There are very few things that moms enjoy more than preparing for a new baby. Regardless of all the stress and uncertainty, it's such a beautiful time. The nesting urges may make expecting mothers a little unrealistic and unreasonable at times, but it's mother nature's way of preparing us for the new baby's little one's imminent arrival.
When I was pregnant with my first son, we didn't have a ton of extra spending money. Okay, we didn't have a ton of money, period. We moved to a new city to stay with family until we got back on our feet, and it took several months for my husband to find a new job. Yes, it was as horrible as it sounds.
Even still, I wasn't giving up on my dream nursery! I penny-pinched, clipped coupons, took online surveys, and bought practically everything secondhand.
And you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way! Most people spend thousands on their baby's nursery. My husband and I spent about $900 and we had more than enough of everything. I'm talking several carriers and slings, 3 different bottle drying racks, and more blankets than I could fit in the closet. It all worked out wonderfully!
So if there's one person you can trust when it comes to designing a nursery on a budget, it's the broke, cranky, nesting mama-to-be who pulled it off while living with her in-laws.
Let's get into it!
When decorating my first son's nursery, we didn't have a ton of money to sink into it, but of course, we wanted it to look homey and sweet.
I downloaded every buy sell trade app and practically put his room together from gently used items from people in our area. It took more time, but we saved thousands of dollars!
Apps like LetGo, 5Miles, OfferUp, and VarageSale were my personal favorites. You can find tons of cheap nursery items from people in your neighborhood, and most of the time the people you buy from are super friendly. Some are even willing to throw in extra free items!
Disclaimer: always be sure you meet in public places or take your husband or a friend along with you when meeting up for transactions.
If there's a piece of furniture or decor that you know you have to have, try searching for it from different retailers before purchasing. Sometimes the prices will vary from place to place, and you'll be able to find it on sale at a different store or website.
By the way, you might luck out and find it on a buy sell trade app, so be sure to check those first!
Another thing I did that really helped us cut costs was pinpointing exactly what it was that I enjoyed about a specific piece of furniture. I would then search Google and other stores for items that were similar, but not quite as pricey.
Wall decals are a great way to spruce up a boring white wall. My husband and I weren't able to paint my son's nursery, so that's what we opted for instead. The result was better in my opinion anyway!
There are tons of wall decals to choose from. You can add trees, cute safari animals, lambs, pretty much anything you can think of! It's ridiculously cheap compared to painting or adding shiplap.
The only downside is eventually your little baby will grow up, and if the decals are within arm's reach, they will tear them down one day. Take that into consideration when planning out where to add them.
Creativity is key when you're building a nursery on a budget. When you're being frugal, you can't necessarily buy every item from a name brand line. But it's still more than possible to build a dynamic room where the furniture and decor match wonderfully.
Finding furniture from different outlets and figuring out a way to make them work together is key. For instance, we bought every big furniture item in my son's nursery from a different store or person from our neighborhood, and it all ended up looking wonderful together.
The crib, changing table, and dresser don't all have to be the same color, or from the same brand. You just don't want things to clash too much.
Painting your own furniture is the next step when building a nursery on a budget. Let's say you find a dresser listed for free in your area. It works just fine, it's well-made, but the couple selling it is moving and needs it gone ASAP.
The only downside is - it doesn't match your nursery theme at all! You can still make it work. Paint the dresser yourself, and you just scored yourself a $500 dresser for the cost of paint. The extra effort is more than worth it when you're saving a ton of money. Better yet, if you're pregnant, you likely won't be the one painting it, anyway!
Repurposing furniture and decor items is a great way to cut costs. Many people take a low dresser and simply add a changing pad to it to create a changing station.
This is especially great when space is tight! You get a two-in-one.
Some people will tell you don't need a changing table, and I guess the truth is, you really don't. Many moms say they only used theirs for the first three months or so. However, I still use mine to this day, and my son is about to turn two.
Better yet - I found it for $25 and I'm going to repurpose it into a regular shelf when he outgrows it. Which leads me to my next tip...
Purchasing furniture for long-term use is cost-effective in the long run. The trouble I ran into when designing my son's nursery, is that most convertible cribs and other pieces of furniture were way more expensive!
However, if you're more worried about the overall amount you'll spend in the next few years, or you're able to find pieces that will grow with your baby for a discounted price, absolutely go for it! It's definitely worth it as you get way more bang for your buck.
Cribs with built-in changing stations seemed like such a cool idea to me when I was planning our nursery. However, I'm super glad I didn't go that route now. Even if it's able to be converted into a toddler bed, who wants a big hunk of shelves attached to their bed, taking up space?
I didn't find out about the world of Etsy until after my son was already born, and man was I upset. However, I'm now re-designing his toddler bedroom since we're moving in two weeks and I'm so happy I stumbled across this gem.
There are tons of Etsy shops that sell digital downloads. Instead of buying framed nursery wall art from Hobby Lobby or Target, you can purchase some prints of nursery decor for a few bucks.
You gain immediate access to the designs, print them out yourself and frame them. And ta-da! You've got some adorable art for your nursery for a fraction of the cost!
Even better, many Etsy sellers are more than willing to create custom designs for you for fairly cheap too!
If you're a first-time mom-to-be, it's really hard to know which items you won't use until... Well, until you don't use them!
You can take all the advice in the world from other moms, but at the end of the day, our recommendations vary because we all have different ways of doing things. As I mentioned above, most people will tell you not to waste your money on a changing table but will recommend getting a Diaper Genie instead.
I'm the exact opposite! I think Diaper Genies are a waste of time and space, but I adore my changing table.
