Decorating A Dreamy Baby’s Room for Less

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Welcoming a new member into your family is an exciting time filled with anticipation. As parents-to-be, creating a cozy and functional baby’s room can be a fun bonding task. However, with a new baby comes expenses. Budget constraints can often dampen your picture-perfect nursery aspirations, so you need some cost-effective strategies.

How do you craft a sweet, beautiful, and practical nursery without breaking the bank?

Making a nursery space cute and functional on a budget, is entirely achievable. All you need is a thoughtful approach and a dash of creativity. Add some personal touches and a good helping of resourcefulness.

A concept board for a Modern Farmhouse Style baby's nursery with decorative elements that include Scottish Highland Cows and tractors.
Plan Your Baby’s Room With Purpose

Before diving into decoration mode, take a moment to envision how you want the space to look and feel. Do you want to decorate with a specific theme? A nursery is the best room to implement a theme for. Consider the essential elements such as crib placement, storage options, and lighting. Planning ahead allows you to streamline your budget towards items that align with your vision.

Use dual-purpose items where you can. In the concept board above you’ll see a cot with a built-in changing station on one side. These are rare though, so a chest-of-drawers that doubles as a changing station is the next best thing. They’re great for storing baby clothes and nappies in too. A cot that can convert into a toddler bed and then perhaps a desk later will save you money in the long run.

Babies grow into children faster than you realise. And expenses do increase as your little one gets older. More dual-purpose items in the image above include toys that double as theme relevant décor, and book shelves with a hanging rail for the day’s outfits. Even the outfits add to the aesthetic.

Whether they’re freestanding bookshelves, or wall-mounted ledges, shelves are an excellent way to add storage to a baby’s room. Babies come with a lot of stuff, from diapers and clothes to toys and books. Optimize shelf storage by using the vertical space on the walls.  

Get Thrifty To Decorate Your Baby’s Room

When furnishing your baby’s room, first shop your home. You can re-purpose furniture or décor items that you already own. Secondly, get thrifty. Explore secondhand stores, garage sales, or online marketplaces. Look for gently used furniture pieces like cribs, dressers, and rocking chairs. Some may need a bit of TLC, but a bit of DIY effort can transform these finds into charming nursery additions.

Lean into the vintage trend. It’s trending globally because that’s what’s affordable and easily available in this economy. I’m quite confident that you’ll find options in in the secondhand market. You may even have an older relative eager to gift you vintage items they no longer use.

Cots are items that families only use for a few years and then pass them on to family members or friends or sell. Remember to give any cot you buy a very good clean. We got ours from a friend and came with a not so friendly violin spider. Our friend had stored it in his garage. When he dropped it off at our home my husband spotted the spider while they were offloading. He gave it a good hose down (it was solid wood) and our friend went home to clean out his garage. He had two small children and dogs and those particular spiders can cause necrosis with a bite.

You absolutely have to get a brand new mattress for your first baby though. Never use a second hand cot mattress – there are SIDS risks. Infants can only safely use a hand-me-down mattress from a sibling. 

For my son’s nursery, we also used a bookshelf handed down from my parents (that housed my own books and toys as a child). And we got a chest-of-drawers and chair from the Rand Aid charity shop in Johannesburg.

Get Creative With Colour, Lighting & Décor

This is my favourite part. There are so many creative ways to use colour, lighting, and décor in a baby’s room. Smart choices and DIY projects can add a huge impact without high costs.

Paint is a wonderful way to add colour. You can paint walls and colour drench the room (5L paint), or pick one wall to paint as a feature (1L paint). Or you could leave your walls as they come and repaint your baby’s furniture. Add simple florals (see concept board above) or use a stencil to add a pattern or image. Change the handles for a total update.

Add multiple light sources to accommodate tasks and ambience. Consider adjustable options such as lamps and a dimmer switch on the overhead light. You don’t want to be putting on bright lights during a 2am feed & change. String fairy lights around the room for a soft, magical glow. They’re affordable, create a cosy ambiance, and are the perfect night light.

Control the natural light coming in the window by pairing sheers with block-out curtains or blinds.

Two of the easiest ways to add themed décor to a baby’s room are wall art and toys. Get your creative juices flowing and make your own art pieces using an inexpensive canvas, paint, and stencils. Printable digital art in a frame is a great way to get your theme across, like the posters on the concept board. Hand or foot print clay kits are inexpensive, and help you preserve a sweet memory of your baby. Or customize a mirror like the one on the Fairytale Nursery concept board. All you need is one or two well-chosen stuffed animal or wooden toys to convey your theme.

Use peel & stick vinyl wall decals to add on-theme images or wording. These are affordable and easy to remove, especially if you’re renting. You could even do an entire feature wall with removable wallpaper as in the sea themed board below.

Follow Trends Or DIY?

Not every theme will have readily available items and décor to find. When I set up my son’s nursery in 2014 I was ahead of the Woodland Nursery trend by about 3 years… couldn’t find anything in the shops. But, I am lucky that my mother-in-law is a talented seamstress so we hit fabric stores. We found a few theme relevant fabrics and stuck to the colour palette as much as possible. I added woodland creature toys, owl bookends and did two paintings.

