Practical Nursery Design

Posted on 29 October 2016


There is nothing sweeter than dreaming of the life you will have with the baby growing inside you, and then harnessing your crazy nesting powers to transform your nursery to reflect that dream.  I have a bit of experience in this area (think 3 under 3 x 2 moves in 2 years) and here are a few tips we picked up along the way. 

Learn from my mistakes my friends.


1. THE FLOOR.   Consider your flooring with this in mind…. at some point in the very near future, you will likely be sleeping on that floor with a pile of onesies as a pillow and two itty bitty blankets draped precariously over your exhausted, aching bones.  Tile is not your friend.  Wood floors are not your friend.  Scratchy jute area rugs are not your friend.  Think soft and fluffy, or at the very least, not course and itchy.  There are times when crawling onto the hard floor and passing out on your face is just more appealing than running back and forth from your bed every time your baby needs you.

2.  THE CHAIR.  Every nursery needs a good place to sit.  The size and design of this chair will depend largely on the size of your room and your design style.  However, there are a few things that all nursery chairs require.  It should rock, or swivel.  It should have a high enough back to rest your weary head.  It should have comfortable arm rests to prop up your arms when feeding baby.  It should have a foot rest, ottomon or pouf.  And it should be safe enough for your future toddler to use as a jungle gym.  If you have the luxury of space, you might consider a second seating option for your significant other.  If you have multiples, more seating is a must, even if it’s (ahem...) an old camping chair that you keep folded up in the closet.

3. THE LAMP. Lighting is important.  So important that I’m dividing it into two separate tips.  Don’t skip the lamp.  You need a lamp.  It should have a dim bulb so that you do not scorch your retinas in the middle of the night.  But more importantly so that baby doesn’t come fully awake during midnight diaper changes.  It should also be extremely easy to turn on and off.  Trust me on this, you do not want to be fighting with a problematic miniscule lamp knob/switch when you’re sleep deprived.  Said lamp might just end up in pieces on the floor.


4. THE CEILING LIGHT.  Your baby will stare endlessly at this light for years to come.  Although the builder grade boob light may be appetizing to your little angel, I think it’s worth switching out the fixture for something with more visual interest. This is a relatively inexpensive fix that can have massive impact on your design and can bring your child so much happiness.  

5. THE CHANGING TABLE.  Not super necessary.  You can get a dresser and put a little changing pad on top.  You will use a changing table for maybe a year.  Maybe.  After that it will be ridiculous to hoist your huge baby up onto a table and convince them to stay there long enough for you to change them.  A dresser is a better investment long term and can hide away piles of diapers and wipes and ointment and what not.  If you have the room, I’d get a wider dresser so there is a place to put supplies and to set your soiled diaper mid change.  You could use a wall shelf for this purpose if space is limited.

6. THE CLOSET. Include bins or baskets or some type of storage where you can keep the clothes they grow out of and the clothes they are about to grow into.  You won’t believe how fast they grow out of things.  If you don't have a system in place you will end up with piles of too small clothes on the floor that you plan to move to the garage "some day".  And you'll end up stuffing your baby into a too small outfit because you're too lazy to go dig up the clothes that actually fit.

7. HANGERS. It’s worth the money to spend a couple bucks on matching baby size hangers.  It makes things look tidy but more importantly it makes it easier for you to hang up and organize all those miniature clothes.  You will be tempted to just use the hangers that came with the outfits.  You will have many many many many hangers that come with outfits.  People might even try to save these up and donate them to you in a gesture of goodwill. These hangers get tangled up with each other and snap and break and fling plastic pieces into your face and also, they look like crap.  In case you can’t tell, I have strong feelings about the hangers that come with outfits.  It costs a dollar to get ten matching baby hangers.  One dollar!  You have no idea how much irritation this dollar will save you. 

8. THE STORAGE.  Babies require a ridiculous amount of stuff.  And you want to have a place to put that stuff right?  Diapers, wipes, diaper cream, hand sanitizer, toys, laundry, trash, pacifiers, clothes, linens... where will all of this stuff go?  Any opportunity you have to add storage, do it!  Things that double as functional storage and beautiful design elements are best. 

9. THE MOBILE.  Think outside the proverbial box on this one. This is an opportunity to find something really unique and fun for your baby to gaze at.  You don’t have to go for the traditional musical, light up mobiles, despite the fact that they come with matching bedding.  I bought custom mobiles on Etsy and my girls LOVE them, despite the fact that they don’t light up like a disco ball or sing Row Row Row Your Boat.  There are also some really great DIY mobile options if you’re crafty or short on funds.  Also, the mobile doesn’t necessarily have to be hung over the crib (gasp).  Little known fact - kids look at things other than the ceiling above their crib.  Maybe it goes over the changing table, maybe it hangs over the giant stuffed bear in the corner, maybe it hangs from your boob light I don’t know… get creative with it.  In fact, I will do a mobile round up post for you shortly, just so you can see what kind of fabulousness is out there... don't buy your mobile until you read it.

10. The bedding.  First let's talk about what you NEED.  You need a couple cheap sheets and that’s it.  Maybe a crib skirt depending on your crib.  You don’t NEED bumpers and quilts and blankets and decorative pillows and sheets made of flax linen from Belgium hand woven by magical fairies. Your baby will poop and  pee and spit up all over the crib sheet and you will go to change it and realize you haven’t yet washed the other crib sheet, so you’ll wish you had another one.  Now what you WANT, is for your baby to be comfortable (think breathable & absorbent).  If you are design minded,  remember that the crib is likely the focal point of this room.  All eyes will head there first so make sure the bedding blends seamlessly with your design.

Remember, this space is for you.  Yes, it’s all ABOUT your baby, but it’s FOR you.  You are the one who will rock your squishy little bundle to sleep in this room.  You are the one who will spend hours feeding and singing and swaddling and pacing back and forth in front of the crib.   Make this a place that is peaceful to you. 

The nursery is one of the only places in your house where you can create a beautiful, Pinterest worthy room without making concessions for other people’s opinions, or for cartoon character sheets or piles of mismatched toys that clash with your decor.   

Do it.  Own it.  You’ll be glad you did.

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1 comment

  • Gisele : October 30, 2016

    I wish I had this list, and you as my nursery designer, when I planned Graham’s room! Great tips!!

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