Monday, February 22, 2010

A tale of two rooms

We moved Torsten's office down to the basement. Now, the only stuff that is left in the bedroom upstairs that was his office is a giant pile of junk that he needs to remove.

So, now is the prime time for painting the nursery. Except, now we've been struck with another question: which is the best room for the nursery?

We have three spare bedrooms upstairs. One is my office, and will stay that way. One of the others is currently the guest room, and the third, Torsten's former office, is standing empty.

Originally we were planning to make the third room the nursery. That's the one I posted about before, with the chair rail. Let's look at it again, to refresh our memories.

From the doorway:

View of the nook, closet, and doorway:

View from the nook:

View of the closet:

This room is by far the smallest room in the house (that rug is 8'x5', if that helps with scale). It is the only bedroom with chair rail. It has a walk-in closet that is smaller than the other walk-in closets, but still sizable. It also has a nook that looks like it was a regular closet with the sliding doors removed. It faces the street, and has one double window. It is down the hall and around the corner from our bedroom.

Now, let's look at the current guest room.

View from the doorway:

View of the closet and doorway:

View of the closet:

This room is significantly larger than the other room (for scale, note that the bed is queen size). It is in the corner of the house, with a double window facing the back yard and a single window facing the side yard and neighboring house. It has a large walk-in closet. It is directly down the hall from our room (the doors of the two rooms face each other from opposite ends of the hall). It does not have chair rail.

So, here are the considerations we've come up with relating to the two rooms:
  • The guest bed is already in the guest room, and it would be a pain to move it, as it is heavy, solid wood, and we would have to take it apart. (However, Torsten says he watched the guys put it together and knows how to do it, and it would not be difficult.)
  • The guest bed has a big headboard. We wanted this, as it allows bed occupants to sit up and lean back to read without crushing their spines against the window frame. However, it is so big that it blocks half the window. If we moved it to the other room, it could be placed against the wall that has no window, thus eliminating this problem.
  • The bed is fairly big, and the other room is fairly small. The bed would definitely dominate the smaller room.
  • Because the other room is so small, and because of the window, the nook, the closet, and the doorway, configurations for that room are extremely limited. In fact, it is the type of room that is really better off just having one main piece of furniture in it, such as a desk or a bed. It is sort of naturally inclined to be a guest room.
  • It would be very hard to configure a nursery in that room. The only place for the crib would be against the one wall that has no windows and dorms. The changing table would pretty much have to go in that nook. And as for other things like chairs and shelves, I still don't really know where they would go. This would definitely require some creative finagling.
  • The smaller room has the chair rail, which would allow for the two-tone turquoise paint job we were planning to do.
  • The chair rail and nook also mean that the paint job will be more complex (though this seems like a minor consideration, since that only causes extra work for a single weekend and then it will be done).
  • Because the other room does not have chair rail and would therefore be painted only one shade, it opens up the possibility of doing some sort of cool stenciling on the wall instead of the two-tone thing (as an aside, if anyone has any stenciling ideas/suggestions, I'd love to hear them).
  • The size and layout of the other room mean that it would be very flexible as far as layout is concerned. It would also translate well to an older kid's room. The smaller room would severely limit the possibility that an older child could, say, have a second bed in the room for friends, siblings, etc. Or set up a desk or a bunch of shelves or anything else, really, beyond the basics. So, if we made that room the nursery, we would likely end up eventually moving the kid into one of the other bedrooms.
  • The bigger room is big enough that the baby furniture could end up looking lost in there. I'm not sure about this. I'd have to see how it all looked at the end. But people seem to tend to use smaller rooms as nurseries? Is this just because they seem cozier? Is there some sort of reason for this that I haven't thought of?
  • The smaller room faces the street, and can easily be seen into by people on the street at night. I'd prefer a more private room to do things like breastfeed in. On the other hand, I'm sure our guests would prefer some privacy as well. (At the moment, our blinds are totally see-through, as you can see in the photos--that's as closed as they get.) One way or the other, I think we're going to have to get better blinds for that room, so this is probably a moot point.
I don't know what to doooooooo. We are leaning toward moving the guest bed and using the bigger room as the nursery (can you tell that from the above list?) but we're not sure. We'd like to start painting soon, though, so we have to make a decision. What do you think? Which room would make a better nursery? And which room would make a better guest room? And if the answer to both those questions is the same room, what other considerations should be taken into account?


