For first-time mom-to-be Roclyn Otani, the starting point was a fluffy pink shag rug made of soft cotton pieces.
The rug, which she ordered online, makes up the centerpiece of her baby girl’s nursery. It’s flanked by an espresso-colored crib and dresser topped with a bookcase.
There also is, of course, a comfy, glider rocking chair, considered essential for feeding baby in the small but cozy room.
An assortment of stuffed animals — a giraffe, monkey and rabbit — add a touch of whimsy to the space, which is decorated in shades of pink, black-patterned drapes and a matching pillow from Manuhealii.
Otani, of Waipahu, added unique touches, like a row of Precious Moments figurines on the bookcase and a sheep wind chime from Cinnamon Girl dangling from the curtain rod.
On one wall is a decal of a tree filled with birds, and over the crib are more decals with the words: "Star light. Star bright. First star I see tonight."
Otani, who is due in late September, bought the furniture from Kids Corner in Honolulu but shopped for other items at local stores and online sites, including Ohana Daze in Mililani, Babies R Us in Pearl City, mysweetmuffin.com and eBay. While she splurged on the carpet, she also found a few accessories — a dark wicker basket and an adorable elephant figurine — from Ross.
It took Otani a few months to pull together a sweet room for her daughter, who will be named Brooklyn.
"It was fun," she said. "It’ll be fun for my next one, too. If it’s a boy, it’ll be a whole new experience."
BABY BARGAIN TIPS
» Instead of a separate changing table, go for a combination dresser/changing table which has dual uses.
» Shop for some pieces secondhand or at a regular furniture store instead of a specialty baby store for better prices.
» Think long term and choose items that will grow with the child, such as a convertible crib that later becomes a toddler bed.
» Floor models can sometimes be purchased at a discount.
» Know how to sew? Make your own curtains, valances and wall art.
» Order the crib early. If the store doesn’t carry the preferred model and color in stock, shipments can take anywhere between four to six weeks to arrive, and special orders take six to 10 weeks.
Source: Star-Advertiser research; Baby Bargains
Before buying a used crib, make sure it has not been recalled. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website at www.cspc.gov. Sign up for e-mail recall updates at www.recalls.gov.
In the last five years, the commission has announced 11 recalls involving more than 7 million drop-side cribs due to suffocation and strangulation hazards. The problem in most cases had to do with faulty hardware.
The agency has determined that drop-side cribs in general tend to be less structurally sound than fixed-side cribs. Many manufacturers stopped selling drop-side cribs in June to comply with a new voluntary industry standard.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers these tips:
» Do not use any crib with missing, broken or loose parts. Use a crib that meets federal safety regulations.
» The mattress should fit tightly. There should be no more than two fingers’ width between the mattress edge and crib side.
» The space between slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches to avoid head entrapment and strangulation.
» Corner posts should extend no more than one-sixteenth of an inch above the top of the end panel. Cutouts at the top edge of footboard and headboard are not recommended.
» Make sure all screws, bolts and hardware are present and tight.
Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, "The Safe Nursery"
BABY GEAR FOR SALE
Specialty merchants mentioned in this story:
» Kids Corner, 345 N. Nimitz Highway; 585-6909
» Ohana Daze, 95-1249 Meheula Parkway, Suite 148, Mililani; 625-7774
» Babies R Us, 1150 Kuala St., Pearl City; 454-8438
» Baby Emporium, 614 Cooke St.; 596-4868
» Baby aWEARness, 2752 Woodlawn Drive; 988-0010
Tom Kim, owner of Baby Emporium in Honolulu, said trends for baby nurseries have shifted to a more practical approach. Five years ago, parents-to-be pulled out all the stops to outfit a nursery, insisting on coordinated accessories and, in some cases, hiring a muralist to paint a custom design on walls or ceilings.
Today, instead of painting animals, nature scenes, choo-choo trains and other tableaux on the walls, parents are more likely to use decals, which cost $10 to $18 a set, as a less expensive and more sensible option, since they can be removed when baby outgrows them.
