Nursery update: whimsical, mismatched, and on-a-budget


This is an update to my original post, the $100 Nursery Project.  I may have gone a bit over my initial goal of $100 but I’m still proud of this very thrifty and mismatched whimsical nursery.  Our goals were to keep it affordable, gender neutral, and not to have a blatant theme.  So unofficially, we have sort of a travel or international theme going on, but that’s pretty broad and generic. 🙂

I did touch on a few of the items in my last post, but I’ll go over them a bit more here.  As I’ve mentioned, adoptions are very, very expensive.  The average domestic adoption in the US is around $30,000.  We live comfortably but modestly, and I’ve always been a bit thrifty and creative.  So I decided to carry that over into our nursery.  We’ve been hoping to adopt for 15 months now and I found it a bit therapeutic to work on a nursery while we wait.  There are people who say to it’s better to wait before decorating a nursery because so many adoptions fall through and it can be a reminder of heartache.  But personally, I found it to be an act of hope after years of pregnancy loss.  This was my way to be optimistic that we would be blessed with a family in the future.  So… this nursery has been years in the making.

Above photo:

  • white chair – this was a Craigslist find several years ago.  I think we paid $15 for it?  But since I just grabbed it from another room, I don’t think it counts towards the nursery total. 🙂
  • Colorful poof ottoman – $0. This was a gift from my friends Matt & Katie.
  • Two coral throw pillows – pristine thrift store finds for .50 each.  I realize they are kind of… “old lady-ish”, but I actually love them.
  • Rocking Airplane – this was a “splurge” from a local seller on Ebay.  It was $60 and I almost passed it up.  But my best friend (Hi, Jen!) decided she’d pay for part of it as a gift for our future child.  So, I couldn’t pass up that offer. Ha!
  • Art prints on the wall – another semi-splurge at $40. They were being sold on Craigslist and that price really was a bargain for four framed prints.  They are by UK artist Sam Toft.
  • Ivory afghan- this was a steal at .50 at a local community rummage sale.  I don’t think it had ever been used and it made me sad to think of the hours that went into knitting it. It was spotless.  So I rescued it and brought it home.

Crib photo:

  • We had purchased the crib for my first pregnancy, several years ago.  After the miscarriages, we just packed it up and stored it.  But I’ve enjoyed seeing it put together as a reminder that we will hopefully not be childless forever. 🙂  (FYI: this crib was a drop-side but we got a recall kit from the manufacturer so it’s completely safe.)
  • The art print – it still needs a frame because I hate the one it is in.  But the matting and print are very nice and I scored the whole thing for $5 at a local community thrift store!  I’ve been to Venice and really loved the oranges.  So once it’s in a new frame (probably natural maple), it will be awesome.  There will be no glass and it will be uber-secured to the wall. Maybe higher, too.  This was just there for the purposes of sharing with you.
  • Crib skirt – a DIY crib skirt. I bought the fabric from a friend who was cleaning out her photography studio so I think it was maybe $2 and an hour of time?
  • Crib sheet – jury is still out on this one.  Not sure I love it.  I have some solid colored ones that might look better with the crib skirt.  I found it at a rummage sale for $1 and it’s by Dwell Studio. I don’t mind when things don’t match, but I really don’t love blatant clashing.  What do you think?
  • Rug – this was repurposed from around the house.  We have a ton of handmade rugs by this guy who lives in Barron, Wisconsin.  A couple years after I started buying them, I realized he was my intern’s grandpa.  So that made it more special. 🙂  But someday I’d like to make a really large braided rag rug for this room.
  • Muslin blankets – purchased secondhand.  Love them.  LOOOOVE them.   Two are an off-brand that are super thick and cushy, and one of them is Aden & Anais’ Night Sky pattern with the air balloon.

Above: this charming stuffed elephant was a gift from my sweet friend Ashley at Heartmade Life.
Above: DIY crib skirt.  I found a tutorial online but basically I just sewed three rectangles (one for each exposed side) and tacked them to the board the mattress sits on.  Done. I’m not a proficient seamstress but I can *mostly* sew a straight line.

