Designing the Perfect Nursery: Latest Trends and Must-Have Features

Written by Lee Orlian
Interior designer & co-founder of Teepee Joy.

For being so small, babies need a lot of stuff, and much of it tends to be quite expensive. From a crib to a changing table to a rocking chair, big-ticket items can quickly eat up a budget. However, it’s the small details that make a nursery feel like home.

You might think your budget can’t handle it all, but that’s where I can help. As a mom of three girls and an interior designer, I’ve learned how to juggle a budget with wants and needs. I’m going to share what I’ve learned and how you can create a budget for your nursery interior design.

Creating a Budget for Your Nursery

Parenting is all about balance, and that especially includes balancing a budget. No matter how big or small your budget is, there are tricks and tips to help you create the safe and beautiful space you want for your baby.

I’m going to share those tips and tricks with you now. Since many of you readers are considering our Nursery Interior Design service, I’ll also note which stage of the process you’ll want to figure these things out by.

1. Create Your Already-Have List

When: Before You Complete Your Design Questionnaire

You should begin your budgeting process with what you already have. Note down all of the furniture and decor items you already own and want to use in your final design.

This may include everything from a rocking chair that was passed down to you to a teddy bear to a piece of wall art. Whatever it is that you have and want to use, write it down! You don’t want to forget anything when completing your design questionnaire or during your initial meeting with your designer.

It would also help to list items you already have your eye on. Perhaps a rug or bedding that you really want to include in your design. Note the cost of these items to include in your budget. Although, I suggest being open to similar alternatives that your designer might find for you.

2. Create Your Must-Have List

When: Before You Complete Your Design Questionnaire

The must-have list is a practical list. It’s things you need in your nursery, such as a crib, changing table, hamper, chair, etc. This can include things you personally feel you need, too, like a bookshelf, rocking chair, side table, clock, etc.

Whatever it is that you personally must have to make your nursery functional and comfortable, put it on this list.

3. Create Your Ideal Wishlist

When: Before You Complete Your Design Questionnaire

Don’t hold back on this list! Even if you think there’s no way your budget will allow for it, add whatever it is you want on this wishlist.

The budgeting process will go more smoothly and easily if you start big and then start editing down. That’s true for the design process, too. Just be sure to go into this process knowing that you might have to make concessions to meet your budget. (But, don’t worry, I have advice for that, too, which I’ll share with you shortly.)

When you create an ideal wish list and compare it with your must-have list, you’ll more easily see which wants and needs you really want to work into your budget. Then, you can exclude or price-down other items on your lists.

While it’s quite possible your budget won’t allow for it all, you’d be surprised at how a well-designed nursery can create the same kind of atmosphere without every dream item.

4. Decide on a Budget You’re Comfortable With

When: Before You Complete Your Design Questionnaire

You might be thinking at this point that I haven’t told you exactly how to create a budget yet. And you’d be right. I’ve only told you what you may want and need to include in your budget.

The truth is, however, that your budget doesn’t depend on what you want or even what you need. The truth is your budget depends on what you’re comfortable investing in your nursery. Or, frankly, how much you can invest without building up unwanted credit card debt.

The reason I had you make your lists first is to help serve as a realistic guide for setting a comfortable amount. You can’t just say “I only feel comfortable spending $100 but I need and want a crib, rocking chair, changing table, this adorable custom teddy bear…” That’s just not a realistic budget.

So, take a look at your bank account, talk with your significant other, look at your lists, and decide on which amount you’re comfortable with spending to achieve a nursery you’re happy with.

If that budget number looks a lot lower than the price of your wants and needs lists, do not despair! There are a few things you can do to relieve the stress on your wallet…

5. Consider Which Items You’re Willing to Save On or Get Second-Hand

When: Before and After Your Initial Design Meeting

To help balance your budget, you can consider which items you’re willing to save on or get second-hand. For instance, you may be willing to save on a similar item to what you want that is more affordable. Or, you may be open to buying a gently-used item that you want or need.

By doing so, you may create more room for items that you don’t want to compromise on. Perhaps you want a rocking chair that you’ll rock not only your babies but your grandbabies to sleep in. If that’s what you really want, then you could compromise on the changing table or some other item that doesn’t hold long-lasting value to you.

Thankfully, balancing your budget doesn’t solely rely on compromise. There are two other strategies that can really help lessen the burden on your bank account.

6. Consider Which Items You Can Add to Your Baby Registry

When: After Your Initial Design Meeting

Don’t forget about family and friends! Family and friends want to shower you and your baby with love and gifts. Many would really appreciate contributing to the little sanctuary you’re creating. Whether that’s buying the design package for you or buying some of the items on the list, you should give them the opportunity to do so.

How do you ask your friends and family to do this without sounding pushy? It’s easy! You create a baby gift registry. Chances are, you’re already planning on this anyway. You can add every item from your design (big and small) to your registry. We make this easy for our clients by providing links for everything on their design shopping list.

In many cases, at least a couple of items from every price bracket is gifted. Oftentimes, those closest to you will buy or go in on one or more of the bigger ticket items. Then a few others will buy items from the mid-price bracket. Then several others still gift items from the lowest price bracket.

So, don’t forget to factor in the likely gifts you’ll receive into your budget.

7. Consider Which Items You Can Add Later On

When: After Your Initial Design Meeting

Don’t feel like you have to buy everything at once. If parenting teaches you anything, it’s patience! You can always start by buying your must-haves, and then progressively purchase the remaining needs and wants.

That’s one of the biggest reasons we give our clients a shopping list rather than purchase the items indirectly for them. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to purchase when you’re able to or when it’s most convenient.

Plus, there are always birthdays, Christmases, and other occasions when friends and family can continue to contribute.

I do recommend creating a monthly budget for this in advance, though. You could save X amount of dollars every month to put toward your remaining nursery items. Otherwise, you’ll find that the money disappears before you have a chance to spend it on something meaningful to you.

Need More Guidance?

That’s what I’m here for! From your design questionnaire to your initial design meeting to your finalized design, I as your personal designer will help guide you. I will keep your budget in mind every step of the way.

You can give feedback on items that I recommend, noting if you’d rather save on certain items and I will adjust accordingly. At the same time, I may find clever ways to save and splurge in all of the right places.

In the end, my expertise, guidance, and keen design eye will save you money and time. I will help you achieve the dream nursery you want at a price you can afford.

To learn more about how my nursery design service works, visit this page.