Nautical Nursery Design: The Big Reveal!

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“Of all the rooms in the house, this is my favorite,” my husband said as he sat back in the glider in Baby Bee’s nursery.  With the white noise machine set to “ocean” and Noodle playing contentedly in the corner, I too felt calm and relaxed in this new space.

Of course I was elbow deep in changing Bee’s diaper, but even in that pose the comment meant so much.  I put a lot of time into each detail.  Almost everything here was something I crafted or repurposed.  Everything seemed to come together and now it’s one of our favorite spots!

Let’s take a quick trip back in time.  A few months ago, this room was an office that looked a little something like this:

::: The BEFORE :::

Not a great space for a baby, right?  The dark walls made it feel like a cave, and the wires and clutter didn’t help either.  We decided to have a nautical theme but didn’t want to go “overboard” (get it?).  We wanted a ‘light’ nautical theme, so here’s our “Nod to Nautical” Nursery!

:: The AFTER photos ::

Here are a few photos to show the major parts, and then I’ll break it down so you can see the details:

the reading nook with repurposed bookrack
The Changing Area

Since this is a utilitarian area, I tried to make it bright and interesting while keeping it organized and easy to use.  Both form and function were important here!


I had a seller on Etsy make a custom vinyl initial for Baby Bee.  I don’t know why but I had this design stuck in my head and had to have it just so!  The seller was great and worked with me to make it perfect.

I’ve had these coral hooks from Anthropologie for years but never had a spot for them.  Now they hold Bee’s growth chart from Ink Tree Press and towels.

Couldn’t find a nautical trash can in the stores so I had to make one.  Tutorial here!
One of my favorite times of the day is when I get Bee ready for bed.  This was a gift from a friend, and each night I sing to Bee and give him a baby massage using the calming oil.  It’s the only time of the day he is truly relaxed!  I’ll be sad when he’s too old to enjoy those magical moments.

A friend made a set of burp cloths for Bee.  You have no idea how much we use them!

Next up is the “book nook” complete with a Pottery Barn knock-off bookrack I made from an old plate holder.   When I saw it in a thrift store I knew I needed it, and the scalloped edge reminds me of waves.  Tutorial here!!
{by the way, it used to look like this:}
The bookcase is topped with a weathervane I bought years ago on sale at Target.  The yellow pony was my toy when I was a baby, and the book is a nod to my husband’s favorite team.  
These frames are just waiting for photos of Bee’s fingers and toes!  The one on the right was snagged while thrifting, and the one on the left was a gift from my aunt to remind us of our favorite place: the Outer Banks.
toy, book, and burp cloth storage
Most of the time this is what it looks like, plus a baby on the quilt.  When he’s ready I’ll makeover a children’s chair for this corner.  I’m not ready for him to be ready for that yet!

Valances are still on my to-do list, but I did add this sweet {and easy!} little detail: custom vinyl decals on roller shades that say “Good Night” and “Sleep Tight”.  Please don’t judge me on having roller shades; this room gets direct sunlight in the morning so we needed blackout shades.  I found them for a great price at IKEA and they work really well!

They’ll look much better once I add the valances in this ship fabric:

The Snuggling Area

Next up is the snuggling area where I feed Bee each night.  This has to be one of the most comfortable chairs ever!  We got it in a neutral color so that we can use it in other spaces at a later point in time.  It swivels and reclines.  I’m sure soon enough Bee will be spinning around on it all by himself!

I made this bolster pillow and it’s the perfect size for supporting Bee while I feed him.  Tutorial coming soon (um, on making the pillow.  Not on feeding Bee).  😉

Bubbles.  These were super easy and I made them using embroidery hoops and fabric.  Simple, easy, cheap!

I had two mismatched shadow boxes, so I painted one white and put matching fabric backing in both.  One holds a quote from The Little Prince, in memory of my father-in-law who passed away exactly a month before Bee was born.

Whoops!  Who snuck in there?  I repurposed this vintage mirror to match the room.

{pssstt… it used to look like this:}
The Sleeping Area

I’m superstitious about putting things above the crib, so I didn’t.  I also know hanging anything on the wall by the crib could easily become a “toys” for Bee once he gets older and I’d rather not risk it!

Here’s the crib bedding.  The bumpers have since been removed because Bee is moving and grooving in there!  Don’t want him to be unsafe. {EDITED TO ADD: the bumpers are now BACK. The babe kept getting limbs stuck out the slats and banging his head on the sides so it’s back up. He’s been much happier since the reinstatement!}

I told you I’m obsessed with this pattern.  When I saw it on clearance at Babies R Us I had to get it.  That fabric inspired the color palette for the room!

I store quilts and the sound machine (with two kids, that’s a must!) here.  See that photo?  A dear friend won it in a giveaway and then gifted it to me when Bee was born!  The table used to be a side table in the guest room, so I painted it a pale blue and thought it’d be good for storage.  The wavy edge evokes the ocean (or is that pushing the theme a bit too much?)

Closet and Storage

The closet will have to be a whole other post, but basically we removed a broken old shelf and installed a new one.  I added a few other details and now everything we need is close at hand:

The handles used to be brass.  We didn’t have time to replace the doors, so I just spray painted the handles silver.  I had to put the filigree piece back on because the doors were scratched underneath.

Talk about cheap storage!  We put all Bee’s hats, loveys, and shoes in a clear over-the-door shoe holder so they are easy to see and grab.

This is what the room looked like for months as I collected everything.  Note the ugly overhead light fixture:

We fixed that!  I love love love this overhead light that we got for super cheap.  It took 20 minutes to install.  SUCH a difference!

Here’s a simple idea I used throughout our home.  For about $2, you can update your light fixtures and outlets to look much snazzier than the builder’s grade ones that came with the {old} house.  Doesn’t that look so much better?


I think this room feels so good to us because of all the love we put into it.  Hours of thinking, painting, sewing, collecting, gluing… it was so so worth it just to see the smile of Bee’s face.  And oh, that smile!
Related Posts:
Part One: Inspiration Board for a Nautical Nursery
Tutorial: Book Rack from a Vintage Dish Rack

Cost Breakdown
The entire room cost about $500, rug, paint and bookcase included– but not including the crib/dresser/chair which were gifts.

starfish frames: $13 for starfish, frames were free ($13)
mirror: $2 for thrift shop mirror, .50 for trim ($2)
furniture (chair, crib, dresser): gift from mother-in-law (free)
bubbles on wall: $7 for hoops, $5 for fabric ($12)
bolster pillow: $10 for pillow form, $7 for fabric ($17)
vinyl decals: $33 from Etsy ($33)
white side table: repurposed from another room (free)
behind the door storage: clear shoe holder from Walmart ($8)
crib bedding: $15 on sale at BRU ($15)
changing pad: handed down from a friend (free)
changing pad cover: $7 on sale at BRU ($7)
book rack: repurposed plate rack from thrift shop ($4)
light blocking shades: $19 each ($38)
trash can: supplies from IKEA and Walmart ($7)
paint for trim and closet: free sample from Glidden
bookcase: on sale at Target ($99)
accessories (baskets, books, toys, step stool, picture frames): all free from other rooms!
cloud light fixture: ($29)
rug: remnant from rug discounter ($150)
paint and supplies: ($100)

Total cost: about $500 total

{Isn’t this the loveliest button ever?  I’ve linked it to Layla’s Room Re-Do Party at The Lettered Cottage:}
The Lettered Cottage
{Linked to Get Your Craft On at Today’s Creative Blog}

{linked to the CSI Project!}
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