No need to be fussy.
Forget about hanging art in neat rows -- just buy frames in the same color for consistency.
Dress an ugly duckling.
When the Petersiks bought this mirror at Marshall's, it was black. Painting it green (using a tiny brush to negotiate those curves!) made it sing.
A side table from Target used to live in their guest bedroom, but it works perfectly next to Clara's feeding spot.
The Petersiks found this capiz-shell chandelier for $50 at a lighting outlet.
Need a mobile? You can make it!
Sherry was cruising the craft superstore Michael's, where she goes for ideas, when she dreamed up these floating flowers. Armed with $12 in floral wire and faux hydrangeas that she could pull apart, she used tacky glue to attach the blooms while watching TV!
Never fear a little refinishing.
The Petersiks spotted this dresser for $20 on CraigsList.com. It had a clean, modern shape and sturdy construction, and it was wide enough to double as a changing table. But it was in just-okay condition, and veneer, not solid wood. The couple picked up less than $15 in supplies and gave it a makeover: Minwax stain in Red Mahogany for the body; semigloss white paint for the top. "We sanded it lightly, not through to the particleboard," Sherry says. Now it's a beaut!
Try your hand at a window treatment.
Cornices pack a visual punch. They cover your rolled-up blinds, but, unlike valences, they're hard and tailored-looking. Andy and a friend made a pair of cornices using pieces of 1"x10" lumber. (An even cheaper route: Use foam core board.) Amy covered them with batting and fabric. A staple gun or hot-glue gun is all you need!
Shop outside the baby department.
"We didn't buy 'nursery' d?cor aside from the crib," says Amy, an interior designer. "We stuck to the housewares section of stores such as Target and IKEA." She made a mobile herself, and sewed pillows, first designing her own fabric at SpoonFlower.com.
Whip up a faux crib skirt.
The Bethunes spent $25 on a no-sew crib skirt by following an online tutorial the Petersiks created. "Skirts sold in stores are twice the cost," Amy says. She used hem tape to neaten the edges without touching a needle, and stick-on Velcro to attach the skirt to the metal mattress support.
Dress up a wall with whimsical fabric scraps.
"I just placed fabric in an embroidery hoop and tightened the clamp," Amy tells us. "Then I trimmed the excess, leaving a half inch, and glued it to the back with fabric glue." Repeat for a collage that cost only $40.
World's best shower idea!
Instead of playing typical baby-shower games, Katie's guests decorated letters for Eli's bedroom wall, to hang above his IKEA Expedit bookcase. In addition to the papier-m?ch? and wooden letters from JoAnn Fabrics, the party hostess gave guests acrylic craft paint, craft paper, fabric, buttons, and twine. "I love that his room has art handcrafted by my best friends," Katie says.
Rescue an old rocking chair.
This oh-so-mod glider-and-ottoman set originally retailed for $500, but Katie's mother-in-law, LuAnn, found it at a garage sale for $5. For only $20 in fabric and $10 in paint they were able to make it over. Not handy? "Take a used glider to a pro upholsterer," Katie says. It might still cost less than a brand-new one.
Get artsy with a book or the Web.
Look for a beautifully illustrated storybook at a tag sale and frame some pages, Katie suggests. Or go online to create your own art. Katie searched the Internet for images of airplanes, motorcycles, and trucks and printed them. Then she cut out the shapes and traced them onto canvas. Finally, she filled in the shapes with craft paint. No frames needed for these masterpieces!
Keep Things Simple!
Melisa learned from her first son, Austin, that a baby's room inevitably fills with toys, books, and knickknacky gifts. She wanted her second son's space to be neutral enough that all those belongings would look sharp, instead of adding clutter. To keep things clean she chose black and white for the walls, crib, chair, and even the lighting. Bright art and accessories add all the pop.
Create a mural with chalkboard paint.
You don't have to wait until your child can doodle! Melisa used two coats of black chalkboard paint (less than $20 a quart) to create several canvases on which the family can draw, above the crib and on the wall next to the door. She found the four airplane images on iStockPhoto.com for less than $40 total. Melisa printed them on 8"x10" photo paper, and put them in $10 IKEA Ribba frames.
Open up the closet.
To make the room feel bigger, Melisa removed the closet doors. She painted the interior walls a cheery yellow and tucked Chase's dresser inside. Bonus: It's fun to see those tiny clothes hanging in a row!
Make an extra-comfy spot to sit.
"I wanted a big, fluffy chair that could withstand a lot of use," Melisa says. IKEA's $250 Ektrop is wide enough to fit mom and both her boys during storytime.
Give it the slip.
White fabric? Sure -- just use it for a slipcover that you can throw in the washing machine!
Originally published in the August 2011 issue of American Baby magazine.