How To Decorate With A Frugal Budget.

Every parent has visions of the perfect baby's room, but is it really necessary to spend $2000 decorating and equipping a nursery for a tiny newborn infant who won't even care? Ann Douglas, author of The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby, gives you some ideas for creating a haven for your baby - affordably.
Ann Douglas

What it is
Obviously, having a baby costs money, but it isn't necessary to spend a small fortune getting ready for your new arrival. While some purchases are essential for safety reasons (i.e. crib and car seat), other items are musts for some parents, but not for others (i.e. baby monitor, vaporizer, change table, rocking chair). And then there are some purchases that are out and out frills (i.e. adorable wallpaper with matching curtains, bedspread, and bumper pads).

Perhaps the most sensible advice about equipping your baby's room comes from Sharon McKay, author of The New Parent Survival Handbook. She writes: "Instead of sinking every last cent into baby's layette, think about what would make you a better parent. For example, instead of buying a change table... buy a telephone answering machine. Buy a dishwasher instead of a rocking chair." You need to free yourself from some preconceived idea about what a baby's room should look like and instead strive for a baby's room that works for you.

If you'd like to create a beautiful nursery for your baby without depleting your bank account, keep the following tips in mind:

Decorating the room
Use paint instead of spending a lot of money on wallpaper. Invite friends and relatives to come over and dip their hands into a bucket of paint and then place their handprints on the wall. They can then sign their names underneath. This way, your baby gets to enjoy a brightly coloured room covered in the type of highly contrasting pattern that most appeals to young infants. What an interesting way to introduce your baby to the numerous significant people in his or her life!

Other ideas for decorating inexpensively include drawing hundreds of happy faces with coloured markers, purchasing brightly coloured wallpaper borders, stencilling your own borders, or hanging either baby quilts or brightly coloured children's placemats on the wall as decorations. If you are good at handicrafts, you can save yourself a pretty penny by making padded wallhangings and other decorations.

If you do decide to spend a little more money and wallpaper your baby's room, try to find something that isn't too babyish. Pastel ducks may look cute now, but just try to convince your five year old boy that ducks are where it's at when he has his heart set on race cars or teenage mutant ninja turtles! Also, make sure that any wallpaper that you choose is scrubbable. The wallpaper is likely to be hit with any number of substances from spitups to crayons to things we don't even want to mention.

Floors and windows
The same goes for flooring. Stain resistant carpet or hardwood floors are worth every penny when you consider the types of abuse the floor is likely to encounter during your baby's first few years. If you've already got wall-to-wall carpet down in the nursery and you're concerned that it might not weather your child's babyhood particularly well, an area rug might be a good investment.

Similarly, when you're selecting window coverings for the nursery, aim for washable fabrics or blinds that can be wiped down easily with a damp cloth.

Because some babies need to be taught the difference between night and day, you may find that a room darkening blind of some type may help save your sanity in months to come. An added bonus is that these blinds tend to be relatively inexpensive (unless, of course, you opt for a custom drapery service or select a pricey fabric for the blinds).

See the world as your baby sees it
When you are decorating, remember that as the months go on, your baby is going to spend a lot of time lying on his or her back. Doesn't it only make sense then to pay attention to the ceiling as well? Inexpensive ways to jazz up the ceiling include suspending fabric kites, or allowing fabric to billow through a series of hanging rings. Some toy stores also sell special nets which allow you to hang stuffed animals from the ceiling (and if your baby is like most children, he or she will have a fairly formidable collection of stuffed animals by the time his or her first birthday rolls around!)

A nursery can be decorated beautifully without costing the earth if you are willing to be innovative and let your imagination run wild. Your nursery needn't look like something out of a decorating magazine; what's important is that it's practical and cheery! After all, you're likely to spend a lot of time in your baby's room during those first few

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