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High-Low Nursery

Ever wonder how much to spend and what to invest in when designing a nursery? With baby number three on the way, Christine Dovey shows us her favourite nursery essentials and where to spend and save.

High-Low Nursery

Above: light fixture and pendant, baskets, Elte; sofa and rocking chair, vintage; pillows, Elte, Kol Kid, Stone Textile Studio, CC Deux Vie; bedding, Elte and Ella & Elliot; toys, Elte, Kol Kid; art, Kol Kid and Ella & Elliot; Gulliver Crib, Ikea; Nyvoll Dresser, Ikea; Flokati rug, Rugs USA

Start With the Basics

When designing a nursery the first thing you should do is keep your walls neutral so the child doesn't get tired of it as he or she grows. Paneling is a great way to add architectural interest without spending too much money. Avoid 'childish' wallpaper that will cost a lot and that will have to be taken down in a few years.


Spend more money on lighting especially if it's out of baby's reach. A floor lamp can easily be moved into another room when baby starts crawling, but a chandelier or pendant light will stay with them as they grow older. Lighting is the most impactful element in a room and really sets the tone for the space so it's important to find pieces that are sculptural and distinctive as they will really set the room apart.


Your baby grows out of a crib quite quickly, so don't feel like you have to spend a lot of money on it. There are a lot of very affordable options out there. And don't fall for those 'convertible cribs.' They often cost more and limit future room placement because of the high back design. Plus, if you have another baby, you'll be forced to purchase another crib once the first one has converted to a toddler bed.

Inexpensive cribs with a basic rectangular design are your best bet. They won't limit the design scheme of the room and should be the only piece of 'baby' furniture you buy.

High-Low Nursery


You want the best for your baby and that means you want them to sleep in a non-toxic environment. Items like bedding and mattresses should be natural and organic. And just like adult bedding, you want the patterns and design to be special and work with the room's aesthetic. They should be soft and very comfortable for baby. Think hand-woven cottons and high thread counts. You'll want to spend money here.


Rockers add a sense of drama to the space and are perfect for softly putting baby to sleep. They're at once practical and beautiful, and since vintage ones are often very budget-friendly, you won't feel bad when it's no longer in use. It's silly to invest in gliders that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars when they'll be used for such a short time.


A one-of-a-kind vintage sofa will grow with the baby and add a real sense of luxury and depth to the room, but it can also be easily moved to other rooms of the house if/when baby outgrows it. Because it's covered in cotton duck, it's the perfect sofa for using when feeding baby. Spills won't be at all noticeable. The down seat makes it perfect for those late night feedings and will also be perfect for story time and snuggling.

Don't forget about pillows. It's nice to surround yourself with little luxuries while taking care of the baby. Add a few beautiful pillows with a one-of-a-kind feel to add a real sense of craftsmanship to the room. By blending traditional pillows with nursery themed ones, you can make the room feel both child appropriate and richly layered. The more 'adult' pillows are worth investing in because they can be used in other rooms once the child grows.

High-Low Nursery


Look for an affordable dresser that has clean lines and a timeless quality. It can grow with baby as it gets older, but if you want to change it up you won't feel bad later. Add a change pad and frame on top and it's a multi-functional piece. Once the baby is no longer in diapers, simply remove the change pad and you have a storage piece.

Toys and Accessories

This is where you can add a sense of whimsy to the room, which is so important for a nursery. Look for sculptural accessories and hand crafted toys that can be passed down for generations to be cherished. Avoid cheap toys at all costs. Toys that are natural or made with organic ingredients are best as your baby not only plays with them, but puts them in their mouth as they are teething.

High-Low Nursery


These are special pieces you can cherish forever. They can grow with your baby and are easily transferred to other areas of the home. Try to mix more nursery-like pieces with ones that are not age-specific. Invest more in the latter.


Choose a natural fiber rug at a low cost. Flokati rugs are great for babies because they're so soft – perfect for tummy time and early crawlers. You don't need to invest in an expensive rug, as you're bound to have quite a few spills and these are really easy to clean.


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