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Splurge or Save? Your Nursery 'Must Haves'


Let's talk personalized nursery decor and design, one of my favorite subjects:). I'm sure you can guess that I'm all for great crib bedding, but there is SO much more that goes into your dream baby nursery. The thing is, if you're a first-time parent, how do you know what's worth the splurge and what items you can save a little on? I spent a little time researching, and there are a LOT of lists out there, but most of them pertain to what you need for baby as a whole, like 'Baby Registry Lists,' 'New Mom Checklists,' 'Newborn Clothing Lists,' even some 'Nursery Lists' pertaining to how many sheets, etc. What I'm not seeing is a lot of information about your nursery decor or nursery items. That being said, I compiled a little list based on my experience with two kiddos and thousands of clients, so here we go!

The Crib: The first thing that comes to your mind when you're thinking about designing a nursery is probably the baby crib! I love an amazing designer baby crib, but I don't necessarily think you need to splurge on one. If you're planning minimal nursery room decor, you may want to consider something eye-catching. If you just want to use crib sheets on your crib, you can let the crib do the talking! However, if you want to go all out on the decorating of this nursery, you will have plenty of places to spend that money, and I know there are some amazing cribs on the market at every price point. If you are splurging on custom baby bedding, some amazing artwork or a rug, you may not need the crib itself to be the focal point of the nursery.



A couple of things to keep in mind would be, are you planning on using this with future babies (read: probably shouldn't get a pink one), and will the color go well with the wall paint and changing table or other major furniture pieces I own or am envisioning? Secondly, any details on a crib that aren't plain/standard (think solid back, large panel down the front side, etc) may affect the baby bedding you can use. An example: solid backed/sided cribs make affixing bumpers very hard! Finally, when comparing prices, make sure you are taking into account whether or not it is convertible to a toddler bed/twin bed? If so, are the toddler rails included or an additional price?

Baby Bedding: First of all, if you're a first-time parent, you should definitely check out this article, What Do I Need for my Baby's Crib?. This will help you navigate that whole crib bedding world, which is full of bumpers, baby sheets, crib skirt, baby blankets, changing pads, etc!

So regardless of what items you choose to use on your baby crib, I really do think crib bedding is worth the investment for a few reasons. 1) I think it's the heart of the baby nursery; everything kind of centers around the crib. For good reason, which brings me to the next point. 2)This little nest is where your baby will lay every night (hopefully!). It will be a safe little cocoon, and these linens will become so familiar to your baby, very comforting. Which finally, leads me to my last point. 3) If done right, these nursery linens can last you well beyond baby years. Most items will fit that toddler bed, and some little pieces can every carry beyond that. My three-year-old has her bumper pads in her reading nook, and my six-year-old has a blanket and pillow from his original set!

Just a little side note on crib bedding: You might want to consider it as one of your first purchases for the nursery (once you find out the gender, if you will be finding out!), after the crib. I have so many clients who envision a nursery feel; they paint and buy all this artwork, and then they cannot find a crib set that fits that 'theme!' Now, luckily, we can custom print fabrics to create custom baby bedding (yes I am going there!) so you can still have your dream nursery, but if you are buying 'off the shelf,' please consider buying the crib bedding first. Paint comes in any color people! Also, if you will be buying a custom crib bedding set, keep in mind turnaround is anywhere from six to 12 weeks most places! Some of our clients' favorites include this deer crib bedding for boys, coral crib bedding for girls and our ever-popular hipster bedding!

*A note on the mattress: In my experience, your 10-20 lb baby will sleep just as well on a regular old mattress from Target as they will on a $300 premium mattress. Again, just my experience, and some people prefer organic as well. You will see that there are a lot of options available, but generally speaking, I don't think it needs to be super fancy. I would call that one a 'save!'

Rocking Chair/Glider: This one is a definite MUST, and I would recommend an ottoman if at all possible. You truly have no idea how much time you will be living in this chair! Comfort is key. Personally, I love a glider that swivels. That being said, you don't necessarily need the top-of-the-line, designer one; You can get some great options for under $400. This may be one area that I will advise function over form! If you keep in mind the color and style, you should be able to re-purpose this in an older kid's bedroom, a playroom or maybe even a family room at some point. Also, think about future babies, and try to keep it neutral! I've had several clients with baby #2 being a girl, inheriting her brother's blaze orange rocking chair! A throw pillow can go a long way in adding a punch of color!



Changing Table/Dresser: Another must here, sorry! The good news is this does not have to cost a lot. An easy option is to go with an actual 'changing table,' which may be shown in a collection with your crib (sometimes at a bundled price, yay!). This is a great option if you're not comfortable 'mixing and matching' furniture pieces on your own, and it's also super convenient. If you go this route, I would make sure the 'changing area' on top is removable, so you are able to use it as a standard dresser down the line. Here are a few examples; keep in mind that these can range from super affordable to quite expensive!



The other option I am seeing more and more (and my personal favorite) is using something that is not necessarily marketed as a 'changing table.' Some options include a new dresser, sideboard, shelf or any of these re-purposed with a new paint job, which can be a stunning nursery centerpiece! This option really allows you to bring your own style/personality into the nursery. Here are some great examples; these pieces can definitely be used in other areas of your house as well!



Also, while we're talking diapers, do NOT forget about a diaper pail of some sort! Personally, I love Ubbi, since they look as good as you can make them look:). They also leave you the option of plastic or cloth liner and work well for odor control (that part is key!). Now, onto more pleasant topics.