IN A TIGHT economy, most parents are focusing on two priorities: safety and price.
The two main furniture pieces most parents buy are a crib and a combination dresser/changing table or dresser. A glider rocker is also popular, but anything else is considered extra.
Cribs can range from $150 to $350 for a basic model, while high-end designer models (including the contemporary-style round ones that are in current fashion) can cost $800 to $1,000 and up.
Expect to pay $300 to $500 or more for a matching dresser, and about the same for a gliding rocker.
Baby Emporium carries a line of cribs made in the U.S. and certified by the Greenguard Environmental Institute for low chemical emissions at a cost of about $799. In the same vein, organic cotton or bamboo mattresses are gaining favor over foam-lined versions, at a price of between $189 to $299, according to Kim.
When the baby comes along, however, caring for the newborn takes priority over nursery decor, and diapers will be parents’ top necessity, according to doula (certified mom’s helper) Tammy Uva.
Newborns can sleep in a simple bassinet for the first four months, she said. Co-Sleeper bassinets set up right next to mom’s bed for safety and ease of breast-feeding at night.
Don’t have a theme for your baby nursery yet? The starting point is often a piece of furniture, bedding or artwork.
Ashley Lukens, the mother of 18-month-old Audrey and co-owner of the Baby aWEARness boutique in Manoa, was aiming for an eco-shabby chic nursery at her East Honolulu townhome.
She selected a crib and changing table set in dark pine and white made of all-sustainable woods and nontoxic paints, as well as a handmade, organic futon mattress from the Big Island.
Luckily she found a used crib and table online and got a great deal at half the price. The crib, if purchased brand new, would have cost upward of $1,000.
For the walls she used a light blue low-VOC paint that releases no or minimal volatile organic compound pollutants and is virtually odor free. Owl decals and shimmery, floral-print purple drapes complete the room.
Audrey’s room is simple but colorful, with very little plastic in it (in fact, Lukens requested a plastic-free baby shower).
Instead, there is a minisofa; a basket of fabric-stuffed animals; a collection of colorful, hand-knit blankets; an all-birchwood kitchen play set; and cloth diapers. The kitchen set is an heirloom toy, Lukens said, that Audrey will be able to pass on to her own daughter one day.
CREATIVITY CAN be key for parents on a budget.
Lisa Hoang, owner of Simply Baby Photography, recently gave birth to her third son, Oliver. She made infant-sized sheet sets for him from recycled twin sheets and plans to turn a painter’s drop cloth into curtains.
Instead of splurging a mattress made of organic materials for $100 or more, she opted for a natural foam, plant-based one for $65 from Amazon.com (with free shipping) and will cover it with an organic, wool puddle pad.
Ross is a great place to find deals on accent pieces like picture frames and mirrors, she said, while etsy.com offers handcrafted crib sets, stuffed toys and bunting at reasonable prices.
On Craigslist Hoang found a $15 deal on a solid-wood dresser with a broad top — ideal for use as a changing table — that she refinished in antique white. Another great Craigslist find was a $15 child’s rocker in white.
"It’s one of the things I love about shopping secondhand: You can find things on Craigslist and thrift stores that you’d never see in a furniture store here, whether it’s a recent Pottery Barn table or a mod-style Victorian chair," Hoang said.
Jennifer Johnson, interior designer and co-owner of Pacific Home, says another popular trend is to mix patterns, giving nurseries a more sophisticated look.
Pastels are no longer mandatory, she said, leaving room for bold colors to burst into baby nurseries.
"Think happy colors," she said. If the infant’s gender is unknown, this can include turquoise, yellow or green for an accent wall.
For smaller rooms, it’s best not to overdecorate, she said. Johnson recommends limiting furnishings to just three pieces and opting for wall-mounted shelves instead of bookcases.
Baby rooms also can be combined with a guest room with the addition of a sleeper sofa or chairs that convert into a twin bed.