The Lean (and Green) Nursery

Having an environment-friendly nursery doesn't mean breaking the bank to get it.


After scanning the price tags for nursery décor, especially all the new eco-friendly stuff—do you think you'll have to win the lotto to afford your dream nursery?

Don't despair. Yes, you'll need a crib, but you can put an inexpensive changing pad on top of a dresser and skip buying a changing table. And you can use a lot of what you already own for the cute crowning touches, says upcycling blogger Sofie Sausser.

We asked Sausser, a mom of three, and Danny Seo, author of Upcycling: Create Beautiful Things From the Stuff You Already Have (Running Press), for their best budget- and environment-friendly nursery secrets.

WALL ART: You don't need to have expensive murals painted or buy art intended for a kid's room, both of which can have limited wall life. Instead, says Sausser, "Get a bunch of frames at the thrift store, paint them all the same color for unity and use them to frame children's book pages, photos, illustrations from calendars or even interesting wrapping paper from your baby shower. It'll make the nursery feel both unique and very homey." Or try Seo's idea: Decorate gradually by reusing your baby's cutest T-shirts as she outgrows them. "Stretch them over wooden prestretched canvases from the craft store, then just staple gun them over the canvas, trim the excess fabric and voila! Baby clothes art for the wall," he says.

A PLACE TO SIT: Take any comfortable armchair you currently have (or acquire at a garage sale or thrift shop) and get it reupholstered. "New moms often think they have to have an expensive glider or rocker, but many never use them or they 'outgrow' them very quickly when their baby gets older," Sausser says.

PAINT: Insist on sero-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, but don't bust your budget on the expensive brands, says Seo. "An inexpensive brand I like is Valspar+, which is the first paint to be certified asthma- and allergy-friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America."

ACCENT PILLOWS: Throw pillows are cute but often expensive. Gather fabric from old clothes or blankets that work with your nursery colors and hand-stitch a new cover for a pillow you already have.

Your immediate environment is more important than ever. Read our Thinking Green page for ways to make your space a healthier place.

Check out our Buyer's Guide top picks for the safe essentials to rock your baby's first home—the nursery!

—Victoria Clayton