HOW I CREATED A SUSTAINABLE NURSERY ON A BUDGET
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
Creating a nursery for your first baby is an exciting project and a real celebration. It is also an opportunity to create a calm and cosy retreat for the whole family to enjoy. With endless style options and colour paletts available, it’s easy to get lost in the Pinterest rabbit hole and end up being frustrated, especially as costs of all the things one needs for their first baby soon add up. Would you believe creating mine didn't break the £500 mark? Read on!
Knowing we were having a boy, I wanted a room that is cosy, practical and could easily be transformed into something less ‘baby-ish’ as our son grows. Other words on my design 'wish list' were: neutral, simple and timeless - the latter particularly playing on my mind, as I realised the initial baby phase lasts only a heartbeat.
As we had just moved back to our home after a sabbatical (we lived abroad for a year), we didn't have a huge budget to play with, which meant I had to get creative! Silver linings, ey?
All my choices were carefully considered, based on items longevity, sustainability and keeping to the budget - without compromising on the all important fun and design aspect. I have listed all the steps I considered below, including the budget, to help you create your dream nursery.
Refreshing the room with paint or wallpaper is the first step. The room where we set up Max’s bedroom was already painted in Dulux’s classic neutral Chic Shadow – a muted grey, with slightly bluish undertone, that provides a great background for other colours to pop. I had painted this room back in 2016 and although ‘grey is dead’ in the world of interior design trends, I consider it a timeless classic and a great neutral. As I liked the colour and didn’t fancy a paint job at 7 months’ pregnant, keeping the current colour was an easy decision, which saved us money, time and effort. Once Max turned 16 months, I updated one of the walls by half painting it a scalloped edge pattern in black, magnetic chalkboard paint from Rust-oleum which cost £13 (I shared details of how I achieved this in my Nursery highlight on Instagram). This elevates the room to more of a ‘toddler room’ and adds another playful element to it.
The main pieces I wanted for the room was (obviously) a cot bed, a chest of drawers to store baby clothes and some bookshelves. There is already a full size Ikea wardrobe in the room with mirror fronts, which is partially used for storing baby items, hence I didn’t need to invest in a new one at this point.
I had my heart set on Stokke Sleepi cot bed in beech and after some research, managed to find it online, second hand for less than £100. The cot was in excellent condition and came with a natural coconut mattress. The amazing Swedish lady I bought it from, gave me all the tips on how to set it up and threw in some unused bedding and sheets - a huge bonus when you know you are saving all this from landfill and the shopping experience was obviously great! I was thrilled with this find and really happy that we did not need to A). fork out on the full price cot and B). impact the environment by buying new.
This leads me nicely to the chest of drawers. The plan was to get a mid-century piece, a classic that Max will enjoy through all stages of his life (optimistic, I know!) and that will be a good, sustainable investment. There are a lot of resellers of mid-century furniture online and I spent a couple of months searching for the right size chest, in the Danish design style. The downside of finding a piece you like in anther part of the country, is that you cannot physically view it and inspect for any hidden damage, so spending all this time online has paid off, as I learnt what to look out for in this type of furniture. Ultimately, I found a seller in Hertfordshire, 25mins drive away from us, who restored vintage furniture in his garden studio and sold it online. He had this lovely, six-drawer chest from Stag in a rich dark caramel colour and I fell in love with it instantly! He reserved the item for us and after viewing it and hearing it’s story, we bought it for Max as his birthday present. It even fitted into our car boot (after folding the back seats), which was handy.
As far as the bookshelves go, I wanted to be able to display the books' front covers to make the room cosy and fun and inject a bit of colour to it, without having to commit to a specific colour scheme. Ikea had the answer to it and I bought three, 115cm Mosslanda display shelves at £9 a pop.
The room had a new (2016) wool carpet and as I wanted a bit of a scandinavian, neutral scheme going on in there, I used a natural sheepskin rug I already had, to add some texture to the décor. To top it off, I added a round beach towel, The Roundie, from my beloved Aussie brand called The Beach People (I am obsessed with them and wish I came up with the idea for their brand – do check them out) in black and white – I have linked their site here as the exact design I have, is sold out. I bought The Roundie a couple of years back from the brand’s second collection and always knew it would get multiple uses – as a beach towel, a picnic blanket or to liven up a corner of our home. It is perfect for the nursery and I can just throw it in the wash when needed.
The main light in the middle of the room is a cloud pendant from Ikea – again, we already had it and it was perfect for the nursery.
I had always had my eye on the Miffy lamp and it was the number one item on the nursery shopping list. I got it in small size from my favourite baby shop, Scandiborn and linked it here. The small one is sold out, but search elsewhere as a lot of other sites do them (or better still – travel to the Netherlands, where a lot of shops sell it, as Miffy is a popular book character by a Dutch author).
As a night light, we use a Gro Egg night light (which is also a thermometer and changes light from pale yellow, through orange to red, depending on temperature in the room) and a beautiful moon shaped light from National Geographic, that glows like the Moon. Both of these were gifts, but you can get them second hand on popular resale websites, like eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree in the UK.
As far as accessories go, I got creative. First of all, I repurposed an unused Ikea picture frame in dark grey and drew a picture of a rabbit in black and white, to add contrast to the neutral walls. Another frame I had now features a postcard of a cat with a David Bowie’s face I got at Anthropologie. I wasn’t going to get a cot mobile for the room, as it only is of interest for a short time, so instead I decorated the wall closest to the cot with garlands. This is an idea I first saw at my dear friend's little girl's nursery (Hey Marg!) and always wanted to recreate it. I made two of the garlands myself using wool and black card paper I got at Hobbycraft and found the third one on Etsy. The wool garland I made is kept in neutral palette of black, off-white, tawny and grey and I love the wool texture against the raw wall.
As a stylish nappy storage, I got a woven basket from Zara Home
Total cost £480
Hope this inspires you to experiment and create a cosy, consciously decorated room, that you and your baby will love. Would you consider buying second-hand and giving the items a second lease of live to create environmentally-friendly nursery design? I would love to know what you think and hear your comments and questions.