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Baby #2 should be here any day and this past weekend, we celebrated with a BaByQ and all of our family and friends.  Needless to say, the nursery was done and waiting for everyone to see!

Here are a few of the details that we added to the nursery:

These are the curtains that I purchased from Ikea and then added my own fabric for some unique embellishments.  When I did my daughter’s nursery a few years ago, I made the curtains as well and made them so they could be drawn shut at night time.  Well, I must not be a very good seamstress, because they just didn’t hold up.  For this nursery, I left the curtains stationary and added the black out shade instead.  The shade is so inexpensive and costs much less than purchasing black out materials for the back of the curtains.  I got a custom look with the store-bought curtains for less that $40!

This is a mobile from Ikea as well.  I thought it would work well as a great detail above the window (we already have a great mobile left over from my daughter’s nursery).  I stuffed it with plastic bags, a great way to recycle I must say!  My daughter points it out every time we go into the nursery.

Just a few accessories for the shelving.  I chose to accessorize with items that can be used as toys in the future . . . this is a huge money saver as they do double duty!  I also like the used items that are personal to us . . . for example, the stuffed dog was given to me by my husband when we were in college.  Now, it will be a fun and cherished toy for Baby #2.  I also like the have a few family photos around the room.  The one on the shelf will soon hold a picture of Baby #2 and there is a picture of my husband, daughter, and myself by the glider chair.

These are some adorable hooks from Ikea.  I learned very quickly from the first baby that I need to have some things easily accessible such as blankets, hats, coats, and toys for distraction.  They are beside the changing table right next to the door and they will get lots of use!

EASY STORAGE!!!  These bins were SUPER cheap at IKEA and fit perfectly under the crib.  I filled them with all of the toys from when my daughter was little.  This has actually helped her become excited about the baby’s room.  She loves to go in there and pull out the toys.  It gives her a special place in the room and I hope she uses them when I am in there caring for the baby.  These bins will also be great for the future as they can easily be adapted for clothing or toy storage.

A little green lamp on clearance for $10 at Target and a couple of picture frames beside the glider complete the accessories.  The smaller frame actually holds a “baseball card” of my husband when he was a little boy.  I love to look at it and see my daughter’s eyes reflected in his face!  The quilt was made by many church ladies when my husband was born and it also has a matching dog stuffed animal that is in the crib.  It is a great and personal accent.

BIG MONEY SAVING TIP:  Use personal items!  Don’t feel like everything needs to be bought brand new.  Contact some of your relatives and ask if they have any cherished blankets, toys, family photos, etc.  These accents make the room feel cozy and warm.  also, if you are going to buy, buy things that can do double duty . . . storage for clothing, toys, and blankets or accessories that can be used as toys later on.

I will post some pics of the nursery when it is in use . . . hopefully, that will be soon!  Enjoy!

-Amanda- High Fire Mommy

The nursery is going well and almost complete.  Over the last few days, we have finished up the closet.

For most people, the closet is no big deal.  But for this mommy, organization in the closet is EVERYTHING.  Having a new baby is tough, having a new baby and an 18 month old is tougher, and having all of that plus an unorganized space can make things down right crazy!

Here is a picture of what the closet looked like prior to our little nursery makeover.  It was pretty standard with one long hanging bar and a shelf above that.

We removed the mirror doors as they are difficult to slide back and forth and make it difficult to access the closet.  We ended up selling them on Craigslist for a nice little profit.

You would be surprised at how awesome a closet can look if you paint the inside of it.  Most people choose to keep it white, but I love to paint a color that coordinates with the room.  In this case, we used turquoise.  No matter what, if you are doing a room makeover, take the time to freshen up the closet with a new coat of paint.  It makes a huge difference!

The closet system was purchased from Home Depot and was incredibly cost effective at approximately $80.  It doubled our hanging space and the shelf space is wonderful!  It was pretty easy for my hubbie to put together . . . I directed from the glider chair.  I will say that having a level is key to making sure everything lines up correctly.

I added some snap baskets that I already owned to the shelves and they hold blankets and toys.  I think they are a little too big, but my little girl finds it easy to pull them out and they can take a beating, so we will stick with them.

