How to transform a nursery into a toddler room on a budget

Well-considered choices at the nursery stage can make the transition to toddler room an easy one.
Well-considered choices at the nursery stage can make the transition to toddler room an easy one. Photo: Toucan Online

When styling a nursery, your own personal aesthetic may be compromised by objects you'll want to update as your child grows. They key is to start with an adaptable nursery set-up if you're making a lot of the choices from scratch and don't want to spend a lot when transforming the room to suit a toddler.

Natalie and Renee Muscatallo, founders and designers of interior products boutique Toucan, have shared their top tips on how to make the leap from nursery to toddler room so style isn't compromised in the transition.

Photo: Toucan

Paint and wall decoration

When designing a nursery, many parents-to-be prefer a non-gender specific, neutral paint colour. Cutesy paint colours and wallpaper designs are often very shortlived, so choose carefully if longevity is what you're seeking. That said, if you're willing to re-paint, get adventurous and go for that yellow or bright blue you've been admiring.

Affordable artwork is easy to change and makes maximum impact in baby and toddler rooms. Buy sweet baby prints for the nursery, then change them up to suit your toddler. You don't even have to frame them - use poster hangers to rotate artwork in next to no time.

Wall decals are also a temporary and effective visual for the walls - there are many temporary but hardy wallpapers on the market now.

Garlands are a great way to add dimension and interest to a toddler's walls, as well as making the room feel a little more mature. There are plenty to choose from online, or make your own - just make sure they're kept high out of the reach of little hands.



Select versatile pieces of furniture that can be re-purposed and adapt to suit each growth spurt. There are many transformable pieces available such as:

  • cots which become toddler beds
  • chairs that grow with your child (e.g. Stokke Tripp Trapp starts off as a baby highchair, toddler chair, older kid chair and eventually a desk chair for your high schooler)
  • change tables with drawers underneath - simply remove the top change table attachment and you have a chest of drawers for their bedroom.

Add moveable items like bookshelves, a small table and chair set, a rug and a teepee so toddlers can interact with a space that has grown with their needs and interests.

Bed linen

Big kids love choosing bed linen and it's so easy to change it to create a whole new look in seconds. There are many fun designs available for kids ;which make the room look oh-so mature. 

Bed linen choice is an opportunity to be bold and branch out with colour selection. Toddlers will love to get involved and choose their own design, though a word to the wise: make a shortlist of ones you like for them to choose from, otherwise you could end up with something you can't bear to look at.

Photo: Toucan

Sentimental items, books and toys

Whether it's your baby's booties, rattle or first story book, there's no reason to put baby's items away during the toddler years. Frame them and showcase their first year of life by placing in frames on a feature wall.

A personalised name or birth print is a nice touch for a toddler learning to recognise his or her own name.

Rotate books and toys so they can rediscover them at regular intervals. Too many on display at once is overwhelming for a toddler.

Photo: Natalie and Renee Muscatallo of Toucan

- with Suzi Catchpole