Update: I’m so grateful for all the buzz this post has been getting but should mention that this is not actually the first post in the series.  You can click on the tab at the top or here to see the other Baby on a Budget posts I’ve done so far. I’ve covered things like cloth diapering, making your own wipes, using second hand items and how my kid pays for himself!


Baby on a Budget is a series of posts that I’m doing to share all the ways we’ve managed to save money while bringing up our baby.  When I read the stats about how much money new parents supposedly spend getting ready for a baby and caring for a baby in its first years, I cringe! I can certainly see how it happens though…. These posts are meant to help you stay away from that awfully high number!!

I think it’s really natural, especially for new moms, to want to do up a spectacular nursery for their children.  I was no exception. In fact, home design happens to be a bit of a passion of mine so I was really looking forward to being able to work on the nursery!

When we found out we were pregnant, only about 50% of our home was renovated and in a liveable (for a baby) state.  We had been planning to go on a great all-inclusive vacation for our 5th anniversary and had saved up the money to do so but changed our plans a month before said anniversary when we realized we were pregnant and spent the money on our kitchen renovation instead. That took care of the first floor. The upper floor was completely undone, with only the main bathroom finished.  We were sleeping in the future nursery at that point because it was less torn apart than the master bedroom.  Most of the upstairs needed to be re-drywalled, including some ceilings and that had to be done before we could carpet the entire second floor. Things were down to the wire but thanks to a lot of help from our friends and family we got things done just in time. The second floor was carpeted on a Friday, we worked on the nursery that Saturday, Sunday and Monday (it was a long weekend) and our son was born that Saturday.  It was crazy but it all worked out wonderfully.

Me (and Tiki) at 34 weeks pregnant in our master bedroom just after it was re-drywalled and prior to being painted and carpeted. Baby boy came along 5 weeks later!

As I mentioned, I love home design. I’m not particularly amazing at it but I get a few compliments on my home and I enjoy doing what I can on a budget. I tried to keep the cost of the nursery down and use items that we already had. I was successful in that regard and absolutely love how it turned out!  You can scroll down to the bottom if you want to skip all the details and get straight to the budget breakdown.

Long before I was pregnant, I had begun somewhat of an alphabet collection without a clear idea of what I intended to do with them. I’ve always loved a good alphabet wall and picked up letters whenever I saw them on clearance at HomeSense or anywhere else.  As soon as I began planning out the nursery, I knew there had to be an alphabet wall! I used what letters I already had, ordered a few from Urban Outfitters and made a bunch myself.  My husband even contributed by bending some copper pipe into an ampersand. :)

The entire nursery design was born when I found the rug (peaking out from under the crib) for $40 at HomeSense. I had been looking for some inspiration and was having a hard time.  I wanted something somewhat gender neutral even though we knew we were having a boy so that I wouldn’t have to change it too dramatically when we have another kid. I was drawn to the colour combination of the rug and when I saw the price I was sold on it! After living with it on the floor for a few weeks we weren’t in love with the rug anymore.  It kept moving around and wrinkling up because it is just light and woven like a heavy throw. So, I cut it in two, hemmed up the sides and sewed a pocket into the top- voila, curtains!

The chandelier was an ugly light fixture that had been passed down through two other family members to us. It was wrought iron and had tulip shaped frosted glass bulb covers.  I removed the frosted glass covers and spray painted the entire fixture lime green (I taped off the part that the bulbs screw into so it would stay white). I purchased funky shaped halogen bulbs and called it a day! I love the light fixture!!

The crib was a gift to us from my in-laws.  They had wanted to purchase something ‘bigger’ for us and asked what we needed. We asked if they would purchase the crib for us and they bought exactly what we had planned to buy! Even if we had bought it, it wouldn’t have broken the bank. This is the Gulliver crib from Ikea and cost $139.99.  I had originally planned to buy the $79.99 Sniglar crib and paint it white but when they found out that we were going to paint it they asked if they could just buy the more expensive white crib so we wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of painting it- which of course we were fine with. :) I don’t recall which crib mattress they went with, but it is also from Ikea and their prices start as low as $39.99.   They also gifted us the bumper pads which I’ve used more like a crib skirt.  I do have one bumper pad up where it is supposed to be as my son is always moving up to the one end of the crib and mashing his head against the side…

Our nursery doubles as a guest bedroom for overnight guests since we currently only have two bedrooms.

We already had the bed and night table which my grandfather had given to us when he downsized to a smaller home.   They were both a darker wood colour (laminated) and we painted them both white to match the room better.  The lamp (which now has a lampshade) came from my Grandpa too. :) I picked up the bedding on clearance at HomeSense the same time we got the rug.  Since this is the bed that overnight guests have to stay in, I wanted the room to be able to pass for a guest bedroom to some extent as well.  The curtain has since been replaced by the rug retrofit that I mentioned above.

