Small Space Baby Nursery Designs

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You don’t need a full sized spare bedroom to design the perfect nursery for your new baby. Use these tips for creating a fully functional small space nursery in your home.

Measuring The Space Required For A Nursery

The first step toward designing your small space nursery is measuring the size of the room. Space is crucial, so you’ll need to know exactly how much room you’ll have to work with, down to the inch. When the room is empty, it may look large enough to accommodate everything, but looks can be deceiving. Once you have the measurements of the room, you’ll be able to measure out the exact area you can place a crib, changing table, chair and shelving. Purchase furniture pieces with these size requirements in mind.

  • After measuring the room, look online for nursery furniture you are considering purchasing. Mark the outline of each piece based on the dimensions provided online on the floor with painter’s tape. Can you walk freely between each item? Can you fit all the pieces you wanted?
  • If friends and relatives will be loaning or giving you gently used items for the nursery, ask for photos and measurements so you can fit those items into your plan and choose new purchases accordingly.
  • If you need extra space, consider skipping a dresser or shelving unit and plan to install plenty of wall-mounted shelving.

Making The Nursery Appear Larger

Employing a few optical illusions to your advantage is a smart way to design a chic yet small nursery. You can make a tiny room look more spacious by using these tricks:

  • Paint the walls a light color, and use lightly colored window treatments. Yellow, pink, green, beige and lavender work well.
  • Choose two or three large furniture pieces instead of five or six smaller ones. The room will seem somewhat more spacious and much less crowded.
  • Consider adding mirrors as wall art. Groupings of small mirrors will help enhance the natural illumination and make the space appear larger and brighter, especially when placed on the wall across from a window. Just be sure the mirror doesn’t reflect sun beams directly into the crib at any point during the day.
  • Prefer small-scale prints in light colors to large-scale prints, dark plaids or wide stripes.

Decide What You Really Need

New parents always want the "perfect" nursery and tend to go overboard outfitting it with the latest gadgets. Your best bet for staying within budget and within the space limitations of a small nursery is to sit down and make a list of what you really need. If this is your first baby, it might be a good idea to ask a few veteran parents for their opinions. Items like large, ornate cribs, baby wipe warmers and diaper disposal systems may seem indispensable, but could turn out to be "extras" you don't need, won't use and can’t fit.

Choosing Furnishings

The biggest consideration when choosing furniture for a small baby nursery is safety. You've probably heard about safety recalls for everything from plush toys to cribs. The best way to make sure the furniture and other baby accessories you use are safe is to check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's Recall Page (CPSC) for updates on problems with baby furniture, accessories and toys. You can evaluate current and past recalls, too. It's a good idea to subscribe to the CPSC's Recall Notification List for automatic warnings and updates. This is a free resource.

After safety, space is probably your biggest concern when outfitting the baby's room. If it's any consolation, you're not alone. Baby accommodations are usually reserved for the smallest bedroom in a home or apartment. That's probably one reason there are so many space saving nursery options on the market:

    • Use vertical spaces - Instead of expanding out into the family room or living area when clutter becomes a problem in the nursery, outfit the baby's room with plenty of storage space. Modular closet storage is one customizable option, while wall mounted room shelving is another. Either solution can double or even triple the storage space in a small nursery. (All those baby items need to be stowed somewhere.) Use baskets to store more items on shelves.
    • Prefer double-duty items - The biggest space saving tactic you can employ in your baby's room and beyond is to invest in furnishings that can do more than one thing well. Cribs that convert to child beds and dressers that can double as changing stations earn their square footage -- and the price you pay for them. Here are some options:
      • Cribs with onboard storage drawers or cabinets
      • Armoire and media center combos
      • Hassocks that include storage cubbies
      • Glider rockers that also recline

Decorate With Long-Term Comfort & Style In Mind

While it may be tempting to pack the nursery with baby-specific furniture and décor, keep in mind that your child will outgrow these items in a manner of years. When decorating, keep these money and space saving tips in mind:

      • Purchase standard bedroom dressers, tables and nightstands over baby specific furniture. They can not only act as storage, but will easily be transferred into the child’s bedroom décor as they grow older. This idea also works for wall storage. Adorable baby furniture is cute, but it’s also incredibly expensive and will only be needed for a few years.
      • If space becomes a serious issue, these items can be moved to other rooms of your home without appearing out of place.
      • When the time comes to remodel the nursery into a young child’s bedroom, simply repaint these furniture pieces to give them a new, more mature look. By this time, your child will likely have a favorite color that you can easily paint on yourself rather than searching for brand new pink, orange or purple pieces they’re likely to tire of soon enough anyway.

One of the nicest things about quiet time with baby is being able to sit in comfort and savor the moment. Be sure to include a cozy chair on your nursery wish list. Instead of opting for a chair upholstered in a baby theme or color, choose a neutral chair you can move into another room later. Recliners and rockers are nice, especially wall hugging models designed to save space. If you do plan to move the chair in and out of the room due to space constraints, consider a comfortable office chair with wheels. Simply drape a blanket over it for a softer, baby-friendly look.

Last Updated: August 9, 2012
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About Sara Elliot Sara Elliott is a freelance copywriter and dedicated blogger. Her popular gardening, cooking and crafting blog, The Herb Gardener, was cited by The Wall Street Journal for its fun and frugal tips. Sara has a degree in English, and you can find her health, crafting, and lifestyle pieces on sites like,, and

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