Walls: I know you're thinking 'walls are walls,' but they are not! What I mean is there are not a ton of places in your house where you have the freedom that you have on nursery walls. There are actually a ton of options; we're talking standard paint, painted design or mural, wallpaper, wall decals, wooden planks, chair rail and probably more I have overlooked! 

If you have a bit more to spend or really want to make an impact, the wooden plank nursery walls or wallpapered nursery walls are both hot right now. Bonus points if you have someone to help you DIY that plank wall! If not, or if it doesn't really fit your nursery theme, removable wallpaper is a great option. It comes in SO many amazing patterns (in fact, we offer custom designed removable wallpaper for you at Modified Tot!), and you only need two people to install it! It's basically peel-and-stick paper, and it requires no mess with water or glue. And the best part? Since you can just peel it off (NO wall damage) when you are ready to change it, it's the perfect solution for renters. 



Now, if these two choices are out of your budget, fear not, some of these are a bit more DIY/budget friendly! So painting is an obvious choice, and it can really change the feel of a space. You can bring a swatch of anything to a paint store, and they can color match it, so the possibilities are endless! In my experience, painters charge a minimum of a couple hundred dollars for a room, so doing this on your own is a great place to save a little money. If solid painted walls are a bit too boring for you, I LOVE the idea of adding some interest with geometric patterns. You can do this with painters tape or stencils. Washi tape is another fun and affordable option, or wall decals, where the possibilities are endless!



True confession: I am a rugaholic. I LOVE them! I would have one in every room if possible, but here's the truth: I CANNOT for the life of me get a rug to lay nicely on carpet (unless you have a berber maybe?). I have tried a rug liner, double-sided tape and even velcro. It always ends up bunching up or moving all around. That being said, there are some exceptions. I did a very stiff shag in my daughter's baby girl nursery, and while it moved around a bit, it did not bunch much. You can also get adorable accent rugs for your nursery (think sheepskin) for a play area or near the rocker. That being said, if you have wood floors in your nursery I would GO for it! Rugs are a great way to add color, pattern and texture to your nursery, and a rug can really compliment your modern crib bedding. The good news is, it doesn't necessarily have to be a 'splurge.' There are tons of affordable rugs available, I love Overstock and Target:).



Lighting: Lighting is another fun variable for the nursery! If you have a handyman (or woman!) who can easily change out the light fixtures in your nursery, it can be an affordable way to make a big statement. Of course, you can spend thousands on just one chandelier. but there are also a lot of affordable options out there. Here are a few of my favorite budget friendly nursery light fixtures from our shop. The last one can be customized with any print! This first one is a great fit with our coral baby bedding shown above:).



Window Coverings: You have a few options for nursery window coverings, generally broken down into shades, blinds or curtains.The only thing I have to say for sure is you definitely want to make sure ALL sunlight is blocked (if you ever want to sleep again!).

Let's start with shades. For a nursery, I would say you could use a roller shade, but this is not aesthetically pleasing (think white and plastic-y), so normally it is used behind a curtain panel to block the light. Also keep in mind that inner mount roller shades will have a gap on either side for hardware, and that will allow the sun in! Which is another reason I prefer them under curtains. The other option is a Roman Shade. These can look amazing and work great if lined with blackout lining. A pro for this style is it doesn't really hang below the window, which you may want depending on where your window is positioned. It has an overall sleek/clean look to it. Here are some great examples:

Blinds are another option for your nursery. Personally, I think they work best for a traditional looking nursery and can be dressed up a bit with a fun valance. Keep in mind there are many that consider the cords hanging from blinds to be a strangulation risk, which shouldn't be taken lightly. Make sure your cords are not in reach of your baby!

Not surprising to anyone, my favorite nursery window covering option would be curtain panels! Short, long, patterned, solid, grommets, colorblocked, I love any of these — you get the picture! I think curtain panels really complete a space, and of course, with blackout lining, they are very functional (i.e. NEEDED) in your nursery. That being said, I guess blocking sunlight from your nursery is a splurge. Having helped with thousands of nurseries, people always seem to be most surprised at the cost of curtains. While they are easy to sew, they require a lot of fabric! For more info on choosing your own nursery window coverings, check out this article, Baby Nursery Window Coverings. In the meantime, here are some sweet nurseries with sweet curtains.


Extras: Of course, there are SO many other items you can include in your dream baby nursery! Some will be more important to you than others.

In my opinion, every baby nursery needs a little artwork or some type of nursery room decor. Although not actually necessary, these details are what really brings your nursery to life and what really tells your story. Art does not need to cost a lot; there are so many DIY art installations and affordable prints out there that the options are endless.

Another item to consider is a modern baby mobile. I don't love your traditional 'baby' looking mobile made from plastic, but there are so many gorgeous options out there to stimulate your baby's imagination. This is another area where you can DIY off Pinterest too!

Finally, depending on your nursery size and function, there are a few more pieces of furniture that could be more of a 'need' for some people. In addition to your main furniture (the crib, changing table and rocking chair), you may want to consider a bookshelf, wardrobe, toy box/storage or a side table for your rocker. I've even had clients include a futon, couch or bed and sometimes a child-size play table and chairs for the future!

Well, I hope these nursery design tips have been helpful during such a crazy, new and exciting time! Remember, they are just suggestions based on my experience and may not be the case for everyone. There is really no wrong way to do this, so at the end of the day, just remember it's whatever works for you and your family. Just focus on creating a space to share your love with that sweet little angel!







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