5 Things: Nursery edition

It’s time for another post in the “5 Things” series. These posts list 5 things that I love to use in clients homes. They can be handy things, decorative things and/or organizational things. I list them here because I know that they are tried and true with my clients and that they may work for you, too. Consider this a industry-secret whisper from a designer out in the trenches. (You can see more posts from this series, along with other organizational tips, right here.)

Linked image courtesy of Amazon.com

Today’s list is full of things I like to put in client nurseries. You may be thinking that nurseries generally have such specific themes that I couldn’t possibly choose 5 things for every nursery, but I have. The secret is all of these items can be customized or are already neutral enough to use in any room. Let’s get started…

Crib Skirt

This may seem like a pretty decorative item, but the genius of a crib skirt is that it can provide all sorts of extra storage. When the baby is an infant, you can stockpile diapers in bulk under the crib at its high mattress setting. When the child is a little older, you can place storage tubs under the crib to organize larger, grow-into-them  clothes.

Image courtesy of Little Giraffe

When the child is a toddler, if your crib turns into a toddler bed (and so many do these days), that under the crib space can become the perfect corral for all of those activity sets that take up so much floor space. Farm sets with menageries, large wheeled toys and any musical foobahs you don’t want to tread on with your bare feet at night. You know the kind of thing I mean. Just slide them right under the crib skirt and the nursery is tidied in the blink of an eye. You might even get your little one to help you clean up, since the storage space is right at their level.

Crib skirts are available in all sorts of styles these days. They are not all traditional and ruffle-y like the one pictured above. You can find crib skirts in all sorts of patterns and designs, which makes them easy to customize to any nursery’s theme or color plan. You can even find crib skirts designed to fit the clean, simple lines of a more modern crib, like this one…

Image courtesy of DwellStudio

I’m delighted that there has been such an upswing in crib skirt popularity in recent years. I have yet to meet a parent who looks around their child’s room and says, “You know what I have too much of in here? Storage space.”

Area Rug

Okay, this may seem like a no-brainer. Every parent-to-be anticipates spending some quality time sitting on the nursery floor with their child. Who wouldn’t think of some sort of rug as a practical solution? However, I’m not talking about any old kind of area rug. I’m talking about a kind of rug that can take a beating and still good look over the next 5 years, without costing you a fortune. After all, you still have college to plan for, right?

Image courtesy of Couristan

Whether a nursery needs a neutral, traditional pattern (like the rug shown above), or a colorful, younger palette (like the rug shown below), I always choose Indoor/Outdoor rugs for nurseries.

Every single time.

I embrace the “Indoor” part of the rug’s type that makes it soft on tiny bare feet and knees (and parent’s bums) as they play and explore. If a nursery is already carpeted when I arrive on the job, I still throw one of these war horses into service for the parents. It’s the “Outdoor” part of this rug’s name that makes it a weapon against chaos.

Two words: Diaper blowout.

Need two more words? Projectile vomiting. And let us not forget the food, craft supplies and other childhood detritus that can get ground into your flooring and carpet. Your nice, expensive, pre-baby, wall-to-wall carpet or flooring. On its very worst day, you can haul this rug outside and hose that puppy down. Let it dry and it is as good as new.

Image courtesy of Loloi Rugs

Book Racks

You may have noticed by now that I think about the parent’s needs first in any nursery. It’s true, but don’t get me wrong. I want the room to be as beautiful as the new baby about to move in there. I take great joy in finding just the right mix of personal and adorable items for the new room. However, if the nursery leaves Momma or Daddy worn out from all the upkeep, I am not doing my job properly. At the end of the day, my clients are the parents, the caretakers of the room.

