How to Make a Nursery Pretty but Practical

When your baby arrives, it is important that you have created a warm and homely setting so that they are as comfortable as possible, to try and keep the late night tantrums to a minimum! It’s important to note that you will also be spending a lot of time in that room with the baby, so it needs to be an ideal space for you too. If space works for the baby but not for you don’t forget that this will impact the baby too – if you are grumpy or tired or in pain, you might not do as good as a job tending to your baby – especially because it requires so much patience.

Preparing a nursery can seem like too much to handle or to do in 9 months, but rest assured if you plan and organize what you need to do before you start knocking down walls you will be left with an end result to be proud of! Instead of buying everything from stores, you may find that furniture in your home that is obsolete can be repurposed to function just as well as the latest gizmo you see online and feel like you “have to” buy, in order to give your baby the most comfortable experience possible. This really isn’t true, if you put your resourcefulness to the test you will start to see opportunity where you first saw only blank walls and empty floors. In all the madness, do not forget to try and enjoy the experience – after all, it is the prelude to welcoming a beautiful baby into your home!

Adaptable and Adjustable


Babies grow rapidly – they will outgrow clothes, cots and cribs fairly quickly, and you’ll have to keep adapting to their rapidly changing size. To ensure this isn’t a costly process, you’ll have to be savvy and plan ahead. The number one tip would be to buy items like cribs and changing tables that are adaptable in size and/or height so that as your baby grows you can simply adjust the equipment. This means you don’t have to buy anything new and leave cots and cribs that have been outgrown to gather dust in a corner. For example, even wardrobes and shelves that have room to be adapted will be of great benefit to you, as you can adapt them depending on whether you need a lot more or a lot less storage space. There is a specific marketplace for modifiable furniture, so make the most of it buy things that will last a few years rather than a few months – it may be more costly initially, but in the long run, you will thank yourself for having saved a lot of money!

Cost-Saving Conversions

Convertible Cot

Examples include convertible cots that, once your baby is big enough, can be transformed into a bed, meaning one less costly purchase for you to make. The bed should then last you a good while before another upgrade is required to a more standard sized bed. Even the seating options you may install for friends, family or yourself, can serve a double function. An example of this would be a daybed where parents can rest in between shifts, but which can also be turned into a bed for your child once they require one. More conventional seating like sofas and armchairs are also fine for when visitors want to pop in and spend some time with the new addition!

You don’t always need to shop on baby sites when shopping for a baby. Conventional household furniture and other items can be adapted so that they can serve a dual purpose. This is also a great way to minimize the amount of floor space you use, which is effective in making a room feel less cramped. You could convert a dresser or drawers into a surface where you can change your baby and take care of some sanitary needs. All you would need is a simple mat for the baby to rest on, and for the dresser to be fairly low so that you can comfortably tend to your baby. Padding of other sorts can also serve the same function as a mat or blanket when you are looking for something comfortable to rest your baby on. If you do opt for a changing table made specifically for changing babies, keep in mind that they can often be pricey. It is advised to make sure it is the kind of table that also offers a lot of storage, so as to ensure that you are getting more bang for your buck. You could even buy a detachable changing table top, to use in coalition with a dresser or drawers. This is a great way to be space and cost efficient. Another useful idea is to get something similar to a kitchen or drinks cart and convert it into a portable storage option. It would be particularly apt for storing day to day goods like diapers and milk and can be wheeled around easily to take the stress off your joints. Little conveniences like these add up to make your day a whole lot easier!

Convenient Cribs

ikea cotsYou may be tempted to shell out a lot of cash for premium, sparkly, state-of-the-art cribs, however, you’ll come to find that that really isn’t the only and necessary option. If you do a bit of digging around online, or even if you simply ask for advice from friends and family, you’ll begin to realize that there are a lot of alternates, and sometimes cheaper and more convenient, ways to do things. As an example, multi-purpose cribs can be an even better bet as they kill two or even three birds with one stone. These are great for supporting your little one from their baby through to their toddler stage, without any need for any more shopping around, saving you a lot of time and energy in the future. If you have opted for a second-hand cot as a money saving alternative, always take caution and make sure it is structurally sound and poses no harm to the baby in terms of jagged edges or splinters. Cots with a collapsible side are also very convenient because it is easier to lift your baby up as and when needed, without excessive strain on your back or neck.

Sleep and Storage

baby sleeping bag

Another important feature to consider implementing in a nursery is a dimmer switch – it ensures you can adapt the lighting level to your exact needs – so that it is easier for the baby to go to sleep, but you also aren’t left stumbling around in the dark, which can not only be frustrating but also dangerous for you. In a similar vein, blackout curtains ensure that even when your baby is going down for a daytime nap you can omit all light from the room, which makes it substantially easier for your baby to wind down. It’s certainly not a purchase you will regret! In fact, you may like it so much you get it for your own bedroom. It could be especially important for those who have to sleep during daytime hours but might struggle due to the sun streaming in through the window.

