Ben’s room: Budget Breakdown


In a sense, everything new in life changes you.

Eat a new food? That changes you. Meet a new person? Move? Get married? That also changes you. In vastly different ways of course, but everything changes you a little.

Of course, you’re still the same person, even after big changes. Marriage changes you, but you remain. Having a kid changes you. But you retain your personality, preferences and perspectives.

All that to say, I hate cleaning. I only felt a few fleeting bits of instinct to clean stuff before Ben was born. That aspect of nesting mostly flew by me.

My guilt level about this? Zero.

Cleaning is no fun. I do what I have to… and try to engineer my life so there is less to clean. Getting rid of the stairway carpet & most of our area rugs is a prime example. It’s much easier to sweep and mop the whole house and only vacuum entry mats and the attic.

I love completing tasks and finished spaces, however.

So I did really want to have his room done. One finished space for him. This is where my nesting instinct was focused.

And I didn’t get to.

We had a student renting out the room that would be Ben’s nursery, and that was a good thing. After all, Ben is sleeping near us, in our room, for several months. And diapers can be changed elsewhere. And the cash from the student boarder was helpful.

And by waiting, there was another upside. I could slowly accrue things for Ben’s nursery.

I had time to make some. 

To search for the right things.

To plan a little more.

And I thought I would share how that broke down.

Because I’m always interested in budgets and efficiency!

Although I’ve been learning to spend more on things I care about. Even as I attack student debt with “gazelle intensity,” years upon years of it gets exhausting. And sometimes I’ve alienated people by being too cheap

So…. I’m no Emily Henderson whose clients have unlimited $.

But I’ve also been moving away from the “spend as little as possible” mentality. To actually invest in creating a welcoming space.

I still so appreciate perspectives like Frugalwoods on what you actually need for a baby – not buying more than you need. And another one of theirs, Fighting Back Against the Baby Industrial Complex, is so good.

I think I end up at a shade thriftier (and less talented) than Young House Love.

What I appreciate about them? They have a great mix of DIY projects and spending on the right items that “make” a space.

And whether its their own nursery, or helping someone else out, they create some adorable spaces.

So I still struggled with a couple items here:

The $41 arrow mirror, and the $31.18 cushion covers.

I was genuinely conflicted – should I really be spending on this? Is it really necessary?

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And while it wasn’t necessary, they do add a lot of life and focal points to the room.

In the end, I am happy I did.

And therefore….  in the spirit of sharing our sorta-frugal-but-learning-to-spend-sometimes budget?

Here’s the breakdown of what this actually cost.

  •  Furniture
    • $ 25           Crib  – white, Sault 24 Hour Auctions
    • $0              Mattress – gift
    • $5              Hardware to reinforce crib sides + convert to “sidecar” sleeper for bed: Home Depot
    • $140          Dresser — estate sale on Kijiji & delivery cost (not used after all)
    • $0              Dresser –  white dresser, already owned
    • $0              Rocking chair – already owned
    • $0              Maple bookcase – already owned
    • $0              Stepstool – gift
    • $0              White trash bin – already owned
    • $0              Small storage ottoman – already owned

Furniture total: $30

  • Smaller items
    • $0              Wire baskets for cloth diapers on dresser (Winners, purchased with gift card)
    • $0               Small lamp for dresser, already owned
    • $16              Tall Rubbermaid tote/basket ($11, Walmart) and pail liners ($5, used) for cloth diapers
    •                      These sit inside a fabric basket already owned
    • $0               Laundry bin (already owned, will be hidden in closest)
    • $26             Shark ‘3 Sprouts’ book bin from Stork + Bundle
    • $8               Books for shelf (I bought Olivia from Chapters, partly on a gift card… the rest were gifts)
    • -$5              Change pad (I bought a change table and pad for $20, then sold the table for $25. I made $5!)
    • $8               Wire basket for stuffed animal storage + blue spray paint
    • $0               Clipboard with shark on it for the door

Smaller items total: $53

  • Fabric and textiles
    • $85 from Jo-Ann for fabric to make
      • Change pad cover (3)
      • Crib skirt (1)
      • Crib sheets (3)
      • Fabric garlands from scraps
    • $31.18        Cushions for chair (this and this from Viasupply)
    • $16              Inserts for cushions from Fabricland
    • $0                Blankets given to us, from my childhood, etc.
    • $0                Sheepskin (already owned)
    • $0                Navy blackout curtains (already owned)
    • $5                New sewing machine needles to make DIY quilt with owned supplies
    • $6                Bias tape for edges of quilt
    • $9                Extra felt from Shabby Motley to make the mobile; other supplies already owned

Fabric/textiles total: $152.18

  • Art/plants
    • $14              Emily Carr print + frame
    • $14              Lawren Harris print + frame
    • $6                Renee Anne – small bird note card + frame
    • $12              Julia Chu – “do everything in love” canvas (cost for frame only)
    • $41              Arrow mirror
    • $0                Clock, already owned
    • $0                Reversible “Jesus Loves You” to “Welcome Tiny Overlord” cross-stitch from a friend
    • $0                “Ben” party bunting from a friend
    • $0                 “9 months” frame from a friend
    • $4                 Printed photographs of Ben for frames & two small white frames
    • $2                 White frame for shark art (canvas and paint already owned)
    • $0                 Maple boxes/shelves made by my brother
    • $15               Succulent plant and rope hook from Home Depot
    • $3.40           Hanging lantern from Dollarama
    • $0                 Bracket for mobile (made out of scrap wood and an IKEA curtain bracket.

Total art/plants total: $111.40

Grand Total: $ 346.38

So what have I learned?

  1. Little purchases add up! Although most “big” items were already owned, all the small stuff ended up costing more than I thought.
  2. Art and fabric can really change a room. The gallery wall and fabric were the largest parts of the budget, but they made a massive difference.
  3. Different finishes + shades of white can work. The off-white dresser, pure white crib, walnut rocking chair and maple bookcase are quite eclectic! But with the same blue/white/gold tones repeating all over the room, they still work together.
  4. I would DIY crib sheets and changing pad covers again. They are very easy to sew. And any mess-ups in stitching are hidden under the mattress/changing pad. The repetition of fabrics/pattern in the garlands does a lot to define the space
  5. I would buy cushion covers again. I’ve made cushion covers before and did not like the results. These were fantastic.
  6. The quilt was both easier + more finicky than I thought. Putting the quilt together was simple. But choosing a pattern of straight/matching lines was a bit ambitious! It certainly has imperfections, but I could make another one. I would probably choose a pattern that was less lined-up, however.
  7. I’m learning to live with “good enough.” In the past, I would have redone the quilt till it was 100% perfect, or been upset about the crappy floor. But these are two areas I learned to say “It’s good enough” in. The floor is clean, painted and won’t absorb odors? Good enough. The quilt is warm and soft? Good enough.
  8. Texture matters. Shiny mirrors and wire baskets contrast with rabbit fur and sheepskin, soft cotton and velvet. Wipable ottomans and easy-clean floors are a good foil for the muslin blankets he plays on and the silk-effect curtains.
  9. Now that I’ve done it, there are ways to do the same look for cheaper… and things I would spend more on. If I bought a few sheets for fabric? Spray painted a thrift store mirror gold and used free printables? I could probably do a $25 gallery wall and $25 set of sheets/changing pad covers and quilt for a future nursery…. But I can also see spending more money on original art + prints instead of notecards, and supporting local artists!


In the end, I’m happy with how this broke down. I can’t wait to learn more… and apply these principles to another space!

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