There's a lot you need to do when a baby is on the way, not least of all making space for it! But when you live in a tiny home or apartment, finding ways to carve out room for the newest member of the family can be a challenge. That's why we spoke to Jean Brownhill, CEO and founder of Sweeten, a free service matching homeowners with vetted general contractors, to get some tips on how to get the most out of a small nursery. From choosing the right door to the right decor, these hacks will help you design the perfect cozy space for your little one.
1. Take advantage of natural light with transom windows
Natural light helps make even small spaces feel bright and airy, but if you have a small house or live in an apartment, it's not always a guarantee you'll have lots of big windows to help you out.
Instead, Brownhill recommends adding a transom window (an interior window that connects two rooms) to your nursery. It will allow the light from the rest of the house to filter in, brightening up the space. For privacy, you can choose milk glass for the window.
2. Be clever with your doors
If your nursery is in a small room, being creative with the doorway can help open it up.
Brownhill recommends choosing an option that will help the room feel open to the rest of the home, like a door that's able to be opened all the way to lie flat against the wall, so the rest of the space in the room can be used. A pocket door that slides completely out of the way or a door with a glass window can also help the nursery feel like it's part of the rest of the home during the day, then close at night to give the baby a peaceful night's sleep.
3. Be flexible with your space
Creating a multiuse room can make your home feel a lot bigger. Using sliding partitions, you can turn a space into a family or living room during the day, then slide the partitions closed at night. A Murphy bed or convertible sofa act as a space-saving bed.
4. Don't stick to the original floor plan
Sometimes, it can be hard to revisualize your space, but there may be space for a nursery there that you hadn't thought about. Maybe there's a dining room or eat-in area off the kitchen that can easily be walled off and converted into a bedroom. Or, you can take advantage of existing stand-alone rooms by combining their functions — for instance, you could merge your dining and living areas, freeing up a room that can be converted into a new bedroom.
5. Use vertical storage
When your nursery has a small footprint, you need to get creative with storage. One of the best ways to make use of your space? Go vertical.
Install shelving or make creative rail storage (Ikea has plenty of options) where you can hang baskets, which you can stock with everything from changing supplies to small toys or even use as clothing storage.
6. Go monochrome
In kid's rooms, it can be tempting to go all out with a variety of bright colors, but that can make a small space start to feel overwhelming. Instead, consider decorating with neutrals in one light color. It can have the effect of making the furniture disappear, so the room feels big and airy even if it's quite small.
7. Keep things minimal
Be realistic about how many things your baby needs. It's tempting to load up on toys when you have a little one on the way, but babies really don't need shelves full of toys. Their brains develop so quickly, the toys that they need change rapidly, so it doesn't make sense to buy multiples of most things. Save the space for essential items, and trust that your baby will be entertained by the few toys you do purchase (teething toys are a must!) along with the wonders of the random household objects you have lying around (boxes, pots and pans, wrapping paper… you get the gist).
As your child grows, it's also wise to make a point to regularly donate toys that are no longer being used so you can free up space for new items they'll actually use.
With these tips, your baby's nursery, no matter how small, can be calm, efficient and chic.