Baby-size stuff can make a pretty big mess, pretty fast. And having lots of clutter around will just add stress to your new-mom life. (You really don’t need that!) The secret to a neat nursery is coming up with an organizational system now that you’ll actually maintain later. We asked two designers (who are moms, of course) — Sherri Blum of Jack and Jill Interiors, and Sarah Coombs of Sarah Coombs Design — for their best tips for creating and keeping order.
Revamp the changing table
When it comes to organizing changing-table items like lotions, cotton swabs and diapers, think outside the box. Literally. Stash supplies in nontraditional, appropriate sized containers, like terra-cotta flower pots, kitchen canisters, galvanized pails, hanging wire vegetable baskets or a wall-mounted letter holder. Things that are open or see-through give you fast access to the items you need while you’re holding a squirmy baby. If you have a combo changing table-dresser, use drawer dividers to organize smaller items like socks.
Trick out the closet
Maximize space in baby’s closet by stashing folded clothes or small accessories in a hanging cloth shoe organizer. Since little outfits are short, you can double up on space if you install a double-hang closet rod on one side. Or install shelves above and below a single rod and use them to store bins of toys, books or seasonal clothing. Just label your bins so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for.
Take advantage of the height of the nursery walls, and voilà: instant extra storage space. Place items you won’t use often, or don’t want a curious kid to get into, out of reach on horizontal wall shelves or tall vertical bookcases. And don’t forget overlooked areas like backs of doors. Put an over-the-door shoe holder with clear pockets behind the nursery door or in the closet and compartmentalize all the small stuff like tiny shoes or excess toiletries. Or, if you’re crafty, buy a set of freestanding shelves and cover the front with fabric that coordinates with the nursery. (The fabric will also hide the mess.)
Find attractive open bins for the shelves of your changing table and give each one a specific category. Inside your closet you’ll want to use clear, stackable containers so you can see exactly what’s in them. Label them by size and season. Important: Whatever you do, skip the giant toy bin. It just becomes a repository for all those tiny pieces and ends up with stuff piled on top of it, so your child will never be able to open it to retrieve his stuffed animals.
Tame the mess
As a parent, you need to manage both the inflow and outflow of odds and ends you’ll collect. Every few months, separate baby’s clothes into three piles: what fits now, what baby can grow into soon and what's been outgrown. Keep the first two piles in the nursery, placing the “fits now” group in an easy-to-access drawer or bin and tucking away the “grow into soon” items for future use. Put too-small clothes in storage, sell or donate them, or give them to a friend. Do the same for toys and books periodically—and edit honestly. If you haven’t used it in the last two to three months, you likely won’t be using it again.
Look for storage-friendly furniture
Invest in a crib with drawers or buy a crib skirt and hide away a bunch of under-bed boxes, perfect for stashing excess wipes and diapers. Need more storage? Consider a cube system that can grow with your tot and be outfitted with drawers and doors to hold toys on the bottom and clothes on top. Storage benches are also great to stash bulky items like blankets and sweaters.
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