As I mentioned in my first blog post about finding a place to put our baby, we’re trying find a way to turn our office/guest room into a nursery AND find a place somewhere in our 2bedroom for the activities and functions this room was accustomed to performing. One of the main challenges with this space has to do with the way it is laid out–mainly that there aren’t many unused walls on which to place furniture, and the room is very small, thus making other non-wall centered furniture arrangements challenging. Here’s a rough “sketch” of how the room is currently laid out (with the furniture).
As you can see, one wall is taken up by the window, radiator, and bookcase, and another is taken up by the entry door and closet door. A third has some space taken up by the entry door when open, leaving only one short wall with nothing on it. Additionally, the door to the closet is quite small compared to how big the closet actually is, and the door is squished all the way in the corner. Obviously our current arrangement is not ideal as we have the pull-out sofabed in front (!) of the closet door. This has actually worked quite well for us as we don’t need to access the closet daily, but we know this won’t be the case once the baby comes.
The bookcase to the left of the window was, interestingly, not removed when the previous owners moved out. We found it still living there when we moved in, bolted to the wall (we did ask them about it and they said it had been there when they moved in). Although it was bolted to the wall, it was by no means an actual built in, but it did fit into our plan for the room just fine, and once it was painted to match the walls, it actually provided some great, sturdy space for my DH’s ever growing library of school books (he is a PhD candidate) and academic journals. And of course some CDs…
Anyway, back to the layout. As we started to think about what we wanted for ourselves and for our baby once he or she arrives, we definitely were in agreement that we didn’t want to acquire too much baby stuff, and vowed to borrow the things that we’d only need for a short time. But that still left us with a need for more furniture than we already had in the room: a crib, a rocker, and place for diaper changes.
We are currently in search of the perfect crib to last us through multiple children and beyond (many of the convertible options out there right now are very practical while still looking very nice, which I love!). And we’ve already found the perfect rocker, although it has not yet arrived (more on that later!). The big question mark for us has been what to do about changing space. We figured that a unitasker like an actual changing table was out, and know that most family/friends have simply created a changing area on top of a dresser by simply adding a changing pad on top. While we really like this idea, we lacked both an a dresser to use (we only have one and it is a highly functional piece in our bedroom) as well as the wall space on which to put it. I briefly considered carving out some changing space in the closet, but that didn’t seem like the best use of the space. We also knew that given the recent burn on my foot (ouch!) that we’d need to have a radiator cover built for the nursery to make it safe for baby. We had actually already gotten some quotes for some radiator covers in the office and some other rooms in the fall shortly before finding out that we were having a baby, but we never moved forward on the project because the baby thing made us re-evaluate our plans and budget.
Then, I hatched The Plan. I’ve always loved built-ins, and have found that they often make the best use of space in small spaces, like tiny 2bedrooms. So I started taking to DH about The Plan. At first he gave me the “you’re a crazy person” look (I get that a lot), but eventually agreed that The Plan was less crazy than trying to put a changing area in a closet (the “you’re a crazy person look” remained every time I brought that up!). Showing him pictures also helped. Eventually, we emailed The Plan to our fabulous contractor for a price reality check. Here’s what The Plan involves:
- Creation of a whole wall of storage surrounding the windowed wall, involving drawers and cupboards for the lowers and bookcases for the uppers
- Use of one of the counter-height sides for a changing area
- Integration of a custom radiator cover/window seat into the wall of storage
- Moving the closet door closer to the entry door, to allow for the new lower cabinets
- Moving the 1,000 disc storage tower into the closet
- Moving the closet rod (which we do not use for hanging anything currently) from the long wall to the short wall and installing a second rod beneath it (perfectly sized for baby clothes!)
Whew! Does that sound like a lot? I was a little worried about getting back a quote, because know custom cabinetry is expensive (and that we’d be very unlikely to get what we needed from stock cabinetry). The initial quote from our contractor was a little steep, but we were able to work out with him some ways to save money. The best suggestion we came up with–that we do the final paint job on the cabinets ourselves with the help of friends–knocked $1,000 off the price! I was thrilled that something as simple as painting ourselves would save us so much. Painting is nothing! We’ve done it millions of times before on other house projects. We also were able to make a few other cabinetry decisions that also helped us bring the final price down.
So, we’ve now met w/ our contractor a few times, chosen the door style for the cabinets which will be painted white to match the trim in the rest of the room, discussed radiator grille design, and confirmed all our measurements for the depth of the cabinets (the uppers will be much less deep–more like a bookcase). We’ve also put down a deposit (eeek!) and scheduled the work to be done while we’re on our babymoon in Jamaica in order to avoid the disruption of having workers in our house for a full week. (I once made the mistake of working from home on a day when we had workers working on our one and only bathroom. It was not a good day.)
The Plan has, of course, given us some serious motivation to clear get moving and go through our stuff; we have to mostly clear out the office before they can start the work. More on that process soon!