How to Have the Most Unique Nursery on the Block

POPSUGAR Photography | Lisette Mejia
POPSUGAR Photography | Lisette Mejia
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There are many steps on the road to preparing for baby, but one of the most fun – and certainly most creative – steps is decorating the nursery. For my baby boy, I set out to transform my home office into a welcoming nursery that was at once personal, sophisticated, and wonderfully whimsical; more than just looking beautiful, however, it had to accommodate the essential nursery functions – and all without breaking the bank. I had my work cut out for me!

For some professional guidance, I turned to the experts at Laurel & Wolf, an online interior design marketplace that, for a reasonable, one-time flat fee, guided me to a top-notch designer with whom I created a custom room plan. Laurel & Wolf allowed me to try out the service at no charge for this project.

The design process was simple; after creating a detailed room profile, multiple designers submitted initial project proposals. I fell in love with the eclectic style of Pamela R McIntyre of The Curated Life. I selected her as my designer, and we got to work, exchanging design ideas and products over Laurel & Wolf's online platform. The final design she gave me included a style board, detailed floor plan, and shopping list.

Check out pictures of the resulting nursery below, and read my 13 tips for creating a truly unique space for your little one.

Hang Personal Art
POPSUGAR Photography | Lisette Mejia

Hang Personal Art

Decorating with art and decor that are meaningful to you and your partner is a simple way to infuse your family's personality into the nursery. I've long collected silk scarves, and I wanted to share their style and beauty with my son. I found a circus print by one of my favorite designers and had it framed to hang above his changing station.

Add Simple DIYs
POPSUGAR Photography | Lisette Mejia

Add Simple DIYs

When I couldn't find the lighting I wanted within my budget, I began to think of ways to create it myself. Not wanting to get into electrical nitty gritty, I layered two superaffordable Ikea hanging lighting fixtures — a paper lantern to softly diffuse light covered with a natural wood pendant. To make it extra unique, I wove a vintage French ribbon through the wood slats. Sometimes the simplest style is not only easier and cheaper, but it looks better too.

Blend Children's and Adults' Decor
POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia

Blend Children's and Adults' Decor

I tried to balance whimsical and sophisticated touches to create a nursery where both my child and I would enjoy spending time. Decorating with a mix of children's and adults' decor was an easy way to achieve this look; for example, a felted wool elephant head ($160) is framed by succulents in contemporary CB2 vases above the mantel.

Scavenge for One-of-a-Kind Pieces
POPSUGAR Photography | Lisette Mejia

Scavenge for One-of-a-Kind Pieces

While I love to browse through the beautiful nurseries in catalogs, I wanted my nursery to have a more unique and eclectic look, so I shopped for a mix of new, store-bought items, like the crib, and distinctive decor, like the blue Moroccan Kilim rug my Laurel & Wolf designer found from a Tunisian rug dealer on Etsy. It was the first piece I purchased for the room, and it set the whimsical tone for everything that came after.

Thoughtfully Lay Out the Room
POPSUGAR Photography | Lisette Mejia

Thoughtfully Lay Out the Room

Every space presents its own challenge, and my home's was its outdated Victorian floor plan; fortunately, Pamela, my Laurel & Wolf designer, evaluated my needs and came up with a creative layout that allows the room to function as both a nursery and playroom. Using the measurements of the space and essential furniture pieces, she created a layout to scale on Laurel & Wolf's platform, allowing her to play around with configurations. You can draw your own or check out one of the many websites and apps that allow you to do it on your computer or tablet.

Shop Second-Hand Finds
POPSUGAR Photography | Lisette Mejia

Shop Second-Hand Finds

I knew I wanted a high-quality glider, but every style I liked gave me a serious case of sticker shock. While the glider is an important piece of the nursery, it's not one with versatility or longevity, so I didn't want to splurge on it. Instead, I set up a Craigslist alert and pounced immediately when the high-end glider I loved popped up for sale in mint condition at nearly a third of the new price.

Splurge Where It Makes Sense
POPSUGAR Photography | Lisette Mejia

Splurge Where It Makes Sense

As the nursery design process progressed, I fell hard for the timeless yet exotic look of campaign dressers.The initial plan was to purchase an affordable vintage set or DIY my way to the style, but ultimately I decided to splurge on Pottery Barn Kids's Gemma dressers. Their aesthetic was perfect not only for a baby boy's nursery, but could also fit seamlessly into a girl's room, or our own bedroom down the road. The furniture pieces could eventually even be converted into a bar cart or sideboard. The quality, versatility, and storage potential of the campaign dressers made them a worthy splurge.

Get Family and Friends Involved
POPSUGAR Photography | Lisette Mejia

Get Family and Friends Involved

Rooms decorated with love and care really do feel warmer and more welcoming. To bring all the love the baby's family has for him into the space, his cousins filled the bookshelf with their favorite childhood reads. They even inscribed the inside cover of each book with a special message to the baby.

Seek Help For Design Dilemmas
POPSUGAR Photography | Lisette Mejia

Seek Help For Design Dilemmas

Not sure how to solve that diaper storage problem or where to put the crib? Get help! Working with Laurel & Wolf gave me the pro insight I needed to really polish and refine my design concept. Whether a professional interior design service or a best friend with a great eye, it's never a bad idea to get a fresh take on your space.

Turn Cute Baby Items Into Decor
POPSUGAR Photography | Lisette Mejia

Turn Cute Baby Items Into Decor

If you've ever heard the ooing and ahhing that happens at baby showers, then you already know how adorable baby clothes and accessories are. Instead of hiding them in a drawer, I decoratively displayed a few of my favorite pieces, like these knitted booties grandma bought in Ireland, around the room.

Keep It Interesting by Mixing High and Low
POPSUGAR Photography / Lisette Mejia

Keep It Interesting by Mixing High and Low

Avoid a stale, straight-out-of-the-showroom look by mixing retailers, styles, and price points. From eBay to Land of Nod, I shopped a variety of sources to give the nursery rich, eclectic style and added flair through small, affordable items, like these playfully striped Ikea seagrass baskets ($19) and the fluffy faux fur accent rug ($120).

Get Creative With Storage
POPSUGAR Photography | Lisette Mejia

Get Creative With Storage

The room we transformed into a nursery had no closet, but instead of dragging a heavy armoire into the space to store hanging clothes, I mounted a rod into the wall. It not only gave me a place to put all of baby's hanging clothes, it also put some of his most adorable ensembles on display.

Take Your Time
POPSUGAR Photography | Lisette Mejia

Take Your Time

Don't rush to fill in every gap in the nursery at once. It's OK if the bookshelf isn't full or there's a blank spot on the wall. Great design takes time, and there will be plenty of opportunity to fill the space with meaningful mementos after the baby is born. Trust me, you'll be glad you waited and did it right the first time.