I needed some art for this wall and had been holding onto some awesome die cut, swirly scrapbook pages for some time just waiting for the right thing to do with them.  I grabbed some square canvasses that I also already had, centred  the scrapbook pages on them and the art for the wall was done.  I’m planning to tweak them a bit as they look a bit unfinished to me but they’re OK the way they are for now.  I’ve since also hung up some old toys from when I was a kid and the rainbow coloured, venetian glass clock that you can just barely see in the picture.

The dresser that we use as a change table was another hand me down from my Grandpa. We painted it blue and I’ve since bought some lime green pulls for it from Ikea. We screwed a hook onto the side closest to the door to hang wet bags for our cloth diapers.  Using gift cards that we got at our baby shower, we bought an inexpensive change pad and cover to sit on top of the dresser.  We picked up the shelf above from Home Depot for $20.  The shelf and the top dresser drawer house all of our diaper changing supplies.

Because of the awkward room layout, we ended up having to remove the closet door and replaced it with a curtain.  We were able to use an inexpensive brown curtain and a cheap, ugly curtain rod since it’s hidden on the inside of the closet anyways.

I made the ‘mobile’ above the change table myself. I used some coloured string that I think is meant for kids’ beading projects and strung objects onto them.  The ceramic letters were in a clearance bin at Michaels and were all marked at 49 cents except for one that was marked at 99 cents.  There are yarn-covered styrofoam balls, different shapes of fun foam and pom poms strung in various orders.  I tried to make them most interesting when viewed from below.  I then screwed eyelet hooks into the bottom of the shelf and tied each string to a hook.

Budget Breakdown:

Paint- this was a large expense since we had to paint the walls, trim and ceiling along with the bed, dresser and side table. We spent about $100 on paint.  I used spray paint that we already had from other projects for any of the lime green accessories.

Craft Supplies and Letters- Definitely the biggest expense in this room though hard to quantify because I had so many items on hand already. I spent close to $200 on the craft supplies and letters I bought when putting this room together. This is not including the letters that I already had.  11 of the letters were bought specifically for this wall and the rest I either made or already had (already had 4 of them I think). I still tweaked several of the letters that I bought by adding supplies to them or painting them etc.

Rug- $40

Shelf- $20

Bed, side table and dresser: Free

Light Fixture- $10 for bulbs

Closet Curtain- $30

Crib, crib bedding, change pad and cover- Free as gifts. Don’t be afraid to tell people what you need or exactly what you’d like. People want to give you gifts that you actually want and need.

Bedding for Double Bed- $70

Total: $470

So that’s my cheapo nursery that, I think, turned out pretty great! If you’d like to see more of it, it’s been featured on Spearmint Baby and Apartment Therapy’s Ohdeedoh.

Cause he's just so darn cute!

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11 Responses to Baby On A Budget: Furnishing the Nursery

  1. Echo says:

    Nice job with the nursery! We’re expecting baby #2 in a few months (our first born is nearly 3) and haven’t started getting the baby room ready yet. Hopefully we won’t have to spend as much getting ready for our second child :)

  2. [...] Preserving Pennies kicks off a new series called baby on a budget [...]

  3. Sleepydad says:

    Nice looking nursery! I’m going to have to take some pictures of ours as well…. eventually…

    • Marianne says:

      Thanks! I’m glad that I got these pictures taken before my son came around because once he had come the only chance I had to do anything was when he was sleeping- and that meant his room was out of bounds! I’ve changed several things since these pictures were taken but haven’t had a chance to update the pics.

  4. [...] the first in a series of blog posts entitled Baby on a Budget. The first post is on how to furnish a nursery with limited funds. Post a comment [...]

  5. Nice room! I love how you managed to combine the guest room and nursery. We intend on doing the same thing. I was thinking of using a futon for the guests – but I love how you incorporated a full size bed (and surely it’s more comfortable!)

    • Marianne says:

      It’s really great to have a bed in the nursery for yourself as well. I didn’t use it often but there were a few nights that it was just easier to sleep in there- mostly when the baby was up a lot and my husband had a long work day ahead of him.

  6. Jerry says:

    Love the nursery! This reminds me of when we had our first and we painted her room all green, too! It leads me to think about having another one :) Well, thinking about all the costs associated with several little ones is insurance it won’t happen anytime soon. Best wishes to you!

  7. This is one of the most awesome nurseries I have ever seen. Even more achievement when considering your budget. Very nice work.

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