Not so much $$$ does not have to mean ugly nursery.
Here's how we did the changing table for under $15.
This is the desk we got from Goodwill for $5 several years ago. Just a normal writing desk... most thrift stores usually have at least a couple.
We removed the drawers and drawer pulls sanded it down, so there was no more gloss from the previous varnish. It looked cool like that, and I considered just leaving it like that, but decided not to.
Done sanding, we took a damp cloth and went over all the surfaces, to remove any remaining sawdust.
Then, filled the knob holes with wood putty. I did not go all the way through, as you will see in the picture. Basically just enough for it to look fine from the front. (After my dad saw it, he said I probably should've done the whole hole- he's probably right. Maybe someday I will go fill it from the inside.... but knowing my track record, probably not.) I had to fill the front a couple times, because as it dried, the putty sunk in, leaving a tiny crater. After it was filled smooth to my satisfaction, I sanded away any extra lumps I didn't get scraped away while the putty was wet.
Then we got to paint! It took about 3 coats of Satin/Eggshell paint. I didn't want it too glossy, and abhor flat paint, especially the feel of it. The Eggshell was just exactly what I imagined. We used what was left over from the wall "decal" birch trees we did in the nursery.
Next, we inserted the drawer pulls from Hobby Lobby. Each one cost about $2.50. Beautiful, however they had really long screws, and would've stuck out inside the drawer.
I took them over to my dad's (unfortunately did not get pictures of this part of the process.) and he used his screw-cutter to cut them off. We also had to drill a space just wide enough for the nut on the back, but not so deep that the screw would come through. About half-way through the drawer. Here's what it looks like from the inside.
Put it all together, and here's our beautiful changing table!
The changing table pad on top was blank, and I made the cover for it following this excellent changing table pad cover tutorial. Although I will say, she's right, you do need more elastic. I don't know exactly how much I used, but it was more than three feet. Just FYI.