10 Tips for Designing a Nursery on a Budget

You’ve been pinning images of the most peaceful, beautiful and trendy nurseries since you saw the plus sign on your pregnancy test. But so much of the cribs, furniture and decor are beyond your baby budget. Here, find our best tips and tricks for saving dough on your nursery design while maintaining a visual aesthetic worth bragging about.

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Photo: Hellobee

DIY What You Can
Instead of buying nursery decor, make it yourself. Snag one-of-a-kind art by framing illustrations out of children’s books from secondhand stores, or by finding free digital art that you can print at home. Or, make a gorgeous monogram using one of these DIY initial ideas.


Bargain Hunt Online
Most baby boutiques are filled with beautiful items, but their offerings can be pricey. Take to the web instead and peruse bargain-filled sites like Craigslist, eBay and LetGo. Or try EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE (EBTH), where all items are on 7-day, no-reserve auctions, and bids start at just $1. Be on the lookout for old maps that display places that are important to you, wall letters to spell out baby’s name or classic toys to add some affordable nostalgia.

Look Locally
Nearby garage sales, consignment shops and flea markets offer both cheap prices and convenience. Plus, you save yourself the cost and trouble of shipping items to your home. Smart buys include convertible gear that will grow with your child and easy-to-change decor like removable wall stickers. You can also post requests for pre-loved baby gear on local Facebook groups or your neighborhood’s Nextdoor. You may be surprised at how many folks are happy to hand over used baby goods for free. Pro tip: When buying used, always check for recalls first.

Ask for Hand-Me-Downs
There’s a good chance your friends and family have attics and basements full of baby gear they’re not using, from Pack ‘n Plays to activity chairs and strollers. Put out a call for gently used items and be as specific as possible regarding what you need. Ask if you can stop by and take a look rather than having them dump it all off at your house.

Keep the Crib Super Simple
One place to save money without sacrificing style is on the crib. Find a long-term-use option that converts to a toddler bed or even a full bed down the line. Then buy the most basic, inexpensive but safe mattress from a reputable manufacturer, like this one from Serta. Skip the comforter, crib bumpers and pillows—babies are safest in a bare crib. Then use the money you saved to splurge on the cutest fitted crib sheets.

Photo: Laurel & Wolf

Hire An E-Designer
Enlisting the services of an e-designer is typically more cost-effective than hiring a traditional one. The pros at Laurel & Wolf start at $59, and an individual designer, such as Jennifer Terry of Calm and Collected, charges $350 per room and will also work within any budget. If a designer is out of your budget, many websites including Target and Wayfair have great-looking decor at reasonable prices. Filter your search results by your desired price range and you’ll avoid falling in love with expensive items you can’t afford.

Pull Double-Duty
Choose furniture that’s either multipurpose or can transition from the nursery to a child’s bedroom or another room in the house. Think cribs with storage drawers or shelves, dressers that can serve as changing tables, storage ottomans, and gender-neutral items you can save for another child.

Photo: Laurel & Wolf

Embrace Minimalism
Less is more when it comes to toys and baby gear. The idea is to curate a collection of items you love and need. For children’s books, start at library sales and thrift shops to purchase a few gems. Then borrow others from the library or friends to add books to the rotation. You don’t need to go big on lighting either. Babies’ eyes are sensitive, so bright, harsh lighting should be avoided, especially when you’re winding down for bedtime and naps. You can also keep clutter to a minimum by foregoing single-use items like baby wipe warmers.

Photo: BookwormMamaCo

Don’t Baby Up the Place Too Much
The less babyish your nursery, the longer your child can enjoy it. Instead of painting the room baby blue or pink, opt for a cream, gray or other pale shade that will grow with your child. Smart go-to’s include Benjamin Moore’s Simply White, White Dove, Gray Owl and Balboa Mist. Save the baby tones for cheaper accent pieces you can swap out. Then, fill the nursery with items that don’t scream “oh, baby!” like a Moroccan rug, striped bedding and neutral light fixtures (no sweet animal figurines).

Try Before You Buy
Some retailers offer free samples and will ship them to you at no cost. So you can save yourself the money and headache of returns. Try Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores, Serena & Lily, Land of Nod, Restoration Hardware, DwellStudio, West Elm and Loom Décor.

What are your tricks for designing a nursery on a budget? Share below!

—Whitney C. Harris


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