The First 5 Steps to Plan a Nursery

Disclaimer: Neither of us are pregnant, so don’t let the title fool you!! Keep reading for more details… 

Up until a few months ago, all things nursery were pretty foreign to us! Casey helped a bit with her nephew’s nursery, and we’ve seen lots of gorgeous baby spaces around the blogosphere, but beyond that, we were (and still are) a bit clueless.

But a few months ago when B’s sister recruited the DIY Playbook to help her prep her then office for the arrival of her little one in early July, we had no choice but to dive in to all things baby (temporarily)!

We instantly started planning a space Katie, her husband, and their future baby would l-o-v-e. Of course we still have a TON to learn about baby decor, but we have learned one thing while planning this space — the world of babies and nurseries and products and research and reviews is a TAD overwhelming. Throw some pregnancy hormones into that mix, and we can imagine that designing a nursery can be a pretty daunting task for any expecting mother… especially with a DEADLINE looming in the distance (hello due date!).

Get started with these first 5 steps to plan a nursery!To try to support these new moms in creating a space they love, without feeling totally overwhelmed and frustrated, we have created a 5 step plan to getting started in this space. We hope new moms will follow these 5 steps in order to create a  “vision” for the room. This vision will help them plan accordingly, register accordingly, and quite frankly create a nursery they love.

Rumor has it that these adorable new moms will be spending lottttsssss of time (including lots of late nights) in this space, so we think it’s pretty important that the room is one that they love and feel comfortable in.

Starting a Pinterest board is one of the first 5 steps to plan a nursery.1. Start a Pinterest board and note what you love: The first thing we instructed Katie to do was start checking out Pinterest for inspiration. We told her to create a board (a secret board works too!) so that she can pin all of the ideas that she was drawn to. More specifically, we told her that when she pinned an image, we wanted her to note in the description exactly what she liked about each pin (ie. paint color, crib style, gallery wall, room layout, etc.). After pinning away for a few days or weeks, we could all go back and look at what styles, notes, or ideas kept recurring and try to build our design from there. Also, looking at the board as a whole helped us look at what colors, textures, and finishes she was most drawn to, which really helped us narrow down her style.

Part b of step 1 of first 5 steps to plan a nursery is to note what your favorite part of the Pin is.

Warning: Pinterest is a GREAT resource and we encourage others to see it as a positive tool to get started. By NO means do we think that your nursery needs to be a carbon copy of your inspiration from Pinterest NOR do we ever think you should compare your space to Pinterest and feel less about yourself. Use Pinterest as a tool and a motivator, but never compare your space…. there’s no room for a negative comparison trap during this happy and special time. Whatever you decide your nursery to be is absolutely PERFECT because it will be home to your perfect baby.

Step 2 of first 5 steps to plan a nursery is to get a feel for your style!Image via Restoration Hardware 

2. Get a feel for your style: The Pinterest board will help you navigate the direction of your nursery’s design. Is the board feeling light and glam ,or is it more rustic chic, or maybe it’s more preppy and bright? Whatever feel and style you get from the initial board should start to evolve into that room’s “theme”. We put theme in quotes because we don’t necessarily think a nursery needs to be limited to revolving around one item, animal, or place.

Keep your theme relaxed and focused on a style rather than one object is a suggestion of first 5 steps to plan a nursery.Image via East Coast Creative 

Instead, we like the idea of incorporating those favorite items, animals, or places but keeping the theme more relaxed and focused on the style rather than one item. For example, Katie mentioned that she wanted her nursery to be outdoorsy. Instead of focusing on one item of the outdoors throughout the whole space (let’s say like only camping), we are choosing to focus on rustic with hints of camping and outdoors. See the difference?! We aren’t judging you if you have one specific theme in the whole nursery (remember, if the mom is happy that’s all that counts), we just like the idea of making the theme more general, so you can use some of these pieces of decor far beyond just the nursery. Heck, if things go as planned in Katie’s rustic nursery, we’re hoping she can transition some of the decor items, baskets, pillows, textiles, etc. to other parts of her house down the road.

Step 3 of the first 5 steps to plan a nursery is to purchase or register for the big furniture!Image via Cozy Cottage Cute

3. Purchase/Register for the big furniture (crib, rocker, dresser): Now that you have a general style, you can start to purchase or register for the large items. Like we just mentioned, we think it’s important (and most economical) to purchase items that can potentially work in this space much longer than only this nursery stage. We recently found out that there are crib sets that transition into twin-sized beds! We also think that purchasing a dresser that is stylish and can be transitioned into childhood, teenage years, and possibly beyond is a better fit than a baby dresser that you’re going to ditch in a few years. Choosing items that are versatile and don’t always scream “BABY” will help you avoid that “matchy-matchy” look and may just find themselves serving another purpose somewhere else in the house later on.

Making a mood board is the fourth step of the first 5 steps to plan a nursery.4. Make a Mood Board: You all know we are huge fans of mood boards, especially in the initial design plans for a space. We like to include wall colors, a rug option, large furniture, art ideas, and even a few accessories to get a feel for the colors, style, and overall feel of the room before starting to shop. We create our mood boards using Polyvore (tutorial coming soon) and we suggest taking this step when designing your space too. We promise Polyvore is so easy to use…. like if you can drag and drop, you can handle creating one of your own. Plus they are FREE to make so we highly recommend giving it a try. This way you can literally visualize the room before making any more purchases.

5. Print or screen shot this mood board while you shop: Another thing we learned over the last few months… EVERYTHING is cute and adorable when it comes to baby decor. We literally want to buy it alllll because it’s so hard to resist all of the cuteness! But having that specific mood board will keep you on track and encourage you to ONLY buy items that fit within your nursery’s look and not just buy to buy.

We encouraged Katie to literally PRINT out the mood board for her purse and save it to her phone for quick reference while out shopping. That way she knew the general colors, style, prints, and pillows we were going for and she didn’t spend money on ALL the cute baby stuff that may not actually make it into the rustic nursery.

So clearly the planning has begun for Katie’s nursery, and we couldn’t be more excited to share our progress with you guys as her due date draws near.


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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