Lastly, we installed a curtain rod to the inside of the closet.  We bought one for $5 . . . it is brass and quite unattractive, but who is going to see it?  I added some detail fabric to my IKEA curtains and VOILA!  Adorable closet and great organization for less than $150!

Enjoy!

I have also posted this blog entry at Serenity Now:  A Progress Party:

Be sure to check out Amanda’s Blog when you have a chance!

-Amanda- High Fire Mommy

The nursery is really starting to come together!  And it better since Baby #2 will be here in a matter of week!

Today, I am focusing on the artwork.  Everything you see here, I created myself and you can too!  Many people get intimidated by making their own artwork saying that they aren’t creative or they can’t draw a straight line.  I got new for you!  YES, you can do this!

For the above painting, I started by selecting an image that appears on the fabric that I chose for the nursery.  You can check out the fabric here.  I selected the house with a little garden around it.

I purchased a canvas and some basic acrylic paints.  You can even use craft paint from the hobby store which costs less that $1 per color.

For me, I just free-handed the drawing since it is such a simple little house.  But if you are concerned about your drawing skills, consider using a projector.  I own my projector and purchased it from Hobby Lobby a few years ago (using a 40% off coupon!).  But you can always trace your design and then borrow a teacher friend’s overhead projector to enlarge the image onto your canvas.  If that is not an option, you can use a basic computer program like Word to enlarge the picture and then print it out and trace onto your canvas.

I outline all of my drawing in black sharpie because I tend to paint over the lines and need the help locating them.

When beginning to paint, ALWAYS start in the background and work your way forward.  I started with the sky and ground, then shifts to the trees, then the house, and finally the wording and flower pot.

Once you have completed all of your painting, you can outline using a sharpie or using a paintbrush.  Whatever works best for you!

I also go back and apply a layer of spray polyurethane to cleanup the finish.

For the drawings on dictionary paper, I was inspired by this Etsy artist.  I loved her work, but was not willing to pay $10 a print.  I purchased a dictionary from Half Price Books for $8.

Once again I selected an image and freehanded it onto the paper.  You can use any of the above steps to transfer your image.  Or because this is a smaller piece.  Just print out your image and place it under the dictionary paper.  Tape it to a bright window and trace.

I used basic colored pencils to color in my images and then outline them using a black felt tip pen.  Simple, simple, simple, but it does take a little time.

I also made sure to draw the giraffe on the page that had the definition of giraffe and the same for the other images.

My frames were purchased with the mat included from IKEA.

Voila!  Instant artwork with a handmade touch!

Some other ideas that might work for you in your nursery or home:

*  Consider sticking to a basic alphabet letter in the color of your nursery.  You could spell out your child’s name, frame each letter, and hang above the crib.

*  Geometric shapes are super easy and look great!  Draw a circle, color to coordinate, and then write the definition for circle underneath and frame.

*  Collections are sooooo in!  Purchase a shadow box and arrange a selection of family jewelry, antique matchbox cars, family photos, hair bows, building blocks, etc.  The sky is the limit with this one!

Amanda- High Fire Mommy

Let’s face it . . . nursery furniture is EXPENSIVE!  We were fortunate enough to have grandparents purchase the baby furniture for out first little one.  We selected a beautiful set including a 3 in 1 crib, changing table that converts to dresser, and a hutch to go on top of the dresser.  The furniture was being discontinued, so it was at a clearance price.  My parents still paid well over $850 for the furniture.  Yikes!

What we learned the first time around with furniture:

*  Babies like to chew on the furniture, so select a finish that can be touched up in the future.

*  The 3 in 1 is definitely the way to go.  There is more expense up front, but it allows easy transition as your little one grows and advances.

*  Stay away from TRENDY!  Select something that is classic and will not go out of style.

When it came time to select furniture for Baby #2, we turned to Craigslist.  Gasp!  Yes, we bought used nursery furniture.  Many people shy away from purchasing used nursery furniture because of recalls.

Here are a few tips for buying USED nursery furniture:

*  Ask for the manufacturer’s number that is located under the crib.  Go online and check to make sure that the furniture has not been recalled.  You can also locate several websites where people post their opinions about the furniture.  Never buy furniture that has been recalled.

