The baby closet, six months later

Some of you may remember how we converted the walk-in closet of our one-bedroom condo into a nursery.

So! That was November. Here we are in May with a real live squirmy baby instead of just a theoretical baby, and you may be asking yourself, "Self, how'd that whole Ariel-sticking-her-baby-in-the-closet thing work out? Is it awesome? Or is it like that R. Kelly song?"

I am here to answer that question. Come with me as I show you what's become of the baby closet…

So while baby closet is working out super well, the room has shifted around a bit … as I assume many nurseries do.

The first thing got scrapped was my newborn-vision stimulating red, black, and white theme. It was a great palette to start with, but who am I kidding? I'm too much of a color junkie to have such bare-bones colors, and so now things are more red, black, aqua, and RAINBOW. (Because rainbow is totally a color.)

My favorite thing about the crib is the custom RockerByeBaby crib set.

Another big shift is the addition of a crib. After a couple months of family-bed co-sleeping, we made a pretty natural, gentle transition to having Tavi sleep in his own bed — a minuscule European crib that we inherited from a family friend.

Then I pimped out the bed with a custom crib set from RockerByeBaby. I am a complete sucker for Amber's RockerBye style, and the custom crib set was worth the wait. (Tip: if you're considering having Amber make you a custom crib set, order it in your second trimester!) Tavi sleeps in a cloud of minky, surrounded by rainbow stars. I'm jealous and sort of want my own furry bumpers around our bed now.

The adorable bunting banner that's hanging over the crib was made by Offbeat Shrie. She's doing a tutorial about how to make your own bunting over on Offbeat Bride tomorrow, so you can make some of your own, iff'n you like.

Hacked mobile with Dear Girlface felt deer

I also got over my misguided impression that mobiles are dumb. I don't like the look of most of them, but no denying my son likes watching mobiles spin … so I hijacked a second-hand mobile and added three dangly felt deer and recovered it in black marabou. It still plays "Rockabye Baby," but at least it looks less offensive to me. One of the deer is actually a pirate, which pleases me more than it should.

The chair in the nursery used to be my dad's office chair. While not my primary nursing station, I do nurse in it before Tavi goes to bed at night. It's not as uncomfy as it looks, although if anyone has recommendations for uber mini micro gliders or rocking chairs, let me know.

Oh, and the beaded necklace hanging behind the chair is the "blessing beads" from my baby shower. Each of our guests spoke their prayers for the baby into their bead, and then my mom strung them all together.

Another awesome addition to the room is this ridiculous twilight turtle that sits on the floor. It's silly, but I LOVE THIS THING. It shines stars out its "shell," and in a room as small as the baby closet, the entire space is transformed into this magical glowing constellation chamber with stars all over the walls and ceiling.

The "KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON" poster has a great story behind it and it's really a perfect mantra for dealing with a fussy baby. Maybe another would be BREATHE DEEP AND DRINK WATER.

When the crib moved in, the changing table and little dresser of baby clothes moved out into our bedroom. So technically, the baby is sort of weaseling his way into our non-baby space, but that's to be expected.

I still have moments of frustration with our small space (it's hard to have our living room do triple duty as living room, dining room, play room, and my home office) but being able to walk out the front door with the baby and stroll into my awesome vibrant urban neighborhood makes up for it. I love our home, and I love how our baby fits into it.

I'd love to hear from y'all urban mamas — what are your ingenious space-saving tricks?

  1. I live in DC. Our living room is about to do quintuple duty as living room, dining room, play room, hubby's home office, and our bedroom. Sleeping with our six month old is not working out and moving means I'll be more than five minutes from work and home and I can't handle that. We joked about putting him in the closet, but I'm not sure it'd work with our awkward space. Here's to those of us trying to make tight spaces work.

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    • I feel for you! I also live in a 1 room apartment with my boyfriend and can't imagine a squirmy baby sharing the space! But if your baby is only 6 months, there's a ton of sleeping alternatives to the traditional space-invading crib. My mom actually made a comfy bed for me in a large drawer when I was a baby as space/money was tight. Some cots you can put on the floor, or hang from the ceiling. The basket-like cot is my favorite, like a real nest.

  2. I think I love how the nursery closet looks now more than what it did 6 months ago… it definitely has a more used feel to it and much more personality. And I'm so glad to hear that you like the Twilight Turtle. I just bought one last week and was curious to hear/see what an actual parent thought of it. I'm excited to use it now!

  3. That is a seriously great space. I am definitely of the "why have 3 colors when you can have ALL" school, which is propelled by my and Mike's goal to establish our own "The Burrow" a la the Weasleys.

    and dagnabbit, I want to make my own bunting! I want bunting in very color scheme for every week of the year!

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    • Well, you're in luck Jen! I'm posting a DIY tutorial over on OffbeatBride.com on Thursday with instructions on how to make your very own bunting!

