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  • Rebecca B.

Parenting Hack One : The Nursery Closet

We recently made a huge life change that has affected our NYC living enormously—We had a kid! He’s seven months old now, so we’re just coming out of the infant fog and joining society again. The first item on our baby-prep list was to turn our walk-in closet into a nursery. It’s even under the stairs. Yes, we’re very Harry Potter these days.

I’m going to guess that half the parents in Manhattan use something other than an actual separate room for a baby’s nursery, oftentimes making do with a small nook in another room of the home. If you are blessed with actual walls and a door, with space big enough for a crib, TAKE ADVANTAGE! So what if it has no window and was once called a closet? It can be the sweetest space for your little one, with a few easy NYC parenting hacks.

First step is to “de-closet” the space. Hanging bars and shelving everywhere? Take it all down except one high hanging bar with a shelf above. You want to create as much space as possible. Then you’ll need to sand down the walls and give a good base coat. There’s your blank canvas.

Next is wall color. Poor Shawn went to the store five times for different samples of paint! The perils of dealing with an indecisive pregnant wife. But you just can’t tell till you actually put it up on the wall. So look at the paint squares, then pick, three or four (or 9, lol!) and buy a few samples first. They are $9 each at Janovic, and what you don’t use you can donate to an art program at a school in your area (and scout out the school while you’re there). Stick to a no-VOC paint for a nursery, especially in these tight quarters. Our contractor recommends Benjamin Moore Natura. And remember, you are trying to make the space look bigger. More neutral, calming tones are going to be better than lots of pink or blue. Another option would be to do a basic eggshell with a wallpaper boarder at the top of the room, or wallpaper on one wall.

Ok, it’s looking like a room, but you took down all the shelves and you need storage! We dedicated one wall for storage, with a high hanging bar for hangers, some baskets for the shelf above the bar, floating wall shelves on one wall for books, a repurposed corner shelf unit from my college days, and a cube for the floor to double as storage and a seat. There are also storage bins under the crib. We needed a mini crib for this space. Totally does the trick, and bonus—if we go on a roadtrip, the bed folds up and comes with us!

And then, go to town on making it your own! We are both from the south, so we went with a small swamp theme, putting up a few alligators and crawfish. We got a Flensted mobile, which I highly recommend. They are amazingly light so the figures move constantly with the fan. And for a nursery closet, a fan is important for circulation. Ours is a Vornodobaby, complete with a white noise machine. White noise! Also a must for NYC living. We watch Handmaid’s Tale in the next room and he doesn’t stir. Why we watch that show with a new baby is discussion for another time…

You’ll want to add a light source so you don’t only have the harsh overhead light of the old closet. We chose a lamp and Bluetooth speaker combo, made by Marrado. It has degrees of brightness too, which we find useful. You might not think that you need a monitor; it’s not like you won’t hear the baby in a one-bedroom apartment! But ours also has a thermostat feature. Since a closet won’t have its own AC or radiator, the thermostat is really helpful. Since there aren’t any windows, we thought a piece of art the size of a window would be fun. This was our splurge. We have our favorite children’s book author/illustrator and friend, Jess Love, make us a watercolor for Ollie. We’re thrilled with how it came out!

“What about all the other stuff you need for a baby,” you ask? You do need a lot of “stuff”. It depends on your space. The savvy New Yorker will figure it out. We turned the office space right outside the nursery closet into a changing area with dresser. The point is, it’s do-able. And maybe preferable. We are probably the only people you know who moved from a two bedroom to a one bedroom, to have a child. I know! But we chose first floor, private outdoor space, and ideal neighborhood, over the two bedroom in a third floor walk-up unit. We went this direction, with our eye on the nursery closet. And I’m happy to report- we chose wisely.

Have more NYC parenting hacks? Let us know! We are just getting our feet wet and are excited to continue the journey!

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