12 Tips for Designing a Minimalist Baby Nursery
For new parents, a quick jaunt around the aisles of your local baby-mart can be a pretty overwhelming experience. For the minimalist, it’s nothing short of a panic-inducing. “How can one little human need so much stuff,” you wonder as you navigate your way through a maze of designer cribs—some of which cost more than your first car. “Where am I going to put it all?”Take a deep breath, friend.
Whether you’re a devoted minimalist or just a parent with a limited amount of money and space, a minimalist baby nursery is totally within your reach. Not sure where to start? This helpful list of dos and don’ts will get you moving in the right direction.
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Minimalist Nurseries: The Don’ts
Don’t Buy an Expensive, Full-Sized Crib
Your little one won’t be in a crib forever. He or she may not spend much time in it at all. Many babies bunk in with mom and dad for the first six months to a year, rarely seeing the nursery. Even if your baby does spend time in his or her crib, he or she will be trading up in no time. Why invest hundreds of dollars in a piece of furniture you’ll only need for a year or two?
While a convertible crib may stand the test time, it also takes up a lot of space in your home and your budget. Planning on having more babies? Your oldest will likely get bumped when you find you need the crib again, and you’ll end up buying a toddler bed anyway.
Your best bet? Stick to the basics. Opt for a simple, budget-friendly cot with clean lines and a small footprint. When the baby outgrows his or her digs, skip the toddler bed and move him or her directly into a twin, freeing up the crib for use by younger siblings.
Don’t Buy a Changing Table
While a place to change your little one is a must, a changing table is not. Instead of paying a small fortune for a purpose-built changing table, create your simple changing station by adding a changing pad to an existing dresser.
Don’t Overdo the Accessories
Feel free to give your nursery a personal touch with art and accessories, but be careful not to overdo it. Remember, less is more.
Instead of trying to cover every last square inch of available space, focus on emphasizing two or three main focal points. For example, you might hang a single dramatic piece of art on the wall over the crib or create a cozy reading corner with a soft rug and a few accent pillows.
Try to avoid dust-ables and other purely decorative items that tend to clutter surfaces. Instead, look for toys that double as decors such as a colorful wooden abacus or a beautiful set of hand-carved stacking rings, and strive to choose useful accessories that combine form with function.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Good Lighting
Minimalism usually means doing more with less. Why buy three of something if you can get by with just one, right? But good lighting is a team sport. Relying on one overly bright ceiling fixture or a single, dim lamp can lead to eyestrain for both you and your baby. To get the balance right, focus on creating layers of light by using several lamps and fixtures to brighten the room as needed. Place your light fixtures in task-centric areas, such as over the changing table and beside the nursery chair, and you’ll never find yourself in the dark.
Don’t Skimp on Window Treatments
A nursery should be dark and cool. While there’s nothing wrong with keeping your window treatments simple, you want to make sure they’re getting the job done.
A warm and toasty nursery is not just uncomfortable—it’s dangerous. Installing double-lined, UV-blocking drapes or a set of heavy blinds can help your little one beat the heat during afternoon naps. You can also purchase a UV-blocking window film, which reflects the sun’s heat and can be applied directly to the window glass.
Minimalist Nurseries: The Dos
Do Keep Bedding Simple
According to the American Association of Pediatrics, a thin waterproof mattress cover and fitted crib sheet are all your baby needs to be safe and comfortable in their crib.
Bumpers, blankets, and other crib accessories, such as sleep positioners or wedges, can be dangerous—even deadly, dramatically increasing your little one’s risk of SIDS. Even so-called “SIDS-safe” products, such as mesh bumper pads and individual seat covers, present unknown risks and are best left out of the crib.
If you are concerned about your baby’s warmth and comfort, purchase one or two wearable blankets. These comfy sleep sacks envelope baby’s legs like a cozy, little sleeping bag. The top remains securely fastened around the torso, eliminating the risk of smothering associated with loose swaddling and traditional blankets.
Do Consider a Floor Bed
A staple of the Montessori approach, a cozy floor bed provides toddlers with a safe and comfortable sleeping space while providing them with a basic level of autonomy over the instinct of sleep. It’s also a great fall-free training bed for toddlers as young as one.