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  4. So excited to read this piece! I did a series of art projects in a tiny walk-in closet that attaches to my home office, and I have a special, kind of spiritual attachment to that room. So I wanted to make it a baby space of some kind.

    My office is downstairs, with the kitchen, so I spend a lot of daytime there. Upstairs I expect we'll convert a room into an eventual bedroom for the child, and in the meantime co-sleep in our bedroom.

    So I have the luxury of having the closet be an extra-ish space. Maybe a place for playing or sleeping when we are downstairs, when I'm working? I'm not sure. And now I'm thinking about doing more attachment-style early-babyhood which woiuld mean I guess having the baby strapped to me while I'm working, instead of sleeping in a closet…

  5. Ah ha! I'm snitching your pic with the changing table! My FIL is being super awesome and making us a change table and yours is EXACTLY what I was trying to describe using way too many words as my husband looked on and shook his head in bewilderment. Perfect!

    Love the turtle light too. I had glow in the dark paint spattered all over my walls, ceiling and even carpet from the time I was 10 until I left home. It was totally invisible during the day, but at night my room was amazing ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. here's an idea instead of a glider, ikea has this chair that doesn't take up much space at all and it's what i used when aiden was small and wanted bouncing (the chair is springy) http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S79825193 it's pretty cheap and can go from baby to living room pretty easy OH and the covers are replaceable…. they have tons of awesome colors

    AND they have a rocking chair version of this too

    • We've got that chair. that chair sustained me for the first 3 months of the babies life. Only thing is if you're short like me, you'll need to put a pillow behind you or every time you get up you'll wake the kid.

  7. I love the cupboard bedroom. I'm not sure what the recomendations are in the USA and I do love the cot sheets, however in Australia the recomendations are not to use any of the 'bumbers' or 'decorations' on the sides of cots. This is a safety concern for SIDS. Not to rain on your parade as I love the room, but important for other people to know.

    • Yep, I'm familiar with that recommendation, and have made the educated decision not to follow it. I also know about the recommendation against sleeping in a family bed, and chose to ignore that one, too.

      I don't want to seem cavalier about the risks of SIDS, but I think it's critical for each of us keep recommendations in perspective and calculate the risks for ourselves. I respect each of my readers to do their homework and make their own educated decisions about child safety.

      Read this post for another perspective on this issue: Calculated risk, or why I let my kid sleep on his stomach.

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  8. We have the Lady Bug constellation light for our little lady:) Her big Brother has commandeered it until her arrival. I think we will be getting him his own turtle. He hasn't slept with the light off in his room for 2yrs and this light has done the trick for him!!

    • R. Kelly is my favorite idiot savant. Have you watched the "making of" on the Trapped In The Closet DVD? It's sheer demented genius.

      • no, i have not seen the "making of" but I have no doubt it's amazing. can one find this on you tube?

  9. We do it tenement-style and all sleep in one room (we've got a one bedroom apartment)! We've got our bed, Alice's crib and Stella's co-sleeper in the bedroom. I have a tall, skinny dresser from Ikea that I use for Alice's clothes, an armchair from Ikea that is both my nursing chair and my husband's office chair (he works from home). We bough a dresser from Ikea that we wrestled into our one tiny bedroom closet, to hold our clothes. I bought a wire basket from Home Depot that is part of the Rubbermaid Closet System and screwed it into the wall, to keep diapers and packs of wipes in.
    In the rest of the apartment, nothing radical but we just keep toys to a minimum and try to keep everything as organized as possible. I'm constantly keeping a lid on the crap that makes it way into the house somehow and forever chucking things out or freecycling stuff.

  10. My son's nursery is star themed. One of the last things I bought was that star turtle. I searched all over the internet looking for something that reflected stars on the ceiling, assuming something like that had to exist. I love it!

  11. I'm impressed. We have a small house, but it's a HOUSE (we're in Maine – decidedly un-urban) and I still feel like the baby has taken over every square inch of space.

  12. Check antique stores for small rocking chairs. There are several really rockers floating around my family from several generations past, when people and houses used to be much smaller.

  13. LOL, I didnt know Tavi's nursery is in a closet. Our little one's nusery was our walk-in closet too! That is, until this weekend, when we officially became home-owners (yippee). But before then, we were living in a one bedroom condo in a high-rise in downtown Dallas, and it worked perfect for us! We were able to fit both the PnP (where she slept) and the changing table in there, and I loved that she had her own room, but was still just a couple steps away.

    Now, she is on a different floor, so I have to get used to that (although I do think going up and down the stairs may help me lose the rest of the baby weight ;). And she does seem to like her new room and new crib. She's pretty independent (even at 6 mos) just like her Daddy.

