Home Office: Make Room for Baby -- on a Budget

Living in the city has its perks, but it can also involve some sacrifices. Many apartment dwellers put off starting a family because one sacrifice they don't want to make is giving up their home office for a baby nursery. I am here to tell you "Go forth and multiply," as you can have them both. You may not be able to have the spacious nursery pictured here, but you can certainly provide a cozy and comfortable room for baby.

I was inspired by an article in the The New York Timeswhich chronicled one couples' transformation of the husband's home office into a combination home office/baby nursery on a budget of $5,000. I decided to challenge myself to create a similar solution, but for half the price. Just remember: What you save in money you have to make up for in elbow grease, so roll up your sleeves and get ready to work!

floorplan, baby nursery, home office, room for babyWe begin with a room that is a mere 144 square feet (12 x 12). Our floorplan is similar to that of the designer's in the Times article, but we will execute it more cost-effectively by creating the dividing wall from two 7-foot-tall, solid wood bookcases ($700). The height will give lots of privacy and storage to both sides. One bookcase (by the desk) should face the office and one bookcase (by the crib) should face the nursery.

Be sure to secure the sides of the bookcases to the wall with brackets or bolts ($10) to keep them from tipping. The space between the two bookshelves will be the "doorway" between the two rooms. The beauty of using bookshelves instead of building a wall is it saves money, gives added storage to both rooms, and when you move you can take them with you.

Now would be a great time to repaint the room. The cost of a gallon of paint is approximately $30, and instead of hiring expensive painters, enlist some friends for the cost of pizza and beer (another $50). Just be sure not to serve the beer until after the painting is done!

home office, modular shelving This efficient modular office is our inspiration for the new home office area. To save money, we will reuse our current desk and filing cabinet, and simply install low-cost shelving components on the walls above and to the side of the desk. The tracks, brackets and shelves for this configuration will cost about $228 at your local home-improvement store. On the opposite wall we will add a credenza ($200) and more wall shelving ($102). The final addition to the home office is track lighting ($100), which can be angled toward the desk, the credenza, or the baby nursery for full functionality.

baby dresser, baby furniture, changing table, nursery furniture, overstock.com When working with a small space and tight budget you will want to find nursery furniture that serves double duty. I chose a crib ($225) that converts to a bed when the baby gets bigger, and a dresser ($249) that has a pad on top to double as a diaper-changing station. The furniture is arranged around an indoor/outdoor area rug ($100) which is extremely durable and can withstand any stain that a baby might create. If you end up moving to the suburbs, the rug can go outside on a terrace or deck.

armchair, nursery furniture, baby nurseryThe armchair ($225) was chosen for comfort while nursing the baby, but is stylish enough to move into the living room when not needed in the nursery anymore. To finish off the room I selected baby bedding for $40, a mobile for $35, wall art for $17, and full length draperies for $57. Not only will the draperies darken the room for baby's naps, they will also insulate drafty windows. The hardware to hang them was $30. All items were selected from online discount retailer Overstock.com. To save even more money you can check second-hand sources such as eBay or Craigslist.

So here we have created both a home office and a baby nursery in one 12 foot by 12 foot room. And we have done it all for $2398, $102 under our $2500 budget!

Barbara Green is The Design Diva and owner of Sensibly Chic Interior Design. She creates one of a kind interiors that reflect your taste, lifestyle and budget.

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