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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Design dilemma: Safe and sound - and stylish

Nisrine El Lababidi explains how to make child’s play of nursery design

Use a non-toxic-finish crib. Courtesy Lilies & Lions
Use a non-toxic-finish crib. Courtesy Lilies & Lions

When it comes to spaces for little ones, there is an important balance to be struck between aesthetics and safety. What advice would you offer?

Nurseries are so much fun to design, but my approach is to try and work a bit of grown-up flair into the space. I personally like nurseries to feel bright and happy, but not too childish. I never incorporate themes, like superman or princesses, because children quickly grow out of them.

Instead, use colour and pattern to theme your space. Aqua, deep blues and blush pinks are trending this season and work particularly well in nurseries. Play with colour to add depth to your design. Work on repeating different shades of the same colour within your space to ground and connect the various elements. Also, try to add a pop of colour that contrasts with your primary palette, preferably in the form of an unexpected object like a vintage toy or book, or a snow globe that has some kind of personal meaning.

To keep a nursery looking tidy, I recommend incorporating plenty of storage elements, like baskets that can be used to stock toys later on, and soft-edge pullouts inside cabinets that will keep the chaos at bay. Make the most of awkward angles by creating ledges that double as shelves for books, and then add large floor cushions with throw pillows to create fun but cosy reading and playing areas.

Of course, the most crucial thing to consider when designing a nursery is baby proofing. When it comes to this, every single detail in your space needs to be carefully considered. Here are some of my top tips:

Use a paint that is free of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Good options that are available in the UAE include Oasis paint and Benjamin Moore’s Natura paint.

Go with a crib that has a non-toxic finish, as many little ones like to chew on the rails of their crib when they are teething. Also, make sure to keep the crib a safe distance away from windows and away from the direct drift of the AC shaft.

Go for a natural rug option, like an all-wool dhurrie. Not only will it last longer, and be easier to maintain and clean over time, but the dyes used in these are non-toxic.

When it comes to window treatments, always use chord shorteners to make sure curtain chords are kept high up and out of arm’s reach. Also, I wouldn't opt for any pom pom-edged curtains, as young ones can either pull on these or place them in their mouths and choke on them.

Your child will be exploring every element in their space, so it is important to anchor all furniture and larger electronics to your walls. This applies to every room in your house. You don’t want anything toppling over unexpectedly.

When installing your lighting, include a dimmer. Not only is it energy-efficient to do so, but it’s very convenient for those late night feeds and baby checks.

Place protective covers over all electrical outlets. These are inexpensive and easy to install. Also, try to keep electrical plugs hidden behind your furniture or hang them up where they are out of reach.

To protect little fingers from getting slammed in doors, fit yours with U-shaped door stops that attach to the top of the door. You can DIY this by using a pool noodle, cut length-wise and then slipped over the upper edge of the door. For cabinet doors, keep them closed using the locks available at IKEA or Babyshop stores.

Nisrine El Lababidi, founder of Harf Noon Design Studio. Courtesy Harf Noon Design Studio
Nisrine El Lababidi, founder of Harf Noon Design Studio

Nisrine El Lababidi, founder, Harf Noon Design Studio, @harfnoondesignstudio, www.harfnoondesignstudio.com