How to convert your spare room to a nursery
Want to turn your spare room into a bedroom for your new arrival? Here’s how.
Having a baby is a wonderful, exciting time, but it also means you’ll need to make some changes in your life – and we’re not just talking about changes to your carefree lifestyle. Your new baby will need somewhere to sleep, their very own space where they feel completely comfortable and secure and can happily nap the day away.
But just because there’s a baby on the way it doesn’t mean you need to get a bigger house; it’s easy to convert a spare room into a beautiful (and practical) nursery. Here’s how.
What does a nursery need?
If you’ve never cared for a baby before, it can be daunting trying to work out exactly what you need to include in a nursery. The list of items you could include if you wanted is a very long one, so it’s important that you have a clear idea of exactly what is essential for your baby’s bedroom and what will be an unnecessary expense.
Let’s take a closer look at individual categories to explain how you can create the perfect space.
Colours and themes
The first step is to choose a colour for your space. Spare rooms are typically a forgotten and neglected area of many houses, so a coat of paint or some new wallpaper can work wonders.
Pink for a girl and blue for a boy, right? While this was certainly the traditional approach, today there are plenty more options to choose from for nursery colour schemes. The key is to create a bright, calming and comforting space where your new bub will feel right at home.
Remember to consider which way the room faces, as this will determine the amount of natural light it receives and which colours will work best. For example, warm colours tend to work well in rooms that face north or east.
If you’re feeling especially creative you can also create a theme in your nursery, such as animals or even your favourite nursery rhyme. You can choose decor, colour scheme, furniture and accessories to suit – the possibilities for personalisation are almost endless.
Just remember that your rosy-cheeked bundle of joy won’t stay a baby forever. A colour scheme or theme that looks super-cute now could look completely out of place in just a few years. And once you’ve got a toddler on your hands, you’ll prefer to spend whatever little spare time you have on resting rather than redecorating.
When you bring your baby home, you’ll be spending plenty of time in the nursery at all hours of the day and night. Investing in a good lamp or night light will allow you to read while feeding or nursing your little one, or while measuring a medication dosage, and also help you see what you need to when checking on bub during the night. You could also opt to add in dimmer switches for the lights in the room to allow for different levels of light depending on what you are doing in the room. There are plenty of stylish and clever options available, many of which have been specially designed for use in kids’ and babies’ rooms.
You also need to consider the effect of natural light in your nursery. If you’ve spent any time searching online for inspiration and ideas for your nursery, you will probably have come across plenty of light, bright and white spaces that look simply beautiful.
However, it’s important to remember that while plenty of natural light and illumination can make a nursery a calm and inviting space, this is also the room where you want your baby to sleep, not only at night but also during daylight hours. With this in mind, make sure you have adequate curtains or block-out blinds to create the perfect environment to encourage steady sleeping patterns.
Cot and bedding
Whether you choose a bassinet or a cot, your baby is going to need somewhere to sleep. Bassinets are very convenient when bub is young, but cots have the advantage of being suitable for much longer.
Just remember that whichever option you go for, you don’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of safe, good-looking cots on the market that are surprisingly cheap, not to mention plenty of cots that are suitable for small nurseries. You can go all-out on a big, elaborate cot or bassinet if you want, but you may wish to spend that money elsewhere on your nursery conversion. Entry-level cots start at around $200 and prices go up to $1,700 and above, and remember to check that your cot complies with Australian Safety Standard AS/NZS 2172-2003.
You’ll also need a mattress, a couple of fitted sheets, and a mattress protector for those inevitable accidents.
The most essential item of furniture (after a cot or bassinet) for your new nursery is a comfortable chair. Whether it’s for feeding or simply rocking your little one to sleep late at night, having somewhere plush and comfy to sit while you do it is a must. It doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive, but you will need to be able to sit upright in it to breastfeed. Add cushions for extra comfort and also to complement your chosen colour scheme.
A table to sit next to your chair can also come in handy. You’ll often need somewhere to sit your phone, book, baby’s bottle, snacks or something else while you have your hands full with a tiny tot, and this allows you to access them without disrupting your baby’s feeding or sleeping.
Many nurseries also include a change table, offering a dedicated and well-organised zone for changing and cleaning your baby. However, these are certainly not essential, and you may opt for the simpler option of a change mat on top of another surface, for example a chest of drawers, to provide increased storage space. Be aware however that you will need to keep an eagle eye on your baby if you opt for the chest of drawers as it won't have the safety protection to prevent them from rolling off.
A baby bath is another non-essential item you may like to include, as it can make it easier than bathing bub in a regular bath tub or the sink.
Parenthood is full of surprises, one of which is just how much stuff one tiny little baby can accumulate. As well as all those cute baby clothes there are towels, blankets, wraps, toys, books and a whole lot more, so adequate storage space is essential.
A chest of drawers is an important inclusion for baby’s clothing, which is far too small and fiddly to hang up, while shelves and boxes are great for storing all the little toys and trinkets your baby acquires. Bookshelves can display some of your favourite baby books and a few gorgeous stuffed toys, adding to the child-like ambience of the room.
Make sure you also have all the essentials close to hand in whichever area you will change your baby. Nappies, baby wipes, cream and washcloths should all be accessible at a moment’s notice in case of a messy emergency. In fact, easy access to storage is always vital, as you will rarely have both hands free to get what you want.
Once again, when choosing storage or other furniture pieces, be wary of choosing items designed specifically for a nursery. Your child won’t be a baby forever, so future-proofing the room is always a good idea.
How much does it cost to convert a spare room to a nursery?
The total cost of your nursery conversion will vary widely depending on the features and finishes you choose. Like any sort of renovation, you can achieve an impressive result on even a very basic budget, or you can go all-out and spend up big to create a luxury space.
You can complete an impressive renovation for well under $1,000, including purchasing a cot. For premium renovations, a budget of around $5,000 can yield high-end results.
The important thing to remember is that converting a spare room to a nursery typically won’t require too much building or construction work. Your major expenses will likely be things like painting, adding shelving and storage cabinets, and purchasing a cot and any other furniture you want.
Tips to create the perfect nursery
The following tips will help you turn your unused spare room into a warm and welcoming nursery:
- Small spaces. Even if you only have a small space to work with you can still create a wonderful nursery. Forget about non-essential items like change tables and choose a cot and other furniture designed to fit in the available space. Take advantage of the storage area under the cot, hit up specialist storage shops for clever space-saving ideas, and choose a light, bright colour scheme to make the room feel larger than it actually is.
- Save money. One of the things you’ll notice about falling pregnant is that you get given a lot of gifts. From excited soon-to-be grandparents to generous friends at a baby shower, you’ll be given plenty of useful items to include in your nursery, including everything from pieces of furniture to little trinkets and accessories. Friends and family members might also pass on their hand-me-downs, such as old dressers, so make use of all these kind offers and presents so you can reduce costs substantially. Just be wary of hand-me-down cots that may not meet current safety standards.
- Flooring. Will the nursery one day be converted into a child’s room? If so, you might want to think about whether you need to change the flooring in the space. Kids are messy and whatever surface you choose will need to withstand a lot of punishment, so keep this in mind when planning ahead.
- Accessories. The right accessories can add warmth and character to your nursery and help your growing baby feel right at home. Colourful artworks, mobiles, photos and more can all contribute to the atmosphere – and you can jazz up the room however you want. Even a small fan can help keep you and bub cool and also act as a handy source of white noise.
- Design ideas. You can access a never-ending supply of nursery design ideas online. Do some research, gather inspiration from a range of sources and combine it all together to create the perfect nursery.
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