Nursery on a Budget: decorating tips & must-haves

A nursery should be as adorable as your new little one is, right? Decorating your baby’s space is a charming chore and fun way to prepare for being parents. It can be overwhelming though. From cribs and nursery furniture to themes to the color palette, where do you start? And how on earth do you afford all the “stuff” that comes along with having a baby? No worries. These simple tips will help you not only decorate beautifully and include all the essentials for a new baby, but will also allow you to boast that you’ve put together an amazing nursery on a budget. Afterall, who doesn’t like decorating without spending a dime?


Nursery Must-Haves

A nursery needs to be just as functional and comfortable for mom and dad as it is fun for baby. This is where the must-haves come into play. And by must-haves, I really mean furniture and supply stations. Here are some tips to get everything you need and yet stay on budget:

Seating.  If your space permits, having a chair in the nursery will be such a blessing for feedings now and for privacy of putting future babies to sleep while older siblings play in the other room.

Bookshelf.  While a night stand located close to your seating choice is a valid option, consider the possibilities and potential a nearby bookshelf would add to the room. While our little guy was still nursing, the bookshelf positioned next to our rocker conveniently housed a soft lighting option, the baby monitor, nursing supplies, bibs, and pacifiers. Plus, there was still room for a couple shelves of stuffed animals and baby toys. Now that our son is a toddler and the baby supplies have moved out, the bookshelf now contains a playful space for a basket of books and rows of toys.

Diaper Changing Station.  With the countless number of diapers you will have the “joy” of changing over the next few years, a diaper changing station is not an option, but a necessity. It does not mean, however, that you need to purchase a special changing station piece of furniture to accommodate this task. When choosing the nursery furniture, consider whether the dresser (horizontal, waist-high) could serve as a diaper changing station. Is it long enough and deep enough for a changing pad to completely sit on top? Could you, for added safety use the changing pad’s straps and secure it to the dresser? The nice part thing about multi-tasking a dresser is that after the baby is through the diaper stage, the piece is still functional in the room and thus better on your budget.

Where can you store diapers in close proximity to the changing pad? You never want to leave a child unattended on any changing station (even the tiniest of babies are quick and learn how to roll and squirm all too soon). So you will want to have diapers, wipes, and diaper rash creams within reach. If using a changing station, those items are often housed underneath. Our dresser, which serves as our changing area, is long enough to hold a basket of diapers and a tub of wipes next to the changing pad.

Crib.  Crib possibilities can really seem overwhelming. Do you want a classic sleigh crib or a new modern, straight-lines crib? Do you want the crib to convert to a toddler bed or do you plan to have more children in a couple years and not need the convertible option? Would a drop side crib be a benefit to you? (From a mom of only 5’ 2”, I really appreciate the drop side.) Do you have ample storage in the nursery? If not, a drawer under crib may be a great option to provide a place to store crib linens and baby blankets.


Nursery furniture can get pricey. Don’t hesitate to put a crib on your baby registry. You may be surprised at how excited a grandparent may be to buy their first grandchild a crib. Or perhaps a group of friends may want to chip in and purchase it for you together. Likewise, ask family members about unused pieces of furniture that you could use for the nursery. My mother-in-law had saved a couple rocking chairs passed down through the family. She refinished and reupholstered them and gave one to each of her children as her gift for the new baby. Also, check out Craigslist, online local mom groups, resale shops, or community resale sales and garage sales to find great pieces. (If you are looking for a second-hand crib, however, make sure to get the make and model of the crib and check for any recalls on the item before you buy it.)


Nursery on a Budget pinnable Pinterest image


Decorating Tips

Theme. Whether you are going gender neutral or know the baby’s sex, determining the theme or how you want to decorate will often determine your color palette. Baby superstores have lots of nursery themed options already put together for you. However, you may want to consider choosing something your child will enjoy long after your baby is out of diapers.

Color palette. For a small room, make sure to keep your wall colors light to add the appearance of space. That does not mean that you are limited to pastels. It does mean you should consider where you want your color to come from… from the walls, from the carpet, or from your accents and decorations? For example: the baby furniture we have is white and our nursery is a decent size. Therefore, we chose to put the color on our walls and let the white of the furniture and draperies pop against the bold orange walls.

Not all nursery furniture has to be matchy-matchy though. As long as your colors are complimentary, you could consider mixing and matching your colors. What about a grey dresser with a blue crib and cheery yellow accents? Could you repaint an existing dresser a light pink to pair with a brown crib? Think budget. Think options and think how you want to bring the world of color into your baby’s room.

Decorations. Ok, this part gets really fun! While decorating does go hand-in-hand with choosing a theme for the nursery, think of all the “extra” touches you can add to the room to give it the finishing touches. Great, budget-friendly ideas for decorating…

    • Instead of a mobile, add a cluster of whimsical poufs or paper lanterns to the ceiling. This can add so much beauty and fun, plus serve as visual stimulation for your baby. Plus, you can find them relatively inexpensively at large craft stores, party supply stores, or online.  (Note: for safety purposes choose a spot that is not directly over the crib to hang these items.)
    • Wall decals. These are oh-so-popular and have such a great variety of options to choose from. Find one that fits your theme or in a color scheme that will grow with your child. The only down-side to a wall decal is they can be difficult to remove and may require some additional wall repair/painting when that time comes.I created our own wall “decals” using fabric. The theme for our youngest son’s nursery is dinosaurs. I purchased extra fabric that matches his baby quilt, traced around different size bowls to make circles of varying sizes, cut them out, and applied scrapbook tape to the backside close to the edge and hung them on the wall. Super cute, super easy, super cheap! (Check these out in this post’s title picture.)
    • DIY decorations. I am all about repurposing items. So many of the decorations we purchased 6 years ago for our first child’s nursery have been revived with a can of spray paint and given new life in our current nursery… and honestly, I like those items better now with a new paint job than I did when I purchased them new!
    • Personalize the room with your child’s name or first letter of his/her name. You can find some great wood or paper mache letters at the large craft stores in a variety of fonts. With a little bit of paint or some scrapbook paper & Mod Podge, the letters can be finished to match your child’s room.
    • Make your own artwork. I aged some cute dinosaur graphics I found online to add the finishing touches to our son’s shelves. Check out how to make your own DIY Aged Artwork.
    • Decorate with pictures of your precious baby. Yes, it is okay to put pictures of your child up in his/her own room. The moments will pass so quickly and you will be glad for the reminder of these days with your little one.


While you are anxiously awaiting the arrival of your precious baby, remember that your spouse and soon-to-be grandparents are also anxious and excited. Let this time of preparing for baby be a wonderful bonding time for you all and enjoy these moments together!


Share this with your friends…