Both my partner and I have a fondness for the ocean. I was raised near to it, and grew up spending my summers at the beach. His is a unique love - he programs autonomous underwater vehicles and spends the majority of his days dealing with the sea in one way or another. We decided to translate that fondness into a nursery for our child. At the time, we did not know the gender so we wanted to keep it somewhat neutral, and wanted a feeling of calm peacefulness, silky sand, and clean ocean air.
The oceanside. The feeling of the sand beneath little toes. The wonder of all the ocean holds.
I like a mix of contemporary/modern and vintage, clean, airy, yet with small points of color.
We chose to include things found along the shoreline, things found in the deep of the ocean, and things of a personal nature to our family. In an effort to be environmentally conscious, the wardrobe and bureaus were hand-me-down pieces, the crib, glider and end table were purchased secondhand on Craigslist. A few items small items (bookshelf, rug, curtains and lamps) were purchased new. Since we like to support small businesses, the majority of our accent pieces were found on Etsy: quilt (http://www.etsy.com/shop/alamodefabric), artwork (http://www.etsy.com/shop/maiaart, http://www.etsy.com/shop/sycamorestreetpress), accent pieces and stuffed animals (http://www.etsy.com/shop/Bixie, http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheWoodGarden, http://www.etsy.com/shop/laundrymonster, http://www.etsy.com/shop/EcoChicHandKnits, http://www.etsy.com/shop/Danielleorama). The paint is Benjamin Moore: Ocean Air (walls) and Sea Foam (ceiling).
I made the shelf above the changing table from reclaimed wood, and knobs found on sale at Anthropologie. I also made the small pull-along boat, buying a vintage item, repainting it and adding wheels.
I think the shelf I made is my favorite. I finished and installed it two days before my daughter was born - just in time!
I think it's important not to get too caught up in what "should" be there. Focus on the little things you love and it will come together. Not everything has to follow a theme. Life certainly doesn't!