Once your little one old enough to sleep safely alone, simply pop his or her crib mattress on the ground. Install a baby gate at the door, and you can rest easy, knowing your baby is safe in his or her bedroom.
Do Buy a Good Nursery Chair
When it comes to choosing the perfect nursery chair, comfort is everything. Clean lines and simple aesthetics are all well and good, but if you’re going to stay up half the night rocking a fussy baby, you’re going to want to be in a comfortable chair—a comfortable chair.
Do Look for Dual-Use Items and Added Flexibility
In a minimalist nursery, everything should have a purpose—or two! When choosing furniture, opt for dual-use items, such as a dresser/changing table or seating that doubles as storage.
Flexible features, such as castor wheels or a fold-and-stow design, are also a plus, allowing you to do more with less. For instance, you may not need a bassinet for the bedroom if you can easily transport your baby’s crib from one room to another.
Do Get Creative With Closet Space
When you live in a small space, creativity is a must, especially when a new baby adds lots more clothing and clutter. Whether you have too little closet space or none at all, DIY closet solutions offer the perfect workaround. Many are both chic and affordable.
A spare closet also makes for a wonderful miniature nursery space.
Do Start a Toy and Book Rotation
Instead of filling shelves and baskets with a ton of toys and books, try starting a toy and book rotation. Organize your child’s favorite playthings into several themed stations, and change the selection regularly so that there is always something new and exciting to play with. Install low, sturdy shelves that double as play surfaces, and use book rails to display books where your toddler can see them. If you have space, invest in a few large toys that encourage imaginative play, such as a teepee or toy kitchen. They may be a little costly, but they’ll offer hours of mess-free entertainment.
Do Make It Beautiful
Your nursery may be simple, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful. Be sure to incorporate lots of rich, natural textures, and don’t be afraid to add a splash of color.
Working with a tight space? Try these clever changing table alternatives.
Changing Table Alternatives for Your Nursery
If you’re limited on space or short on cash, you may be asking yourself if a changing table is really necessary. While a place to change your little wiggle monster is a must-have, a changing table is definitely not.
A traditional changing table takes up a lot of floor space and can cost upwards of $200, which is a considerable investment given how quickly they outgrow their usefulness. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying the changing table of your dreams (or choosing a secondhand option), but there are more practical possibilities if you’re looking to make the most of your space and budget.
When you are looking for a smarter changing table alternative, try one of these five clever workarounds.
1-The Dresser/Changing Station Combo
Instead of purchasing a traditional changing table, opt for a low, sturdy dresser and convert it into a temporary changing station. Choose a padded changing mat with raised sides, and secure it to the top. Pair with a set of pretty wicker baskets or fabric bins for storing diapers and other necessities, and you’ll have everything you’ll need at arm’s reach. You’ll benefit from the extra storage a dresser provides and get far more use out of your purchase in the long run.
2-The Fold-Down Changing Table
A built-in, fold-out changing table may be exactly what you’re looking for when you are working with an exceptionally small space. These clever creations fold out of the wall to provide a sturdy changing surface that can be easily tucked away when not in use. They also allow you to capitalize on otherwise unusable space, such as the wall behind the door.
While it’s possible to purchase a wall-mounted model, you can build your own fold-out table by following simple online instructions, such as those from the DIY Network. Since the homemade model is actually built into the wall, it takes up less space. You can even convert it into a kid-friendly, fold-down workstation in the future.
3-The Folding Changing Table
If you love the idea of a foldaway changing table but are not so keen to start knocking holes in the wall; a folding or portable changing table is a good choice. It provides many of the same benefits as a built-in changing table without the tricky installation process; making it a more practical option for parents who rent their home.
These inexpensive freestanding changing stations fold flat behind the door or can be put in the closet when not in use; making them perfect for small nurseries with limited space. Lightweight and portable, the folding changing table also makes a useful companion to a bedroom bassinet, providing a handy changing surface during those first few months when the baby may be in your bedroom.
4-The Crib-Top Changing Table
It may not be sophisticated, but a crib-top changing table gets bonus points for practicality. Designed to fit horizontally across the top of the crib, these small wooden trays provide a perfect changing surface. When you’re done, just slide the entire unit under the crib.
