I agonized over a nursery theme for our youngest daughter. My Google history is filled with “cool nursery theme” or “geeky nursery ideas” and “unique nursery decor”. Nothing really clicked for me until I stumbled across Buzzfeed’s 20 DIY Pop Culture Themes for your Nursery. Ta-da! That’s it! My husband and I have loved Harry Potter for years. We visited the Wizarding World for our second anniversary and had a blast. A Harry Potter nursery – finally, a theme I could work with. And take cool photos of.
Of course, almost immediately things ground to a halt. It’s not exactly a common theme – I wasn’t going to find Harry Potter crib sheets at Babies ‘R Us. I researched the heck out of the idea and slowly Pinned and Etsy-Hearted the best ideas I found. And now you, dear Reader, can benefit from the fruits of my obsessive research labor. I hereby present:
Tips for Decorating a Harry Potter Nursery
1. Pick a House
Don’t assume a Harry Potter nursery’s theme colors need to be burgundy & gold – branch out to other Houses! Whether you use the Sorting Hat on Pottermore, or just “feel it in your guts”, figure out which Hogwarts House you (and/or your future progeny) belong to and build on that. My husband and I are hardcore Ravenclaws, so it was a no-brainer for us (brain – see what I did there?). Incidentally, Ravenclaw colors are a bit of a controversy in and of themselves. Book fans favor the official aesthetic – blue and bronze – while movie fans tend toward the blue and silver that Warner Brothers chose for the films. I chose the path of least resistance and easier official prop-purchasing – blue and silver it is!
2. Remember it’s a baby’s room
The wizarding world may be full of dark arts, but you may not want your baby’s nursery to be! Consider skipping that cool Dementors poster and sticking with Hogwarts Castle. I opted for watercolor versions of Harry Potter characters and places, which helped soften the look. I picked up the prints on Etsy, and even ended up requesting some custom versions so the colors would coordinate. Don’t be afraid to ask! Then off-the-shelf frames and custom mats from Michaels.
I also wrestled with wall colors. This room was actually pink when we started, and it has confused more than one visitor to see that we intentionally changed it to “boy colors” (sigh – gender norms are a whole other post). “Silver” felt like the more fun color choice, but turns out most “silver” paints were just “gray”, and not the look we wanted (too dreary for a little one). Fortunately (well, unfortunately for my budget), I discovered “Brushed Pearl” by Valspar. It involved a special trowel and fancy swirling technique, but the end result was wicked cool, and the texture and sheen really make the room feel grand and castle-like.
3. DIY potion bottles
This was the best part! I spent a few weeks collecting cool-looking bottles from garage sales and antique shops (and had my mom and aunt on the lookout as well, collecting possibilities). Then I spent a lovely evening dying the bottles with my mother. We used a variety of tutorials, and I’m super pleased with how everything came out. I found some labels on Pinterest, printed them on parchment-like paper, and spent eleventy-million hours carefully cutting them out, then Mod-Podging them onto the bottles. Ta-da! A potion shelf even Snape would be proud of (just kidding, he would sneer).
4. But choose your DIY battles
I had grand plans for making my own wall clings. I researched websites and crunched numbers and played with designs and just plain ran out of time and energy. I was still incubating a tiny human, of course, and just didn’t have it in me to make this fun anymore. So I settled on a couple pre-made designs and custom-ordered the others from some Etsy artists. A little pricier in the end, but worth my sanity.
Update 5 years later: My little one immediately began peeling off the “roadsign” vinyl as soon as she could stand. I was picking up tiny shreds of plastic every time I went in the room, and the wall looked dreadful. Stick these out of reach!
5. Repurpose what you can
That wizard’s broom on the shelf under the potion bottles? Is actually a Santa Claus Christmas decoration I found at a thrift shop. Perfectly broom-y, much cheaper, and easier to find a home for than a broom-sized broom. I just make sure Santa is facing the wall at all times 🙂 I also found my ceiling light on eBay, and instantly declared it to be a prophecy orb from the Department of Mysteries. Was it intended as such? I guarantee not, but it works for me. That little cauldron Hedwig is sitting on? Novelty hot chocolate container from Halloween! Anything can be a prop in a Harry Potter nursery.
6. Choose items that are meaningful to you
I spent a ridiculous amount of time poring over the books to choose quotes for the walls, but I knew from the start that I had to include Dumbledore’s quote about happiness and light. Having struggled with depression since high school, it’s important for me to remember to “turn on the light” during difficult times. I read a blog post about using iron-on transfers on canvas lampshades and decided I would do that. Ha! Way more complicated than I ever imagined, but the more trouble it was, the more determined I got. Hint – make sure you can peel the plastic backing off of the canvas, or your iron is going to melt it and destroy the shade. Not that I would make such a blunder, of course. That side of my lamp was always meant to face the wall, and never, ever be seen.
7. Ask for help
Remember that lack of Harry Potter crib sheets? Still an issue, and I have zero DIY sewing skills. I do, however, have a very handy mom, and she volunteered to make sheets, changing pad cover, and even matching curtains. I would have been stuck with plain blue or silver without her. If you didn’t have the foresight to be born to such a handy parent, reach out to your community. Or heck, reach out to random Etsy artists! There is bound to be someone who is happy to help prepare this amazing room for your amazing baby.
This concludes our Harry Potter Nursery tour. If you like this room, you’re gonna love Aurora’s Harry Potter-themed newborn photos! Go check them out.
And in the meantime, reach out to schedule a newborn photography session of your own! My studio is in the western surburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I still have all the Harry Potter goodies if you want a themed shoot!
* Thanks to Bullis Photography for the excellent wide-angle shots of the nursery!