our san francisco closet nursery & small space living with baby tips

I’ve been thinking a lot about our old apartment and in particular, Lucy’s teeny tiny closet nursery. I realized I never shared photos of it on here! Our small SF apartment  and closet nursery were featured on Glitter Guide and The Everymom, but I want to make sure they are documented on my own little corner of the Internet, too. ✨

STARTING WITH A BLANK CANVAS: Our apartment in San Francisco was 650ish feet, and the living room and bedroom were connected by pretty French doors that we usually kept open. One bonus to the very small space was that the apartment had two generously sized walk-in closets. So we decided to turn one into a colorful and fun nursery nook for Lucy! It was the most precious space! 💘 The first thing we did after emptying the Eric’s old closet was order removable wallpaper. I purchased this online from Livette’s Wallpaper and selected the ‘Black Herringbone’ pattern. I liked that this pattern was graphic and fun without being too busy.  Since the wallpaper has simple lines and black and white colors, it acted as a neutral backdrop in the room and I added more patterns and pops of colors with the animal heads, artwork and the bright mobile. The removable wallpaper really set the stage for the nursery and allowed the space to feel more like a ROOM and less like a CLOSET.

THE CRIB: We used the Stokke Sleepi Mini Crib, which was PERFECT for the space. It was the perfect size and truly beautiful. Now that Lucy is older and we have more space, we use the same crib with the extensions. The only downside of this crib is that since it’s oval, you can’t get cute crib sheets easily at places like Target. We ordered most of ours on Etsy (this is a great shop!) and ordered more when we extended the crib to a full size oval mattress. The crib was also more expensive than other mini cribs I researched, but we liked the options of extending it to a full size crib and then into a kids bed, so it felt like this piece of furniture would last us a long time. This particular crib was beautiful and functional for our small space and allowed us to have additional room for more storage and fun decor.

DECOR: In terms of fun decor, I first bought this pink bird print and then found the bright pom pom mobile from Crate & Kids (formerly Land of Nod) and that’s when we started incorporating more pink! 🙊We added three animal heads from Target to the wall to add more whimsy to the space and hung the white bookshelves (which are actually IKEA photo ledges) to display her cute books. I also displayed some of Lucy’s cute Crate & Kids wooden blocks, and had some cute stuffed animals in there (when she wasn’t *in* the crib 😅). The decor we chose was an extension of our apartment – bright and colorful – with extra whimsical touches, because kids rooms shouldn’t be too serious.

THE BABY CORNER: We also had a ‘baby corner’ in our room, right outside of the closet nursery in the corner of our bedroom. Here, we had our rocking chair, a side table, her Plum & Sparrow basket and rocking stand, and of course, several plants. 🌿This area was pretty much fully dedicated to Lucy (and we spent soooo much time rocking in that little corner 😭) but also blended into the style of our apartment overall. This corner was an extension of Lucy’s closet nursery and allowed us to strategically use previously unused space in a functional way.

STRATEGIC STORAGE: if you live in a small space, this is important! Here’s what we did:

  • We had seagrass baskets on the closet shelf where we kept Lucy’s “too big” clothes. These looked really pretty and color wise, flowed with the natural wood in the crib.
  • We had a narrow linen storage tower in the corner of the closet nursery where we stored random baby items.  There were two fairly large doors to hide random baby stuff and two open shelves, where I displayed cute baby things and Lucy’s tiny shoes! We still use this in Lucy’s new room in Nashville – you can see a photo here!
  • We kept diapers, wipes, burb cloths and medicine in a rolling white cart that we kept near our changing table. We wanted this to be easily accessible yet able to be tucked away if needed!
  • We stored blankets and swaddles in a hanging shoe rack on the door between Lucy’s room and our kitchen (photos and more details HERE)
  • We had an accordion wall rack hanging outside her nursery where we hung her baby carriers and wraps
  • We had a side table next to the rocking chair that had storage too! You simply could lift the top of the table and put stuff inside. AMAZING.

A few other important points and random advice I have about living in a small space with a kid:

  1. Limit the items that come into your home. We were very (kindly) upfront with our loving and generous family and friends that we didn’t want any large baby items like a big high chair, swings, bouncers, big plastic toys, etc. (we did end up getting and using one bouncer that folded flat – perfect for small space). We wanted to be very cognizant of not having things we didn’t need, and to avoid a lot of the typical ‘big baby things’
  2. Ruthlessly purge things you don’t need. I was constantly giving things away on Facebook marketplace or to local moms that we didn’t use or need. If you aren’t using it or have intention to use in near future, don’t keep it!
  3. Inventory management. This is similar to the point above, but I was regularly doing what I call ‘inventory management.’ I would go through what we had for Lucy and determine if we were using it or if it fit her. Just spending a little bit of extra time figuring out what you have prevents you from buying more things you don’t need (hi, same pajamas in same size) or wasting/forgetting what you have.
  4. Get outside. We only lived in our San Francisco apartment from Lucy’s birth until 8 months, but getting outside every day was CRUCIAL. Being in a small space with a child can sometimes make you feel trapped (especially during that challenging ‘witching hour’, but going on a short walk, or heading to the park, or just getting out of the house for a bit really helps. It’s important to remember there’s so many other spaces for you to use as an extension of your own home – parks, coffee shops, libraries, museums, etc!
  5. Kids don’t need a lot. Sometimes there’s this pressure to have everything you see on Instagram – the toys, the entertainment options, the baby contraptions – but you don’t. Remember your child truly just needs an engaged, connected, loving parent an doesn’t need a lot of space or a lot of things to be happy and well adjusted. 💛

