The Baby Nursery on Any Budget Share
The Baby Is Coming! Now What?
The moment you’ve been excitedly awaiting is only a few months away! There is so much planning, arranging, and preparing to be done before your newborn arrives. There are color schemes to puzzle over, along with bedding and furniture choices to make. Then, store after store, catalog after catalog, another dilemma plagues you: Do you start saving for his or her college fund, or do you take that chunk of money and redo the spare room into the nursery of your dreams? It may seem like a silly choice at first, but after you spend some time looking at the growing prices of juvenile furnishings, you’ll realize that it’s not so absurd after all.
Growing Costs of Children’s Furniture
The juvenile furnishings market is hot. After conducting massive research on the increase in spending on children, Ethan Allen opened EA Kids, and Pottery Barn created Pottery Barn Kids. The investment that top furnishing companies have made in creating luxe furnishings for pint-size people means bringing up Baby in style is more expensive than it used to be.
Where Do I Start?
Determine a budget.
The furniture for babies at Pottery Barn Kids and EA Kids may be half the size of adult furniture, but it is definitely not half the cost. The well-built and stylized furniture is the same high quality as its adult counterparts. An entire bedroom set purchased at upscale baby boutiques can run a few thousand dollars. It is important to figure out how much you are willing to spend before you begin the decorating process.
Pick a few key pieces as the central focus of the room.
It is important to spend more on furniture that is of high quality and can blend easily into many different design styles. For instance, it is better to buy a hardwood bureau or bookcase that can withstand the years and fit in with the different decorations that will come and go in your baby’s life.
Invest in a few adaptable pieces that can change with your child. Spending $700 at EA Kids on a hardwood dresser won’t be as painful if you know that it is going to take your child all the way through to his or her teen years. Similarly, a convertible crib grows with your child, starting as a crib and converting into a toddler bed and later a full-size bed.
Keep in mind that the best décor is when the objects that surround your child have meaning. A dresser from your grandmother may need to be refinished or painted, but there’s history attached to it.
Fads come and go. Spend less on décor that will change as your child grows.
Accent items such as sleep sets, lamps, or curtains can change with your child’s whims and fancies as he or she gets older while the bones of the room remain unchanged. Many stores offer lower-priced items that can add to your baby’s nursery without draining your wallet. These trendy accessories can change from year to year, depending upon your child’s likes and dislikes. And decorative accessories are available in an array of designs and styles, from footballs to fairy princesses, crayons to cowboys. They are also affordable enough to be replaced year after year.
Fashionable yet inexpensive items for Baby’s room are getting easier to find. Bigger chain stores have affordable nursery décor in a vast array of styles, colors, and themes. Keep in mind, accessories bought or (better yet) made for your child over the years, or on special occasions, will always stand the test of time better than quick store buys that simply fill up space. Keep it inexpensive or with heirloom meaning.
Safety is first and style is secondary.
Do your research, and don’t scrimp on price where your baby’s safety is concerned. When choosing a mattress for your new baby, for example, look for products that address safety concerns such as SIDS and antibacterial protection.
Experts also warn against dangerous accessories. Mobiles are great ways to add color and movement to your child’s nursery but should be removed once the baby starts to pull to a standing position. This is also the time to make sure that the crib is positioned away from a window that has a curtain or blind cord. Decorative pillows and stuffed animals should be removed from the crib when the baby goes to sleep. Also, when choosing a bumper pad, make sure you pick one that fits securely around the crib and has no loose straps, ties, or ribbons that can find their way into your baby’s mouth.
Give old furniture new life.
Instead of buying all new furniture for your baby, take a look around your house or attic and see what furniture can be reused in your nursery. An old bureau, for example, can be painted and adorned with nursery-style drawer pulls. Drawer pulls and door knobs now come in an array of styles ranging from hand-painted floral to alphabet blocks to basketballs.
