Avoid buying a matching set of nursery furniture
Decorating a nursery can be costly, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of buying a three-piece nursery set with a cot, changing table and a small wardrobe. I knew I wouldn’t change her nappy in her bedroom and that by the time she went into her own room, she would be able to roll off a table and it would be too dangerous to use. Once the baby becomes a toddler and starting to move into a bigger bed, I think it looks strange to have a room filled with changing tables and miniature furniture. You can make a regular chest of draws into a changing table, or you can get changing mats that attach to your crib, if you really believe you will change them in the bedroom.
Our daughter has a chest of draws and a single wardrobe and for our son’s nursery we just have a small chest of draws and a little cabinet for extra storage. Neither of them has bookshelf as I felt they would unnecessarily take up room and wouldn’t provide enough storage long term (they would also need to be fixed to the wall for safety).
If you still want a matching nursery set, I’d suggest looking on selling sites as people don’t use them for long (babies don’t actually go into their own rooms and start using this stuff until 6 months!) so there are plenty about in really good condition.
Wait until you know the sex before you decorate.
I didn’t want a typical nursery filled with teddy bears, animals or elephants and I felt that most of the unisex themes fell into these categories. I wanted a more personal and long-lasting design. As we didn’t find out the sex of either children, we left the rooms white and plain with just the cot, some drawers and lemon coloured bunting hanging until they were born. Hanging the bunting and having somewhere to put their little things helped with the anticipation and excitement. Our Daughters room wasn’t actually fully finished until we moved house, when she was about 10 months old, this means that her personality is really reflected in the room. Our sons’ room is also a working progress and he is now 7 months old. It’s easy to be impatient but there really is no rush!
Create, Upcycle, Make, Refurnish.
In our daughter’s nursery I was pleased to be able to find a new purpose for my old shabby chic bedroom drawers, which I felt were far too small for adult clothes and not really my style anymore (we’ve all had a shabby chic phase, right?) I give them a fresh lick of Chalk paint along with a small bedside unit which my little sister no longer had use for. I didn’t want to spend much on the room as I remember as kids drawing on the furniture and ruining it all and getting in lots of trouble. I wanted the furniture to be easy to repaint if needed and for the room to be somewhere I don’t feel too worried about a bit of wear and tear with time. The draws are Barker and Stonehouse so are very solid, will last for years and will look great, no matter how old she gets!
When looking at lighting, I found all the children’s lighting to be garish. I was given the lampstand from my parents and give it a lick of grey chalk paint. The lamp shade I actually upcycled, I bought the lampshade from a charity shop, bought some spray glue, a glue gun, some fabric and covered over the existing material. I upcycled it on a trip to stay with my parents, I was so pleased with the way it turned out and my family were shocked that the giant ugly old lampshade I carried through town and we struggled to get in the back of the car, turned into something so cute and perfect for the nursery.
I also made a pom-pom garland to hang from her shelf. A nursery is somewhere you can get crafty, creative and have a little fun. The small print “Though she be but little, she is fierce” is a card sent to her when she was born that I have bought a cheap frame to fit. Its personal and looks so cute on her shelf.
Shop around for bargains. Babies are expensive, I think there is definitely money to be saved in the nursery. I wanted a grey cot to contrast the white walls, initially this was found in a high street store with a high street price tag, however with a bit of shopping around I found the same one for £70 (half the price) brand new on eBay and I’m really pleased with it. The pink spotty curtains are exactly what I was looking for, again to contrast against the white walls and add some much needed colour. These were discovered in a bargain bin in Dunelm and cost £22, which is an absolute steal. I then found the ice cream sprinkle wall stickers on eBay to add a bit more personality to the room without breaking the bank.
Don’t go overboard before the baby is born.
Your baby will be showered with gifts! If you buy too much for their little rooms before they arrive, you will literally have nowhere to put it all. Much of the room and the IKEA shelf are filled with little items that I love and things given to her when she was born. I have a thing for Russian Dolls. I found the two cuties in a Charity shop for £1 and the print was made by a friend. She’s also got lots more gifts for her room for Christmas and birthdays since.
The only thing that is actually recommended that you buy for the nursery is a brand new mattress which is firm, flat and protected by a waterproof cover. I would recommend plain white cheap fitted sheet (with a mattress protector under), it looks classic and if it gets stained or ruined you won’t be too upset. Babies are not allowed pillows or duvet until they are at least 1 year old. Avoid cot bumpers as although they look cute on the pictures, they are very dangerous and it’s really not worth the risk. Cot mobiles are nice, but once they are sitting up, again they need to be removed as dangerous. Think about how long things will last before you buy them, if it’s only a few months, is there any point wasting your money?
Create a future proof room. I hope the furniture and the pieces in her room are a good foundation, something she will love As she gets older. As difficult as it was when I was pregnant, I love the fact I have held off doing her nursery until she was born as it has grown along side her.
Do you want to redo the room in a year or two? People say that when you have children, time flies and they are really not kidding. She is now 2 years old and we are about to transition her into a toddler bed and move the cot into our little boys’ nursery. I’ve bought her a toddler bed to be upcycled from the selling sites and thanks to clever planning when decorating, nothing else in the room needs to be changed. It’s a perfect room for our little girl. To me, she’s super girly and gentle but also mega fun and quirky and I feel her room matches her personality perfectly.
*For a time lapse of how we decorated our boys nursery and a tour of our girls nursery see my Instagram highlights