  1. Are you planning to have more than one child? Would you keep one room as a nursery and move the older kids into other rooms? This may change your thoughts a bit.

  2. I'm one in the minority who thinks bedrooms should be small. I'm not one who likes to hang out in my bedroom. So, to use a lot of space on a big bedroom is a waste for me, personally.

    In your situation, go with your gut. There is no wrong answer. Your child will not know the difference. And your guests should not care (and if they do, I'd refer them to the nearest hotel, at their own cost). =)

  3. I have a friend who recently dealt with this similar situation. I agree with SheLikesToTravel. If you're going to have more than one child, it could change things a bit. If you used the smaller room as the nursery you could move the baby into the bigger room should you have a second child without compeltely redoing the nursery.

  4. I was thinking the same thing as shelikestotravel. I would use the small room as the nursery. Would a changing table fit under the window? Then you could put shelves or a dresser or a glider/rocking chair "in" the nook. I think the queen size bed would overwhelm the smaller room.

  5. I would use the smaller room, but then I would eventually make the larger guest room a guest-room/playroom. I say this because the bigger the kid's room the more of a magnet for junk it becomes. More places to store things usually = more crap. Plus, we use our third floor as a playroom/guest room and it's awesome - I can lounge on the bed and read while my 3 year old goes crazy with her bigger toys. When guests come, all the huge plastic eyesores go into the big storage closet up there and it's a nice, spacious guest room.

    The older-kid bed issue could be sovled with a single bed with a trundle.

  6. Hmmm. My parents had 4 bedrooms upstairs - my sister and I switched every few years between the small room and the big room. It was an excuse to de-clutter (for my mom) and let us appreciate small and big, so I'm not tied to one room having the same function forever.

    I really don't think you can go wrong here - unless the Queen is too big and dwarfs the small room. That would be my main consideration right now.

  7. Our second nursery has few usable walls and it's ANNOYING! That said, I think you could be happy with either room as the nursery. If you have more than one child, you'll end up with one of them in the smaller room, anyway. I would probably go with the larger room as the nursery and the smaller as the guest room as the nursery will get more use.

  8. I'd use the bigger room for the nursery. That's a room that will get much more use than a guest bedroom and it'll be nice to have more room for a space that you use all the time. Re: multiple kids, my sister and I use to switch rooms every couple of years too so I wouldn't worry too much about that aspect.

  9. I'd say stick with your original plan to use the "chair rail" room as the nursery. You can always change things up later as your family dynamic changes, etc. Also? Bed Occupants is a great band name!

    - Mon

  10. Babies don't need much space. I would use the smaller room for the nursery. With all of your family out of state/country, they'll be much more comfortable in the larger room when they come to visit. We used the same nursery (smallest room) for each kid and just moved out the big kid to a bigger room as needed. Now the youngest is in the former nursery and it's just fine.

  11. I think either way, you will be happy. Thoughts on painting though... if you still want the look of a chair rail without the actual chair rail - all you have to do is tape off the wall where a chair rail would be. Paint the top and bottom the two tones and leave a white stripe in the middle. My friend did that and it looked great. It is also VERY easy to put up a chair rail.

    As far as stenciling, I like when people do the quotes on the walls or the baby's name. I think you can buy them online and paint them or even the kind that just stick up on the wall.

    Good luck!

  12. I guess you have to think of how often you will have guests and how long they will stay vs. the baby which will grow up there. There isn't a wrong choice here I don't think.

  13. Is the room you pick for the nursery forever going to be the nursery?
    (will you move the first child into a "new" room when you have another baby, or make a new nursery in another room?)
    If you plan on moving the first chid into another room when you have another baby, then I say go with the smaller room as the nursery, especially since it's gender neutral.
    Then, when the kid gets bigger you can move them into the bigger room, and decorate it a more specific theme and still have a gender neutral nursery for the next baby.

