Make room for baby

Make room for baby

Welcome your newborn in style with these nursery decorating tips

Many parents are anxious to start decorating their baby's nursery, some as soon as they find out they're pregnant. Others put it off as long as they can, often because they can't seem to decide on the nursery décor.

With the incredible variety of nursery furnishings and accessories available – from simple to lavish – it can be hard to make a final decision, especially without depleting your bank account.

Here are some tips to help with your baby room design needs, including plenty of budget-friendly ideas.

Shorten the list

Obviously, having a baby costs money, but it isn't necessary to spend a small fortune getting ready for your new arrival. While some purchases are essential for safety reasons (ie, a crib), other items are musts for some parents, but not for others (ie, baby monitor, changing table, rocking chair). And then there are some purchases that are out and out frills (ie, murals and matching curtains).

The most effective way to "shorten the list," say experts, is to step back and take into account that an actual baby will one day be living there. They will sleep, eat, cry and poop there. They will need changing, rocking and cooing there. There’s no need to run out and buy everything at once, like a bookshelf that your newborn won't need right away. Avoid breaking the bank by simply adding to the room over time. This will help keep the room looking fresh and allow it to grow with your child.

And keep in mind that there will be a very tired parent or two spending a lot of time in there, at least for the first few months. Think about creating a room that’s enjoyable and functional for baby and for you too.

Consider the shelf life

Keep in mind that kids are rapidly growing people who deserve to have décor upgrades every few years. Pastel ducks may look cute now, but just try to convince your 5-year-old boy that ducks are where it's at when he has his heart set on race cars and dinosaurs. Consider establishing a small budget for any babyish themes in this room. That way, you’re not spending thousands of dollars if you plan to get rid of it all in five years.

Controlled splurging

If you do feel like splurging, choose an item that you feel is worth that extra amount of money. For big-ticket items like the bed and dresser, look for pieces that are versatile and long lasting and can grow with the child. For substantial savings over the long run, think convertible furniture. This investment could take you from "crib to college," as the cribs convert to a toddler bed, to a daybed and finally to a full sized bed.

A captain’s bed is another good investment. It has drawers underneath, allowing small children to keep toys in there, and later, as the child grows, it could hold sports equipment or winter clothes.

Keep “conversion” in mind when you look for changing tables. Instead of opting for a changing table only, some dressers offer a place to change baby, as well as many drawers in which to store clothing and blankets. And by adding a hutch later on, it is a great investment for that transition from baby to older child.

While thinking about baby, think about the parents too! The best investment may be a really comfortable glider or rocking chair – ideal comfort items for feeding and rocking.

Turning walls into works of art

Painting is one of the least expensive ways to decorate and it’s easy to repaint as tastes change. Additionally, with paint you can incorporate stripes, shapes, and images from the décor items in the room, such as from the bedding or area rug.

(Note: If you do choose to paint during pregnancy, consider using a paint that's specifically labeled and marketed as low-VOC or zero-VOC. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, can cause indoor air pollution, and may be toxic at high levels. Also, make sure the room is well ventilated.)

Here are some other splashy ideas for the walls:

• If you've decided to keep the color on the wall neutral, consider spicing it up a bit with some pictures and wall hangings. Some may even double as a light, and any furniture that can serve more than one purpose is always a great deal.

• Invite friends and relatives to come over and dip their hands into a bucket of paint and then place their handprints on the wall. They can then sign their names underneath. This way, your child gets to enjoy those high contrasting patterns that most appeal to infants. It’s also a fun way to introduce baby to the significant people in his or her life.

• Use an overhead projector (you can borrow or rent one) to turn any traceable image into a mural. Simply project the image onto the wall and trace it with a pencil. Once the outline is there, bring it to life by painting it in. And why stick to realistic colors? Go ahead and paint that cat purple and that bunny blue.

• Take a trip to your nearest hardware or art supply store for some stencils. Just hold them up to the wall and paint. For example, pick up a palm tree leaf stencil to give your child a tropical baby nursery theme.

• Grab a pail (or four). Metal pails can become art objects in a nursery. Nail them to the wall for instant storage space. Fill them with diapers, baby wipes, and more. For a functional hamper, grab a larger metal garbage pail, paint the outside, and pop in a fabric liner.

• If you're thinking of putting up wallpaper, consider just a border. This will take less time and be much cheaper than floor to ceiling wallpaper. You can look for themed borders that will match your nursery design. Make sure that any wallpaper you choose is scrubbable, which is easier to clean. The wallpaper is likely to be hit with any number of substances from spitups to crayons to things we don't even want to mention.

• Don't rule out having an artist paint a fun, whimsical scene on one wall. It can add so much personality to the room. Oftentimes, the investment is not much more than the cost of papering a room. And it's a lot easier to paint over a scene than to tear down wallpaper.

More nursery room dEcor tips:

Windows. Because some babies need to be taught the difference between night and day (especially in Alaska), you may find that a room darkening blind can help save your sanity in months to come. An added bonus is that these blinds tend to be relatively inexpensive (unless, of course, you opt for a custom drapery service or select a pricey fabric for the blinds).

Bedding. Make sure any linen you buy for your baby's bed is machine washable. You will be doing a lot of laundry as it is. A hand-crocheted quilt may be beautiful, but it will also require a hand washing, which means it will never get washed.

Flooring. Stain resistant carpet or hardwood floors are worth every penny when you consider the types of abuse the floor is likely to encounter during your baby's first few years. For carpeting, consider a textured style to help disguise dirt. Also, brightly colored interlocking floor mats are soft, durable and easy to clean or replace. A rug might also help bring some pop into the room. Smaller ones can even go in the washing machine.

Lighting. Little inexpensive accents can really add to the room's overall appearance. Consider replacing the existing light switch cover for something a bit more amusing. You might also want to install a dimmer on the light switch in the nursery, allowing you to control the amount of light that comes on during those midnight feedings. Lamps with fun bases can help to liven up a room. And it’s often easy to find something to match any theme you have chosen.

Look up! When you are decorating, remember that as the months go on, your baby is going to spend a lot of time lying on his or her back. Doesn't it only make sense then to pay attention to the ceiling as well? Inexpensive ways to jazz up the ceiling include suspending fabric kites, or allowing fabric to billow through a series of hanging rings. Adding a mobile is an excellent way of soothing and stimulating your baby. Some come equipped with just the basics while others have lights and play classical music.

As you set up your nursery, you're creating an environment for nurturing and growth. Those special touches will allow baby to encounter new and magical things that excite the senses and create a happy and secure child.