How to set up a baby nursery on a budget

One of the things I looked forward to most with my pregnancy was setting up my baby girl’s nursery. Between my love for decorating and an extreme nesting instinct (it’s true, it really kicks in big time), I couldn’t wait to create a room that was dreamy, creative and comforting. But once I actually started, I quickly realised that this was going to be one helluva expensive expedition. Even the cheapest stores were selling the basics like rocking chairs and compactums at prices that would chomp up our budget in a flash.

Luckily over the years I’ve learnt how to put together my home through a combination of DIY and second-hand shopping. I like looking for pieces that are unique and well-made, and that will add to our lives for a long time. And then I’ll supplement these with fun elements that add character. So in the hopes of helping you out on your nursery journey, here are a few savvy money-saving tips I’ve picked up over the last few months.

Ask friends and family

Lucky for me, both my sisters-in-law recently had babies and were happy to supply me with some of their nursery items. I got crucial pieces like a comfy rocking chair – a huge expense otherwise! – as well as a baby bath, clothing and more. I’ll be honest, part of me really wanted to buy everything new, because this is my first baby after all, and I feel that this brand new human deserves brand new things. In the end, though, I was really happy I accepted the offers from those around me. If you don’t have family and friends like these, search around for pre-loved baby goods. There are actually a couple of shops that specialise in this.

Wait for your baby shower

I know this is hard. I really wanted to start shopping for my little one, but everyone told me to wait and see what I would receive at my baby shower. It’s lucky I did. I received more than enough blankets, baby bath and body products, and clothing. This made it easier for me to focus my attention and resources elsewhere.

Use Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace has recently become something of an obsession. Most of the stuff on there is junk, but now and then you can pick up absolute gems at a fraction of the price they would cost new. This is where I found my wicker Moses Basket for around R500. Sure, a Moses Basket is a bit of an unnecessary spend – the baby grows out of it in about six months – but it was something I really wanted, and this way I can save up to buy a nice crib later on.

Scavenge the second-hand shops

You can find plenty of adorable decorative pieces and some fantastic essentials at second-hand shops. My personal favourites around Cape Town are Odds & Ends and The Cottage Shop in Somerset West, or Die Handelshuis in Bellville. You should also follow Anouk Furniture and Vamp on Instagram for gorgeous finds; you might pick up an old rocker, or a buffet cabinet that could work as a changing table. Just be careful of items that might have been painted with lead-based paint, and furniture that could possibly injure your baby (read up on safety standards of cots, for instance, to get an idea on what to look for).

Try a hands-on approach

Don’t be afraid of a little DIY. We couldn’t find a compactum or changing station that worked for us, so we decided to convert a work bench we found at Builders Warehouse. You can buy these unassembled for around R1500 (or try Timber City for assembled benches). We then sanded it down, stained the bottom white, and sealed the top with varnish. Afterwards I noticed that the top was quite slippery and my changing matt kind of slid across the smooth wood (not ideal) so I used a rug grip (you can buy these at Mr Price Home) to give it a solid base. We also put up our own shelves with basic pine that we stained grey-blue. I chose to support these on brackets – I’m not a huge fan of floating shelves, I feel they always end up pulling away from the wall.

Cherry-pick the decor

I put my nursery together piece by piece and in stages. This way I could get a sense of what the space was “asking for” – a lamp here, a rug there, maybe some throw pillows etc. Once I had placed the big items, I started browsing the web and local markets for fun pieces that could add character to the nursery.

One of my favourite finds was the swan night light by Lapin & Me on collerette.co.za. This was also the only shop I found that sold fitted sheets for a Moses Basket mattress, made by Lu & Barnabe. I also picked up some adorable pillows by Fox & Moon at Kamers in Stellenbosch, and I found the mobile at the Lilliput Market. This was made by Kin Culture, and the proceeds go towards supporting children in need. I love that!

The standing lamp, ottoman, rugs, scatter cushions and the boxes on my changing table are all from Mr Price Home; they have a really nice selection of affordable decor pieces. I went to them last and stocked up on all the final bits to complete the look I was going for.

Once I was finally done with the nursery, all I could think was – I hope my baby likes it. Of course she won’t even notice most of it at first. But I had a lot of fun putting together a space that will hopefully spark her imagination and nurture her dreams.

Now all this room needs is my baby girl.

Do you have any tips on putting together a baby nursery? Please pop your thoughts in the comments section below, I’d love to hear from you.

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