Most nurseries need some form of bookcase early on, to hold all sorts of thing collected before the baby arrives. Toys, baby gear, mementoes, you name it, tend to get organized and stacked very neatly at the beginning. After the baby arrives, the jumble of items in play often mean that books are harder to put away or keep handy when parents need them. I am a big fan of books, myself, so like to include book racks in addition to shelves. Here is one of my favorites:

Image courtesy of Land of Nod

The beauty of a book rack is that a parent can put books into it with one hand. Whether they are reading a story while holding their baby or doing a big room sweep of toy clean up, books can get safely (respectfully) dropped into place without being jammed in with other toys. One of my clients used a dedicated book rack to help keep track of all of her children’s library books, without having to search everywhere. Smart Momma!

I also have discovered another source for a great book rack via some innovative DIYers on the internet. (I wish I could say I thought of this one myself, but credit should be given where it is due. I certainly use this idea for my clients now!) Ikea offers a lovely little birch spice rack, called the BEKVÄM, for a mere $4. Some clever parents out there saw the similarities between that spice rack and the more traditional book rack pictured above. You can add a Ikea book rack system, like this one, anywhere that you have a little extra wall space for only $12:

Image courtesy of ikeahackers.net

Vertical Storage

This is a concept I use in every nursery. It is a simple concept  that can be reused in many different ways as a child grows up. Not all new parents have dedicated furniture suites for their new children, so this concept can be particularly helpful in smaller nurseries or even in master bedrooms that host the baby when it is very young. I like to use vertical storage in a closet as a place to catch clothing, diapers, blankets, special soft toys and whatever else a parent needs to find quickly, without having to dig through a drawer or bin. Here is one of my favorite products:

Image courtesy of Ikea

This is a hanging shelf is from the Ikea SKUBB line of organizers. They currently come in white, black or this vivid purple. I love them because they are affordable. The example pictured above is only $8. Because they are made of a sturdy nylon material, they can also be cleaned easily. As your child grows older, this 5 shelf hanger can become a place where they lay out their school clothes in advance, to avoid the morning rush.

Another great place for vertical storage is the back of a bedroom or closet door. By capitalizing on a place that is often forgotten to store small items (creams, sunglasses, hats, shoes, etc.) and regularly used large items (favorite toys, blankets, extra diapers), tidying a child’s room and leaving the house can become much easier and faster. I like the clean design of this back-of-the-door storage (by Real Simple for Bed Bath and Beyond) because a child can get access to their own things at the bottom of the door when they are old enough to help.

Image courtesy of Bed Bath and Beyond


Sleepy parents should not have to struggle to see what time it is when they are up with a late night feeding. While cute nursery wall clocks can be found almost everywhere, I always suggest something smaller and easier on the parent’s eyes when they are waiting for their babies to drift back into Neverland. Despite all the varieties available, my two favorite, go-to clocks for nurseries come from LL Bean. The first one is the classic Moon Beam clock…

Image courtesy of LL Bean

…which has an easy-to-read dial face and on/off switch for the backlit setting. It also comes in several colors (easy top match to any nursery color plan) and has an alarm setting that include waking to a gentle light, a bell or both. Charming!

My other favorite LL Bean clock is the 1931 Big Ben model, which also comes in several colors and features and easy-to-read face.

Image courtesy of LL Bean

Like the Moon Beam clock above, this clock has easy alarm settings and has an on/off setting for the backlighting of the face. I should mention that these clocks are a little more expensive than say a plastic digital clock from Wal-mart. However, the quality of these clocks is excellent and they can eventually become a child’s first alarm clock when they reach school age.

So there is my list of 5 Things that work in every nursery! I didn’t set out to have a favorites list like this, but when I find something that really works well I want to give that extra practical assistance to every set of parents who ask for my design help.

Now I’d like to hear from all of the parents out there who are reading this post. What do you think of my list? Do you have a favorite nursery item you can’t live without? What is the best tip you ever got about organizing your child’s room. Jump on in, parents, and share your experience in a comment!

Posted on May 14, 2012, in Decor, DIY, Organization. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I can’t live without a night light. I’ve stubbed my toes on trucks and cars in the dark more times than I can count.

  2. You’re so right about having a rug you can remove and hose down. I wish I’d know that before my son decorated the carpet. We now have a rug to cover up his floor art.

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