When it comes to making the most of a small space, you’ll find that your creativity and problem-solving skills will be pushed to new extremes. Babies, along with their essentials, end up occupying more room in a house than one may assume at first. They need food, diapers, cribs, rockers, walkers and the list goes on and on, and you need to find a way to store all this too, not just buy it! Try to achieve the kind of interior where you can clean up as you go with ease, rather than having to put aside all other responsibilities to clean up the nursery because it’s a mountain of mess.

While it can be tempting to buy a million and one toys and gadgets for your baby, it would be better if you could restrict yourself to only the items actually worth having – you’ll find that you may become frustrated trying to pack away dozens upon dozens of things night after night, half of which were not really essential, but bought on a whim. Having too many little titbits lying around can even be a potential danger to a baby who can swallow them or crawl on them. To be truthful, the baby is entirely oblivious to 90% of the cuddly toys you bought them so that they had a lot to play with – we buy a lot of things for our own satisfaction rather than for the babies. It is vital that you have a functional storage system in place for small items like bottles, clothes and toys so that they aren’t left lying around and can be taken care of quickly and in an organized manner. Heaven forbids you should stumble upon something in the middle of the night that you forgot to pick up off the floor, it could be perilous to you and your baby’s health.

Shiny Shelving

Shelves will be your saviour when it comes to maximising storage space in a nursery. While you may be told that being organized when you are the parent of a young child is impossible, you’ve at least got to give it a try. Shelves can also be great at displaying decorations and art, as well as things like storybooks for your child to look at or read. You can even keep stuffed toys up there to create a quaint display piece that adds some new colours and textures to the nursery, as well as makes space the baby’s own. You can experiment with the types of shelves you opt to install, and could even try out something like a hexagonal shelf, which will serve the same function but adds something quirky and clean to the exterior. It is strongly recommendable to go for wall shelves rather than floor shelves, as they take up significantly less space and are apt at giving your nursery a modern and fresh feel. It is also quicker and easier to give wall shelves a wipe down should they start collecting dust or suffer any spills or scribbles because of a mischievous child!

If floor shelves are preferable to you for whatever reason, try to go for shelves that are tall rather than those that are wide – it’s often the more space efficient option. Of course, if you have very low ceilings in the nursery then a tall shelving unit may not be a viable option. Ensure that any kind of shelving is fixed firmly to the wall and cannot be pushed or swayed by even the most determined of toddlers. If you are short for space in the nursery then floating shelves should be at the top of your list, offering you a lot of storage whilst taking up the absolute minimum amount of space. Your shelves can hold everything you need for your baby’s night-time routine, be that a bottle or a special cream – everything will be at hand if you install a floating shelf next to the cot or crib. If you hang a floating shelf low enough it can even double as a desk or table for a little one, and if they make a mess you can simply wipe it right off. Another space-saving method of storage would be to install some hooks on the wall – most useful for clothes, hats, socks and other garments so that you don’t have to go searching for them deep down in the cupboard somewhere!

Book ledges are even slimmer than floating shelves, though your compromise will be that they are of course less versatile. However, if you already have or want to raise an avid reader, start now with a range of books on some charming book ledges! They are certainly not a pricey investment and don’t take much to put up, so what are you waiting for? Grab a book!

Storage, Storage, Storage…

There are a variety of nooks and crannies that are empty but have the potential to be a convenient storage space. Look in places like behind doors or under cribs. Places like these would usually be used for storing surplus or out of season items that you use infrequently. Clean away the cobwebs under the crib and store spare powders and creams that you won’t be needing for a month or two. For clothes that you aren’t using because of a season or other reasons, it may be best to store them away in a drawer or dresser rather than hang them up – if they are exposed to the outside environment they will only start to pick up dust and maybe even get vandalised by a little one! When it comes to toys, you inevitably are going to build up a mountainous collection over the year – especially if you have had previous children. Get a toy basket or hamper the chuck toys in quickly and easily when playtime is over, and just tip them all out whenever the baby is full of energy. You can even find storage boxes that are wheeled, meaning that if you are storing heavier items you can move them around easier without straining any muscles. If you are in need of a whole lot of space, a floor to ceiling cupboard or cabinet may be for you, considering it stretches the entire height of the room.

