Sunday, July 5, 2009

Project Nursey: The Big Reveal and How We Did it on a Budget

Take a look at our baby girl's nursery! We are even more proud of it because we did it ourselves (and with the help of family and friends). Do you want to guess how much it cost to decorate this entire room? If you are thinking around $1500+, try again. Our outlay (excluding the crib and glider, which were gifts) is in the $500 ballpark. Our nursery just looks expensive, but anyone can design a nursery like this on a budget. Ironically, the biggest hurdle is resisting the urge to spend. This being my first pregnancy, I wanted everything to be brand new, designer, and top-of-the-line. Then I came to my senses, realized that the baby does not care if she is sleeping in a $1,000 crib, and that our family would be better off putting that money in a trust fund. Besides, who can really afford to splurge in this recession? Here are my nursery-on-a-budget tips:
  • Step away from baby stores or go with a list and stick to it. Any product that is labeled as a baby item is priced at 500% markup (a bit exaggerated, but it seems that way to me). That $75 everything-but-the-kitchen-sink diaper bag? You can find an equally practical tote or "un"diaper bag for $25 or less. That $40 must-have diaper pail? You can get a similar 5-10-gallon garbage pail for $15. Another reason not to go to the baby store is that you wind up buying a lot of things you don't need. Those places are designed to tug on your emotional heartstrings as an expectant parent and get you to buy, buy, buy! Think...does baby really need a wipe warmer? Skip the hoopla and save your dollars to buy diapers. There is no skimping on these!
  • Shop at discount stores and outlets. Tuesday Morning carries closeout nursery bedding, plus lots of other baby items like blankets and layette sets. Sign up for their eTreasures newsletter to get first dibs on special offers, new arrivals and markdowns. Big Lots, Ross, TJ Maxx and Marshall's are my favorite stores for great deals on decor items like rugs, pillows, lamps, and picture frames as well as baby clothes and toys. Instead of purchasing a nursery collection with matching accessories, which can cost you upwards of $500 or more, pick a few colors or a theme (like underwater or shabby chic) and search for decor pieces that work. I like Target and Wal-Mart as much as the next gal, but you will always find me in the clearance racks. I purchased the shag rug in our nursery for 50% off at Target. You will be surprised at how much more flexibility and value you get when you bargain hunt.
  • Go for second-hand. There are big savings in buying gently used items and even items that someone bought, but never used. Craigslist was my go-to web site for finding baby stuff for sale. I once saw a post for a brand new crib and dresser set for $100 that had only been used for display in a model home, but it was snapped up quickly. Lesson: you have to be vigilant and act fast. I also checked my local thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army. Hand-me-downs are also nice if you can get them. Someone in your family or community might have baby furniture they can pass down to you. We got a custom-built dresser/changer that was offered for free on our neighborhood parents' email list that we painted to match. Freecycle is a good place to look for baby goods that people are giving away. You can also post items that you want. Remember to check the national recall list before you buy or accept a second-hand item like furniture, toys, gear, or clothing. Then inspect the item for damage. Don't be afraid to politely decline an offer if you think it's unsafe to use with your baby.
  • D.I.Y. A little elbow grease can save you big bucks. It takes time, but the feeling that you get from doing it yourself is priceless. If you can sew, knit or quilt, why not make your own bedding, blankets, curtains and pillows? Those wooden hanging letters that cost $15-25 each at baby stores can be found unfinished at a craft store for around $2.50 per letter and then painted. We did this and think it looks better than store-bought! The same goes for painting the nursery. Throw a painting party and invite a few family and close friends over to help you. Murals are very popular right now, but artists charge anywhere from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars. There are several online companies that sell mural kits that come with stencils or transfers that make it easy for you to do it yourself. The mural in our nursery is the Splendid Garden theme available for $100 from My Wonderful Walls (disclosure: I won a gift certificate toward the purchase of the kit from the blog, 3 P's in a Pod). We couldn't be happier with the results! Wall stickers and decals are another inexpensive way to produce the desired effect on your nursery walls.
  • Re-purpose.This may be a little harder to imagine doing, but here is an example. For ten years, we lived in a 750 sq. ft. loft that had no closets, so we bought two armoires. Last year we purchased a 2500 sq ft. house and brought our meager furnishings with us. Our new house has closets (lots of closets), but we kept the armoires anyway. We are now using one in the nursery in lieu of buying a new dresser. So, go rummage in your attic, basement, or garage. You might find a forgotten rocking chair or nightstand that can be painted or re-stained or a floor lamp that fits perfectly to go in your nursery!
Have fun designing your nursery and don't break the bank!