*  When you go to see the furniture in person, have the owner set up all of the furniture.  Never buy a crib that is dismantled until you have seen it completely assembled.

*  Watch and take photos as the crib is taken apart.  My husband found the directions for the crib assembly online, but the owner also had all of the original instructions as well.  Make sure that every screws, nails, pin, etc is there.

*  Make sure that the prior owner has not made any “modifications” to the furniture such as additional decoration, screws, nails, permanently attached mobiles, etc.

*  #1 Tip for Buying Used Furniture:  If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t buy it!

We purchased a lovely white sleigh crib, changing table, glider plus ottoman, and side table from a family on Craigslist.  It was quite obvious during our inspection of the furniture that it had been treasured by the family.  Everything was in fantastic shape!  Take a look.

I cleaned everything with my favorite cleaning tool, a Magic Eraser by Mr. Clean.  Then to add a little bit more personality to the basic white pieces, I purchase unique cabinet knobs from Hobby Lobby to add to the dresser and side table.  Love it!  Knobs were way cheaper at Hobby Lobby ($2.99) than at Anthropologie ($4.99 to $12.99), in fact, some of them were the EXACT same design.

Drumroll, please!   How much did we pay for the furniture?  We bought the 3 in 1 convertible crib, changing table with glass front drawers, glider and gliding ottoman, and side table for . . . wait for it . . . $600!  We were so lucky with the price!  I looked up the price of the furniture brand new . . . over $1600!  WooHoo!

Amanda- High Fire Mommy

We selected out paint colors and painted the top half of the wall a butter color and bottom half a turquoise.  It looks great!  Paint is such an inexpensive way to make a huge impact in your space.  The use of two colors gives even more definition.  You can divide the two colors with a simple line of paint or be more creative making the line undulate, resemble waves, flowers and grass, etc.  Whatever you think goes well with your theme.  We chose a chair rail as the divider between the two colors.  The entire project cost less than $60!

First thing to decide is the height of the chair rail.  Luckily we have a window that hits at about the level a chair rail would be, so we had a guideline.  A typical chair rail is 1/3 of the wall height.

Here are the supplies that you will need:

*  Moulding- Get a few more feet than what you think you might need.

*  Wood Glue

*  Finishing Nails

*  Hammer

*  Level

*  Tape Measure

*  Wood filler

*  Caulking

*  Miter box and saw

*  A little bit of sandpaper

*  A second person!  This is a two person job!

Start by making a mark at the designated height all around the room every few feet.  We used this as a guideline as we worked, but constantly checked to make sure we were correct.  If you have a laser level, it would work great for this step.

Use your miter box and saw to cut a 45 degree angle at the end of one of your pieces of molding.  Remember, you will need two 45 degree angles to complete one 90 degree corner.

Hold the moulding up to the wall and fit it into the corner to be sure everything lines up right.  Remove moulding and add wood glue to the backside.  We learned really quickly to smooth out our wood glue, so that it did not drip down after the moulding was installed.  Use your finger, but be sure to have a damp towel near by!  Hold the moulding up against the wall and put the level on top.

Once you feel that the moulding is level, hammer a finishing nail into one end to secure to the wall.  Add another finishing nail every few feet, but be sure to constantly use the level and make sure that everything is straight.  Wipe off any excess glue.  Continue around the room being sure to remain level!

When all of the moulding is in place, use a small tipped phillips head screw driver to gently hammer the finishing nail just below the surface of the moulding.  Just place the tip of the screw driver on the head of the nail and use a hammer to hammer it into place.  Do this for all of the nails.  Use a bit of wood filler to fill in the holes and lightly sand with sandpaper when it is dry.

Using caulk in a caulk gun or in a squeezable tube, carefully apply a small bead of caulk to the top of the railing where the moulding meets the wall.  Use your finger to gently smooth out the caulk.  Do the same for the bottom of the railing and the corners or joints as well.

Once everything is dry, go back and apply paint or finishing touches.

We found the project down right EASY!  We were quite pleased with ourselves and how well the railing turned out!  We felt that $60 was more than worth the impact that the railing has in the room.  In the future, we intent on painting the bottom out in chalkboard paint as a fun activity for our little ones.

Next installment of the Nursery On A Budget Series- Baby Furniture!

