Picking A Nursery Theme: Just What Are Little Girls Made Of?

All Images: Sarah Pinault

When dreaming about having a baby, the nursery in my mind was a neutral nirvana. A relaxing beige, neutral tones to complement, some kind of zoo theme. I wanted each baby to have the same room and choose their own interests when they moved up.

Then I found out I was having a boy. We painted the walls two shades of blue, we bought every rocket ship decoration we could find, and I loved it. Now I’m pregnant again and contemplating both the new nursery, and my son’s move to the big boy room. He was to take his rocket ships with him, but then his Pepere bought a race card bed. It’s fantastic and he loves it, so cars he gets. But the nursery is still blue with rocket ships, and I face an ultrasound in just under three weeks. My first thought was to keep it rocketships for a boy and pick another theme for a girl. My mother in law’s first thought was to get pictures of Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut. I see something interesting about how we both think in our gut responses.

Funnily enough, this is something I have been pondering for a while that my mother in law has made me think more seriously about. I don’t know if it actually bothers me, if I think it should bother me, or if it bothers me because it bothers me! I was fully prepared to keep the nursery blue and rocket ships for a second boy, but for a girl I would redecorate. Now for me, half the fun of my first pregnancy was the boy stuff, the blue onesies, the sweater vests and so on. If I’m having a girl this time, I want the fun girl experience too. I want the dresses, the polka dots and the flowers. But what sticks in my throat a little is my lack of interest in keeping the space ship theme for a girl. I could paint the walls pink or yellow or purple and keep the lofty aspirations if I so chose, but that doesn’t sit well with me either. That it doesn’t sit well with me, also doesn’t sit well with me!

The highlight of our nursery acquisitions was this painting of a space ship bearing the words “I will go to space.” My husband wanted to be an astronaut, or a mad scientist, and so this resonated with him. Am I fully indoctrinated into the world of fifties fashion that I love, that I don’t want a space ship theme for my daughter? It’s not that I want pink everywhere, I don’t want unicorns or princesses or anything like that, I just don’t want spaceships in her nursery either. I’d be happy as anything if she actually did become an astronaut, or if Toby decided to become a child care provider. It’s just this nursery thing that bugs me, and I don’t know if it really bugs me or not. When in doubt, blame the pregnancy hormones and pull out The Yellow Wallpaper.

At the very least, does anyone have any decent Sally Ride pictures?

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19 thoughts on “Picking A Nursery Theme: Just What Are Little Girls Made Of?

  1. Maybe add some cartoon girl astronauts and make the blue more clearly about “space” instead of “boy”?


    That would be my choice – but then I’d have probably ended up with a neutral green nursery to begin with, and I want to avoid as much pink or blue as possible when I have children – I may get annoyed at people not knowing whether my child is a girl or a boy, but at least I won’t have to live with an overabundance of light blue or light pink (both colors I hate – I don’t care for pastels)

  2. I would actually paint the room a nice purple and maybe have some pink accents. Remember that space is beautiful and does not have to scream little boy blue!

    You can keep it feminine but also inspire rocket ships and engineering!

    1. This makes me think more astronomy (pretty galaxies, constellations, etc), and less rockets and spaceships. I love it!

  3. I know that she might be absorbing all these color and decor preferences somehow, but I’m mostly of the view that she’s an infant, and for now at least you are decorating for you, not for her, and that’s ok. If you want to have a new room with a new theme that is super girly – go for it! Put the diversity into her bookshelf instead. Get space books, bug books, animal books, princess books, and anything else. When she gets older, you can pick a new theme based on the books that she likes the most.

    I’m a feminist, but too often people think that because girls are traditionally steered toward girly things, you have to compensate by steering your girl AWAY from girly things. Being in a pink room isn’t going to do her any harm. As long as you are paying attention when she gets older and let her be honest about her favorite things, you are doing a great job as a mom!

    1. I agree, the nursery is for the mommy in reality. Do whatever you want with it. I can also understand not wanting to keep the same theme with just a little reimagining because this is a whole different child and why shouldn’t they get something completely different?

      If you love the blue, then you could always go with a bird theme – either owls or robins/bluebirds/etc. I would just go with what you really feel like doing because just like your son deciding to go with the cars when he gets a car bed, your daughter will pick something she’s excited about when she’s ready for the “big” girl room. Have fun and congratulations!

