Double Decorating: Tips on Designing a Twin Nursery


When Nicole Giladi was put on bed-rest during her twin pregnancy, instead of napping or reading she spent her time pouring over fabric and wallpaper samples designing a nursery for her soon-to-be boy/girl twins, Hannah and Sammy, now six months old. “It was hard to pick a color scheme,” says the Sherman Oaks, Calif. mom. “I definitely didn’t want pink or blue.”

She began with her crib layette—an embroidered lily pond scene in crisp, lime-sherbet seersucker. Wallpaper with whimsical chirping birds and a vintage crystal chandelier came next. The focal point in this enchanting nursery, however, is a large alcove with a window seat framed by floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcases where she spends many a happy hour reading to her twins. “The nursery is sophisticated yet very soothing,” says Giladi. “It’s so tranquil.”

It’s All in the Planning

Newborn twins sleeping

If you’re in the process of planning a nursery for your twins or triplets, you’re probably feeling excited yet a bit overwhelmed. You may be wondering how you’ll ever fit two cribs (or more) in one room, where you’re going to store all those diapers, or how you can make the space special for each of your new babies.

“Start with a color palate that you love,” advises Suzanne Morrissey, editor of Kids’ Rooms magazine, a Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication. “Don’t think you’re tied to pink for girls and blue for boys.” In general, she says, whispery soft pastels are out and mid-range colors are in—periwinkle blues and peachy oranges, for instance.

Use Color For Twin Individuality

If choosing the perfect shade of paint intimidates you, however, Morrissey suggests heading to your local home store and selecting from one of the many pre-designed paint palates available. “There are usually three to five colors within one palate,” she explains. “Just assign each child a separate color from the palate. I call this the baby’s signature color.”

Use both signature colors as the main decorating component for bedding and wall paint. For instance, try painting two walls one signature color and the other two walls the second. This technique not only gives visual movement to the room but it also offers instant ownership to each child. Finish up by mixing and matching accessories in the room using the other hues on the palate. “The colors are always going to work well together since the paint values have been matched by design professionals,” Morrissey adds.

D’Anne Gray, a Simi Valley, Calif. mother of triplet boys, successfully used color to individualize their room. Like many parents with multiples, Gray color-coded her boys’ personal belongings—from pacifiers to toothbrushes—to cut down on everyday chaos. When it came time to move the triplets from cribs to toddler beds and redecorate, keeping the room color-coded made sense. “The boys were really into Buzz Lightyear,” says Gray. “I liked the idea of using it as a nursery theme because it had their three colors—Mitchell’s red, Garrett’s green, and Spencer’s blue.”

To make the room look like a spaceship, she lined the lower portion of the bedroom walls with pegboards painted silver. She then installed one continuous shelf around the entire room about two feet below the ceiling and painted the walls above the shelf in each child’s signature color. (The fourth wall is yellow symbolizing a community space.) The boys, now four and a half years old, use their portion of the shelf to display personal treasures. “If I had painted the walls blue, Spencer would have said, ‘It’s my room,’ causing big problems,” she notes. “This way each child has equal ownership.”

Making the Most of a Small Space

When planning your twins’ nursery having ample storage tops the list, too. “We have a small home and an even smaller nursery,” says Stephanie Somers, mother of ten-week old boy/girl twins, Jordan and Sydney. “I knew making room for one baby would be challenging, let alone two.” To combat her lack of space (the room is only 11 by 10 feet) yet still create a nursery big on classic style, the Sherman Oaks, Calif. mom spent a lot of time planning and searching for the just the right furniture and accessories.

Somers chose furnishings that were versatile—like a dresser that also serves as changing table—and that could grow as her children do. “The furniture is a dark cherry wood. I didn’t want to go with white since I thought they’d outgrow that color quickly, especially my son Jordan,” she says. Somers feels the classic designs will endure until her kids leave for college.

Somers kept her color palate simple, too, and matched the window treatment to the wall paint something that Morrissey says makes any room appear larger. “Avoid contrast between the color of your window treatment and wall color,” Morrissey cautions. “Otherwise you’ll create a big box that just stops the eye in the middle of that wall.” Another tip? Go for sheer curtains so that they almost fade into the wall.

To make the most of every square inch of space, think vertically rather than horizontally and opt for tall rather than long storage pieces like a chest of drawers instead of a dresser. One strong note of caution though: Anchor each piece of furniture properly to a wall stud to help prevent accidental toppling.

To compensate for their lack of an extra bedroom, Peter and Nancy Bond of Palos Verdes, Calif. turned to pencil and paper and designed a loft for their five-year-old daughter, Rebekah and 21-month-old fraternal twin girls, Rachel and Cameron. The loft is actually a tall custom bunk bed, minus the bottom bed—Rebekah sleeps on the top bed leaving plenty of room for two cribs to fit underneath. When the twins get bigger, the Bonds will disassemble the loft and turn them into two twin beds.

Accent with Accessories

When it’s time to accessorize the nursery for your twins forget fancy artwork and make your own. “Give a young relative or family friend the colors you’re using and have them paint something for you on an inexpensive canvas,” says Morrissey. Not only will you save some money, but the art will have special meaning, too. “And hang the pictures lower, at the twins’ eye level,” she adds. “It makes it seem more their space.” As they get bigger, just raise the art higher on the wall.

Think about how your twins will use the space, too. If they’ll also use the area as a playroom, place storage containers such as buckets, baskets, and bins on the floor where they can easily access them.

When searching for all this twin bounty, don’t concentrate on just one store advises Stephanie Somers. You’ll never know what you’ll find where. “I looked everywhere from Target to high-end retailers. For instance, all my lighting came from flee markets,” she adds.

Being practical and creative will pay off in high dividends, as your young twins will have a space that they can truly call their own.

A copy of the book Double Duty.