  • Ikea Expedit Cube Bookshelf – I think this was $50 new?
  • Baskets – also purchased from a friend cleaning out her studio.  $5 for all.
  • A – Z book ends. I purchased these from a gift shop that was going out of business about 5 years ago.  I actually packed them up for the day they’d be in our nursery. 🙂



  • Dresser – I painted an antique dresser we already had.  Not fancy but it gets the job done.  It holds our cloth diapers (newborn and small sizes), newborn cloths, and some spare fabric.  When we get a changing pad and cover, I want this to be our changing station.
  • The thing hanging from the ceiling that I hope you recognize as a hot air balloon – .25.  Someone gave me the lantern a few years ago and I didn’t have a use for it. I bought the basket for a quarter at the thrift store for this purpose, then just used string to rig it up.
  • Two shelves that Ben is embarrassed about but I think they are perfectly functional – .50 for both. We repurposed wood that would have been tossed and he made these ledge shelves. I used a small container of “oops” paint that I got for .50.  He wanted to redo them to be nicer, but honestly, I don’t care that much. We can always buy nice shelves in the future but for now, they work fine.
  • Round basket – thrift store purchase for $2.  It holds our cloth wipes.


  • Books. I love books. 🙂  Our children’s books have been collected from book stores, children’s boutiques, and thrift stores. Don’t even get me started on my Amazon baby registry list. I think half of it is books.  haha.
  • Hand-carved wooden elephant – I picked it up at a little shop in Kathmandu, Nepal for $12.


  • Art print was purchased on our honeymoon by Russian artist Kraznyansky.  We had a blast at a couple art auctions on our honeymoon and Ben fell in love with this guy’s newer abstract stuff. I preferred his older landscape stuff.  So it was fun to make a home for this colorful print in the nursery.
  • The framed alphabet print next to it was a Goodwill find for $3.  I actually bought it for the frame itself but the print kinda grew on me, so it stayed.
    Above: all of the little woolen puppets were made in Nepal and purchased on my trip there last August.  These are especially meaningful for me because some very special children, including some of the kids that I worked with in Nepal, have played with them.  And when kids come to our house to play, these are always in the rotation of available toys along with a big box of wooden blocks. 🙂  I think I paid about $2 each for these puppets and have maybe 5-6 of them.


Below: curtains were made by me.  Again, this was fabric from a photographer’s studio clean-out.  I think it was maybe $8 for all of the fabric for these curtains?  They aren’t my favorite print ever, but they were definitely suitable and did the job. Plus, the price was right.  They were a bit too short so I added a panel of heavy ivory fabric from my fabric stash.  But… I may have to adjust the length or lift the curtain rod a bit higher.  I didn’t measure right. Oops!

Well, what do you think?  It’s not perfect, nor is it finished. But it’s slowly taking shape.  If money wasn’t a consideration, I would have done some things differently, but to be clear, I’d rather have a family than a designer nursery.  🙂  Besides, I do enjoy the challenge of thinking outside the box.  I think some things are worth a splurge (hello, Kate Spade Handbags, glass baby bottles, and well-made furniture that will be used for years!) but others are simply better as a thrifty find (crib skirt, baby clothes that will be worn a couple times at the most, and things that can be DIY).

What were your must-have items?  What could you do without? Do you have a favorite piece in this nursery?

March 11, 2014 - 5:43 pm

Allison - I love everything about this, Becky!!! You two have excellent taste. Some little baby is going to be so lucky to find you both! Sending lots of good energy and continued prayers your way!

March 11, 2014 - 7:39 pm

Sabrina - I love it Becky!! You can tell a lot of love and attention went into it!! Got teary when u talked about your little puppets from your trip to Nepal!!! Those are so awesome to have! I pray that very soon you will have a little angel to enjoy the beautiful nursery you’ve made!!!

March 11, 2014 - 8:48 pm

errin - It looks FANTASTIC!!!!

March 12, 2014 - 11:34 am

Jackie - So, so sweet through and through. My favorite…the hot air balloon with the bunny in the basket 🙂

March 20, 2014 - 10:13 pm

Nina - adorable nursery! I can’t wait until you have a baby sleeping in that crib. 🙂

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