How To Decorate a Baby Nursery From Scratch (For Less)

So many questions arise when you're having a baby, and one of the biggest ones is how to set up the nursery room. But don't stress about nursery decor and what baby gear you need, with the help of seasoned parents and interior designer Brady Burke of Havenly, designing your nursery can actually be enjoyable. Plus, it's easy to ball on a budget with our open-box and gently-used baby furniture and decor items

decorated baby nursery

Set a Mood and Think About Function

The first step to designing the nursery is to look at the space and visualize what kind of mood you want to set and how the shape and size will play a part. For Brady this includes window treatments, lighting, storage and seating for the adults who will be hanging out in the room.

"With nap times and late night feedings, window treatments and soft, eye-level lighting are essential for the many tired eyes spending time in a nursery," he says. "Ample storage will help keep the space clutter free while allowing all of the essentials to be close at hand. Lastly, adding some comfortable accents for both baby and parent will make the room feel cozy and warm. A nice glider or rocking chair for late nights and a soft rug to learn to crawl on will help your nursery become everyone's favorite room in the house."

Storage can come in the form of dressers for clothes, baskets to go under the crib and/or changing table and organization tools for a closet. Because baby clothes are so tiny it's easy to hang them up in a closet and still keep a dresser under it all, that way it not only keeps the nursery room clear, but puts everything the baby needs for getting dressed in the same spot. Which, as anyone with a newborn knows, putting on clothes is an all-day affair. 

Figure Out What Baby Needs

The next step is to understand what your nursery necessities are. "I like to focus on the overall layout first to establish exactly where the essentials will go," says Brady. "Laying out where your crib, dresser, changing table, and other must-have nursery items will allow you to understand where you can add in other design details like those listed above."

nursery crib

Of course there are some key items just about every family needs, starting with a crib. This piece of furniture can be bought new, or, for a fraction of the cost, sourced second hand. Just make sure you're getting a gently-used crib near your location so nobody has to ship this piece of furniture. Decide if you want a convertible crib that can become a toddler bed when the time is right, or a more standard crib that doesn't change size. If the color or brand matters to you, it may take a little more time to find one to suit the nursery. But, it's not impossible and the search is made easier by using our item notification feature on the website. 

baby changing table

Another item most parents crave is a changing table and/or changing pad. There are a lot of options in this category, from changing tables that go on top of dressers to stand alone pieces of furniture to wipeable changing pads that can be moved onto the floor or bed when needed like the Keekaroo Peanut. There is no right answer when it comes to these items, it's really all about what you want and the space you have to put it in.

Decide On a Theme

"I love nursery designs that feel close to home so focusing on colors, patterns, or themes that are relevant to the family will always yield a great nursery," says Brady. "Finding materials that work with the aesthetic of your home and keeping things cohesive is a great way to implement a stylish and personalized nursery. 

With that in mind, do you want a nursery that's gender neutral or themed around a boy or girl? Does your husband love giraffes enough to put them on sheets, curtains and blankets? Do you want to share your joy over farm animals on the walls of your child's nursery? It's good to make a choice and then go from there. 

If designing a gender neutral space, Brady suggests you focus on neutral colors and natural materials. "I love a gray color scheme paired with light and neutral upholstered accents and furniture with wooden details," he says. "You can always layer colorful rugs, throw pillows and blankets on top if down the road you’d like to add some specific pops of color."

Make the Nursery Your Own

used nursery decor

At the end of the day this is the room you've designed for your baby, so make it personal. How do you see this space that your little one will grow into? 

"I love adding personal elements like family photos or adding in details that were once staples in other family members' nurseries," says Brady. Perhaps you have the mobile your mom put in your own crib. Or, find one that speaks to the interests of your family that you want to share with your newborn. Add decorations from your baby shower, or frame your favorite children's poem. There are so many ways to create the baby nursery that's special, practical and inexpensive. 

Learn more about how our own staff used gently used and open box baby gear to create their own nursery for their first child. After all, inspiration can come from anywhere if you're looking. 



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