Decoupage a Dresser: A Tutorial

This guest post is from Samantha, a 30 year old mom who works in marketing from home. Samantha shows us how she decoupaged a dresser for her daughter’s nursery. I love that she’s planning to have her daughter add to the design when she’s older.

As a frugalista, I would see friends’ nurseries and marvel at how put together they looked, but once I started researching the cost, I would cringe. I did not want to spend the money on anything but items that could be used again and would grow up with our daughter. We received a hand-me-down dresser from my brother’s fraternity house that was in decent shape, and I hadn’t found a place for it in our home. I saw an idea in a magazine to decoupage the front of the drawers and inspiration struck me. If you’ve ever been in a sorority, you are very familiar with Mod Podge. Every year I would buy a 16 oz. container and proceed to put my sorority letters on everything I owned.

Since the farm life was such a huge part of my husband’s upbringing, we decided that a modern, girly, farm nursery would be best. I found animal silhouettes on the internet and cut out the pieces from scrapbook paper (card stock will work too, anything that’s a little thicker than regular paper to stand up to the moisture of the glue).

First, lay out the pieces. I tried several different versions before settling on one I felt worked.

Next, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge glue (available at any craft store for $3-$5) with a sponge-tip paint brush ($1 at the craft store) to the area where your piece will go.

If you have pieces next to each other, apply one long stroke rather than a bunch of little ones. You want to go for consistent strokes.

Place the piece on top of the glue and press down until the piece is relatively secure. Let air dry about 5-10 minutes. Apply a thin layer of glue on top of the area, again going for one long consistent stroke over the pieces. Make sure you get the edges really good. You want each layer of glue to start to build up so the pieces will never peel away from the surface. Let dry about 20 minutes, until it’s dry to the touch. Repeat the process of applying a thin layer and drying 4-5 times. Let fully dry over night.

The next day, apply one layer of Clear Gloss Sealer, usually available next to the Mod Podge at the craft store. Let fully dry. Congrats! You’re done!

I believe ours turned out well, and I think she’ll be able to use it for several years. I hope to have her help me paint some designs on the sides when she’s old enough.

The total cost was about $8 with all the supplies since we already had the dresser. Now I just have to refrain from reverting back to my sorority girl days and decoupaging everything in sight.

This post is part of BC’s Nursery on a Budget Series. See more posts in the series.

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More DIY: Changing Table, Bedding, More

Changing Table
Check out this tutorial on how to make a space-saving, crib-top changing table (left) at Requires a bit of cutting, gluing, screwing, sanding, and staining.

Get instructions on how to make a fold-away changing table (right) at DIY network. Do note the “moderate to hard” difficulty level, however.

Learn how to make your own fitted crib sheets at the promising-sounding You’ll find patterns and how-tos on making quilts, fleece blankets and more here.

There’s another pattern for fitted crib sheets at Prudent Baby. I love the site’s tag line, “DIYs for Small Fries”. Check it out; you’ll also find out how to make everything from changing pad covers to shoes to bibs.

I’ve got a whole post on DIY mobiles coming up, so check back soon!

This post is part of BC’s Nursery on a Budget Series. See more posts in the series.

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Creating Inexpensive Custom Wall Art for the Nursery

This guest post, part of our Nursery on a Budget series, is from reader Holly. Find out how to easily add the finishing touches to your nursery without spending big:

You’ve done it! You have finally chosen the perfect bedding for your nursery. Or maybe, just maybe, you haven’t. Either way, art work is a great way to make that bedding pop or provide a much needed change to those recycled linens. There are so many options for art work! Personalize your room with a monogram, tailor those gender-neutral textiles, or add a dash of fun. The possibilities are endless!

Most parents automatically assume that there is no way they can actually make the artwork for their newest bundle’s room. I promise, you CAN! There are a few simple things that you need to consider first:

Look at the size of your room. Large open rooms with taller ceilings are a great fit for larger pieces of work. I have found that smaller rooms are the perfect backdrop for several smaller pieces of art that help define the spaces in the room.

Think color. Take your bedding in consideration. Do you want similar colors or something that provides more contrast? Either way, you may want to consult a color wheel. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to visit your local paint shop. Take a sample of your bedding. They will easily be able to show you complimentary, contrast, or tonal colors to go with what you already have. If this is just too much for you, check out some of the websites or magazines of home décor stores. Look for something with similar colors, not similar function or furniture. Take on one aspect at a time.

