In Living Color: Decorating a nursery on a budget

Shoshanah Siegel/Signal Tribune Zoo animals and bright colored walls were selected by friends of mine, to greet their newborn twins. 

Shoshanah Siegel:
In the past couple of years, I have received an increasing number of baby shower invitations. I have loved creating unique gifts, the most recent, a drawing of brightly illustrated owls. But even better, I have been able to assist in the selection of items, themes and colors for baby nurseries. This joyous and life-changing event has become yet another area to explore decorating ideas and doing so on a budget.

Shoshanah Siegel/Signal Tribune Zoo animals and bright colored walls were selected by friends of mine, to greet their newborn twins. 
Shoshanah Siegel/Signal Tribune
Zoo animals and bright colored walls were selected by friends of mine, to greet their newborn twins. 
Get inspired
With any design and decorating project, I would suggest gathering information and inspiration. Stores that cater to newborns and children would be a great place to start and might help you rule out what you don’t like. I would start with creating picture files, either in folders or on Pinterest. Where to start? In the blog MommyKisses, she advises, “Pick one thing you love— a piece of art, a clothing print, a blanket— and then pull colors from there! This way the nursery will look pulled together.” Treat the nursery like you would the rest of your home. You will be spending many hours in this room, and you want to feel like it represents your aesthetics and a place that you love being in.
What furniture is right for the room?
I would first measure the room and do a floor plan so that you know that all the elements will fit in the space. Next, decide where you are going to place the furniture. If you are purchasing a chair that rocks or glides, place it in a corner. A side table is a must near the chair. Be sure to place the crib in a safe area in the room. You don’t want it located under a window or as the baby gets older, too close to other furniture that could be used for an escape.
The crib is one of the most important purchases. After all, this is where the baby will sleep (you hope). There are a couple of schools of thought about this purchase. You can buy a traditional crib or one that will convert into mutiple types of beds as your baby grows. However, if you have your heart set on a great crib, by all means, go with that. Plan ahead and order early, as they tend to be on back order and may take up to a couple of months to get.
The mattress and pad
You will soon discover that a mattress doesn’t usually come with the crib. [The book] Baby Bargains recommends the Sealy Soybean Foam-Core mattress for $180. Since The American Academy of Pediatrics advises to avoid any bedding, bumpers or pillows in the crib except for fitted sheets, have fun and splurge on this purchase. Also, be sure to buy a mattress pad. Summer Infant at has a great waterproof mattress pad that easily snaps off and on, saving your nails and hands. They also have many more items at great prices.
Glide or rock your baby
Get comfortable. You will be spending hours with your baby, rocking, reading and cuddling, so you need a rocking chair or glider. Denise and Alan Fields, authors of Baby Bargains, recommend the Dutailier brand, because its gliders are high-quality and comfy. It is also recommended that you not wait until the last minute to purchase this popular item because it could take up to two months for delivery.
Changing table versus a dresser
The next item you want to address is the changer/dresser. I love the idea of purchasing a dresser or even a hutch to use first as a changing table and then as a dresser as they grow. You can paint or change dresser knobs to match the décor. Look for a medium-height dresser or hutch that you can comfortably lean over for changing diapers.
Store it!
Blogger Casey Deuce writes that the most important thing to include in designing your nursery is storage. “An organized room helps me feel far less frantic and chaotic after a long night/day of a crying, fussy baby!” Wherever you can, incorporate shelving, baskets and drawers. You’ll save money by acquiring these at craft-supply stores, discount stores and any other store that doesn’t have the word “baby” in its title (a great tip from The Complete Book of Baby Bargains).
Need more storage? Customize your closet. Little outfits are short, so double your closet space easily using a double-hang closet rod on one side. Then use a portion of your closet to create flexible shelving by adding a sweater bag. You can also put an over-the-door shoe bag with clear pockets on the inside of your closet door so that you can compartmentalize all the small stuff and keep it from cluttering up your surfaces. Floating shelves are great for storage containers and for displaying some treasures you want to keep safe and away from the exploring baby and toddler. Consider a cube storage system like Ikea’s Kallax. They can grow with your child and be outfitted with drawers and doors to hold toys and books. They also come in a variety of colors.
The décor of the nursery
The themes and approaches to creating décor for the room are endless. Personalize as much as you can. I found many DIY and other fun ways to create a room that can be decorated by you, or if you have neither the time or talent, you can hire a decorator to create the space for you. Etsy is a great site for purchasing great inexpensive custom items. There are some great self-stick wall borders, art and murals. Here are just a few companies that sell them:,, and I suggest looking for items not in the baby department. You can find the coolest things at college-kid type stores and departments.
Darkening curtains, lighting and more!
Purchasing or making darkening curtains, Roman shades and other window treatments can make a huge difference in helping baby take naps or go to sleep when it’s still light outside. JCPenney has a nice selection of bold kid colors.
There are many baby-themed nightlights available. Have enough light so you can see in the middle of the night, but not so much light that it will stimulate the baby into thinking it’s time to wake up and play.
Monitor and noise machines
Sometimes babies like white noise because of its calming effect. There are many baby monitors on the market. I would suggest checking out this website for a variety of topics and reviews about what is available— .
Area rugs
Crucial in a household with hard surface flooring. Soft, cozy and washable rugs work well for parents and baby to lay on. If you have allergies, you might want to get one that rolls up.
I would suggest using VOC paint for this room. Each paint company carries its own VOC paints. All can be mixed to your selected paint color. A great place to add a dash of color is inside the closet or bookshelf. I just love chalkboard paint. They come in various colors and now many paint companies have joined in on the fun. Here are a few: Annie Sloan Chalk Print, Benjamin Moore, Rust-Oleum, Valspar and the Oriental Trading Company.
My motto has always been “have fun.” There has never been a space where this holds truer than decorating a nursery. Enjoy the ride and the process!
Shoshanah Siegel provides color consulting as well as space planning, remodeling, upgrading and staging through her firm Your Color Diva. She can be contacted at (562) 427-0440 or at Samples of her work can be found at . Siegel has received two badges for “customer satisfaction” on Houzz.


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