How to maximize space in a small nursery

Looking for ideas to make the most of a small room? When we had our first daughter we had two rooms to choose from. One was about the size of some people's master closets and the other was a pretty good sized bedroom.

We were living far from home at the time so we decided to save the big room for guests and turn the small room into a nursery. Thankfully babies don't need much space but they do seem to require a lot of surprisingly large STUFF.

With a little pre-planning, we created a beautiful, organized nursery for our baby girl. One we all loved (and fit in). I've boiled our process down into 5 key steps to make it super easy for you to maximize space in your baby's room.

1. Pick the crib wall first

Unless your room has no windows, you’re probably limited to one (maybe 2 walls) that can hold the crib. Figure out the best spot first and then move on to other pieces.

Depending on space, you may center it along the wall or tuck it into a corner. Avoid centering against a window for safety reasons.

Once you know where the crib is going you'll know how much space you have left for other pieces like a glider / rocker, clothing storage and a hamper.

2. Make the most of the space (and furniture) you do have

Take inventory of the existing space. Is there an extra large closet or a tiny one?

The first one is a blessing - if you have a big enough closet you can probably skip a dresser and focus instead on maximizing the closet space. Home Depot and The Container Store make awesome closet systems you can buy and install the same day.

If the closet is super tiny, you'll either need to be really minimal about what you buy OR you'll want to prioritize dresser space and storage under the crib.

Really need a dresser? Skip the dedicated changing table and convert the top of a 3 drawer dresser instead. You can either buy a piece to make the top of the dresser look like a changing table, or just buy the changing pad and secure it to the top of the dresser on its own.

Added bonus – once your baby outgrows the changing pad you can pull it off and have a dresser ready to go for their big kid room.

3. Think about the flow of the room

Just like a kitchen has an ideal flow to make cooking easier, your nursery should be laid out in a way that makes caring for baby a breeze.

Keep your chair close to the crib to limit the distance you have to travel with baby in the middle of the night. You’re going to be tired so make things easier on yourself – don’t put the chair across the room where it’s easy to trip on toys.

Same thing with your changing station. If you plan to store diapers in the closet, setup a changing area nearby (if you can.) That way when you run out of wipes in the middle of a messy diaper change you won't have far to reach.

4. Test your furniture placement BEFORE you buy

This is my FAVORITE step. Do not skip this. It will seriously save you SO.MANY.HEADACHES.

All those Amazon boxes you (or your hubby) have been hoarding? It’s finally their time to shine.

Break out the measuring tape and the scissors and cut out cardboard shapes that match the dimensions of the furniture you’re considering. Now I don’t mean build a 3D cardboard crib (although it would be pretty cool if you did).

You just need to cut out squares and rectangles to match the amount of floor space the item will take up.

Layout all of your pretend furniture to make sure there’s breathing room between each piece. Feeling cramped? Good thing you practiced before you purchased.

Trim down the offending furniture (or get rid of it all together) and try again. Once you find the right sizes for each piece you can compare them to other items you like to see if they'll fit.

Happy with the layout? Add your favorite items to your registry or buy them yourself if you just can’t wait to get started.

5. Storage, storage and more storage

In case you missed it, babies tend to have a lot of stuff. Do they need it all? Nope, probably not. Will you be able to avoid it? Nope, probably not.

My favorite solution? Woven baskets! These small-space all stars are easy to tuck into corners and keep your space feeling both pretty AND organized. A huge win when you’re dealing with limited square footage

And don’t forget to make use of the space under the bed. Most cribs are high enough off the ground that you can fit a couple of plastic storage tubs underneath.

It’s the perfect spot to store clothes that are outgrown or too big. Cover them with a pretty crib skirt and you’re good to go.

Ok, ok. I said I have 5 secrets but as I was writing I realized there's a 6th. This isn't a "must do" but it's a "good to think about" so I'm sharing.

6. Draw the eye up

One of the best (and also the most time consuming) things we did in Ava's room was install the white board and batten trim. The white trim made the room feel bright and drew your eye up to the pretty coral color on the top half of the walls.

Other (less time consuming) options include hanging long curtains a few inches below the ceiling (make sure they are out of reach of the crib) or choosing a light colored paint for the walls.

You can get away with dark paint in a small room but just know it'll make the space feel cozier so you'll likely want to choose light furniture and limit the clutter if you don't want to feel too cozy.

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