I was so excited when I learned my husband and I were having a daughter. We were elated to pick out her name, wonder what she would be like, buy frilly pink dresses and of course, decorate her soon-to-be room. Being what I would call a good shopper (ok, I’m a professional – in my world anyway) I thought it would be a piece of cake. Crib, changing table, bumper, done – right? Wrong. One step into Babies R Us and I was totally overwhelmed. The amount of things we “needed” was endless. The breadth and depth of the options blew my mind. Not knowing where to start or when to stop, I simply sat in a floor sample rocker and tried to stay calm.
As I sat, I noticed all of the bedding that was displayed on a huge wall in front of me. My only thought was “Good grief those are ugly”. Great. Not only was the mountain too tall to start, but now it was ugly too. So my husband Peter and I registered for the things we knew we needed and the options we felt most comfortable with and left the decorating to another day. At least our little lady would get home safe in a car seat, if only to an empty room…
I did (finally) figure it out and below you will find my tips and tricks I learned in the process of imagining, finding and creating the perfect nursery. Hopefully, you too, can find everything you need at a cost that won’t exhaust the college fund.
1. Get Inspired
For starters, find a theme, a color or an idea that makes you happy.
We started with a color – a pale sage that made me feel like I could breathe. Cool and relaxing, it inspired me. Also patterns, animals, plants or just a feeling are enough to get started. It doesn’t have to match or even mix well, just compile the pieces and thoughts into one place and see where it takes you.
Look to others for inspiration. Pinterest.com is an amazing website where people do just that; they take virtual pictures of the things they find online, in their homes or where ever and compile boards of thoughts. The results are astounding.
High-end catalogs and stores are great ideas too. Pottery Barn Kids, The Company Store and Restoration Hardware Baby are just a few. Higher end stores tend to think outside the big box store norm and have fresh ideas about decorating. Rip out the pages you like and think about what it is you like about it – is it the color? the theme? the texture? Whatever it is, make a note and then find it at a not-so-high-end price (more on that later!).
Unusual things can be a great place to start too. A favorite quote or book can be the inspiration for everything else. I read a great quote on a friend’s blog just the other day:
“Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move mountains.”
Relaxing and motivational all in one place!
2. Get creative
Using found items or things you already own can be a huge cost saver and also add uniqueness to a space.
Here’s an example: I could not find a lamp for the nursery that was the right color or height, so I got wild one day and took a lamp from the garage and painted the base white. I then dyed the perfect shade of pink and glued some beaded trim around the base. It sounds complicated, but it was far easier and cheaper than trying to find something in a store and trying to make it work.
Look for side tables, chairs or frames that aren’t being used around the house or that you find at a garage sale. Throw a table cloth on the side table, reupholster the seat (super easy!) or add some paint to the frame and you’ve got a one of a kind piece, on the cheap.
Not every piece has to come from the same place. To save some cash without sacrificing style, mix and match expensive pieces with less expensive pieces. Make the things that stand out the most the parts that you spend more on – say the bumper and a quilt. Then work in less expensive jersey knit sheets.
3. Think long-term
For all the time and effort that goes into designing the nursery, the cold hard fact is that it won’t be a nursery for long. So, making sure the furniture is not only sturdy but multifunctional is a must. Look for cribs that convert to toddler beds and then into a head board. And keep your eyes peeled for changing tables that change into a standard dresser or a hutch that has storage below for anything.
Look at the space as a place where your munchkin will not only sleep, but play and learn as well. Make it easy to modify.
4. Get organized
Making the nursery an evolving and functional space – in addition to being beautiful – is incredibly important. Storage for diapers, wipes, head bands, bloomers, socks, bibs, cloths, lotions, medicine, etc. should be not only easy to get to, but dressed up so it looks less like a work place and more like a fun place.
Additional storage is a must too. The last thing you want when you need a wipe is to have to run to the garage for a new box with a poopy kiddo under your arm. Being organized and making being organized easy will make staying organized simple and leave more time for fun. Plus, when it’s easy to clean up, it becomes a fun game for you and your munchkin. Making the storage bins part of the decor makes organization pretty!
When it comes to storage pieces, go for the higher end stuff. The cheaper pieces tend to fall apart after only a short time. I like Pottery Barn Kids boxes and buckets. They go together easy and they stand up to washing, play and abuse.
5. Consider other sources
The basic big box stores like Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby and Target are great sources. But they tend to offer pretty much the same look when it comes to beds in a bag. They are great for basic pieces, but to really get something unique, try other sources. There are a million stores online that offer interesting ideas and products. Etsy is one of my favorites. It is a website with many sellers that all offer handmade items.
My favorite etsy shops include:
A cost-effective and a great place to find cute items are consignment stores. Normally, my skin starts to crawl at the idea of used stuff. But I have found two places that are so far from the typical, odd smelling second hand store that I’m not sure they even qualify as a typical consignment stores. Small Change is great for furniture. They will even take your name and what you’re looking for and call you if they get an item matching your description. The other store is new and now very dear to my heart – Little Jewelz. More boutique than consignment store, they offer gently loved clothing and furniture as well as unique decorative items, all at amazing prices. This place is dangerous. You’ve been warned!
6. Most of All: Go With What You Like
The thing that I hated most about what I was seeing in the stores was that everything was pastel. So quiet and subdued. I wanted bright! And vibrant! And fun!
Don’t think because it doesn’t come in a ready-to-go bag that it’s wrong. Babies see black, white, red and blue the very best – so why not make black your accent color? If you look for pieces and things that you love and make you want to sit and relax in the space, then you can’t go wrong.
Beth Wand is an Arizona native who made the shift from full time professional to full time mom two
years ago. She found writing about the struggles, joys and disgusting parts of motherhood therapeutic
and so started The Goon Room – a little of everything and nothing, all in one blog. She hopes to
someday write for a living and in the meantime is enjoying running the family business and chasing after
her beautiful daughter, Baylor.