Big Ideas for Nursery Storage


My baby (due sometime this month) will arrive with a lot of baggage, literally. Although he’s expected to weigh just eight pounds, he’s already racked up what seems like tons of shirts, sweaters, onesies and sleepers. The good news is that the tiny clothes and toys don’t take up much space. The bad news is that figuring out how to store this gear—which I’m told fits for a fleeting moment in time—is a bit of an organizational challenge. Regular-size furniture and closet systems seemed too big and costly, and I was reluctant to invest in a dresser or system that might be cute for a nursery, but would be emasculating or inefficient for an older child. I decided to investigate other options with my trusted professional organizer, Sarah Winge.

Infant accessories seem to fall into two camps: little bitty toys that rattle or squeak and pacifiers. Later, I’m sure I’ll require big tubs for Legos, but for right now I need smaller bins that will keep the pint-size pieces in order. Sarah and I decided to outfit an old bookshelf I have (which has been painted at least four colors over the years and now wears Benjamin Moore’s “White Dove” for the nursery) for books and gear. Down the road, I’m hoping he will be a reader, and the shelves will perhaps hold the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien—or at least Dav Pikey’s Captain Underpants series. Right now, his growing library consists mostly of wallet-size tomes like “Goodnight Moon,” which leaves plenty of shelf space. Sarah and I found six cloth bins (Closetmaid,, $15) that fit on the shelves perfectly. Inspired by the solar system mobile I recently installed (Pottery Barn Kids, $34), 

I decided to decorate the front of each bin with a fabric planet decal that I made by cutting out a circle of mottled or striated fabric, backing it with a stiff interface and attaching to the cube with a strong fabric glue. Now all I have to remember is that the “sun” bin holds pacifiers, the “mars” bin holds little stuffed toys, etc.


The closet was entirely of Sarah’s design. Although she normally works with high-end and custom materials, Sarah gamely went shopping at the big box stores for this project. She found a small modular shelving system with two drawers and cube shelves at Target. She also came up with idea of making soft hanging shelves, normally used for shoes, into cubbies for burp cloths and bibs. She took a larger set of hanging shelves and used a grommet-making tool to reposition the hooks to rotate its position.

This allowed us to tuck the shelves into a not-so-useful nook of the closet to store clothes that are too big for baby, but just right for a bigger boy (there’s a benefit to waiting to be the last of your friends to have a child—they pass along outgrown items). After adding some more cloth cubes, I have enough room for all the clothes baby will need to get him started. Total closet cost: around $190. What I was considering spending: nearly $2,500.

My contribution to the closet was the labeling system. Using the same technique employed to make the planet decals, Sarah designed yellow fabric pieces showing pants, shirts, onesies and sleepers. I may be too sleep-deprived to read when baby arrives, but I’ll be able to tell where the gear is thanks to these easy-to-understand labels. 

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