Wanting to create the perfect baby space is as natural as needing saltines in the first trimester—and if you're on a budget, just as discouraging. Very few of us can afford the gorgeous nurseries advertised in catalogues, yet with a little effort, you can create a baby space as special and beautiful as the baby you're creating it for.
KISS (Keep It Simple and Safe)
Whatever you do, make sure your baby's items, from furniture to first toys, meet current safety regulations. Paint should be non-toxic, and decorations firmly affixed to walls, especially near the crib. Curtain pulls or ties should be out of reach, and rugs should be securely affixed to the floor. Make sure you have a clear path from the door to the crib for those middle-of-the-night wake-up calls. And don't forget the nightlight.
Remember that your baby, so new to the world, isn't going to care about the latest designs or most popular characters. Instead of spending a fortune on matching character prints, find a cheaper, more generic style. If you simply adore Pooh, consider getting a few stick-ons or a framed poster, then use the colors in it to plan the rest of the room. Instead of a theme lamp, get a simple lampshade and add appliqués.
For furniture, consider your needs. Bassinets, while sweet, are quickly outgrown. Will you practice family bed sleeping? Forgo the crib and make the room something more suited for play. (You may even want to get a double-size mattress for fussy nights when your husband needs to sleep.) Is the baby's room on a different level from the living area or where you spend most of your time? Instead of a changing table, invest in a couple of changing pads and baskets you can keep handy. Consider a crib that converts into a toddler and youth bed to save you money as your child grows.
Children grow quickly, and what's darling for an infant doesn't always match a toddler's tastes or needs. If you don't have the money (or energy) to redecorate every few years, be sure your walls, rug and furniture will grow with your child. Paint in a single color or simple design and rely on art for personalizing. Instead of buying a baby-specific changing table, consider a dresser with a wide top. Attach safety straps (one side screwed into the back and the other to the underside of the top) and add a changing pad. There are also some wonderful modular sets and convertible pieces (change tables that convert to dressers, for example) that can be worth the investment.