The best thing to do is think long and hard about what habits you have, what's important to you, and go from there. Are you the type to even go to the changing table every time your baby pees? Or are you more likely to just change them on the couch or the floor?
As cute as they may be, you don't NEED the Pottery Barn baskets and drapes. Brands at Target, Walmart and other places work just fine. This was never an issue for me, but I know buying name brand is important to a lot of ladies.
Just know that few people will ever ask for brand names. Honestly, how many people do you think will ever even step foot in your baby's nursery? Not that many.
Why spend $100-$500 extra just for a tag with a specific brand name on it? It's just not worth it. Quality matters, but the brand name doesn't.
Not only is going minimalist good for your bank account, but it's also good for your mind. The less stuff you have to clutter up your space, the clearer your mind will be.
It's not easy at first, but it's more than worth it. You have to learn to be picky, especially when it comes to decorating. Once you find a theme you like, it can be difficult not to go overboard and buy every single item that matches. In the end, it usually looks better to go on the subtle side, anyway.
Simply having an area rug and a couple of art pieces on the wall looks way less cluttered than an over-the-top, heavily decorated room.
Crib bedding is expensive with a capital "E". Seriously!
Brand new, bedding sets cost hundreds of dollars! Companies know that moms-to-be are willing to splurge on nice sheets and blankets because we want our babies to be comfortable. Plus the crib is usually the focal point of any nursery.
So skip it! Besides, too much crib bedding, and more specifically the bumper, has been proven to be unsafe and is no longer recommended. Even the mesh ones pose a threat to your little one. It increases the risk of SIDS! Simply throw on a crib sheet and leave it at that.
You'll likely have a ton of items passed down to you from excited family members and friends. Don't pass it up!
There's no shame in accepting hand-me-downs. It makes them happy to help you, and it's less for you to have to buy.
This is key, especially when your baby budget is super tight. Don't get hung up over a small stain here or a tiny rip there. Chances are, taking the time to fix the small problems is well worth the money you're saving.
Even if some items don't match your overall theme, you can find ways to work it in and spend the money you saved on something else.
Just like your friends and family, moms in Facebook groups in your area are always giving away used items, or at least selling them for super cheap.
Not everyone has family members to pass their baby stuff down to, and once their little ones grow out of certain toys and pieces of furniture, they need to clear up space. Because of this, moms will often take to local Facebook groups to let go of their unwanted baby stuff.
You're helping them get rid of things they don't need, and you're saving money. It's a win-win!
What's better about this is you can creep on their profile a little bit before deciding to meet up somewhere. Some people will even leave the item on their porch and just trust you to leave the money (if they're asking for any).
DIY-ing certain items can save you a ton of money, granted you know what you're doing. Generally, I stay away from DIY furniture or anything too difficult, but if you have the skills, use 'em!
There are plenty of DIY projects you can tackle, from sewing projects like boppy pillow covers and crib sheets to more advanced wall decor. You can look through Pinterest for inspiration!
Just be careful. It's easy to fall down the rabbit hole, and before you know it, you've spent more on the materials than if the item would have already been made. I've made that mistake a few too many times.
Walmart, Target, and various other chain stores have super cute lines with adorable nursery decor. My personal favorite is Pillowfort, found at Target. This brand has several lines that make it easy to design nurseries (and kids rooms) on a budget.
It's perfect for moms like me who struggle with interior design. Everything comes matching, making your life super easy.
Some of the most recent themes I've seen by Pillowfort include a mermaid, shark, and "Camp Kiddo" -- I'm seriously obsessed! Walmart has several cute lines by Mainstays as well, worth looking into. Sometimes you can even mix and match from both stores.
One of the best ways to make your nursery stand out on a budget is to have a mostly neutral room, and just add pops of an accent color (or several colors) to bring the room to life.
You can upgrade a boring white dresser to a fun piece that makes a statement by simply switching out the drawer handles for colorful ones. Add a funky lamp shade to a cheap, regular lamp, or add some throw pillows with colorful print.
As usual, the biggest struggle I've had with this is learning how to not go overboard. It loses it's punch if everything in the room is colorful!
Adding little baskets for organization and decoration is the way to go when it comes to designing a nursery! It can make the room feel really put together, and it's usually pretty cheap.
You don't have to go all out on the Pottery Barn Kids version shown above. You can find cute little wicker baskets pretty much anywhere. Target, Walmart, grocery stores, Amazon, and sometimes even on sale at Hobby Lobby.
Because let's be honest - if you're trying to build a nursery on a budget, you should probably only shop there when there are awesome sales going on.
There's really no reason to go otherwise unless you're looking for a reason to cry.
Neutral colored baby items tend to be cheaper, not to mention it's easier to grow with the baby. Sure, they can continue using blue or pink items well into their childhood, but it makes things feel more limited.
When you go neutral, the possibilities are endless. You could take the theme in any direction you want to from there! From a calm Peter Rabbit themed nursery to a cool, monochrome space themed toddler room, or maybe even a woodland theme. There is so much you can do!
Monochrome room decor and neutral grays and browns are classic and timeless. And again, you can simply add pops of color like I suggested above, to really liven things up.
If there's a piece that you feel REALLY pulls the room together, but it's pricey, make it a priority and learn to let go of other items that aren't worth it.
This is easier said than done, I know. But it's the best you can do when money is tight. You don't have to cut corners on every single item in your new baby's room. You just have to make tough decisions.
Do you need the fancy crib with all the bells and whistles? Or would you rather have the nice baby carrier?
Figure out which items you'll likely use more, and go from there. And don't forget, there are few things that your newborn will actually NEED right away.
There's nothing wrong with waiting until after they're born to buy a high chair. He/She won't be holding up their head or eating for that matter, for several months. You got this!