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Make your small nursery seem larger with these 5 useful tips

How much room does a baby really need? They’re pretty small, so you’d think a small room should do the trick. If you’re an expecting or new parent, you’ve probably quickly realized that babies need a lot of gear, clothes, special furniture, and accessories. But don’t worry — there are plenty of ways to make a small nursery work for you.

Small nursery design is a skill all its own, from learning how to avoid clutter to choosing multipurpose furniture carefully. If you’ve got a small room for your baby, read on for these helpful design tips for nurseries that are short on square footage but big on function and love.

A chair and dresser In a nursery
virtua73 / Shutterstock

Paint it a light color

Light colors like pastels make sense for a calming baby’s bedroom, but they also make a room seem bigger. The light color reflects the light instead of absorbing it, making it seem brighter and therefore roomier. White, cream, light yellow, and light pink are all lovely choices.

Put only a small amount of furniture inside

The less you fill up the room with, the more open space there is, which will make the nursery look larger. Here are the absolute must-haves:

  • Crib
  • Changing station
  • Rocking chair or glider
  • Small amount of clothing storage for pajamas, swaddles, and sleep sacks

There are more baby necessities, but depending on how your home is set up, some items could be placed in other rooms. For example:

  • Daytime clothing storage
  • Hamper

If you have a huge closet in your room or extra space in your own dresser, why not add your baby’s clothes in there and get them dressed in your room? Same goes for a hamper — your baby can use yours. If you do have a closet in your baby’s room, maximize it. You can store boxes of diapers in there, hang up some clothes and sleep sacks, put the hamper on the floor inside it, or even fit an entire dresser inside the closet.

Here’s what you don’t really need:

  • Table
  • Footstool to go with the rocking chair or glider
  • Floor lamp
  • Floor-space toys like a rocking horse

A small table can be nice for certain practicalities, but a white-noise machine can go on the floor, and a lamp can be replaced with a nightlight that is put into a wall socket.


Make any furniture multipurpose

Combine, combine, combine! Get the combo crib-changing table, get the combo changing-table dresser, get all the combos! Again, more open floor space makes the space look larger.

Look at the image above, for example. That is the only piece of furniture you need in a small nursery besides a chair for you to rock your baby to sleep. There is storage for clothes, sleep sacks, swaddles, pajamas, fresh diapers, diaper cream, and clean crib sheets all in one, and the top surface can be used as a diaper-changing area. Remember that things like baby onesies are very small, so they don’t take up much space in a drawer, and you only need a few on hand at a time (the rest can be stored in your room or the baby’s closet).

The rocking chair can even be multipurpose. Get one with a side pocket in the armrest for board books and leave your feeding pillow like a boppy on the chair when not in use. You only need a couple of small bedtime books in the nursery at a time; the others can be in a bookshelf in a different room.

Set up to avoid clutter

Decide that your baby’s bedroom is not a playroom. Keep the nursery associated with bedtime, which will not only help with your baby’s sleep but also keep the space free of anything not needed for naps and nighttime. Toys and books can go in the living room and keep the nursery floor free.

Use the walls for decorations instead of table space or floor space. A small nursery can be decorated with cheer without having knickknacks taking up space.

Don’t over-register

It can be tempting to get every little bauble you think would be helpful, but a lot of those items serve one single purpose and aren’t truly necessary. Ask people to contribute toward the crib instead of getting another accessory. Keeping your small nursery simple and spare will help it seem bigger than it is.

Ready to get painting, buying, and decorating? Setting up your baby’s nursery can be exciting and fun … and a bit like piecing together a puzzle while finding all the just-right items to put in the space. Be selective and enjoy!

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Sarah Prager
Sarah is a writer and mom who lives in Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, National…
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