16 comments:

ItsKelly said...

Visiting from SITS! The nursery is beautiful, and I love the tips. Re-sale and DIY are the best. And can I just say... you and your hubby are adorable. That's going to be one cute baby!!

Aunt Julie said...

Beautiful! And Marlie is SUCH a cute name...stopping by from SITS to Share the Comment Love. I agree with you on the baby merchandise markups~for sure!

Maureen said...

OMG that is so beautiful and cute! I LOVE it! It's feminine w/o being fru fru and I love the colors. I want to do something with our room, so I'm going to check out those mural kits. Our room is painted fine, but needs a little omph. This is a really helpful post!

Execumama said...

WOWZERS!!! The colors and decor are simply gorgeous! LOVE IT! I'm sure little Marlie will feel like true royalty in the new castle!! Thanks for sharing. I just need to make sure my girls don't see this, so don't start asking why their rooms aren't fancy too...LOL!

Tiffany said...

Love it!!!!!

The practical spending ideas are helpful I'll keep them in mind in the future...I know to well how quickly impluse shopping can place a large dent inyour pockets :-)

Take care and God Bless -- your neighbor,

Tiffany

Amy @ Six Flower Mom said...

Your room is BEAUTIFUL! I love this post -- having a baby has really become a marketing scam and it is a shame! Babies need love not gadgets!!!

Donna Childree Gotlib said...

You've done a beautiful job. What a great place to begin a life.

Hit 40 said...

Congratulations!!

Beautiful room. You will be spending a lot of time in their at night feeding the baby. Excellent that you fixed it up to look at something pretty at 2 a.m.

Glad you saved the $$$ going discount/second hand. The kid will never know or care. Keep this in mind at Christmas/Bdays until they are older. Folks spend way to much on junky plastic toys that rarely get used.

JaelCustomDesigns said...

Hey there! Visiting from SITS! I love the post! The nursery is beautiful! You gave some great information.

B.o.B. said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Love the baby's room. I always say give purple a chance. Such a soothing and pretty color. After baby arrives and you get some (ok like one hour) free time you can do some short runs.

Tooj said...

That nursery is gorgeous, baby girl will LOVE it. :) You did a wonderful job. And I am SO thankful I never "felt the urge" to splurge on crazy baby gadgets. I grew up with sisters 8 years younger than myself, so getting by on the essentials is what made up my youth. LOL Diapers...clothing sometimes optional, food. Good to go! :) I'm popping over from SITS roll call - happy Humpy Day.

The Redhead Riter said...

aaaaahhhh...That is a beautiful baby's room. You SHOULD be proud of the room and yourselves for not only being frugal, but for doing such a fantastic job. I'm definitely following you so I can see the cute baby toes when the baby is born. :o)

Stopping by from SITS.

...and everything nice said...

Just stopping by from SITS. Your nursery looks fanTASTIC!! Oh my heck, I am loving it! Great job, and thanks for the tips:)

Robbie S. Redmon, LPC said...

You should be very proud of yourself. Marlie's room is beautiful!

Kim @ What's That Smell said...

She is going to LOVE her room, it turned out GORGEOUS.

elise said...

What a beautiful room!!!