With vintage toys, antique furniture, handmade blankets and quilts, and splashes of pink, we created an inexpensive, cozy, collected, and feminine bedroom/nursery for our daughter. Our ‘Vintage Toy Nursery’ is now a beautiful space to start and end her days, and I managed to get it done well before her second birthday. 🙂
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We didn’t do much to this room before our baby arrived. We organized the essentials, but that was about it. I knew he/she wouldn’t be sleeping there for some time, and I didn’t really feel motivated to make it look good when there were so many other areas of the house that needed major attention. We had just moved. There were tons of boxes waiting to be unpacked. The kitchen cabinets weren’t well organized. I was working full time at my part-time job to finish up a big project before the baby came.
We’d been blessed with useful and beautiful gifts at baby showers. We had a large collection of our own old childhood things. My plan was to keep it simple and use those old stuffed animals, toys, and books as decorations. We had plenty of those, and we didn’t need any more stuff.
But a lot of time would pass before it became the Vintage Toy Nursery.Less than a month after she arrived, the closet was already getting a little out of control.
The One Room Challenge, Fall 2018 Edition
A few weeks after she arrived (we waited to find out what we were having!), I dipped a toe in to the One Room Challenge and did what I could while adjusting to life with a newborn. The reveal was a little lackluster, but I made some small steps in the right direction.
You can click here to read all the details of the original Vintage Toy Nursery project, or just scroll down for a quick recap.
I spray painted the frame on this cross-stitch I got at an antique store while I was pregnant. This was the one thing I knew I was going to put in the baby’s bedroom, and I love the age and color it brings to the space.
We repurposed the DIY tropy and medal display shelf from our old house into a sort of stuffed animal mobile. When she was tiny, she loved to stare at the animals, Snoopy in particular. As she’s gotten older, she waves at them, gives them high fives, offers them her milk, and says their names or the sounds they make (well, sort of!).
The room was clearly still a work-in-progress at the end of six weeks! But I was happy with the direction it was (very slowly) going.
One of the few crafty projects I did during the One Room Challenge was to make this hairbow display. Most of these were passed on to us by a friend whose daughter had outgrown the bow stage.
I found the ladder at the Vintage Market Days in Columbia during the ORC. It was the one thing I bought new for this ORC. The laundry basket was on our wedding registry ages ago, but I found a similar wicker hamper for sale here (affiliate link; thanks for your support!).
Sweet friends who were at Disney World when our daughter was born brought this Mickey back for her; Big Bird belonged to the Mister. I picked up the books at thrift stores over the years; the little elephant came from an antique store while I was pregnant.
The fillable lamp eventually became home to lots of little toys I collected as a child (it took a while to find them among all the moving boxes!). They’re too tempting now so the lamp has been moved to a safer location for the time being.
Lots of little tweaks and changes have continued over time since that One Room Challenge in the fall of 2018. For about a year, I made changes here and there as they became necessary. But I wasn’t really focused on ‘finishing’ the room, even though I wanted to.
Then early in 2020, I put my attention back on her room, starting with that amazing closet I mentioned a minute ago. From there, things snowballed until I checked the last project off my list!*
I never thought our daughter would be over 18 months old by the time I truly ‘finished’ her bedroom. I say ‘finished’ because even though this is the reveal, I technically haven’t finished the room. *I’d still like to paint the walls a very pale blue-ish off-white. But in order to disrupt our daily routine the least, I’m holding off on that until we hire a painter for the whole house who can knock this room out in a single day as opposed to me painting it over a period of several days as I have time. We hope to do that by the end of the year…!
So with that disclaimer, let’s take a tour!
The Vintage Toy Nursery Reveal
She arrived 19 days early, but the completion of her bedroom is 19 months late… Here’s a look around our ‘vintage toy nursery’!
