Transitioning A Nursery Into A Toddler’s Room

When you planned your baby’s nursery, you lovingly chose every detail and designed a space that was beautiful and comforting for the newest member of your family. Shopping for all those adorable accoutrements and planning everything down to the last button was a labor of love. But cribs get outgrown, and babies grow up.

It’s time for a toddler room makeover!

Updating your child’s room as he or she transitions from baby to toddler involves much more than just switching out the crib for a big kid’s bed. The bedroom should be a place for your child to grow and relax in comfort and security. It’s also the time to let your opinionated two- or three-year-old have some say in the way his or her own room looks. Giving your toddler a voice in this process can create issues as you’ll need to ensure that the updated room is safe, blends in with your home and won’t need another makeover again next year.

But fear not! From decorative accents to unique storage ideas, here’s everything you need to know to create a playful space that both you and your child will enjoy.

Choosing the Color Scheme and Theme

There’s a fine line between letting your child exercise some choice and allowing him to go all Jackson Pollock in your house. The trick is to start with open-ended questions, but then present only a few options. For example, if you begin with a wide open question like: “What do you want your big kid room to look like?” you’ll get answers like these:

  • A castle
  • A zoo
  • A tree house
  • Flowers
  • A fairyland
  • Outer space

You can also simply ask what color your child would like his or her room to be, and go from there.

Use this information to decide on a theme that works for both you and your child. Remember, you don’t need to go overboard with commercial cartoon characters that your child will outgrow. A simpler nod to the theme in color, style of furniture or bed linens can easily do the trick. Add a few carefully chosen pictures or other decorative items, and you’re done!

Once you have a theme in mind, do some pre-shopping to narrow the choices. Begin by scouting out a few suitable paint chips that you like and that blend into your home’s existing color palette. Red and yellow don’t have to be shades straight from the crayon box! Choose three paint chips you can live with and let your child choose from among them so you get something you both like.

This semi-sneaky system also works for other decorative items. If you can’t stomach Disney princesses, give your child a choice of three non-branded, but equally girly sheets or comforters. You can compromise by adding a small item into the room like a Cinderella clock. Keeping your theme toned down and your colors muted will help you transition into a teenage bedroom in a decade, so it’s worth it to plan ahead.

Planning the Layout

Toddlers need as much room as possible to navigate through their spaces, as they are still developing control over their gross motor skills. This means that you don’t want to create any narrow chutes to walk through or have any sharp furniture corners at eye level. You’ll also want to create as much space as possible for creative play. Try keeping furniture along the walls so the center of the room remains open. Placing the bed along the wall may make it a bit harder to change the sheets, but you’ll avoid the dreaded “lane of terror” that develops when your child drops toys and stuffed animals in a narrow space between the bed and the wall. Add a fun rug in the center to anchor the room and offer a cozy spot to play on the floor.

Getting Organized

When you were dealing with a baby’s room, you could fold all the clothes neatly and keep everything just so. Toddlers are extremely interested in doing things for themselves, and it’s a good idea to let them — after all, you don’t want to be folding their clothes forever, right? To encourage your child to take charge of his or her space, consider child-sized organization that your toddler can reach and operate without any assistance. That means low shelves with big, resilient bins to throw toys into as well as dresser drawers that are both within reach and have dividers to keep shirts and pants separated (if not perfectly folded).

You can also consider adding low hooks to hang clothes or adding a double closet rod so your child can hang items on the lower bar. In the future, the lower rod will still work for pants and shirts, and your child can expand his or her reach to the upper bar with time. A child-sized desk and chair are also a great idea if you have the space. This will help teach your child good work habits for using paper and pencils in the days leading up to preschool.

Adding a Hideaway

One must-have to complete the transformation from nursery to big-kid room? Privacy. Find a corner to create a cozy hideaway where your child can go to read a book or daydream. This private nook can be an indoor tepee or camping tent, a bean bag chair in a corner, a pile of pillows or a special reading spot. It doesn’t have to be big, but adding a sheet or curtain for privacy, a pillow for comfort and a flashlight for fun will make your toddler feel like a big kid with a place for secrets and dreams.

Creating a bedroom that both you and your toddler will love can be a fun project to work on together. If you can’t imagine handing over a paint brush, teach your child to fluff the pillows, sort socks for the dresser drawer and put toys away in the bins. Your child will feel a sense of ownership and accomplishment, and you’ll be ready to hit the ground running together in this new and exciting phase of life.