After the initial buzz of my wife’s pregnancy subsided, more practical concerns arose. How on earth would we squeeze our new family member into our one-bedroom Williamsburg abode? Naively thinking we’d just up-size to a two-bed we drew up a basic criteria (elevator, non-sketchy neighborhood, new kitchen), but our search hit a brick wall as soon as we realized that we’d need to spend $4,000 or more a month to get what we wanted. In short far higher than the rent-stabilized place we’ve been living in for the past three years.
Once I stopped laughing at my wife’s suggestion to convert our 7ft x 5ft walk-in closet into a nursery, I started to realize that it was probably the answer to all of our problems. No need call in the movers, no rent increases and our precious newborn would always be close by in her own little nook. As a hapless DIY enthusiast I couldn’t wait to get started – here’s how I did it, thus saving a potential $10,000 in rent this year.
De-clutter first. We purchased a wardrobe and moved our belongings out. Crossroads Trading Co. and a local charity store got the rest – a bonus if you do the latter as it’s tax deductible.
Increase ventilation. To open up space, I removed the door off its hinges, replacing it with long linen curtains. Two clothing rails were taken out with the remaining rail moved further back to accommodate baby clothes and free up any overhang from the crib.
White, White, White. To create the illusion of more space, we stuck to white furniture, walls and curtains. We settled on a mini crib ($128) and placed a leaning bookshelf to the side of the closet, filling it with white Badger baskets to store away linen, clothes and muslin cloths.
Lose the uglies and utilize space outside the closet. No-one wants to leave their wipes and diaper pail refills out on display. We kept the top shelf for additional storage, ensuring unsightly baby gear was stored above eye level. There was no need to purchase a changing table either; we bought a changing pad and secured it on top of a white dresser next to the closet – a perfect height for manhandling a newborn during ungodly hours.
Think minimal. To keep Madeleine’s surroundings cozy and ambient, we left out any brightly colored toys and bulky gear, making way for a simple Flensted Paper Mobile Panda ($31), miniature books (we love the Nutshell Library collection), vintage Madeline trinklets and neutral-tone baskets.
What was initially intended a compromise has turned out to be a blessing. When Madeleine needed us in the night, we haven’t had to go far and I love that we can hear her chirpy noises and also the sound of her sleeping at night. Yes we’re probably approaching the point when she’ll have out grown the space – she’s now 8-months-old. But for a first year solution it’s been a godsend.
Pros: Budget-friendly and reassuring for parents as your baby is nearby.
Cons: Limited privacy for parents and it’s only a short term solution; until they reach 18 months.