Decorating a Baby Nursery on a Budget
Nursery Decorating Ideas & What You Don't Need for a Nursery

I started dreaming about decorating my baby’s nursery long before she arrived. Let’s be honest- I started long before I was even pregnant. But that’s the fun of being an interior decorating enthusiast. A baby on the way is the best excuse to decorate! Since I always decorate on a budget, instead of starting with, “What do I need for a nursery?” I focused on the opposite:

What you DON’T need in a baby nursery

A Changing Table: While you’ll need a spot to change your baby, you don’t need a traditional changing table in a nursery. Any safe, flat surface will do just fine. Just add a soft diaper changing mat. I ended up using a wood and glass modern dining table I had bought for one of my first apartments in New York City. It’s large enough to double as a space to plan and organize my daughter’s outfits.

A Dresser: Instead of a traditional dresser, I used plastic organizing units in the closet, so I could see and grab clothing quickly and easily. If you have a small space, cutting out a dresser or a bulky changing table can save a lot of space. 

A Crib: Don’t get me wrong, you will need a crib in your nursery. But most babies will start out in a bassinet in their parent’s bedroom. If you’re short on time and rushing to get your nursery set up, focus on finding the right bassinet first.

Adding Meaningful Touches

After you gather your essential nursery elements, how do you make the nursery feel personal and special?

Use what you have: In order to save money and add a personal feel, I used a lot of pieces that I already owned. In addition to the dining table turned changing table, I used a vintage 1930’s dress form with a heavy wrought iron base I bought years ago from an antique shop. A tall, wooden antique screen I’ve had for years fit perfectly into the corner. My collections of miniature tea sets, and antique Chinese and Japanese dolls seemed like perfect additions to a little girl’s room.

Family Photos: Incorporating family photos into your nursery is a great way to incorporate your family’s story into your baby’s first room. While I love taking photos, I’m usually terrible about printing them. I printed some of my favorite photos from my maternity and Fresh 48 sessions on canvas through Printique.

New Collections: You may already have collections of various items without realizing it. The next step is finding a creative way to display them. I received a half dozen or so antique baby bonnets at my baby showers. To display them, I ordered simple wooden hat stands from Etsy and lined them up on one of the nursery shelves.

Family Heirlooms: You may not have your Grandmother and Great-Grandmother’s childhood books and dolls, but your own childhood memories are now family heirlooms and can add a lot of meaning to your nursery. I filled the nursery shelves with dolls, and books from my childhood and books and toys from my husband’s childhood. The floating wall shelves we installed from Room & Board proved to be a perfect display for colorful decorations and collections.

New Heirlooms: Some of my favorite nursery elements are special, handmade pieces from family and friends. My Mother-in-law made a beautiful quilt that doubles as a playmat. A good friend sent a handmade bird mobile made by an independent artist. These special pieces will no doubt be around for my grandchildren’s nurseries!

Adding Color to Your Nursery

Wall Color: While the color gray currently reigns supreme as a wall color, why not let a little color in? The right paint color can really set a cheerful tone in a nursery. Looking for the perfect paint, I took a decal from Vineyard Vines to the Home Depot and had them match the paint. If you’re not sold on one of the paint swatches at the store, you can take an object to a paint store for a color match. 

Window Treatments: If you’re looking to add a pop of color, some texture or some character with an interesting print, adding drapery is a great option. I wanted drapes that added a tailored look but also a contrasting color against the pink walls. I went with a set of blue/green and white striped drapes from Carousel Designs. Carousel Designs is all things fabric for baby and everything is manufactured in my neighboring state of Georgia. I also bought a matching play mat in the same pattern. Even though the company focuses on baby, I love their drapes so much, I bought a set for my living room in a cherry blossom print.

Happy Decorating!

Mist Canopy Stripe Drape Panel Carousel Designs Baby Bedding

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Alison Hetherington

For the modern girl who loves everything vintage.

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