Spend five minutes on Pinterest and you’ll be convinced that every baby sleeps in a whimsical, magazine-worthy nursery. But those luxe accommodations for the baby come with a price — and it's not one everyone can afford.
The good news is, you don’t have to. With a few cost-cutting tips, you can pull together an adorable - and functional - nursery with significant savings.
Skip the crib sets
Coordinated crib sets are adorable, but pricey. And the biggest kicker? They’re useless! Crib bumpers are no longer recommended due to their suffocation risk and the matching quilt can’t be used either — babies shouldn’t use blankets (especially heavy ones) until after their first birthday.
So that means that after you snap a cute nursery photo for Instagram, both will get stashed in the closet. Instead, save your money and buy crib sheets and swaddle blankets that match your nursery colors and decor.
Choose a scheme, not a theme
If you pick a nursery theme, you’re pigeonholing yourself. If you fall in love with a contemporary owl-themed nursery, you’re going to be stuck with that particular style of owls, and probably with that one designer.
Instead, choose a color scheme you love and focus on the accents to bring the nursery together. Splurge on a themed lamp, DIY a themed ceiling mobile (well out of your little one’s reach, for safety purposes), print off an internet graphic and frame it for the wall and tuck some themed stuffed animals in the rocker or atop the dresser.
This can be tricky because you need your baby gear (especially your crib) to be safe and there are standard updates all the time. However, there are ways to verify the safety of your secondhand gear if you’re willing to do some work.
Consignment stores usually check the recall lists to ensure the products they’re selling are suitable for use, but you can also check places like OfferUp, Craigslist and your local Buy Nothing Facebook group. Just make sure that if you purchase a crib, it does not have a drop-side, the slats are no more than 2⅜ inches apart and that it is not on the recall list.
Make your own curtains
You don’t have to spend tons of money on window treatments for your baby’s nursery. With inexpensive cotton fabric from your local craft store (maybe even from the odds-and-ends or clearance section) and a roll of iron-on hemming tape or Stitch Witchery, you can fashion a custom valance or decorative curtains, even if you have no sewing skills.
Pro tip: It’s even easier if you buy sheets on clearance and just turn them into curtains, as the edges are already hemmed.
Paint the walls
Paint is where you can get the biggest bang for your buck in creating your nursery atmosphere, but that doesn’t mean you need to commission a custom mural. Paint solid walls, design alternating glossy and matte stripes, or choose an accent color to create a whimsical environment.
You can grab screaming deals on good paint in pretty colors if you keep an eye on the mistinted paint rack at your local hardware store. If you want more intricate details, but aren’t artistic enough to paint something yourself, buy vinyl decals to affix to the walls. They’re surprisingly affordable and create a custom look.
Don’t buy everything all at once
Even a budget-friendly nursery costs money and it can be hard to cough up all that cash at once. Go slow and do things piece by piece - and also recognize that you don’t necessarily need all of the things the baby store tells you.
Skip the wipe warmer, hold off on diaper pail and pick them up if you discover you need them. You’ll probably find you can do without a lot of the “must-haves.”
Buy decor that pulls double duty
Get two things for the price of one by purchasing items that are multi-functional. Instead of a changing table, buy a dresser designed with a changing table on top. Instead of buying bookshelves and a toy box, buy criss-cross shelving and pretty baskets to hold all your little one’s things.
Borrow from friends
There’s a lot of baby gear that is only used for a short period of time. Swings, bassinets, bouncy seats, activity centers and play mats are quickly outgrown. Ask your friends if you can borrow some of their gear for the few months of their usefulness. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to share.
There are a lot of ways you can repurpose existing items in your home to work in your nursery. For example, instead of buying a cute teepee for the play corner, buy some tulle at the fabric store, gather it at the top, and hang it from the ceiling for a similar feel and ethereal look. Toss some cute stuffed animals and a pillow in the bottom, and you’ve got a lovely, inexpensive napping nook.
You’ve got enough expenses to worry about when welcoming a little one - a designer nursery doesn’t have to be one of them. With a bit of effort and creativity, you can pull together the dream nursery your babe deserves without breaking the bank, because cute doesn’t have to come with a high price tag.