Changing a diaper can be a whole operation, particularly if you are new at it. It seems like you need a million things all at once all whilst trying to keep a crying baby under control. You may be using a lot of space to accommodate diapers and changing tables and the like, but this isn’t really the most efficient way of doing things. You could opt for something like a changing “tray” – a changing table that can be attached to the top of a crib, and then removed and stored under the crib once the baby has been changed. You could consider it a changing station that takes up next to no space whilst doing the exact same job to the same standard, without compromising comfort or safety. You can fix these changing tables to the crib so that you have the peace of mind that they aren’t going to slip off. Another practical tip is to ensure that essentials like diapers and powders are stocked nearby when it comes to changing time so that you don’t have to go rummaging around the room and instead can keep a hand and an eye on your baby. Also make sure to have a bin nearby to quickly dispose of the unpleasant sights and smells, as a favour to others and yourself! Having essentials in close proximity just goes that little bit further in ensuring the safety of the baby.

If you are working with a small space, you cannot overlook any corner, any inch of the room – rack your brain to see if you can come up with a function for it, without making the room too cramped. One slightly more “out there” idea is to go for closet cribs, which can go in the closet so that more of the floor space is conserved. Alternatively, you could go for a “mini crib” that are designed specifically to take up the least amount of space possible – they are often very versatile and practical, offering 2-in-1 functions for added ease and adaptability. It doesn’t hurt that they don’t require you to break the bank as cribs can sometimes do! You can even make sure the door to the nursery swings outwards so that there is more space behind the door where you could keep a small box or hamper for dropping things in on your way out of the room.

Educating and Exciting

A nursery is a great place to implement educational décor that your baby can delve into as they begin to explore their surroundings and stimulate their senses. You can create an alphabet wall through a variety of means like banners, posters or cards. You can create a visually appealing collage of letters by cutting, sticking and drawing, and this is often an enjoyable activity for younger children to participate in. Décor likes maps and globes are also great at simultaneously adding interest and information to your walls. A large scare whiteboard or chalkboard is great for noting down important to-do lists and even track your baby’s growth in terms of height and weight. It’s also fun for young siblings to blow off a bit of steam whilst expressing their creativity. Other features like a rocking horse are quintessential nursery décor, providing both a desirable aesthetic but also a bit of quirkiness and enjoyment. You may find that some features only really come into use once your baby becomes slightly more independent as a toddler.

Top Tips

Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind whilst you go about renovating, so you can implement health and safety features as you go along. When installing carpets or rugs into your nursery ensure they are firmly fixed to the floor and are not in any danger of becoming trip hazards. Whilst you may have fun matching cute bedding with other elements of the interior, keep in mind that it’s better to have a few thin blankets rather than one thick one when wrapping up for the baby for a sleep – it makes it easier to cool down and warm up the baby as and when you wish. A money saving tip is to try and pick the kind of décor that can suit a variety of ages, so that even when your baby is all grown up they may still be open to having the same décor that was used in the nursery.

When placing furniture in the room consider the positioning of your baby’s crib or cot, just to make sure you aren’t making any unsafe decisions. Allow for plenty of space on the floor so the baby has some room to go roaming about and learn about the world. And when they get to an age where they can start crawling about, it would do you good to ensure you have washable wallpaper installed in advance, because of the inevitable mess that can be caused with paints and crayons – otherwise, replacing wallpaper could be a very costly alternative. The same goes for rugs, carpets and other features that will be a real drag to try and clean once they have been stained. Regardless of what furniture you order or buy for your nursery décor, make sure the most important pieces like the baby’s sleeping crib is ordered ahead of time, to account for any delays or other issues with delivery, after all, it won’t hurt to be on the safe side. Putting in some furniture for your own comfort, rather than just the baby’s is important too – after all, you’ll be doing the hard lifting looking after them! You can create a mini nursery by bringing the baby in your room but separating it with a curtain, to give the illusion of two different spaces. This is particularly good when you need to keep an especially close eye on your baby, and you’ll be able to pick up any sounds they make without the need for a baby monitor.

For many, the nursery will not be as spacious space as we may want it to be. Often we have to design a room that is more reminiscent of a cupboard to be the baby’s haven. If this is the case for you, fret not, for there are a plethora of ways to make your nursery seem like an airy and spacious place. Using light colours on your walls and ceiling will help to create the illusion of the space being larger. Darker colours will have the opposite effect, making space feel even more constricted than it already is. Go for lighter or neutral hues instead of deeper and darker tones. Having a curtain or other features hung up high on the wall directs our eyes upwards, which plays the trick of making a room seem like it stretches farther. Avoid cramming the room with toys, clothes and furniture so that the place doesn’t feel too tight. Stay away from the kind of décor that sticks out of your walls too much, as they feel as though they are intruding, and will take up valuable space.

So there you are! There were some very practical and useful tips when it comes to décor for a nursery. Of course, you can adapt these tips so that they make sense for whatever type of space you are working with. Sometimes décor isn’t about the aesthetic or making a space as pretty as possible at the expense of other factors – at times we have to put functionality first. If a room is not functional you will find that you try to avoid it anyway, so suddenly it ceases to matter how gorgeous it may be. Hopefully, these tips will make those early mornings and late nights more bearable! Happy decorating!


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