  14. For me, the important nursery issues relate to where it is in relation to the master bedroom. Whether it should be distant or next-door kind of depends on your yet-to-be-determined parenting style, although I will say that once the child is mobile I really preferred to be as close as possible.

    I also have kind of a personal weird thing with the windows: I prefer to have the kid's room facing the backyard instead of the street. I'm not usually a worry-about-the-outside-world kind of a person, but it does seem less vulnerable that way. (I think that's another way of saying GO WITH YOUR GUT.)

  15. I say the bigger room, just to make it easier for furniture and shelving and everything. Your guests will not mind the smaller room, ESPECIALLY with the closet. When we stay at my grandpa's, we're in a tiny room and I only mind because there is no where to put our suitcases. Yes, you'll lose the adorable chair rail, but I LOVE wall decals! My favorite sites for them are and and Vinyl is way easier than painting and easy to remove when you're ready to change the look of the room.

  16. I of course think whatever you decide will be fine, but I'd keep the smaller room as the nursery. Cozier that way! And like others have said, you can move the older kids into other rooms and have the small room function as the nursery until it isn't needed anymore.

  17. I agree with Nilsa. Go with your gut. It think you already know what you want to do so stop second guessing yourself and just go for it!

  18. When we transitioned our kids to toddler beds, we had to take everything except the beds out of the room for safety. They were in the bigger of our two rooms when this happened, and we ended up moving them to the smaller room with just their beds and leaving all other furniture in the bigger room.
    I'm not sure if I think this means you should use the small room or not, though. Hmm.

  19. Kids can always move rooms as they get older. Personally I'd choose a room based on 1) temperature (warmer is better, but good thermoregulation overall is the best), and 2) access. The closest to your room is better, or far away from noisy part of your house.

    I wouldn't necessarily choose based on size or views.

  20. The number one consideration I'd have is the proximity of the baby's room to your room. Seeing as how the bigger room is closer, I'd use that. You are already going to feel like your baby is sooooooooooo far away, and you're not going to want to truck any farther than you have to for those late-nate wake-up calls. Also note that even if you plan to have your tiny baby in your bedroom for awhile, children tend to do some night-waking (when sick, or teething etc) at least until age 2.

    Also babies quickly turn into children, and babies/children have TONS of stuff. So it'd be a smarter use of space to use the smaller room for guests, and use the bigger room for, you know, LIFE.

  21. If you're planning on more than one child, I would say leave the smaller room as the nursery and then transition the kid into the bigger room once siblings come into play. Plus, as much as you might want a chair or other stuff in the nursery, the kid won't mind either way. And also, I'm lazy and would be adverse to moving all my stuff :)

  22. if you do go w/the bigger room and still want 2-tone turquoise, you could also install a border strip to replace the chair rail (another bonus of that: you don't have to have a PERFECTLY TAPED line between the 2 colors, since you'll be sticking a border on top of it!).

  23. this is hard....if you are going with the two tone, i think bigger is better. however, i'm that person that HATES her big bedroom. if we could cut our bedroom in half, i'd be so happy.

  24. Didn't get a chance to read the other comments, so sorry if this is repetitive.

    I'd say -- do the nursery in the smaller room. Then, you move the 'toddler' into the guest room, which you redecorate for a 'kid', and you keep the nursery for baby #2.

    I think it'd be better to use the small room as a 'nursery for more than one baby' rather than have a nursery in the big room, only to later make another nursery in the small room.

  25. Which room is closer to your bedroom??

    I'd keep the small room as the nursery - especially since you're likely to get guests, who are much bigger than babies and toddlers. You can always move your child to the bigger room as he/she gets older. If you're having more than one kid, this will likely be ideal.

  26. I'm with everyone who says to keep the nursery in the smaller room. We turned our smaller spare room into the nursery and will move Lucy into the bigger room when we have our next child.

  27. I think it depends how often you have guests and how long they tend to stay for. I lean towards small guest room and bigger nursery but that's because we tend to only have guests for a night or 2 at a time and I really want a big comfy chair in the nursery!

    A lot of new parents I know keep most of the baby stuff downstairs anyway (because that's where they are) so the nursery really only contains the cot and clothes. It makes the living room a bit cluttered but everyone expects that from new parents!