If you’re not as crafty and creative, it’ll be so much simpler for you to find ready-made items in home decor shops. Go window shopping and look for common colours and themes in multiple stores. That way you can get a good idea of what’s available, and then shop around. Compare quality and prices before you buy. If you like the look of that grey felt nappy caddy, you can find a similar one here (affiliate link).

You’re likely to find all sorts of wallpapers that co-ordinate well with popular themes. Wallpaper is a way to add visual interest with a big impact. There are peel & stick options at online stores. These are relatively affordable and easy to remove, especially if you’re renting. Children’s books usually have beautiful illustrated covers that you can display on picture ledge shelves. Toys are the easiest way to bring a theme in – there are so many options out there. And cot bedding comes in all sorts of pastel colours and popular baby themes.

Oh, and speaking of a Woodland nursery theme…

Biophillic Baby Room Bliss

This board may look high-budget, but there are ways to take inspiration from it without breaking the bank. Start with introducing a biophilic* nature theme to your baby’s room. There are plenty ways to achieve this without spending too much money. Start by picking colors that remind you of nature. Incorporate earthy muted tones like soothing greens, serene blues, and warm neutrals. Embrace Nature’s palette to evoke a sense of tranquility and serenity. Like Mother Nature, introduce pops of warm colours. You can do this through accent pieces like throw pillows, toys, and artwork for a playful touch. Keep it simple and paired down to convey the theme.

Decorate with nature-inspired items like botanical prints, wooden toys, and natural fiber rugs. You can add actual found objects from nature as decor, like a pine cone on a shelf. Go for natural textures like cotton or linen for bedding and curtains to add a wholesome feel to the room. Incorporate wool blankets, a felt mobile and solid wood furniture with a flower grain, like oak. As in the concept board above, a woven rattan pendant light brings in another layer of natural texture.

Plants are an important part of biophilic design, and don’t cost much. You can even grow some from cuttings. Houseplants help clean the air and add a touch of green to the room. You can use hanging planters, have a large potted plant on the floor or pop a small pot plant on a shelf. Stick to non-flowering houseplants that help clean the air in a space – like the snake plant in the Boho Rainbow Nursery concept board below. Or opt for faux – like the olive tree in the Farmhouse Nursery board, or the vines & roses in the Fairytale Nursery board. You never know if your little one will develop Hayfever from pollen. And what better way to add a touch of green to the nursery and create a peaceful, nature-connected space.

* bio·​phil·​ic ˌbī-ō-ˈfi-lik. : of, relating to, or characterized by biophilia : relating to, showing, or being the human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature.

A Tactile Experience

Boho is another biophilic style. It really grew as a trend as a reaction of humanity to cold corporate environments. The warmth and calm that this style brings creates a perfect cocoon for a baby. Boho has actually died off as a favourite style in overseas markets, but trends do like to swing back into town. Boho is coming back with a slightly new flavour dubbed ‘Urban Boho’. But Boho kinda never left South Africa, so we continue and also add the new flavour. You may still find some Boho items on the ‘end-of-range’ sale shelf, before the new look arrives here. ‘Urban Boho’ keeps the natural fibres and ethnic patterns of Boho, but is a lot more minimalist than before. Perfect for a baby’s room.

The Boho style is a tactile delight for babies. It relies heavily on layers of texture of all natural fibres and fabrics, with a muted earthy colour palette. Terracotta, cream, ochre, dusty rose, sage, browns and beige/taupe items are usually easy to find at home décor stores anyway. As they sell styles and colours by season, end-of-range items can often be found at a good discount. It may be seen as a ‘Summer’ style, so you may especially find marked-down items if you shop in Winter.

I hope you’ll be inspired by all the concept boards that were in this post. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like me to do a custom board for you.

Gathering all the things you need for a bonnie addition to your family can take a toll on your purse strings. Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends and family for advice, hand-me-downs, or DIY assistance. Building a supportive network not only eases the financial burden but also fosters a sense of community and camaraderie during this exciting time.

Items like photos and hand prints, will add warmth and personality to the room without costing much. And you don’t have to have everything perfectly done before your baby arrives, especially if baby is going to sleep in your room for the first few months anyway. A child’s room goes through so many changes as the grow and needs change, so flexibility is key. Think long-term for some of your items and don’t be too precious about others. And avoid buying any non-essential stuff. Not sure what you really need for a baby’s room? Here’s a list of the essentials.

By planning strategically, repurposing resources, and embracing DIY endeavors, you can design a nursery that not only delights the senses but also nurtures your growing family’s love and happiness. So, roll up your sleeves, unleash your inner designer, and get ready to welcome your little one into a space that’s as unique and wonderful as they are!

Blessings, Chantal

Cover image photo (and used in Pin) by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Disclaimer: all photo reference images used in the concept boards on this blog post have been garnered from Pexels/Canva, from product pages on online website stores (local as far as possible), or from Pinterest. I do not claim ownership of these images. They have been used to show an example of the style conveyed on each board.

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