  14. I got the Twilight Turtle for a gift at my bridal shower and I LOVE it. We have a turtle thing going on in our relationship and my husband proposed under the stars at the solstice, so it's perfect.

    I love the little space. It looks perfectly cozy.

  15. We were in a small, one-bedroom apartment for the first 6-ish months of Maddie's life. That wasn't the plan, but when you only have 2 days to prepare for a baby (adoption), you make do!

    We got a large pine dresser via Craigslist and set it up in the living room–that was the change-table, clothes storage, and general baby stuff catch-all. She slept in a bassinet (borrowed) and then a white IKEA crib in our bedroom. We got a beige-and-blackish-wood Storkcraft glider and it lived in the living room and doubled as an arm-chair (so comfy, bottle-nursing life-saver). We had a bouncy chair, and a lambskin for her to play on the floor on, and a floor mirror a la Montessori; the BOB stroller lived between the end of the couch and the sliding glass patio door; and other than that, we had very little baby gear.

    We now live in on-campus family housing in a smallish 2-bedroom townhouse and I have to say, I LOVE the extra space (and Maddie didn't even seem to notice or care in the slightest that she wasn't sleeping in the same room as us. She loves her bed and her space, and when I put her down for naps or for the night, she gives me the stink-eye if I try to stick around for even a few seconds, ha).

  16. We just got one of those small cribs as well and we keep it in our room.

    As for space, I just try to maintain a one-thing-in-one-thing-out policy. For example, in comes a booster chair, out goes a swing. Speaking of which, anyone want to buy a swing?

  17. We don't have the Twilight Turtle but we have the Ladybug version, and I agree, it's 100% awesome! I love it, Isobel loves it, and our cats love it, too.

    I have to agree with another commentor and say I love the way the nursery looks now even more than before. The bunting you chose is the perfect scale for the space.

    I am still trying to work out the space issue and we live in a small/medium house in the 'burbs. I will say that as she grows she needs less and less 'stuff' and that's a relief.

  18. so, regarding mini-rockers…by which i mean small rocking chairs, not certain folks' really awesome kids *ahem*…we just got a folding rocking chair at a yard sale, and it is awesome! it's sort of folding-chair sized, but with an elongated back, and of course the rockers take up some space. it's wood frame with seat and back cushioning, instead of being a big stuffed chair, or veranda-rocker sized.

    i know that's no real help for finding one, but it may give you an idea.

  19. ariel, in part 1 of your baby nook write-up you mentioned you were planning on using an amby bed. did you ever go for it? how did that work out?

  20. I tried to order one of those super cool turtle lights but they don't post to Australia! I'll have to keep a look out down here for something similar.

  21. I also live on Capitol Hill in seattle and have decided to make my walk in closet off hte living room into a nursey nook. Thanks for the inspiration.. where did you get your changing table i dig.. Thanks Donna ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. This gives me hope. We're living in a 1 bdrm apt in Europe and have decided to dicing our already small bedroom into 2 rooms, with a 42 square foot nursery. We'll be able to fit a (euro sized) crib that converts into a toddler bed (with storage underneath), change table, mini dresser and ikea Boliden chair for feedings. We'll hang a curtain along the ceiling to divide the space and I'm looking forward to getting started on it after seeing your similar sized project.

  23. I love it! Our 18 m son sleeps in our large walk in closet, even though we have other bedrooms he could use. It works for us: he is both very close to us but in his own space. It is an intimate space that fits his crib, a rocker, and a few toys: it is perfect for him and us.

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  24. I'm not a mother and actually came to this post from one on Offbeat Home & Life, but I just wanted to say that a) this is adorable, and b) I don't see why you can't milk that space for even longer than pre-school! My parents own a vacation home in Florida and are very fond of dragging the whole family down for extended time periods. That means my parents, my sister, my brother, and my grandparents all try to cram comfortably into the house without driving each other nuts (which is hard to do, since we are all drastically different — especially the kids).

    Enter the walk-in closet. It's just big enough for a bed, one incredibly small bedside table (seriously — it barely fits a lamp), and there is a little nook at the far end that can fit a small second-hand dresser. This new "bedroom" has become my space, and I absolutely love it. According to my family — and many people I know — the older you get, the more space you want for activities and hanging out with friends. I'm twenty now, and I just came back from a trip I took with five friends to our Florida home, and we comfortably fit all of us in the bed or sitting on the tiny ottoman that hides under the bed to watch movies and chill out the way of the rest of my family. It was marvellous.

    Small spaces are the best spaces, sometimes.

  25. Hi there Ariel , wondering if your still using this room and how your finding it will a toddler? be great to hear an update ๐Ÿ˜›

    • Yep! My almost-4-year-old is totally still in there, and it's working great! We're thinking about building a loft bed to take advantage of the high ceiling in there, but the room basically looks identical to how it did when I wrote this post… and it's still working great!

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