Okay, so that’s the quick rundown of what we did to turn our San Francisco closet into Lucy’s little nursery! I am going to re-share some of my answers from The Everymom closet nursery below, too! Hopefully this helps explain why we did what we did and our thoughts on living in a small space with a baby!

Aside from the nursery, you also have a “nook” for your baby. Tell us the purpose of this area and what makes it special.

Yes, we added a rocker, side table, Moses basket and rocking stand to the bedroom corner. I’ve heard from other moms that having a dedicated space to sit and feed/spend time with the baby is important, so we decided to go for it. I love the look of this rocker; it’s functional for rocking the baby, but at the same time, the modern vibe fits into the rest of the space without it screaming “BABY ROCKING CHAIR!” My mom found that side table, which also has storage underneath (yay for cute strategic storage solutions) and I’m sure will come in handy when the baby is here. We’re using the Moses basket as a bassinet before transitioning the baby into her crib and I absolutely love it.

Tell us the greatest lesson you’ve learned from this design process.

I’ve learned the importance of being creative and open with the space. Obviously, it’s small, but can still be super functional and beautiful. I think it’s easy to limit ourselves and our thinking, especially in small spaces, so I’m glad I kept an open mind with this closet. I’ve also learned about the power of creative and strategic organization. For example, the seagrass baskets on the top shelf store larger baby clothes and we added a standing linen tower for additional storage and to hide the not-so-cute baby items. Lastly (sorry, this is more than one lesson!), I learned the importance of seamlessly integrating decor elements between the baby’s room and the rest of our apartment. Since the nursery opens into our bedroom, I wanted it to have a similar aesthetic to our overall space, but with extra quirky and whimsical vibes.

What advice would you give to the people who are also trying to design their dream nursery?

Be creative and work with what you have, whether that’s existing decor items or limited space. Make the space feel uniquely you, rather than just copying something you see on Pinterest. And have fun! I don’t think a baby’s nursery is a space to take yourself too seriously — make it a place that brings you joy.

Photos from my phone or via Hannah Pobar and Leigh Nile


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14 thoughts on “our san francisco closet nursery & small space living with baby tips

  1. Love your little nursery! I feel very lucky that we’re now in a two-bedroom townhouse (instead of our previous small one-bedrooms) as we prepare for baby but so many of these tips are still super helpful! Even if you have more space, I can see how easy it is to overbuy and unnecessarily clutter your space. Great ideas in here for small or slightly larger spaces!

  2. Thank you for sharing this. We’re also considering staying in our 1 bedroom condo and having a child. It’s great to hear the practical advice and to know that it can be done.

    1. Hi Jo! I’m glad you found the post helpful — it’s definitely possible to live in a small space with a baby. Congrats and best of luck! <3

  3. The removable wall paper is such a great idea! I’m due in February and we live in a Russian hill 1 bedroom with two walk in closets! Question- what did you use for a changing table?

    1. Hi there! We used a dresser and put the Keekaroo Peanut Changing Pad on top. In fact, we still use the same set up in our new place in San Francisco for my now toddler! Highly recommend! 🙂

    1. Hey there! We actually moved to Nashville for my husband’s job so never transitioned the closet into a “big kid” room. There’s some great ideas floating around Pinterest, though!

    1. Hey there! We actually moved to Nashville for my husband’s job so never transitioned the closet into a “big kid” room. There’s some great ideas floating around Pinterest, though!

  4. Absolutely love this! Thanks for sharing! We are turning our walk in closet partially to a nursery and I didn’t want bulky furniture or toys so this helped tremendously & gave me some ideas! Love the color scheme too! Also we have our dressers in the closet which I can turn into a changing table as well! Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for reading my blog post! I love the idea of a dresser / changing table in the closet nursery, too! Hope you have a great day! –Andi

  5. Love this!! So cute. We’re in a 2 BR in LA expecting our first, and I’d like to keep the second bedroom for guests / office / workout bike. So we’ll also be converting our walk in closet to a nursery. Did you do anything special to ensure ventilation when the nursery door was closed? That’s the ONE concern my husband keeps voicing. Thanks for your thoughts!