Like many mainstream trends, it started on TV. HGTV, to be specific. While deciding whether to Love Or List that Flip or Flopped Fixer Upper, we watched as optimistic couples and their designers tore out the wood tones and beige neutrals of their ‘90s rooms and swapped them with the latest chic color palette: cool gray in every shade. Entire homes seemed to slowly drain of color. Gray cabinets, gray tile, gray furniture, even gray hardwood floors and concrete countertops. Picking out a pattern? How about a sleek gray-and-white geometric print?
We oohed and aahed over the results (so mellow!) but few of us get to actually remodel an entire room in our house and employ the latest trends … except … the one space in any expanding family’s home that always starts from scratch: the nursery!
And so it was inevitable that all our TV training would get applied to baby’s room. It’s the perfect storm, a space meant to be decorated temporarily starting from a blank slate. And, thanks to ever-changing safety recommendations, is devoid of any hand-me-downs or vintage furniture finds to skew the look away from the most current trends.
So the all-gray palette quickly spread across the nurseries of America. It started with parents using gray as a base color with pops of pink or blue. Not sure what you’re having? Gray and green are perfect! Need more of a theme? How about elephants? But somewhere along the way in our enthusiastic search for the perfect cohesive look, our kids’ rooms have started to look downright dreary.
Buy Buy Baby doesn’t care about that! It’s shocking how many kids’ items you can now get in gray, including potty seats, play yards, and high chairs. Even a simple staple like interlocking foam floor tiles are no longer solely available in rainbow colors.
At first it seemed nice, even calm. But then it took a turn toward crazytown. Suddenly, you could buy pale gray toys to match your all-gray nursery. Pottery Barn Kids offers a completely gray dollhouse, gray ride-on racecar, and gray doll pram. I even came across an all-gray stuffed Mickey Mouse! I swear it was sadly sitting in a crib, looking at me and asking “How am I supposed to bring joy to a child when I look like this?”
Maybe this trend is getting out of hand?
The limit for me was when I came across a photo posted by Rob Kardashian of his daughter, Dream, playing at home in an all-grey ball pit. You can cry silver all you want, it’s still depressing. That sad-but-shiny orb pile has nothing on a bright and happy rainbow-colored ball pit. What kid can have fun in a thunder-storm-colored pile?
I understand toys are innately garish. They’re huge, noisy, and tend to come in zany circus colors. They don’t work with any rational adult decorating scheme. But that’s part of the fun of this short time we have as parents of small children. Toys are supposed to be a beacon in an otherwise drab existence. They stand proud outside the rules of chic motifs and sophisticated color palettes and they encourage our children to engage with them in new and imaginative ways.
Watch kids run into any room and you’ll notice they hone in on the bright toys. Having multi-color, shiny plastic objects that beckon you to explore is part of the fun of being little.
And as much as we all want to hang on to some normalcy of our pre-parent lives and not turn our homes into an ersatz carnival, there’s a moment after the kids outgrow those alphabet foam tiles and the bright plastic baby jail, when you’ve put them away and look around, and your living room seems like it’s missing something. Like it’s less alive. And you might think to yourself, I can’t believe I miss the clashing and the crazy!
So embrace your green-and-orange VTech walker. Choose the Jumparoo with the most multicolor attachments. When picking out foam floor tiles, remember this phase is fleeting and childhood is not meant to fit in to a trendy, muted color scheme.
Don’t be afraid to disappoint the Property Brothers. Maybe when they have kids of their own they’ll renounce their all-gray ways and encourage us all to see the world through the rainbow-colored eyes of our children. It may be more chaotic, but it’s a pretty fun way to live.
Andrea Worthington owns BabyG