Since I would call myself a budget-conscious DIY-er, I have included approximate costs for each project we added to the room over the last year and a half in italics throughout this post. So much of what wound up in her room are things we already owned, were gifts at baby showers, or furniture handed down by family. We got lucky there. But if we bought it for this room, I have shared a price. If you’re keeping track, the entire space, including the amazing closet, totaled about $439.50 out of pocket. Buying everything new would have cost at least three times that, and that’s why I’m such a fan of using what you already have when you can! The DIY Vintage Toy Nursery project was a great big bang for our buck!
DIY Door Art
I had two identical tiny Mickeys among my old toys and stuffed animals (Well, nearly identical. This one’s eyes are a little crossed!). What to do with the second one (You’ll see what I did with the first one soon!)?
Make a cute door hanger, of course! So Mickey wouldn’t get ruined, I used stick-on Velcro on his pants and the letter to secure him. A couple of thick stick-on felt circles prevent it from making noise when we open and close the door. I bought the letter at Hobby Lobby for $2, and I already had the other supplies.
I had a vision in my head for the large art I wanted to make and hang over the crib. But the inability to do exactly what I envisioned paralyzed me and I let it keep me from doing anything at all.
Finally, I came up with a Plan B, and I did it. And I love it! You can read all about the large DIY art and learn how to make your own here (it’s a fancy technique I created called Watercolor Blobs, and you can do it even if you have ZERO painting or drawing skills). We already had the frame and paints. The canvas and brackets to attach it to the frame came in under $20 total.
A Spindle Crib
This Jenny Lind crib is the one piece of furniture we bought new for our daughter (well, actually it was a gift, but it was still the only furniture that was bought new for her). My niece and nephew both had this crib, and I knew it was the one I wanted whenever I had kids. It’s pretty and classic-looking, and it’s also just a really good crib. A neighbor gave us a few of her daughter’s old things, including this crib skirt, soon after our daughter arrived. It was too short to use when the crib was at its highest setting, but now that it’s at the lowest, the pink skirt is perfect. The rest of the linens were gifts, too, come to think of it!
Blanket Display Ladder
The ladder is the one thing I bought during that One Room Challenge back when our daughter was a newborn. I wanted a place to hang all the pretty handmade blankets we were given as gifts. It was made by a guy who just makes ladders from reclaimed North Carolina barn wood, who just had a phone number. No website. No social media pages. Old school. He charged $40, which was the exact limit I’d set for myself!
The Reading Corner
This little corner has seen a fair amount of change since the first phase of getting this room in order:
There were way too many wood tones going on in the corner with the chest, rocker, and stained nightstand top (and with the shelf, prior to that!).
Now that my eyes have adjusted to the pretty white chair and brand new soft minky fleece cover, it hurts to look at what the chair looked like for so long!
Here’s more about the individual elements of the reading corner!
The Cedar Chest
The cedar chest that replaced the bench (a DIY coffee table-turned-window seat from our old master closet) belonged to my great-aunt. We added strong magnets to prevent our daughter from being able to open the lid yet – as of now, she actually doesn’t know it opens! – and a slow-closing hinge to prevent smashed fingers when she’s able to open it for herself.
The DIY Lampshade
I wanted something a little simpler than the blue and white patterned lampshade on this lamp, so I added some grosgrain ribbon to a plain white one that used to go on a lamp that had recently broken. The ribbon cost about $3 and was also enough to create hanging hairbow storage in the closet. Yes, that’s a $3 update for a lampshade that was just taking up room in a closet.
The Painted Rocker
This rocker was $15 at a neighbor’s yard sale – about 8 years ago at our old house! 😀 I planned to paint it all along…but of course never did. Until last week! I dreaded it (and it was absolutely a pain), but I’m so pleased with the result.
I had planned to just vacuum and lint roll the original navy-ish upholstery since it would fit right in. But in the end I decided to use some fleece I bought a few months ago for a different project (that I’m never going to get around to!) to stitch up some new covers. It was absolutely the right choice. It’s so soft to sit on and it looks amazing. (Paint color is Snowbound by Sherwin Williams). This was a free update since I used stuff I already had!
