outfitting the nursery without dirtying your diaper

I only passed out once when I was pregnant.  I remember it clearly…I was shopping for a crib for my teeny tiny baby.  The first crib I looked at was $800!  Just the crib!  My husband ushered me into a rocking chair to catch my breath, but that only made things worse… it was called a “glider” and was $1000!

I was trapped in “The Baby Industrial Complex.”  Retailers, manufacturers and marketers shamelessly prop one another up by constantly reinforcing the idea that loving your baby means not having a budget.  All the while they are raking in the dough on silly things like electric wipe warmers.

We should accept a tiny part of the responsibility.  As  soon-to-be-new-mothers we are bewildered and looked for guidance from any source – regardless of their motivations.  The Complex exploits that insecurity, reinforcing the twisted concept that our love for our children is directly proportional to how much we spend on them.

What The Baby Industrial Complex doesn’t want you to know is that all a newborn needs is lots of love and a little milk.

I constantly struggle to keep from getting sucked in.  I’m not always successful, either.  I actually registered, received and used TWO baby bathtubs (thank you, Ellen – new moms, trust me you don’t need them both)!  I didn’t have the energy to convince my mom or my husband that some of this stuff was going way overboard (I was making a human being, after all).  At some point I resorted to pure bullheaded stubbornness to create a nursery that didn’t cost more than my mortgage.

The point of all this is that I managed to create Willa’s serene and whimsical nursery for less than $600.  It’s 3 times more than what my parents spent, but 10% of what The Complex told me I should spend.

The Crib

How on earth can a tiny bed made for a 6 lb baby could cost as much as a king size bed made for 2 adults?  Excellent question.  I still don’t have the answer.  I purchased a beautiful and simple white crib made by La Jobi, the same company that sells $700 cribs at major Baby chains :).  Under the Graco brand name, the Lauren model was just $149 at Target (thank you, Baby Bargains!).

Other Furniture

I found the dresserbookcase and rocking chair at Ikea – my go-to for all things modern and affordable.  I picked white, because it is modern, contrasts beautifully with the gray walls, and is easiest color to match across companies and furniture collections.


Nearly all retailers sell bundles of everything you need for bedding in a single pack.  What they fail to mention is that the only piece you can use in the first year is the crib sheet!  By that time you’re ready to update the decor.  I found an adorable, colorful, gender neutral sheet on Amazon that worked perfectly for only $7.99 (go ahead and buy two of these :).


I scoured Amazon, my local Home Goods and Ikea to find a few bright pieces that wouldn’t be out of place in a boy or a girl’s room.

Here are my top finds, in order of how much I love them.


Willa’s Flensted butterfly mobile. I found this on Amazon and totally fell in love with it.  It is super light, moving with the natural air currents in your home and spectacularly beautiful.  Danish, of course.  Remember when picking a mobile that the point is to have something to engage baby.  Babies are lying on their backs looking up at it, so it’s important the view from the bottom is stimulating (rather than from the side).  I love this so much I am thinking about getting one for my office.

The birds hanging from the ceiling – we have Uncle Ben and Uncle Ricardo to thank for those (also Danish!).

The four framed prints…These were a little bit of an investment, but I purchased them at an art fair about a week after I found out I was pregnant, so I hadn’t started to budget yet.  The artist’s name is Chuck Wimmer, he has such a great sense of humor!  I also found a great deal on frames from an Amazon vendor, Art to Frames.  Had I taken these to the local frame or craft shop, the bill would have been ~ $300.  I paid just $64 for all 4 frames! (note: pricing on the frames has gone up, but they’re still a bargain over custom).

Those were my exciting finds and treasures.  Please share your tips and tricks for outfitting a nursery without breaking the bank!

Don’t forget, all you need is love (and a little milk) to keep baby healthy and happy.



1 Comment

  1. The struggle persists, even intensifies through the teenage years! Not to worry, you can do it. : ) But what a beautiful, light filled room for baby. Love.