Long before we moved to California (and by long I mean weeks, because really that’s how quickly we decided to move), I realized we weren’t going to have a traditional, separate nursery for our firstborn. The main reason is due to the change in our cost of living (umm, it skyrocketed). But that makes it sound so negative. Moving to Los Angeles presented us with a few limitations, but they’ve challenged us to be creative and revise our perspective — so that’s a big positive :) I think Zack and I are better people for moving; we’ve definitely learned so much.
Since I was pregnant when we moved here we were looking for an apartment with a large bedroom so it could double as the nursery. We knew looking for a 2 bedroom apartment just wasn’t feasible. (Folks, we’re not in the Midwest anymore.) So, we revised our perspective and greeted our new life in California with open hands. We found a cute little apartment to call home and promptly moved in.
Then in September 2013 we moved to a slightly larger apartment, and that’s where we currently are. You can see Maxwell’s first nursery nook here, and a few photos of our current apartment are found here). Thankfully our 2 Los Angeles apartments have always had great storage. Although… our new place is kind of a storage lover’s dream come true!
Anyhow. Having lived in a 1 bedroom apartment in Los Angeles with a baby for almost a year now, I wanted to share with you a few tips that helped us create a nursery nook for Maxwell.
Bauer’s portrait is drawn by the super-talented Stacie of Gingiber (love!)
How we created Maxwell’s nursery nook (inside a shared bedroom):
1. When apartment shopping we looked for a two things in the layout: a large bedroom, and one with plenty of storage space. We were willing to sacrifice a living room and kitchen space in exchange for more space in the bedroom. This maximized the bedroom for living/playing and furniture. We have an extra large closet that conceals Max’s “dresser” (this shelf with these fabric bins) and our hanging clothes. It also provides ample storage for other household items: quilts, suitcases, a small filing cabinet, beach chairs, an extra fan, etc. We were also lucky to find two more large built-in cupboards to house Zack’s and my clothing. These cupboards are near the changing table so we also store a few additional items, like extra diapers and wipes on the top shelf. During Christmas we had a rocking chair in our bedroom, which was nice to have for nighttime nursing. At our old apartment we had a rocking chair in our room permanently, which was really amazing.
2. Zack created a diagram of our bedroom & furniture (above) so we could visualize our space before moving furniture. Think about what items you need to have in your bedroom (bed, rocking chair, nightstand, changing table, bassinet/crib). Zack measured our room (including the closet, closet doors, window placement) and used graph paper to make little paper cutouts of our furniture. It was perfect and we used it anytime we considered rearranging or buying new furniture. Practice rearranging your room, and keep an open mind. Also remember a long dresser can hold additional household items, as well as be used as a changing table on top. If you don’t have room for a nightstand or end table next to your bed consider using a skinny bar stool or a small bookshelf. Don’t be afraid to use furniture differently that it was originally designed.
3. Think outside-the-box for where to place your dresser. Or, if you even need a dresser. Because of the built-in cupboards we don’t have a dresser for our clothes. A tall bookshelf would work just as well as a traditional dresser. Or, place storage bins under the bed for your clothes. We could have bought another shelf like this and put it at the foot of our bed, but I really like having the additional empty floor space for playing.
4. We maximize the use of nightstands (and end tables) that have a storage cabinet below. We actually have two in our bedroom: one stores Zack’s art supplies and the second is for Max’s toys. Max loves opening & closing his nightstand door and let’s be honest, it’s pretty darn cute, too ;)
5. When apartment shopping, we looked for “L” shape nooks to subconsciously divide our bedroom space from the baby’s space. This also puts the focus on our bed when you first walk into our room, instead of the nursery furniture. Ummm, bonus.
6. Our changing table has tons of underneath storage, too. There are four large fabric bins below, plus each side of the table has a plastic bin (we put diapers on one side; wipes, lotion, ointment, etc. on the other). There’s also a metal rod on each side for hanging blankets or towels. That brings our storage options to eight, folks.
7. The majority of Maxwell’s toys are in our living room. While we do spend a lot of time playing in our bedroom we keep most of his toys in the living room (on the lower shelves of the bookshelf, inside a 3-tier cart, and within our coffee table). This saves significantly on bedroom space and allows the room to feel even more relaxing.
Baby Be Blessed custom doll (gifted to us before Max was born). Is it just me or does Maxwell resemble the doll? // Maxwell pillow from Chrissie Grace Designs
Additional tips for living small // sharing your bedroom with a baby:
- We placed the furniture so it flows really well with how we use the room. When you first walk into our bedroom you see a long hallway. To the right of the hallway is our XL closet. Then on the left is the built-in storage cupboards and changing table; on the right is Maxwell’s crib and nightstand. These things take up approximately 1/3 of our bedroom, with our bed using the remaining 2/3 of the room. There’s plenty of floor space for playing (which I absolutely LOVE), it’s like we get extra use out of our little apartment because our bedroom is so spacious).
- Use art on the wall to divide the spaces up aesthetically. I’m constantly moving the art in his nursery nook. We’ve received some really fun pieces, but I think my favorite grouping is the Colorado state name plate from a dear friend Tracey, this “you are my sunshine” wooden sign my mom gave Maxwell during one of her visits, and an embroidery hoop that reads “loved”.
- We are considering one of those ceiling curtain divider things. You know, those divider curtains hospitals use. Now that someone knows how to stand up in his bed, he’s thoroughly enjoying screeching at us during those early morning hours ;) I hear Ikea sells the track curtains. Does anyone have any experience with this? I’d have to tie it back during the day because I can just imagine Maxwell trying to climb it. Oh, boy…
- When we moved to California we sold or donated almost everything we owned. Some things we have stored in Michigan with family, but for the most part we sold or donated everything. This means a few things… We have a wardrobe that’s filled with things we truly love and wear. We brought with us only our favorite home decorations. My kitchen is filled with utensils and cookware that we use on a weekly basis. I don’t have an excessive lotion/body wash/hair product collection. (PS. Thank you Jesus that nail polish bottles are small, because I do have a nice collection of nail polish. -wink) So the summary here is we mostly have things in our home that we truly love or need. We simply don’t have room for a lot of “wants”.
If you’re considering sharing a bedroom with your little one (but are unsure how it’ll go) know this: we’ve had equal seasons of easy life and super tough life. We always put Maxwell to bed first, so he’s asleep once we’re ready for bed. We recently starting using a noise machine, but we’ve always used a video monitor (so we could check on him without him seeing us) that also plays lullaby music. One parenting area we haven’t been the greatest at is teaching Max to self-soothe. So that’s what we’re currently working on, should anyone need an excuse to send me some chocolate (ha!).
Sharing a bedroom with a child isn’t my first choice, or my second, really, but supporting my husband’s dream of working in Los Angeles is my first choice. So in the meantime our family is practicing what “give and take” means.
I know this will be one of those stories when we’re old and gray we reminisce over. Besides, there’s nothing sweeter than crawling into bed at night knowing your babe is asleep in his crib, about 10 feet away. It’s such a precious experience. We whisper our prayers, then one of us cracks a joke, and suddenly we’ve got our faces pressed so hard in our pillow, trying to be quiet so we don’t wake the baby. It’s a good time :)
We’re putting all of our energy into making the most of life, remembering that God has great things planned for our family — always. And so that takes away most of the uncertainty.
Have any specific question? Leave a comment below so I can answer you. xo