Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Small Apartment + Baby = Yes, it's possible!

I've posted before about our apartment and how small it is.  Before the baby got here, I was really worried about how (and where) we'd fit everything in....and if we'd be able to do it stylishly to boot.  Well, I'm happy to say that we didn't end up putting the baby in the closet...mainly because we couldn't figure out another place to put our clothes.  It turns out we made the right decision!  (Note, "baby in the closet"  is a completely valid and necessary option for many of my fellow city-dwellers.  It seems hard to imagine for everyone living in spaces where space is no big deal...but here space is at a premium.)

So since the nursery is finished and we're currently living with a baby in only 679 square feet, I thought I'd show you how we did it.  As well as thoughts on how to do it on a budget!  (Because we furnished and decorated our nursery for almost no $.)

Fiona's room is 12 feet x 8 feet, with a small closet.  It was originally our "living room."  We were a little worried about getting rid of a space where we could hang out, but we took a weekend and played with rearranging the furniture in the apartment to see what would work where.  And we were sufficiently happy with our loveseat in our "dining room/office."  Now that space is a catch-all room but it works.  And this freed up this small room for the baby!

Looking into the baby's room from our bedroom.
Seeing as how it's not a big space, I didn't want to get a full-size crib.  This was a tough decision b/c there aren't a lot of [cute] options for mini-cribs, and even less options for mini-crib bedding.  But I found this crib by DaVinci.  It's the Davinci Alpha Mini Rocking Crib.  It has the bonus of also being super inexpensive, especially compared to most full-sized crib.  Because it only cost a little more than $100, I was able to register for it and my mom bought it for us!  It's great b/c when F was really tiny, we were able to rock her to sleep in it.  Sure it might not last us quite as long as a normal full-size crib, but I figure we'll just transition to a low toddler bed sooner.  Plus the reviews on this were great.  And I must agree that I concur with them.

The overall "theme" of the nursery is loosely based on a children's book called "Maude & Claude Go Abroad."  But really the book was just a way to tie together a lot of different things we loved.  Foxes, Travel Maps, Whales...and all with a girly, vintage twist.  Well, that's a pretty esoteric bunch of things that most people wouldn't think would go together.  But my basic principle in decorating is to use objects in your design that really speak to you.  You know...pull at your heartstrings.  If you're using items and colors that you love, they will naturally start to go together.  Most people gravitate towards similar colors, themes, etc.  Because of that, most of those items will naturally go together.  And even if a few items are off, it adds the touch needed to make the room feel personal.  I knew what I wanted, but the book was something I found via a google search for vintage kids books with foxes.  It later inspired the mobile and artwork (gifted to us from a friend).

We bought this little fox toy on clearance, and it was a starting point for the theme.

One thing I try to always keep in mind when decorating is saving money and re-using as much as possible.  So I looked for things on Craigslist, parent email lists, and the street (on trash day).   Our old tv cabinet was re-purposed as a catch-all toy storage unit.  All the artwork here was either gifted or printed from the internet.  I didn't want to buy expensive artwork when I knew that I might get tired of it.  (Or Fiona might not like it when she got older.)  The vintage Fisher-Price globe is a light that N has had for many years and got a thrift shop.  Likewise, we used old suitcases in the design here b/c our theme involved travel...but also because we already owned them and use them to store extra stuff that we don't want on display.  The rug is an old piece of remnant wool carpet that we had bound.  (Great, soft place for tummy time!)  The bunting is recycled from our wedding and was made from old scrap fabric we had.  The chandelier is one that I was given years ago, and have taken with us to each new place that we've lived.

This used to be our tv cabinet.  Now it's been re-purposed for all of Fiona's toys & books. 
We love shopping at flea markets and thrift shops.  Here's a hodge-podge of what we collected, were given and so forth.  The artwork in the background are three foxes on a ship in the storm!  Love it!  

Not glamorous, but here's where we get the business done!  I found this old Ikea changing table on the street on trash day.  I took it home, cleaned it up, painted it, changed the hardware and added baskets.  Now it looks great!  The only thing that was tough was finding a changing pad to fit since the Ikea dimensions were irregular.  Well, it turns out that sells custom sized changing pads and covers for pretty cheap.  Problem solved and we spent a total of $30 on it.  I really like this style changing table too b/c we are able to use it for her clothes and diaper stuff.  PB Kids sells a similarly-styled small one called the Catalina Dresser for anyone looking for something really small for their small space nursery.  When you're looking to fit something in a tight space, every inch I was glad this worked!

Again, the artwork was stuff we already had or printed from the internet.
Some moms have told me that they could get along without a glider, but I'm glad we got one.  Sure, I don't mind feeding her on the sofa...but this makes feeding time a pleasure.  And these things are expensive, so I was glad to find this one on Craigslist for $75.  
The old blanket is something that clearly doesn't match, but it goes with our overall vintage, eclectic feel of the apartment...and I like that it helps cut some of the girly-ness of the pink.  I would have had virtually no pink for her room, but we were gifted the toy tub (right of the glider) and we wanted blackout curtains, and these were the least offensive ones we could find.  (The curtains were the most expensive things we purchased from PB Kids.)  We didn't have room for a real side table here, so we used another old suitcase on it's side for Fiona's bottles, the timer, and dog treats...y'know because the dogs need love too.

Our friend painted this for Fiona as a baby gift.  It's a page from the Maude & Claude book...with her name incorporated into it obviously.  And rather than buy a mobile, my husband spent three days making this custom one out of felt.  

 So that's it!  I think we spent less than $200 total on the nursery and it came out the way I'd hoped, eg. not-girly, not-princessy.  Fits with our overall apartment....since we have to live with it constantly.  (It's not a room we can close off...but one we have to walk-through constantly to get to our bedroom.)  


  1. Girl, you guys did an AMAZING job on the nursery! I'm gonna hire you to do a nursery for us if we go through this again! Absolutely GORGEOUS!!!

  2. I LOVE this nursery! It looks so amazing and can I just comment on how crafty Nick is? That mobile is incredible! Fiona is one lucky little girl!