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Cheap + Expensive: A Nursery

My baby, (who isn’t here yet, a fact causing me all kinds of grief) has been suitably provided for. And then some. I’d go so far as to say I am pretty dang happy with how his digs have turned out. It’s not often one ‘plans a room’. At least not this ‘one’. In my world, decor evolves. Hand me downs and purchases, old and new, intentions and the inevitable. A hodge-podge. Screw you, Pinterest. The process is more interesting than any inspiration board.

But a room for a brand new person, where you have months to plan and plot and purchase, where to some degree it has to be done. Because, a kid is showing up (eventually). Starting from essentially zero. What’s the end result of that?


I’ve been spending quite a bit of time right about there. Basking in the result, baby room, pre-baby. Reading, pondering, looking out the window, drinking my small daily allotment of caffeinated beverages, wondering what this baby will be like (if he ever bothers to show up). Trying to enjoy the process in its current iteration (harder than you think, pushing 41 weeks) and reflect on how far we’ve come. I hate to say it, but part of that reflection involves the Stuff. What did we choose as our first gifts to our kid? Why? Where did they come from? How much did they cost me? What were the inherent trade-offs? How did we come to those decisions?

My love of Stuff, my relationship with it, ebbs and flows. I strive to live the “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” adage. But, the categories defined therein, they change. Things I once found beauty or use in, they fall out of favor. My taste at 18 is generally not my tast at… much older. Old possessions must be ousted for new. Things I find infinitely useful now (food dehydrator anyone?) would have languished and been subject to purge just a few years ago. Stuff is not static. Some things I will have forever. Prize possessions. But, as with most relationships, things will make their way in and out of my life. It’s navigating that truth, understanding the intricacies of that reality where you can level-up as a consumer… maybe not a non-consumer, but a lesser.

So I sit in the cush new glider, by far the most expensive item in the room, why? Because I anticipate we’ll spend hours in it, feeding, reading to and generally fawning over our baby. After those years of service, it will seamlessly migrate to the living room, where it matches planned furniture changes, and take up a second tour of duty. After an exhaustive 2nd hand search it was procured brand new, made in Canada, from a swanky retailer. With a discount (duh), but still.

This purchase doesn’t put us over the edge. It won’t cost my kid his education. It doesn’t lessen the time away from work I get to spend with him. It’s from money put away for this purpose. To be enjoyed in anticipation, and (perhaps even someday) in the action of loving this person we made. Its the part of the equation that could go wrong, if over-indulged. Fortunately, it can be balanced out.

My posh chair affords me a view of the rest of my accomplishments; a handmade stump side table (free), pallet bookshelves (free) full of gifted books (priceless), an ikea dresser (cheap), wall art put together with repurposed items (free), items found on clearance or at discount (cheaper), or from thrift minded local artists (with tag lines like ‘cheap art is expansive’), trendy baby toys I used store credit for, right along side the ones I purchased at consignment. The list goes on, and somehow it feels right. Lots of gifts from people who love us, a good mix of conscious decisions, and a healthy dose of etsy. It looks good, even from my high priced seat.


And ain’t that always the way? It’s not the most expensive things that make us happy. Its not the things at all really. That’s not the revelation. It’s the process, the decisions, and now the aforementioned basking, which certainly helps lessen the blow of baby appendages in my ribs. Much of this won’t last. No matter how much it cost me. It will go the way of so much of our stuff. Recycled or re-used, if I have anything to say about it. Definitely not here forever. For now though, with dogs at my feet, powerless against the allure of a strip of sunshine and a new area rug, waiting with me. All of us, enjoying this place we created, the cheap, the expensive, the just right.

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I love the stump table and all the little animals. Actually, I love it all. It looks great!

Your description of how stuff works is really great. I find myself pining for new stuff because the things we have don’t seem to suit who were are now. They’re just leftovers from college and hand-me-downs. Finding quality things that we both like is exciting and makes our house feel more like home–even if it does mean being a consumer, at least we are more conscious of our choices than we used to be.


I firmly believe consumerism has its time and place… and function as part of our lives. Be it transition, growth, what have you. What we are buying, when, want or need, corresponds to where we are in our lives, and makes it easier or harder… depending on how conscious we are.

Also, I’ve been coveting that stump table on pinterest for months! 😉

Nancy Smith

Gorgeous baby room! I love it!


The nursery is so sweet – I love it. I feel you on the 41 weeks. Baby #1 was induced at 42 weeks. I was so miserable at the end of my pregnancy with #2 that I quickly agreed to let him be induced at 41 weeks.

You are so right about the evolution of the usefulness of stuff – I had never really thought about it in that light before. In the same vein, your view of necessary stuff will change when you become parents. I’m learning that will continue to change as you add to the family: at even only a month old I can tell that baby #2’s personality is very different from his older brother and he’ll have different needs as a result.

Miser Mom

“It’s not the most expensive things that make us happy. Its not the things at all really. . . . It’s the process, the decisions, and now the aforementioned basking,”

How true — it’s just so much fun to play with the things, that the things themselves are secondary. When I was a kid, the fun part of playing with doll houses was rearranging the furniture; the dolls just got in the way for me. And putting together train tracks is, like, ten times more fun than pushing the trains around. Now that I’m a grown-up, the toys just got much bigger.

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