Basil's Colorful, Eclectic, and Budget-Friendly Room

Basil's Colorful, Eclectic, and Budget-Friendly Room

Lauren Pavao
Nov 1, 2012

Name: Basil Louise (2 months)
Location: Charleston, SC
Room Size: 130 sq ft

When I found out I was pregnant, we had an under-decorated guest room acting as a catchall for abandoned furniture. With almost no decorating budget, I had to find a way to turn that space into a nursery. An avid thrifter and bargain hunter, I know that finding the right pieces at the right prices can take months, so I started shopping right away...

I decorated most of the nursery before we knew what we were having. My aim was for the room to be gender neutral and to easily grow with the baby into a "kid" room. Once we have another child the kids will share the room, so there's a chance it will have to work for a boy and a girl. I did add a few feminine touches once we found out we were having a girl but was careful to ensure they could be easily swapped out later if necessary.

The nursery replaced our guest room, but we still needed a place for guests, so the bed had to stay. I wanted to incorporate the bed into the playful feel of the room, so I dyed a thrifted comforter magenta and sewed a pillow cover to match the crib sheet. The resulting room is exactly what I wanted: brightly colored, eclectic, and cost-effective.

How would you describe the look and feel of this room?
Whimsical and playful without being too "babyish." Bright and refreshing. Mostly vintage with a touch of modern here and there.

What was the inspiration for the room? It's hard to pin down any one particular inspiration. As a long-time reader of Apartment Therapy's Kids Room and Nursery Tours, my aim was to recreate the light and airy feel that many of the rooms showcased while keeping with the eclectic, thrifted style that is in the rest of our home. Some of my favorite room tours include Wren's Natural Habitat and My Room: Little P.

I shopped without a color palette in mind but was, not surprisingly, drawn to colors that I love, like orange, navy, teal, and magenta. My husband actually chose the paint color after most of the artwork and accessories had been purchased, and everything magically came together (the wall color even matches exactly to the colors in the Boston print, which we didn't realize until it was hung on the wall).

What was the biggest challenge decorating this room? The biggest challenge was finding a rug. That was the last purchase, and it was difficult to find one that had color and design that fit the room while also being playful but not childish.

What is your favorite piece or element? My favorite element is the entire crib wall. I love to sit with Basil in the chair on the other side of the room and look at the artwork and the sweet crib and sheet. Though it was all done before she arrived, it's very much "Basil."

What was your biggest indulgence? Though the crib and the mattress were the most expensive elements, I think it was necessary to splurge on those important items. I'd say the rug was probably the only real indulgence, as it was totally unnecessary but a bit pricey. (The Skinny laMinx fabric is also an indulgence, but I received it as a birthday gift many years ago.)

If money were no object, what's your dream source? Antique and thrift stores. Though thrifting can be a very inexpensive way to decorate, there are also many unique and intriguing pieces I have to turn down because they're too expensive. And for the most part, I stay away from antique stores altogether, as they are typically higher-priced than thrift stores. I would love to be able to buy any antique that caught my eye.

Do you have any advice for parents creating nurseries on an extremely tight budget? Spend more on the elements that are most important to you; tighten up on everything else. I tend only to splurge on artwork and necessarily non-toxic items; everything else is found through thrifting. We found all of our artwork on Etsy, which is an affordable way to support the arts. And I never buy a new frame; thrift stores are full of them. (For an even tighter budget, rather than purchasing artwork, you can make color photocopies of children's book illustrations or print images from your computer.) The crib and mattress are the only new items we purchased, which we paid more for to ensure they were non-toxic and safe. The chair, side table, dresser, lamp, picture frames, books, and fabric for the crib sheet were all thrifted. The rest is repurposed from around the house or gifted.

Additionally, it's important to allow your child's room to be a work in progress when working on a tight budget. Trying to have a "complete" nursery before baby arrives means you will feel rushed to purchase items and may end up spending more than you'd like. For instance, Basil's room still needs curtains, but I am waiting to find a good deal on fabric. Her dresser is also in major need of an overhaul, but rather than paint it now I plan to let her pick the paint color and help me paint it down the road. That way I won't end up fixing it up twice.

Finally, don't forget that babies are only babies for a few years. Try to buy furniture and décor that will last beyond babyhood, otherwise you'll find yourself buying a whole new set of furniture in a few years. For us that meant no changing table, no glider, and artwork that she won't outgrow too quickly.

Source List:

  • Sawaguzo poster: from a local art show several years ago

  • paint: Olympic no VOC in Sweet Pea

  • Batik Bird rug: Urban Outfitters

  • black side table: Bassett Furniture, repurposed from living room

  • mustache chalk board: Playing Grown Up, repurposed from bathroom

  • fire truck: Green Toys, gift

  • DaVinci Jenny Lind crib:

  • Organic Cotton/Wool Innerspring Crib Mattress: Organic Grace

  • crib sheet: made by me from a thrifted bed sheet (crib sheet sewing pattern from luvinthemommyhood)

  • Portuguese alphabet cards: petitflaneur, gift

  • crib quilt: handmade by a friend

  • stuffed sailor man: finklesteins, gift

  • Organic Crinkle Bear:, gift

  • stuffed guitar: gift

  • small crib pillow: made by me from a thrifted men's shirt

  • The Goonies and David Bowie prints: The Mangusta, gifts

  • otter flash card: thrifted

  • all picture frames: thrifted and some spray painted

  • yellow bird hooks: Urban Outfitters (many years ago)

  • dresser: thrifted

  • baskets: HomeGoods

  • metal tub: thrifted

  • diapers: AppleCheeks

  • lamp: thrifted and spray painted

  • Chart of the Sky poster: Dust Jacket from vintage copy of H.A. Rey's The Stars, thrifted

  • poster frame: Michael's

  • bedspread: thrifted and dyed

  • floating shelf: thrifted and spray painted

  • Yellow Owl print: Kristen Solecki (purchased locally, but she has an Etsy shop)

  • owl salt & pepper shakers: Urban Outfitters (many years ago), repurposed from dining room

  • stuffed peacock: gift

  • wood side table: thrifted

  • chair: thrifted, spray painted, and recovered with fabric from Skinny laMinx

  • chair pillow: World Market (many years ago), repurposed from living room

  • chair throw blanket: thrifted

  • chinese "lanterns": Michael's $1 bin! (light kit repurposed from an old lamp)

  • Boston print: LisaBarbero

(Images: Lauren Pavao)


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