Secondhand Style

Scour flea markets and resale stores for unique, creative (and inexpensive!) items for your baby's nursery.


NO NEED to blow your budget on your baby’s first room. Secondhand markets can be a gold mine for furniture, unique wall art and storage solutions.

Identify your style Collect photos of rooms from magazines that reflect the style you want to achieve. Then, make a list of the pieces you need—and don’t buy anything not on that list. “Junking” expert Sue Whitney, co-author of 2008’s Junk Beautiful, suggests that you “carry a small notebook that contains paint chips, fabric swatches and measurements.” Staple in the chips and swatches and bring a tape measure and only the amount of cash allocated in your budget.

Ready, set, shop! Check classifieds for yard and church sales or visit (click on “hot spots”) for flea markets in your area. Keep these ideas in mind:

Look for unfinished dressers Unpainted wood goes well with colorful objects and walls. Older painted items should be avoided due to the possibility of lead, says Whitney; paint made after 1978 contains little or no lead. Glue molding pieces to three sides of the dresser’s top and put a changing pad inside.

Consider school lockers and old-fashioned food crates—they make clever storage units for any room.

Hunt for the essential rocker or glider If one of these is on your list, go to multi-family yard sales. Head out early because these items go fast!

Look for vintage sheets They can be made into drapes or roman shades.

Check out a slim, vertical bookshelf Turned on its side and filled with baskets, it can be an efficient way to organize toys.

Buy old children’s books so you can cut out and frame the illustrations.

Mount a shower caddy, fishnet or mailbox near your diaper-changing station to store wipes and other necessities at arm’s reach.

Load up on baskets Fill them with toys, off-season clothing or art supplies.

Splurge on bedding Save on big items and you can afford designer sheets.

What not to buy used Some items, especially cribs, are better bought new or almost new in order to meet national safety criteria. If you’re considering a secondhand crib, make sure the slats are 2 2∕3 inches apart; if you can fit a soda can through, the opening is too big. You’ll also want to buy a new crib mattress and linens. A natural fiber rug is another key item to buy new because of all the playtime hours your baby will eventually spend on the floor.