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5 tips for decorating a nursery on a budget

Preparing to welcome a baby into your home is an exciting and emotional process — but it can also be an expensive one. In addition to stocking up on all of the essential items you’ll need to care for your little one, you’ll also want to create a safe, comfortable space for him or her to sleep, nap, and play. Sometimes, all you really desire are affordable remodeling ideas for nurseries

According to The Bump, the average cost of setting up a nursery is in the $2,000 range, which includes the crib, mattress, bedding set, changing table, and dresser. Of course, that number can easily creep up when figuring in non-essentials like paint, wall decor, rugs, monitors, textiles, and toys.

But that doesn’t mean you have to drain your baby budget to create a warm, welcoming, and well-equipped nursery. Below are some practical tips for creating an Instagram-worthy haven on the cheap.

Invest in a convertible crib

While it may be a little more of an upfront investment, this versatile furniture item can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. It starts out as a crib for your newborn, but then as your baby grows, it can be transformed into a daybed-style toddler bed. Later, it can expand into a full-size bed to accommodate your child for years to come.

Change up the changing table

Murden/Unsplash

As most busy parents quickly discover, virtually any space can be utilized for impromptu diaper changes. Instead of spending well over $100 on a dedicated changing table, consider choosing a more economical and versatile option, such as an existing dresser, a crib-top changing table that installs horizontally across the crib, a space-saving folding changing table, and/or a portable changing set.

Discover secondhand savings

For many of the “hard” goods like dressers, cribs, mirrors, and accent tables, you may be able to find gently-used furnishings at consignment stores or online marketplaces. If you enjoy do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, you can refinish, paint, or reupholster pre-owned nursery furniture to make it your own, saving big bucks along the way. Also, don’t be shy about accepting hand-me-down items from friends and family members whose kiddos have moved on to “big kid rooms.” And remember, not everything has to be perfectly matching. It’s often the eclectic, piecemeal nurseries that have the most character and visual interest.

Bypass the bedding sets

All of those comforters, pillows, and crib bumpers might look cute and cozy, but they can actually pose a suffocation risk to newborns. Instead of splurging on an expensive bedding set, keep it simple and stick to the basics: A waterproof mattress cover, a few extra crib sheets, and a warm swaddler or sleep sack.

Make a statement with paint or wallpaper

Rather than shelling out big bucks for a bunch of framed wall art, add dramatic flair and a pop of color with paint and wallpaper. Use stencils to create geometric designs or stripes on the walls with paint, or apply peel-and-stick wallpaper that can be easily removed down the road. With these elements, a small amount of money can go a long way and make a big impact.

Order digital prints, and frame them on the cheap

Why spend up to $100 or more on framed wall art at a store? Instead, order and download digital prints from Etsy for just a few dollars, and then display them in frames you already have on hand (or pick up a few at a discount store).

Look for furniture that doubles as storage

One of the best ways to save money on furnishing a nursery is to find pieces that do double-duty, such as an ottoman that opens up to store blankets, a table with shelving underneath, or fabric storage cubbies in colors and patterns that complement the room’s decor.

Stick to neutral color schemes

Sidekix Media/Unsplash

All of those pastel shades might look cute at first, but as your baby grows up, neutral colors will be more enduring. As a result, you won’t feel compelled to spend more money in a couple of years to make the nursery feel more suitable for a toddler or preschooler.

With some creativity and resourcefulness, you can create a photo-worthy nursery without completely depleting your baby budget.

Want more? Check out some small space nursery solutions so that you can maximize the space in your home.

Editors' Recommendations

Melissa Rudy
Former Digital Trends Contributor
If you love Disney, these are the motivational quotes to complete your nursery decor
Decorating the nursery or redoing a bedroom? These motivational quotes for kids will fit right in
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Decorating a nursery for the first time, redoing a kid's room with a new theme, or wanting art added to your child's bedroom? Motivational quotes are always the way to go. If you're stuck with where to pull inspiration from, how about your kiddo's favorite Disney characters? Disney-loving families will find the perfect motivational quotes for kids to help keep their focus on the positive side of things while leaning on them as room decor.
To remind your child it's all about their attitude
A child is never too young to learn how to work out a problem on their own, and it's never too early to help them have a positive attitude when working through an issue. These Disney characters have the right attitude.
"The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem." -- Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)
"The only way to get what you want in this world is through hard work." -- Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)
"You control your destiny -- you don’t need magic to do it. And there are no magical shortcuts to solving your problems." -- Merida (Brave)
To remind your kid they are the only one of them out there
We all think our child is the most precious creature alive. And while we are all correct, hang one of these quotes in their nursery or bedroom to remind them daily.
"Your identity is your most valuable possession. Protect it." -- Elastigirl (The Incredibles)
"I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then." -- Alice (Alice in Wonderland)

To remind them that taking a risk is always worth it
From the first step to the first day of school to the first activity they want to sign up for, every risk your child takes is worth it. Most children love risk-taking anyway, so foster that fearlessness by hanging these quotes up around their room.

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Local Buy Nothing group
If you don't know about your local Buy Nothing group, please look into it. It's a safe place to swap, give away, or ask for items or services completely free of charge. Sure, we'd all like to get a few bucks back from our child's toys, but if you don't want to go through that hassle, this is the best option. You don't even have to leave the house if you're more comfortable with porch pickups in your neighborhood.
Ask hospitals what they could use
Hospitals have tighter rules about what they can take, but it's never a bad idea to ask. The hospital would be the best for when you purchased something, it was the wrong size or item, and now you can't return it. Though items still in the packaging and with tags are always preferred, there are exceptions. Call and ask what your local hospital would take.
Reach out to local day cares/schools
If your children have ever gone to day care, you know how quickly they ask for donations. Day cares are open to more kinds of things, not just toys, so if you need to do a bit of an overhaul in your kids' rooms, ask your local day care facilities. The schools in your area are a great go-to, as well. Teachers always need classroom supplies, and the younger grades would need toys, books, and even clothing for when accidents happen.
Parent groups
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Women's and children's centers in your area
For your donations to make a bigger impact, make sure women's and children's centers are on your list. If you were a struggling parent, you know how much it means to have a place like that to go to when in need. If you're a parent who doesn't have to struggle, pay it forward and count your blessings by donating to one.

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For the unfamiliar, a floor bed is exactly what it sounds like: a bed on the floor. Though you’ll find sprawling ones on Etsy with wooden railings, it can be as simple as a firm crib mattress low enough to the ground that a little one can get in and out of on their own.

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