The Pink End Table/Nightstand
This nightstand was $20 on clearance at Bed, Bath, and Beyond about 15 years ago when I moved into my first college apartment (wait, what?!). I always had the thought of painting it in the back of my mind, but I wasn’t as in to DIYing back then, so nothing happened to it. Then for another decade and a half, nothing happened to it.
A few months after the girl was born, I noticed a pretty pink nightstand with a dark stained top in a Bed, Bath, and Beyond circular (ironic!). I liked it a lot, but it was over $150, which I would never pay for a nightstand. But I would pay $8 for a little sample of Sherwin Williams paint, which is plenty to cover a small piece of furniture. So I tucked that circular into her dresser drawer as a reminder for ‘one day’ when I would again have time to paint pretty projects.
A couple months ago, ‘one day’ came, and I took this little nightstand out of its misery.
Out of the approximately 72 pinkish paint chips I picked up, I chose SW Lighthearted Pink for the nightstand. It’s pretty without being too pink, and it can grow with her into a ‘big girl’ room, which I’m sure will come long before I’m ready for it! A new sparkly knob and my favorite combination of dark stains (one coat each of English Chestnut and Red Mahogany by Minwax) finish it off. In all, this update cost about $12 since all I had to buy was the paint and knob.
The Toy + Book Corner
The townhouse we rented for a few months before finding this house had no pantry. My solution was to buy this pretty etagere bookcase to serve as an attractive exposed pantry in our dining area (the cost has gone up by about $40 since I bought this one a few years ago). I figured we’d be able to use it somewhere in our new house, if we ever found one! We did, and it’s perfect in the Vintage Toy Nursery. 🙂
We keep very few toys in our daughter’s bedroom (ironic for a room nicknamed the ‘vintage toy nursery’, huh?) since playtime is spent mostly in other rooms. The select few that are here are our fun wind-down toys before naps or at the end of the night.
Toy Storage Bins
The pink rope basket full of my old stuffed animals was the big splurge for this room. I was looking for a pink rope bin for her room about a year ago and found this one online at Pottery Barn kids. I typically do not pay Pottery Barn prices for anything, but I really wanted this bin! So I found a way to get it for free. I checked our credit card cash back program and found out that I could exchange credit card points for a Pottery Barn gift card, and I did just that. So no cost out-of-pocket! Yay!!
The smaller ivory rope basket was from Target, and it was missing one of its little faux leather handles (which I didn’t want anyway). I asked if they could adjust the price, so I got a discount off its already discounted price, somewhere around $8. Always ask!
I used a shadowbox to frame the vintage (or is it antique?) Humpty Dumpty handkerchief that belonged to my mom when she was little. The frame was on sale (or maybe I used a coupon?) at Micheals so I probably paid around $8.
It’s the perfect colors for the room and such a pretty piece of (nearly) free art.
I like that the shelf looks a little more updated than some of the antiques to keep the room fresher.
Antique Blue Dresser +Changing Area
The dresser was my grandmother’s. She painted it years ago, and it was in an extra bedroom I used to sleep in when I visited her as a child. It now lives with us in the Vintage Toy Nursery! The cute lamp on the dresser is a mismatched set; the base is no longer available, but I found a similar white base if you’re in the market (<– affiliate links put a few pennies toward hosting costs but cost you nothing!).
The Vivian lampshade is from Pottery Barn Kids; I bought it with that same gift card I mentioned before, so it was technically free to me! It’s currently on sale and they’re offering free shipping…but if Pottery Barn isn’t your typical thing either or there’s not a good sale, this faux silk pink lampshade looks pretty similar (again, this is an affiliate link). The majority of what you see here was something we had for a long time and repurposed in the nursery or was given as a gift…the lampshade was ‘free’ with a gift card.
