The $100 Nursery Project

These days, I’m having a lot of fun working on our nursery and getting ready for a baby.  (Side note, in case you missed the story, we’re planning on adopting.  Soon, hopefully.  But no updates on that yet.) Part of me thinks I should wait until we get matched with a child, but part of me thinks we should be prepared.  And, let’s face it.  It’s a lot of fun to work on getting prepared for a baby!  While it’s more common to have a few months to get ready after being matched with birth parents and a child, it’s also possible that we could get a call tomorrow and have a baby within a couple weeks.  Crazy, huh?  So while I don’t want to get too carried away, my hopeful practical side says it would be nice to be prepared sooner rather than later.  Just in case.


Well, being prepared has a few logistical issues.  I mean, since we’re hoping to adopt, we don’t know if we’ll have a boy or girl.  We don’t know if we’ll have a newborn or a toddler.  So this nursery needs to be able to fit a range of ages for either gender.   There are just so many unknown things… luckily, both Ben and I prefer gender-neutral things.  We don’t particularly care for nurseries will really strong themes.  Noah’s Ark or Farm Animals or Princesses?  No.  Thank you.  And, along those lines, that is good that we don’t want a theme, because we’re pretty frugal and I just can’t picture us spending several hundred dollars on a matching nursery set.  I predict that we’ll have a very DIY, second-hand, but adorable nursery.   🙂


(Note – I’d like to add… we know we could spend more on this nursery.  We aren’t broke.  But this is a fun challenge, and I enjoy getting creative to see how great we can make things while saving our money for more important things.  Like adoption.  Or travel.  But anyway… back to the blog post.)


Why the extreme frugality, you may wonder?  Well, adoptions aren’t cheap, folks.  The average adoption in the US runs around $30,000.  Seriously.  So I decided to set a personal challenge of $100 to decorate the nursery.  While the nursery is not completed, it’s definitely starting to take shape.


So.  As much as I’d love to go out and buy a brand new Oeuf Sparrow Crib (le sigh),  the sad fact is that would pay for 25% of our adoption home study, which is a bit more important.  So, we’re keeping our existing sleigh crib in natural finish, purchased second-hand during my first pregnancy over 3 years ago.  We also have an antique dresser that I repainted a couple years ago, so I pulled it out of our closet and moved it to the nursery.  Lastly, I grabbed a chair out of our bedroom and moved it in here.  So far, we are up to $0 on our nursery renovation and have already acquired our major furniture items. Sweet.

Here’s a quick photo of my favorite corner:

And that’s all you get for now. 🙂  The rest is a mess because it’s also my home office for my photography business AND my sewing headquarters.  Nothing screams “disorganized” like a 27″ iMac and a Macbook laptop fighting for space on my desk, with a serger and sewing machines fighting for space on the dresser.   Oh, and a dozen unfinished projects floating around every open space and yards of fabric siting in the crib.  But soon, I promise, you’ll see more photos. 🙂  However, here is the breakdown of my $100 nursery budget SO FAR.


  • Crib – $0  (It was purchased years ago.  So it doesn’t count, right?)
  • Chair – $0 (Also purchased years ago, on Craigslist.  For $15.  Probably the best $15 I have spent in a long time.)
  • Dresser – $0 (Acquired years ago from a family friend.)
  • Ivory colored hand-knit afghan – .50.  Yes, as in fifty cents.  I found it at a rummage sale and snatched it up.  I can’t imagine how many hours went into this blanket, and it looks untouched. And gorgeous.
  • Colorful pouf ottoman – $0.  This was a gift from my friends Matt and Katie
  • Artwork on the walls – $40.  I scored these four lovely prints on Craigslist, and they are by UK artist Sam Toft.  Love her stuff.
  • Curtains – $10.  A friend was clearing out her fabric stash so I scored 3 yards for $10.  I quickly sewed up some curtains, and had to add an ivory panel to the bottom to make it long enough. But I’m happy with them. 🙂
  • Changing pad and cover- .50 – this was a DIY attempt.  I’ll share photos later, if I decide it’s up to par.  Jury’s still out on this one.


In case you are counting, that brings the grand total up to $51.  I still need to figure out shelving and a bookcase/some sort of storage.  But, I’m pretty sure it can be done for $49 with a little creativity, and maybe some help in the construction department from my darling husband.


In the meantime, I’ll share two photos of one of my recent projects.  Admittedly, I am not a skilled seamstress.  I can barely sew a straight line.  But I have been making burp cloths and baby washcloths.  I realize I could probably use any old cloth, but it’s been fun to do something productive and cute.  Here are the burp cloths:


And a different style… I was playing around with my new (well, used), very complicated serger machine.  I love it, but holy cow.  It’s not easy to thread or use.  Plus, I broke something so now I have to figure out how to fix it.


Grand total for the eight burp cloths is about $1, maybe less.  I used fabric we already had (an old striped cotton dress shirt of Ben’s that had a few holes, an old flannel pillow case, some fabric from Ben’s mom’s stash and my stash, and an old cotton tank top), plus some receiving blankets that I traded two bars of homemade soap for.  For the washcloths, I found a pair of cotton terry pants at the thrift store for a quarter, so I cut them into squares and started serging them into little washcloths.  I estimate them to cost .02 each. 🙂

There you have it!  We’re still going to make a wooden baby play gym, wall shelving, bibs, stuffed animal, a rag rug, and a crib skirt… but it’s fun to see some progress.  Especially knowing it has cost so little!

March 20, 2013 - 8:54 pm

Agi - So exciting!

March 22, 2013 - 9:44 am

erin - we have artwook by same artist in Leo’s nursery! Don’t fill that nursery too full–rememember you have tons of friends waiting to shower you with special gifts as soon as we hear the happy news.

December 11, 2013 - 1:14 pm

Merks - This is adorable! Love your site 🙂

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