Go with a theme. This is probably my favorite part! I have had the opportunity to create several complete nurseries for friends. Each one has a very specific theme or feel that matches the parents. If you love being outside, choose a lighter, airy theme. If cuddling in with a good book is more your speed, add child-friendly characters to your room. Many moms even use their sorority’s mascot! Don’t be afraid to take a leap, paint is easy to change! Pairing color and theme make the next few steps so much fun!!

Design!! Yup, I said it—design. You really can do it yourself. Most children’s art is based on basic shapes. Still a little scared? Use royalty-free clipart and carbon tracing paper (available at most craft stores). Print the picture to the size you want, place the picture on top of the canvas with the carbon paper sandwiched in between. Trace the major lines. One important thing to remember though—prime the canvas first!! Just use a basis white acrylic paint, cover the canvas completely, and let it dry overnight. After priming, add the major lines of your print using the carbon method or free hand drawing. Use acrylic paints to fill it in. And, ta-da, you’ve done it! One of the easiest ways to finish of a painting is to use a sharpie instead of trying to use a small paintbrush to add the finishing details.

Add the little touches. I like to use a coordinating ribbon around the edges of my canvases. This is just one way to finish off the picture. I also like to hang them in creative ways. One of my favorites is to use a cabinet door knob. Most hardware stores sell a two-sided screw just for this. I know Home Depot does! Just put one of those plastic anchors in the wall, put the two sided screw into the knob, then screw the knob into the anchor. Add ribbon or tulle to the top of your picture. Hang it and you’re done! However, I do suggest adding a small nail just under the top edge because some ribbons or tulle can stretch.

Another important thing to consider is what other options you have. Sometimes you might want something a little more original that just the standard canvas. One option that’s popular right now is a feather wreath. Just use a foam floral wreath, several feather boas in your color choice, and some straight pins. Add a loop of ribbon for hanging before you begin wrapping the boas around the form.

Another idea that I love as a teacher is to use the dust jackets from children’s books as a room border. Not big into books? Use family photos!

Old window panes are also an option. Add these to walls where your child will not have access to because they are so heavy! Canvases are a much better choice for over the crib, and possibly over the changing table depending on how active your baby is.

Also consider using the quilt to your bedding as artwork. Use small nails to hold it to the wall. If the nails pull through, add a decorative button as a “washer.”

The most important thing to remember when doing art work for your little one’s nursery is this: you have to like it! You are the one that will be seeing at all hours of the day and night. Make it fun or make family focused. Use color and theme. And remember, paint is cheap! Use canvases instead of painting straight on the wall. That way, if you don’t like, you only have to repaint the canvas, not the entire wall or room!!

Whew! I think that’s a pretty good start! I would love for ya’ll to reply with what you have used as themes and color combinations.

This post is part of BC’s Nursery on a Budget Series. See more posts in the series.

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DIY: Easy and Cheap Swaddling Blankets

Swaddling isn’t for every baby, but it sure helped my son (and us!) get some rest. The swaddling blankets a neighbor hand made for us before my son was born worked soooo much better than anything we found at the store. They were the right size and shape (square) and not too stretchy.

Rookie Moms has a super-easy tutorial up today about how to make your own swaddling blankets for $5 or less. Harvey Karp would be proud!

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DIY Dresser Ideas for the Nursery

Save big on your nursery decor by painting or wallpapering a dresser yourself. It’s a fun weekend project. Here’s a bit of inspiration. Click the links beneath each to see it larger and/or for a tutorial.

Ask family and friends if they have any unwanted pieces in storage. Or check your local or Craigslist for freebies. You can also pick up dressers on the cheap from yard sales and thrift stores.

BC Reader Andrea

BC Reader Janel

BC Reader Rachel

More B-U-Y than DIY? Shop Craigslist and for freebies and cheepies near you. IKEA is also a great source (Malm!) if you’re lucky enough to live near one. You can find inexpensive but stylish dressers under $200 at, and elsewhere. Instead of buying a kids-only item, choose something that will grow with your child. Add color by switching the knobs or handles out with something fun. You could even add removable decals.

And don’t forget: A dresser can double as a changing table. Just attach a changing pad to the top (many come with straps for this purpose).

This post is part of BC’s Nursery on a Budget Series. See more posts in the series.

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DIY Nursery Storage: Curtained Shelving

I saw this in the most recent Land of Nod catalog. What an easy way to add in expensive covered storage to a nursery! Wire shelving systems like this can be purchased from home improvement stores for $50 or so. You could even cover a non-matching bookshelf that you already have to make it coordinate with your nursery decor.