  4. My daughter’s nursery is light blue with sunshine yellow trim. We went with a stars, moons, and teddy bears theme because my hubby is a huge space geek. I found very cute stars and moons in those wall stickers that you can find online and in stars, as well as an adorable set of stickers that have animals riding and hanging on to little “pillow” stars and moons. I was going to put a mural of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Star Light Star Bright…” but never got around to it. I didn’t want to make the room colors too girly for her because I want it to be something she can grow up with (And I don’t have to repaint ten thousand times). We are now going to be redecorating her room with a tinkerbell theme and the blue and yellow will be a great background. I can also leave up the simple stars and work them into the theme. I definitely have a girly girl – she loves pink, dressing up, etc. but I also want her to love computers, space, dragons, blues and greens, etc. and grow up to be a well-rounded woman with many interests. As soon as people find out you have a girl, you will be surrounded by pink and ruffles, so you may want to keep her room as a refuge from that. 🙂

    PS: Warning: if you have a girl, you will go broke getting all the cute little girly things. It’s so hard to say no because they are all just so darn cute. 😉

  5. Sarah,
    My daughter’s room when she was a baby was classic Pooh. She’s almost 10 and STILL loves Pooh! I don’t know if that had anything to do with the nursery being pooh but there it is.
    I am anti-girly, but she wanted her room pink when she was about 4 so that’s what we did. She is now my science punk princess. So we are going to go with teal and dark purple the next time she gets her room clean enough to clean it. ( not holding my breath on this one)

    1. ooo I just thought of something , you could always instead of repainting the walls , you can just pull the boarder off and put up a solid color stripe , like purple, then put up pictures , removeable wall art , so there’s no major repainting. We got smart and did that with my son’s room. painted the top and bottom of the wall then put up a solid stripe boarder , got it at one of the home improvement stores, cant remember which one. So there’s no “permanent ” theme , you can just change out wall decor and accessories.

  6. I have to admit I was livid when I saw the planet print you have hanging in the room (I think it’s the same one) at Target labeled “for boys” and next to it a similar style print of a pink and yellow flower labeled “for girls.” My thought, “so boys get THE UNIVERSE and girls get a flower.”

    But, we went with pale yellow walls and more or less a storybook theme and both our girl and boy live there. I doubt any Geek Mom’s kid will think he/she can enjoy less than Anything He/She Wants no matter what the room looks like.

  7. We are due in Feb as well and likely to have our gender scan in another 3 or 4 weeks. With my first we did neutral colors mostly. I recall the color being called Creme Brullee, but it was more like the color of caramel. The other two walls are just plain beige. We bought a dresser from ikea that was blue and then hung up a bunch of pictures of muppets. We both love the muppets and so it wasn’t a hard choice. I found a giant poster of kermit to hand on one wall too. It is a genderless room. I’m not a super girly girl so that suited me just fine. I was a bit surprised at the amount of pink that exists in the world for family and friends to give. You will be inundated. The husband and I told everyone that we really don’t like pink and we still got TONS of stuff given to us that was pink. 🙁

    Good luck whatever you decide and congrats on #2. Now the real question are you a Mum or a Mom. I am a mom, but I’m an expat in the opposite direction as you. I have told my husband and stepson I didn’t spend my whole life wanting to someone’s fall seasonal flower. 😉

    1. Muppets – now that’s a fantastic theme. I got so carried away with my first that I am a bit concerned about how much pink we are likely to get. I have loved all the suggestions today and am far less concerned now, I may not even do anything but change the curtains and add some of the awesome girl astronaut decals. I’m a mum through and through 😉 At least until Toby decides otherwise!

      1. My American friends here in the UK tell me that when my children go to school I too will be a mum. Oh well. I guess nothing is perfect right! 🙂 I like the idea of girl astronauts. Although a few months back I had this mini day dream while feeding my daughter about her going to colonize Mars. I was absolutely destraught at the idea that she might leave the planet and I’d never see her again. So you are a far braver person than me to put astronauts into your daughter or sons rooms. I did find out about a week later that this daydream might have been induced by pregnancy hormones.

  8. When I was in college (5+ years ago) there was a popular comforter set for dorm rooms – dark blue with yellow and white stars, moons and comets. I loved the space theme but wasn’t wild about the blue (just never have been). Then I found that Linens n Things (are they still around?) had the same pattern, but in RED, with white and gray stars, moons and comets. I bought the entire bedroom set and it stayed with me for three out of the four years of college. So maybe you might want to consider keeping some space theme, but switching up the colors to give the new nursery its own “identity.”

  9. My little girl had space ships and robots and dollies and flowers. I’d say just going with something you enjoy is most important.

  10. We knew we were having a girl but wanted a nursery that we wouldn’t have to redo for a potential boy in the future. The room was already what we called “Kermit Green,” which we liked. So we enlisted the help of our artistic teenage niece and covered the walls with paintings of Mario et all, specifically Mario 3. We even made cabinets that look like the question mark boxes. At 18 months now, my daughter still loves pointing at the brightly painted characters on her wall.

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