How to design a sweet multi-functional toddler room

Even the tiniest room can work for two kids, check out how to create a special space for your toddler.

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Photo: Roberto Caruso

Sometimes you just have to tear it down and start over. The walls in Ada’s nursery were peeling due to water damage, the floors were riddled with burn marks, and the closet had a strange smell that wouldn’t go away. As her mother, Mandy Milks, succinctly puts it, “Her nursery was very, very sad.” With another baby on the way, Mandy knew she needed to change things up in a hurry. She and her husband, Anthony, live in a small row house in Toronto, and while they love the Victorian features and high ceilings, their house is quite narrow—every inch counts. Once Eloise, who was born in September, is old enough to move out of her crib, she’ll share the room with her big sister, so they needed to find a way to fit two beds in this tiny space. Mandy initially balked at Anthony’s suggestion of bunk beds, but after some research she found this adorable model with stairs that double as storage “so there’s no scary ladder to navigate in the middle of the night.” A game plan in place, they gutted the room, redid the drywall, replaced the drafty window, restained the floors and tore out the closet. Because most of the furnishings are not designed specifically for kids, “you can easily reimagine the space without redoing it entirely,” Mandy says. “You can even snip the pom-poms off the drapes once they get too cutesy.”

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Photo: Roberto Caruso

Because the room is so narrow and small, Mandy painted everything white. Bright pillows and toys add bursts of colour.

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Photo: Roberto Caruso

A colouring poster can double as art.

After a lot of retail sleuthing, Mandy settled on the Canadian-made Mobby loft bed. $730, amazon.ca

Tip: If your child isn’t yet sleeping on the top bunk, lay down foam mats and create a play nook.

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Photo: Roberto Caruso

Having a bookshelf you can hang on the wall helps to save on floor space. CB2’s Helix Acacia model is similar to this one. $299, cb2.com

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Photo: Roberto Caruso

Ada’s grandmother travelled far and wide with this steamer trunk. Now it stores dress-up costumes and acts as a bedside table.

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Mandy, a DIYer, made her own pillows, but many retailers offer similar looks. Coarse linen cushion, $43, zarahome.com. Persimmon origami Pillow, $80, ca.pehrdesigns.com

Hinged frames make it easy to add new photos. $28 to $48 US, anthropologie.com

The Edu-Science World Globe can even tell you what time it is in Toyko. $49, toysrus.ca

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1. This bin is made out of recycled canvas. $22 US, maikagoods.com

2. Tyvek Wonder Bins are washable, rip-proof and lightweight. $32, fluf.ca

3. Keep favourite toys in a portable 3 Sprouts caddy. $15, snugglebugz.ca

4. The zipper closure of P’kolino’s Monster bin is a nice touch. $30, westcoastkids.ca

 A version of this article appeared in our January 2016 issue with the headline “Room to grow,” pp. 70-5.

Read more:
Kids’ rooms: Cute ideas for every age
Controlling the chaos: Tips to a clutter-free home
Nursery gear: Style and inspiration guide

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