5-The On-the-Go Changing Station
All you really need to change your little one is a flat surface, a washable mat, and your diapering supplies. Instead of spending money on a changing table, why not invest in a few sturdy caddies and a couple of large, portable changing mats? Stash these ready-made changing stations around the house, and wherever you are, you’ll always have your supplies on hand.
DIY Solutions for Kids’ Bedrooms Without Closets
No closet? No problem! Whether you’re sharing a room with your baby or just making better use of your closet space, these clever no-closet solutions are all you need.
If you need a new closet on a small budget you can skip the expensive store-bought wardrobe and try this simple DIY.
Start with a tall and sturdy bookshelf. Hit a few garage sales or comb through your local flea market for a bargain. Once you’ve found the perfect piece, remove the inner shelves and install a clothes rod kit. If your bookshelf is tall enough, consider doubling your little one’s closet space by installing a second rail. You could also choose to leave the bottom shelves in place, creating space for a few cute storage baskets. As with all tall furnishings, don’t forget to anchor your new wardrobe to the wall.
A chic curtain rod mounted to the bottom of some inexpensive, industrial shelving creates a stylish storage solution with a modern, baby-boutique feel. Display shoes or store other accessories in attractive shelf-top boxes, adding the occasional decorative accessory to reinforce the clothes-as-décor concept. For an even bigger statement, organize that pint-sized apparel by color.
With a little know-how and a length of pretty material, you could easily recreate this charming circus-tent storage rack. Simply purchase an inexpensive storage rack, and get sewing. You could even create an entire tented wardrobe using a cheap, portable closet frame.
4-Beaded Clothes Line
This clever clothesline prevents hanger slippage, ensuring clothes stay put instead of bunching up near the middle of the line. Create your own version using curtain hardware and store-bought crafting beads, or for a more simple approach, try draping a beaded garland across several ceiling hooks.
If you’re going for a modern nursery look, choose large beads of uniform size, shape, and color. For something a little more whimsical, use a drill to string up a set of vintage wooden building blocks. You can even opt for colorful wooden beads in assorted shapes for a playful look reminiscent of an old-fashioned, bead-push toy.
Put your baby’s finest threads on display by creating a stylish one-of-a-kind ladder rack. Given a bright coat of paint, an old-fashioned, wooden ladder makes for a playful clothes rack that’s perfect for a nursery or kid’s room. Mount your ladder horizontally using heavy-duty shelf brackets. Or stand it up against a wall (anchoring near the top) and hang those itty-bitty outfits from each individual step. Just be careful your little monkey doesn’t confuse your creation with playground equipment!
Have a little explorer with an unruly wardrobe? This kid-friendly, travel-themed closet may be just the ticket for keeping your little one’s adventure-themed room ready for action. Simply stand a large steamer trunk on its side, and install a clothes rail. Be sure to anchor the trunk to the wall to prevent accidents.
7-Curtain Wall Closet
If you have a large playroom with a serious lack of storage you can clear away the clutter with this simple —and beautiful — solution. Create a false wall by hanging wall-to-wall curtains from a ceiling-mounted track. Then install inexpensive industrial shelving to keep toys and games under control.
8-Curtained Clothes Nook
While architectural features like nooks and slanted walls give a room character, they can also result in a lot of wasted space. Need some additional storage? Put that square footage to work! Use curtains to close off unused areas, creating an impromptu closet for clothes, toys, and anything else you’d prefer to keep out of sight.
9-Easy DIY Closet
If you need a large, built-in closet this clever DIY may just be the next best thing. Purchase a tall and sturdy bookshelf. Place the bookshelf several feet away from and parallel to a wall. The unit should face outward, anchored to the adjacent wall by its side. Then install a clothing rail between the back of the bookshelf and the wall. Enclose your new closet with a curtain.
10-Loft Bed With Wardrobe
A great space-saver, loft beds allow you to reclaim the square footage formerly occupied by the bed and put it to good use. Purchase or build a model with additional built-in storage, or use the extra space to create a luxurious walk-in.