactly what he wanted! He later told me that he actually thought it was going to be a girl because one of the ultrasound techs had slipped and said “she“during one of the examinations, which of course was to my benefit.
While all this surprise ordeal was exciting, it was not so practical when it came down to preparing the nursery or when asked about baby shower gifts. It was challenging trying to create a nursery that didn't lean more towards one gender or the other, and I had to constantly reassess the decor, which entailed a few returns and swapping out along the way to tweak it. I even had family and friends take a look at the nursery to tell me if it leaned more towards one particular gender and they all said it really could go both ways, so I knew I was on the right track. By the way, I realized there would be more blue tones involved with a beach theme but I took the risk anyway! You can always keep the sheets a neutral color or change to pink if you have a girl.
Pinterest is always helpful and I did do a lot of online searching for gender neutral nurseries. I knew I wanted a tropical beach theme. I figured it could be neutral enough, but It was harder than I thought to find beach themed nurseries online. There were very few examples and they more often than not either leaned towards too coastal/nautical or too Palm Beach tropical, but very few were actually just beach themed. So as I always do, I incorporated different ideas from different themes to try to re-create our unique Baby Beach Bungalow look.
Let me walk you through how and where I got everything to put Henry's nursery together.
Vibe: Bright and Airy
We have dark bamboo wood floors so I knew I needed to make the room bright and airy. To do so I would incorporate white furniture, light wood tones, a light rug and good lighting. Luckily the walls were already a light blue-green-grey which would tie in. The wall color is Canyon Wind BL-W12 by Behr. Wall paper was not an option since the walls are textured.
I had seen this babyletto crib on Instagram and immediately fell in love because of the white and light wood grain combination. I purchased the crib from Amazon but it is also available at Buy Buy Baby. The changing table dresser however was purchased through my local Facebook Marketplace. I knew I wanted the matching set from the beginning but didn't want to pay full price. What I did instead was search through Facebook Marketplace to see if anybody was selling it secondhand. No one was at first, until weeks later, someone did!
The dresser would not show up for weeks as I searched and finally gave up on it. I ended up buying another dresser for $40 and refinished the drawers in white to try to match the babyletto crib as much as possible. While it wasn’t a total fail, the wood grain was slightly darker than the crib and with me being a bit OCD it was enough to bother me. Then one day I opened up Facebook and apparently it knew what I was searching for and there popped the dresser! Someone in Fort Lauderdale was selling theirs for only $60! I immediately messaged her and luckily I was first in line! She was so nice and we ended up chatting for a while. Matt picked it up that week and she was nice enough to even throw in some adorable picture frames which I plan to use down the road. She actually runs a very funny Instagram page for mom humor. I’ve actually LOL'd several times, you can check her out at Fruits of Motherhood.
I was debating whether I should keep the leather chair and ottoman that were given to us by one of my husband’s clients, or get a rocker. I knew a rocker would be ideal but I just love the way the leather chair looked and gave the room a tropical baby Hollister vibe. Plus we ended up buying a light gray swivel rocking chair anyway (also from Facebook) and put it in our room.
I found these frames at Target. What I like about them was that one frame had some pink tones to it while the other frame had blue tones but they both stay on theme. On the other walls I placed the seagulls and this larger wood framed canvas I found at HomeGoods. The seagulls were a fun way to mix up the wall art so that it's not all framed pictures.
Another great Facebook Marketplace find was the light fixture made out of woven seagrass from Pottery Barn.
The palm tree you see in the corner is from West Elm and again, I found it on a buy/sell Facebook group I belong to in my area. It was brand new with the tag still on.
I HIGHLY recommend a NON WIFI baby cam that cannot get hacked into. Ours is an Infant Optics from Amazon.
Will’s room is the smallest room in the house and I wanted to keep it simple and decluttered. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. It’s what I had envisioned and I didn't spend more than I wanted to to put it all together.
Designing a gender neutral nursery can be challenging but very rewarding once it’s all said and done. Especially when you can find some great purchases or secondhand items and pay a fraction of the cost. We received a lot of practical grey colored items at our baby shower because people didn't know whether to buy blue or pink, but once Henry was born, many felt compelled to actually give us baby boy items. That was a very nice and unexpected bonus.
If God blesses us with a second baby, which I would love, the surprise will be reversed. I'm thinking I'd want to be surprised this time and Matt will have to have the challenge of holding in a huge secret for almost 9 months! We'll see how that goes!
What are some great ideas you've come across in designing a gender-neutral nursery?
If you have any questions about the specifics of how and what I did in the design, send me a message, I'd love to hear from you!