Flea market finds are also making their way into Baby’s room. An old wicker hamper picked up at a yard sale can always come in handy as a diaper pail or laundry basket. An antique trunk could be given a fresh look for the new baby’s room and used as a great storage place for baby’s winter clothes.
Simple hand-painting and crackle-paint kits are available at most hardware or do-it-yourself stores. So when you throw a coat of paint on the wall in preparation for your baby, paint an old coat rack in whimsically bright colors for your nursery at the same time. Decoupage is an easy way to give old pieces of furniture a facelift, too. And a luxurious slipcover is a great way to spruce up an old nursing chair, yet it can be easily cleaned in the washing machine after a few of your baby’s messy feeding sessions.
Choose pieces that will grow and change with your child.
Convertible pieces of furniture are a big trend in children’s furnishings. A dresser with a changing pad on top that can be removed once your baby grows out of diapers is a hot item. Convertible cribs that transform into full-size beds are also big sellers.
Many parents feel they will get more out of their money if they invest in a high quality crib that can turn into a high quality bed to be used for many years to come. The styles now available for children’s furnishing are similar to adult versions. Many specialty children’s furniture stores offer pieces in all types of styles, such as Mission, Shaker, Federal, English Cottage, and French Provincial, crafted in woods such as solid birch, cherry, mahogany, or natural oak. These beautiful pieces should easily make the transition from a baby’s nursery into a teen’s room or even a guest room.
Experiment with color and whimsy!
Why stick to the basic ways of decorating a nursery? Simple borders of pink bunnies for girls and blue sailboats for boys are still popular, but many experts recommend creating a fantastic and magical haven for young children and babies. “It’s all less serious than the living room,” said Linda Hallam, editor of Decorating Kids’ Rooms: Nurseries to Teen Retreats. “And you don’t have to spend much money to make a child’s room upbeat.”
The nursery is the one place in the house where anything goes. So go for it! Wall murals and hand-painted furniture are easy ways to create magical rooms. You might paint a fairyland castle on a wall and accent the room with flower-shaped rugs. Or turn the room into a sports fanatic’s shrine complete with a crib with baseball bats nailed into the legs and baseball finials. Knobs can be replaced with basketballs or hockey pucks. Frames, lamps, and bookends are all available in football, tennis, or soccer themes. And golf clubs make cool curtain rods. At Pottery Barn Kids they even offer a race track rug with customizable tracks.
Choose practical, no-fuss furnishings that are easy to keep clean.
When choosing colors and fabrics, keep in mind that the nursery is going to be one of the hardest places to keep clean, especially in the toddler years. Plan ahead by choosing stain-resistant and durable fabrics, carpeting, and other accessories. One expert suggests a vinyl-coated wallpaper or eggshell-finish paint so the walls can be washed clean of fingerprints, crayon markings, and other elements of daily wear.
Or, instead of discouraging drawing on the walls, you can encourage it! Paint a nursery wall with special blackboard paint, creating a surface that can be written on with chalk and erased. Distressed furniture is another fashionable yet practical way to decorate the nursery. These pieces already have the broken-in look and won’t show any nicks and scratches that they may acquire through the years.
Shopping for Baby when money is no object.
Although many of us try to be economical when it comes to decorating for Baby, many people can afford the fancy baby furnishings that are exploding onto the market. A spokesperson for Anichini, the Vermont-based luxury linen maker, says the baby business “has turned into a huge market just in the past year.”
Heidi Murkoff, co-author of What to Expect the First Year, makes a very important point when it comes to decorating for Baby. She says, “I don’t want to spoil the fun, but it’s important to keep your perspective about what the baby really needs, and that’s time and attention from a loving parent.” So, when choosing your furnishings for your little one’s nursery, make sure that there is room for an adult-sized seat, whether it is a luxurious, overstuffed chair, or a recycled wicker rocker. As long as there’s a place that makes it conducive for Mom or Dad to cuddle, read to, and spend time with the new baby, you have everything you need to bring up a happy, well-adjusted, and loved new addition to your family.