Furnishing a nursery, the shambolic way.

There are plenty of things to feel guilty about as a parent – too much screen time, not enough fresh air, distracted multi-tasking parents leaving toddlers to their own devices, the list goes on – but one thing I can’t bring myself to feel ‘guilty’ about is the rather chaotic state of my daughter’s bedroom.

It is, of course, no concern of hers that none of the furniture matches and the curtains and carpet have seen better days – as long as she has a comfy bed in a snug, secure, well-ventilated room with all her toys around her, what does she care?

I will, however, admit to feeling a bit ashamed that her room is such a mish-mash of styles and inadequate storage. We haven’t done anything with any of the bedrooms since we moved in, bar putting pictures on the walls and clothes in the cupboards – the rooms were all decorated neutrally and the previous owners left their curtains behind, so decorating the bedrooms has been bottom of the list in terms of priority.

Where I’ve been particularly slack is in sorting out proper storage for the toddler’s room. It is an odd shaped room, above the garage, with irregular walls and pipes sticking out in awkward places (though it also has the advantage of a bay window with a deep windowsill, facing south and east, which lets in heaps of light).

The odd corners and alcoves would lend themselves to built-in furniture, and I’d like to hide the ugly pipes, but ultimately, eventually, the toddler will probably move into one of the two larger rooms and this room will be the spare room (as it is big enough to take a double bed, just). So there is no point building in toddler-friendly toy cupboards or drawers unless they can function as adult storage later on.

What we have instead of sensible storage is a motley collection of objects – starting with an inherited, rickety three-tier shelf unit which houses everything from socks to nappies to jigsaw puzzles. This unit really ought to house ornaments and delicate objects but frankly I just don’t know what else to do with it.


The only really sensible bit of storage is a plain and uninteresting chest of drawers – but which, no matter how often I tidy it, never seems to have quite enough space for everything. I’ve allowed some bulky items – winter coats, old grobags, spare towels – to overspill into a wicker hamper, and more things are in boxes under the bed – I just don’t see an end to the quantities of stuff I have to find homes for!

We also have a bookcase which has previously contained bibs, toiletries, and bags of cotton wool, now starting to fill up with toddler books – but I needed to find a home for my more precious childhood paperback books which were in danger of getting damaged by toddler hands.

We found these shelves from Great Little Trading Co to be a good solution – this picture shows one of a pair, also adorned with various pieces of toddler artwork and other ornamental bits I would like to keep out of her hands.


Above the shelves is a glimpse of the bunting I made whilst waiting for the toddler’s arrival – hand sewn, very laborious. I also found time to embroider the picture below during her early months – not quite sure how I did it, but I will confess I cheated slightly to try and get the French Knots right.


I am perhaps most fond of the mobile which hangs over her bed – five hanging birds made by me from a Crafty Creatives kit (from Box 10), which might possibly be my favourite crafty thing I’ve ever made.


There is also a monkey I painted myself, from a kit my mum gave me – he would look better hanging from the ceiling somehow, but I haven’t worked out a way of suspending him that we won’t knock our heads on all the time!


When I look round her room, I do feel the special and handmade objects in the toddler’s room slightly make up for the disorganised state of it – at least it’s quirky, and full of things you’re unlikely to find anywhere else, and whilst I’m never going to be an expert at dressmaking, knitting or quilting, I can take pride in having decorated her room with things I’ve made myself, which she might (hopefully) treasure for years.

My long term plans for Improving This Mess so far include starting a Pinterest board for future design and storage ideas, a way of assuaging that parental shame that her room does not resemble the beautifully decorated nurseries I’ve seen elsewhere. I am keen on the idea of book slings, which seem to be an easy-ish project I could attempt myself, but I also like the Ikea hack I first saw on Gill Crawshaw’s Baby on Board blog, using Ikea spice racks painted in fun colours as instant toddler-friendly book storage.

I doubt very much that any of these ideas will be put into action in this current bedroom – it will probably happen when the toddler moves to the larger room, which has the space and potential to be organised as a practical and fun room for an older child.

The remaining question is whether we tackle one bedroom at a time or do a big swoop on them all at once (and move ourselves into the back bedroom at the same time, with the toddler going into our current bedroom). After the big renovation work downstairs is done, the short answer is that we are in no hurry to do more right now – so the poor toddler is going to be stuck with her shambolic room for a little while longer. Sorry, love – your chance will come!


One thought on “Furnishing a nursery, the shambolic way.

  1. I think its perfect. Part of the deception of magazines and many blogs is they stage the photos and hide all the things we all use. Like your little wooden shelving unit with diapers, etc. Great job. Be happy. Give the baby a big ol hug!

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