-Amanda- High Fire Designs

Ivy hanging out in her crib! Wallpaper mural inspiration in the background.

When I selected the theme for my little girl’s nursery, I learned a few things along the way that saved us money in the long run: 

#1:  Choose something that will last through the toddler years or perhaps even longer. 

When considering a theme, look for something that can be easily adjusted as your little one grows up . . . for example, sports are great for a little boy, but leave out the teddy bears with baseball caps wall border.  You can always add plush animals around the room when your boy is little and replace them with sports gear and memorabilia as he grows up.  For a little girl, nothing is sweeter than flowers, but choose a flower that either has a modern graphic edge or has a variety of mature colors besides the typical baby, bubble gum pink. 

#2:  Stay away from the pre packaged “Baby Bed-In-A-Bag.” 

You know the wall at the baby superstore that is lined with every adorable bedding set known to man . . . each costing at least $100.  Stay away!  First of all, it is suggested by the American Association of Pediatrics that an infant not sleep with a loose blanket, sheet, or bumper pad.  Secondly, the baby superstore ups the prices because they have the market cornered.  Instead, spend your money on color coordinated sheets, a crib skirt (buy your own fabric to make your own), and matching accessories.  Most people just end up hanging the expensive quilt/bedspread on the wall as a decoration rather than putting it to use. 

#3:  Do pick and choose!  

Love the idea of ballerinas!  Don’t buy every ballerina that you can find!  Instead, choose two or three ballerina accents that successfully pull off your theme without going overboard.  These are pieces that can easily be switched out for your little ones latest favs in the future. 

#4:  Invest in furniture that can be utilized for quite awhile. 

We all know that a three-in-one crib is great for toddler beds and the future big girl or big boy bed, but consider the finish as well.  Although the white crib with handpainted roses and vines might be adorable, is that really going to be useful when your little one is a tween? 

As soon as I found out that I was pregnant, I immediately started decorating the nursery in my head.  Should I do pink, should I do blue?  But when we decided to wait on finding out the sex, decisions became a lot more difficult!  Not wanting to do the typical green and yellow nursery, I set out to find something different.  I considered farm, alphabet, and even sesame street as my little girl seems to be so fond of it, but in the end, I selected the following. 

Fabler pattern from IKEA

This is a pattern from IKEA.  The theme is called Fabler and it consists mainly of whimsical animals riding in different types of fantasy transportation.  Hence, the elephant in a teacup and the giraffe in a strawberry.  I was drawn to the colors and the whimsical qualities of the characters.  The Fabler theme also comes with a children’s book that teaches home is where you are loved . . . fitting for a new baby.  Of course, the bedding, sheets, stuffed animals, storage boxs, etc are all available through IKEA, but so far, I have only decided to utilize the curtains.  More ideas and DIY projects to follow to help incorporate the theme. 

Below are the paint samples that I have been considering.  We are installing a chair rail (which I will write a how to about later), so I needed a color for the top and a color for the bottom.  I finally selected the butter and turquoise combination feeling that it was the most gender neutral and worked best with the light in the room.  

Possible color selections for nursery.

When considering paint choices, hang up the options plus any type of inspiration bedding or fabric in the actual room.  Look at them for a few days and even ask family and friends to point out their favorites.  Never choose a color that will overpower the room or the theme . . . always choose one that is versatile and enhances your theme. 

One of my favorite tools at the local DIY store is the pamplet containing every paint chip known to man!!!  I love to pic these up and take them home, because most of the time, they have colors that I never noticed at the store. 

Paint chip sampler.

For the nursery and pretty much every other room in our home, we utilize Freshaire Choice paint carried at Home Depot (http://freshairechoice.com/).  It is VOC free in the paint and in the colorant.  It has no paint odor and much better to breath.  The typical paint takes up to a year for the VOCs to disperse.  The paint costs about $30 per gallon which is about $8 more than most, but we think the benefits are far more important than the savings. 

So, I am off and painting (mostly working late at night, yikes!) . . . on coat number 2 of the butter color and all seems to be going well!  Will post the pics of the completed painting this weekend. 

Keep on the lookout for the next part of Nursery on A Budget Series:  Chair Rail. 

Love lots, 

Amanda- High Fire Mommy

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