We’re 19 months in to diaper changes and would highly recommend our white Dekor hands-free diaper pail. It’s nondescript, easy to use, refills are a reasonable price, and it does a great job…keeping the smells in (that’s another affiliate link. Buying through one helps me out a little at no cost to you; thank you!).
Stuffed Animal Mobile
The DIY running medal display we repurposed into a little stuffed animal mobile over the changing pad is probably the one thing that has remained about the same since the end of that One Room Challenge so long ago.
I did add the mosaic letter bookend, which took me ages to make. I started it at a craft night when the girl was about 2 months old. We couldn’t put the grout on there, though, since it would need to dry. So it sat around in our mud room for ages. I finally finished it when she was…maybe about a year old?!
The framed art is a page from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. There’s no significance other than it was a book I found at a thrift store and it had a picture the right size to fit in the frame. I don’t think we’ve ever actually read her Snow White! The frame was about $6.00 at Hobby Lobby, and the book was $.50. Framed art for $6.50!!!
There are several finishing touches that make a big impact in the finished space that I didn’t managed to finish during that One Room Challenge way back when the little girl was a little newborn.
Nursery Necessity: Room-Darkening Curtains
For the curtains, I chose white and navy striped blackout curtains from Target. I waited until there was a sale; $30/panel is a little steeper price than I like. But the quality is good (well, good enough…it took several rounds of returns to get two whose stripes almost line up, and I had to cut off a few loose strings of thread), and the extra length was a necessity since the ceilings in this house are so high. My original intention was to make this a completely gender-neutral room (but of course I was powerless against the pull of pink!), so I chose navy and white instead of the solid pink ones. I like that the bold curtains keep the room from feeling too frilly and fussy. Curtains 25% off = $45 + tax for two panels!
DIY Boob-light Fixture Update
It took some time for me to find a lampshade that would fit exactly right with the configuration of our builder standard flush-mount light fixtures. The Mister also had to buy a couple parts from the lighting section at Lowe’s, but in the end we have a much better looking ‘yight’ for around $25.
A Handmade Reminder
My mom cross-stitched this back in the 80s. It hung in my room growing up, and I didn’t really pay attention to it. It’s sort of sad, but it’s true. It hangs behind the door in our daughter’s room, so I catch it every time I go in and out. It’s a good reminder on those days that are just a little tough.
The DIY Closet Shelving System
I almost forgot about the closet!
It was absolutely the biggest undertaking of this entire room, and it makes the biggest impact. I shared a detailed post recently about how we did it and how you can create your own DIY closet shelving system, including a list of supplies we used and the total cost (around $250, including all those new Ikea bins). Painting it such a dark, moody color (Moscow Midnight by Sherwin Williams) was scary, but I’m so happy with the decision.
That was a lot!
As I’ve thought back over the past nearly two years of working on this room in fits and bursts (what’s the saying?), I realize that more effort has gone into this room than any other room in this house!
Having a baby is expensive, but creating a cute and cozy space for the tiniest member of the family doesn’t have to come with an outrageous price tag. Gifts go a long way. Things you already own can add character. For us, taking our time ‘finishing’ the room has helped us create a space that fits our daughter’s budding personality. Had I finished this room before she came, I would have created more work for myself. As a first-time parent, I had no clue what we really needed or would want in the room.
I’m so glad we let it evolve over time; it’s now my favorite space in the house.
And more importantly, she seems to love it, too.
Thanks for sticking with me until the end. This was a long one. 🙂
Shop the Vintage Toy Nursery!
Since many of the items in this room are our old toys, were given to us by family members, bought at yard sales, or purchased on clearance to save some cash, I am for the most part unable to provide links to the exact items in this room. I have instead looked for similar items to share with you (and a ‘save’ option for my one splurge!), so most of the links below are to the most similar items I could find available to purchase now.
For these items, I have only included links to reasonably priced products with average reviews of 4 stars or better, and with free shipping if possible. Most of the links below are affiliate links; if you buy through them I earn a few pennies to pay the blog bills at no expense to you. Thank you for your support!