When I became pregnant with my second, we decided to give our boys the “bigger” room in our cozy apartment. The switch got my creative juice flowing, and my Pinterest board was on fire. I was so excited for our kids to share a room, but designing a shared space for a school-aged kid and a baby turned out to be much more difficult than I anticipated.

The moment I brought in the first decorative item that my son didn’t approve of, I realized that I needed to not only consult with him, but also give him creative rights. That was challenge number one. Challenge number two was to create space for a baby while keeping challenge number one in mind! After all, while I would love to Marie Kondo all the toys, my 6-year-old son is simply not there yet. Challenge number three was to make it functional!

So with all that, I decided to save my sanity and enlist the help of my friend Sarah Bean to help make this small space welcoming, fun and functional all at once. As a children’s space designer and mom of three, Sarah was able to share tips that helped us create the perfect space for our family of four!

From getting a chair where you can nurse and read stories to putting the changing table in the closet, here are the 5 tips that Sarah gave me to create a room for big sib and baby will love to share.

1. Collaborate with big sibling. Involve the older sibling by collaborating during the design process. A child may have mixed feelings about a new sibling sharing their room. By including the older child, it can help them feel like they are a part of the change - not just feeling like the change is happening to them.

There are several brands that appeal to both children and adults. The selection of prints and posters at Fine Little Day is beautifully curated. Like we did with Oliver, let your older child pick his favorites. Bedding is another fun area for kids to help with. Pick a few options for your child to choose from so it’s not too overwhelming for them and to make sure you end up with something you like, too. Both Land of Nod and Natti Natti have great prints that kids love and parents will approve of. A collaboration between a child and the parents result in spaces that families can truly enjoy together.

2. Pictures speak louder than words. To create an environment a child can take pride in and ownership of, be sure to showcase their original artwork. Oliver is an amazing artist and builder. So we displayed some of his work as well as a few special LEGO creations. We also designated a space to hang artwork, which can be done easily with tape.

Of course we wanted Francis to feel welcomed too, and that was done by making sure a picture of Oliver and Francis is front and center. Always to hang those sibling photos!

3. Choose multifunctional Seating. Multifunctional seating is important in a shared room. Since the space will be used as Francis’ nursery, a comfy spot for Kaity to nurse was a necessity. We chose not to go with a glider in an effort to save floor space. Instead we went with an upholstered side chair, which can work in any room down the road.

The corner provides a spot to feed baby, and it’s also a great place to read books. We added a bright overhead light for that reason, and we put board books and picture books on shelves, placing them so that they’re easy to grab. Oliver’s chapter books, which he tends to read at bedtime, are closer to his bed. Speaking of books, wall shelves work great in a room pressed for space.

4. Save space. Utilize every inch of space. City living often means dealing with smaller apartments and the need to get creative with furniture positioning. In this case, it made sense to move the changing station and dresser into the closet instead of taking up floor space for the boys to play. This lets the room feel open, and believe it or not, it even maximizes the closet space. Having the option to close the doors is a bonus.

Another great storage spot is under the bed. We stored the majority of Oliver's toys under his bed. They’re in clear bins with lids so he can see what’s what. The lids will keep little pieces locked up, which makes it safe from baby brother! Keeping the toys under the bed also makes playing on the floor on a cozy rug easy.

5. Keep things within reach. As we organized the closet, we kept Oliver’s age appropriate needs in mind. His clothes are kept in the lower drawers so he can dress himself. Francis’ clothes were placed higher for mom and dad. Same idea with toys; the items Oliver plays with on his own are stored lower. Games and puzzles that are played with an adult went up top.

6. Function and Form. Nothing is permanent when living with kids - especially with multiple kids. The space around them will have to change as they do too. Invest in furniture that not only looks great but also can adapt as your little ones grow.

The Bloom dresser started as Oliver’s changing table and dresser before being just a dresser. And now that Francis is here, it’s back to its original purpose, as a changing table and dresser! Down the road when the changing station is no longer needed, the pad will come off, and it will be a dresser again. Francis’ crib, Bloom's Alma Papa, is slightly smaller than a standard crib, which is a huge plus for city living. But most importantly, the mattress can be at two heights, and the crib converts to a toddler bed as well, which can guarantee your littlest one a place to sleep until he's up to 4 years old.

Shop the nursery:

Crib: Bloom

Crib Sheets: Winter Water Factory X Bloom

Cloud pillow: Lorena Canals

Twin Bed Sheets: Land of Nod

Twin Bed Comforter: Natti Natti

Bookshelf Near Bed: Land of Nod

Rug: Lorena Canals

Eyes Pillow: Natti Natti

Dresser: Bloom

Hello Neon Light: Land of Nod

Pendant Light: Urban Outfitters

Rainbow Print: Fine Little Day

Eyes Print: Fine Little Day

Diaper Pail: Ubbi

Chair: West Elm

Trucks under crib: Green Toys

Donut Rattle: Chengoo

Geometric storage bin under shelves: Gautier Studio

Renee Leanna/Facebook

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