Designing A Nursery On A Budget

Babies! They’re adorable but MAN are they expensive. This isn’t news, but at least in my case I didn’t fully appreciate how much new humans cost until we actually had one on the way. We finished our tater tot’s nursery a couple of weeks ago and as proud as I am of how the space looks, I might be slightly prouder of how affordably we were able to pull this together.

If you were starting from scratch and had absolutely NOTHING for your baby, recreating this room would set you back about $1750. Full disclosure, we didn’t purchase everything in here (more on that in a second–you can copy what we did!) but even if we had to, I’d still feel great about shelling out $1750 for an entire room of furniture.

So what did we do? There were five main things:


1. Use what you already have. Before you give me the stink eye and say, “PAIGE, you goober, this is my first baby,” remember that nursery furniture doesn’t HAVE to come from a specialty store. For example, a dresser is a dresser no matter where it’s from, so if you’re like us and already have an extra one hangin’ around, pop that thing into your nursery. We also had the twin bed in our guest room, which became the nursery, so we just kept it in there as an extra spot to sleep and/or read stories. Other easy-to-incorporate items you might already have are bookshelves, lamps, mirrors, and storage containers.

2. Register for it. We got some great advice when we were putting our registry together. A cousin told us to put everything we can think of on the list because we wouldn’t know what people would want to buy the baby. For us, this included the rocking chair and crib–both of which were purchased immediately by giddy family members. We would’ve gotten them ourselves if nobody else did, but people like to feel involved when a new snugglemuffin is on the way, so we gave them a chance to be part of her room.


3. Use double-duty pieces. We skipped a separate changing table and just got a pad for the top of her dresser. I also opted to get a little bookshelf to double as a nightstand, because she’ll only continue to get more books and those ledges will overflow. I’ve seen other people get a storage ottoman for toy wrangling AND feet propping, and that’s a killer idea too.

4. Shop around. What this means for you will depend on your budget, but once you find an item you like, I recommend taking a quick peek at a couple of other stores/websites to see what else is out there. We did this with the crib and ended up switching to the Sundvik from IKEA (for $119, whaaaaaat!).  IKEA doesn’t have their “dorm room” reputation anymore, but I encountered a few people who thought getting baby gear there was… iffy. If that’s you, let me ease your mind: WireCutter tested a bunch of cribs and named the Sundvik as their top-rated budget pick. Boo-ya.


5. Think about the future. Part of my strategy in here was to design a room that will grow with her. All of the furniture is simple and versatile (or straight-up fun, like the rocker) and doesn’t scream “YOU’RE A BABY!” in a way that will make her hate it when she starts school. The crib converts into a toddler bed, and we’re all set with a twin for when she outgrows that. The dresser holds a ton of stuff and will be plenty of storage for a long time. Keeping things in a neutral palette will make them easy to work into her personal style when she’s old enough to have one. Basically, we won’t need to re-buy anything for a long time. That’s money in the bank, folks.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: great design doesn’t have to be expensive. Even when you’re designing for a wee tater tot who will do a lot of changing the first few years of her life. How did you save in your kid’s nursery? And if you don’t have kids, what’s your favorite money-saving decorating tip?

Want to see more about the nursery, including 9 million pictures and all of the sources? Read this post! 

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