Metro Mama & Metro Baby

By Sharon Marcus

Decorating a nursery is one of the most fun and creative parts of preparing for a new baby. It’s like the room in waiting holds more than just a crib and a changing table – with some inspiration, it’s a thoughtful collaboration of elements that welcome the newborn into an environment that we hope will both comfort and inspire our little bundle of joy.

Picking a paint chip and accessories doesn’t have to be an anxiety-producing event, nor need it be an expensive venture. You can easily create a fantastic, personalized nursery from the heart without breaking the bank!

Peek into any baby superstore and you’ll spot a slew of popular themes and cute patterns, but they are a dime a dozen. Don’t rush to buy the bed in a bag with eighteen matching accessories. Similarly, you can take inspiration from an upscale catalog or a celeb’s space viewed online without having to purchase that same zillion-dollar rocking chair or flokati rug.

Ask yourself what item or theme you find exciting:
Is it a specific animal, or an entire zoo?
Is it a book that you loved as a child?
Is it a place that you love to visit, and someday want to share?
Is it a certain song, or artist, or fairytale?
Is it a play on the future child’s name?
Is it your grandmother’s baby shoes that you want to feature on a shelf?

Once you hang your inspiration on an idea rather than a product, the process becomes very simple.

Try picking an accessory or piece of art that you love and work backwards
Here are some great ideas for scoring great wall art for less:

* Pick up some frames and pull your favorite children’s book pages, coffee table book art or old calendar pages for instant graphic art.

* Free printables exist all over the web! Try sites like the The New York Public Library’s Digital Gallery for any topic under the sun (check out these cool vintage animal prints), or one of the millions of awesome blogs offering free .PDFs – like ishareprintables.com’s Dr. Seuss quote or kindovermatter.com’s cool ABC prints.

* Print your favorite song lyrics on a canvas using one of the many photo or DIY sites online, or paint them yourself (the NYPL gallery also offers free vintage sheet music)

* Check out the oversized maps from sites like National Geographic’s shop, local teacher resources or even AAA locations.

* For the look of pricey wallpaper without the price tag, pick up a stencil from a site like Cutting Edge Stencils (you can reuse it again in the future!)

* String attractive alphabet flashcards (like these from Land of Nod) for an instant banner.

* Talented friends or family would be flattered to add to your custom art collection – have them paint something that coordinates for your child to always have from them!

* Found a fabric you love? Make a lampshade out of it, or frame a square, or wrap it around some plain baby letters to spell their name in a customized print.

Don’t be scared to experiment! For example, print “All You Need is Love” in block letters from http://www.dafont.com onto a canvas and throw a Union Jack-inspired rug on the floor of a pink room – poof, your daughter is already the hippest kiddo on the block.

Pull it all Together
Don’t forget about your paint choice! The right shade can make a room cute, or dramatic, calming or exciting – pick a color from your accessories (sheets, rug, etc.) and draw it up onto your walls for a pulled-together look.

You’d think that furniture (being the largest and priciest items in the room) would set the tone, but the truth is that white or neutral wood tones match just about everything and will take on the vibe of the accessories surrounding it. The Baby Bargains Book is a great resource for researched accounts on which nursery furniture companies give you the best value. Convertible pieces (crib-toddler-full size conversion, or a dressing table that adds shelves to become a future bookcase/hutch) in simple styles will grow with your child and their décor sense. Or nab an unused dresser from a family member! A quick no-VOC paint job and some cute hardware may make for a dresser built to last.

Voila! A Nursery is Born
Enjoy the process – this is just the beginning!!!

Originally published November 2011
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