Even if you can’t sew (me!), it seems like you could knock this out with some creative Stitch Withchery, velco-ing or glue gunning. I’m thinking you could even start with a couple of pre-made IKEA curtains. Here’s another example from and one from Skimbaco Home.

What do you think?

While looking around online to see if I could find any ready-made patterns, I discovered a similar idea that involves covering part of a bookshelf using a tension rod. Great for diaper storage or for hiding away things that you need access to but that aren’t display worthy.

This post is part of BC’s Nursery on a Budget Series. See more posts in the series.

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Resources: DIY Halloween Costumes

Sure, there are still six weeks or so until Halloween. But if you’re planning to make your kids’ costumes yourself, you’re probably ready to start thinking about it. Here are some ideas I’ve featured in the past:

MommySavers’ Happy (Frugal) Halloween page features a Homemade Costume Directory and Halloween how-tos for decorating, making face paint, and more. Don’t miss “Ten Costumes under $10.”

What do pot scrubbers and sponges have in common? It’s not what you think! They, along with just about everything else under the kitchen sink, become part of cute, low or no-sew Halloween costumes for your wee ones at (like the train costume, right). My favorite is the ballerina costume. The tutu is made from waxed paper, plastic bags, and mesh onion sacks! Take a look at the online slide show. The instructions are there, too.

Amy at Mom Advice has a great article on how to find Scary Deals on Halloween Costumes. Amy gives some creative ideas for sewing, making, and otherwise scaring up some diabolical disguises, as well as recipes for homemade face paint and grease paint.

Family Fun magazine is my own go-to site when I need inspiration. See their list of more than 100 “easy-to-make” costume ideas, including this princess costume (left).

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Save Money with At-Home Kiddie Hair Cuts

Do you cut your kids’ hair at home? You can easily save around a hundred dollars a year if you’re up for it. Here’s a little motivation. Below, reader Betty K. describes how she cuts her son’s hair with clippers:

Before our son was born, my husband and I always knew that we would cut our son’s hair. We knew it would be much more cost effective and in some ways “easier” if we did the work ourselves. We invested in a simple hair clipper set at Bed Bath and Beyond (using the 20% coupon) for about $20-25.

Since my son was only about four months old when he received his first hair cut, we thought we would have plenty of opportunities to try different hair cutting techniques. After all, a baby is much more forgiving of a bad hair cut compared to a stylish teenager.

Before the hair cut, we strip our son down to his diaper and place him in his baby bath tub on the bathroom counter. My husband and I team up (one person using the clippers and the other person distracting the child with a toy/holding the child) to make sure our son would not move around too much during his hair cut. Our son was pretty still during his first hair cut, which was just shaven all around to give it a fresh start. Of course that meant he was bald until his hair could grow out more evenly. You do not have to do this the first time you cut your child’s hair. We did this only because our son’s hair looked like my grandpa’s receding hair line (no hair on top and hair all around the sides).

The subsequent times we cut his hair, we used two different clipper settings. It was an experiment for the next several cuts. My husband used the #2 clipper for the sides and the #7 clippers on top, but that left our son with too much hair all around. We tried to use scissors to cut the top, but it looked too jagged. We realized that the clippers gave a cleaner look. Finally, after the third try, my husband figured out the best setting for our son: #1 clipper on the sides and #6 clippers on top. However, we still used scissors to cut at any stray hairs that didn’t make the cut.

In some ways, it was easier for us to deal with our son’s head movements and fits of crying when he heard the clippers going. He even trusted us enough to allow us to bring a loud noisy object to his head. And though our son is only 10 months old, he has now received his fifth or sixth hair cut. That’s savings that can go back in our pocketbooks.

More on cutting hair at home:

How to Cut a Little Boy’s Hair (Almost Frugal)
Cutting with Clippers
The Dollar Stretcher: Cutting Your Own Hair
Mormon Chic: Haircuts at Home
How to Cut Hair Video: How to Cut Your Child’s Hair at Home

Readers: Share your home haircutting tips and stories in the comments!

photo by archibald jude via Flickr

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Sew Your Own (Wipes and Covers, too!)

Patterns and guidance for the truly thrifty:
Frugal Baby Tips
Diaper Jungle: Sewing Cloth Diapers
Very Baby Blog: Diaper Sewing Tutorials

From what I’ve read it’s quite easy to sew a cloth diaper for under $10. Have any of you tried making your own diapers?

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