Is it a Drawing Room or Nursery?
It's a Multifunctional Room.
Interior designer Bunny Williams, once said, "If you design a room with multiple purposes, you are going to use that room." That phrase has stuck with me ever since I started my design career and if you've followed my work, you’ll see this philosophy play out in several spaces I design.
If you have the square footage…. why:
Designate a room strictly for lounging when you could tuck a small desk in the corner to do work when necessary?
Use your living room just for sitting and watching TV, when you could create a zone for board games with the kids or a nook for reading?
Not create a cozy sitting area with a bar to entertain friends in your office rather than having a single guest chair?
Rooms in our homes are meant to be used, however when they serve a single function, they become a relic, or you run the risk of using them sparingly. I'm looking at you dining room (LOL).
The concept of a multifunctional room came in quite handy as I thought about designing my son's nursery. Well, let's just say it is an atypical nursery. Why? Because as a person living in a multigenerational home, most bedrooms are already spoken for. So short of reshuffling our current sleeping arrangements, undergoing a major renovation to create a designated baby room, or putting the nursery in my basement (ah yes, the thought did cross my mind), I had to explore how I could have an existing room serve double duty.
This required that I answer a very difficult question "Does a baby need a designated room to themselves?" I'd argue NO. In my humble opinion, a nursery is a nice to have but not a necessity (at least for the first year or two). That’s because for the first year of the child's life, they are likely sleeping in a bassinet or crib in the parent’s room at night (at least in my case), and their room is likely only used during the day for naps and/or diaper changes (if at all).
While I considered having the baby bunk with one of his siblings (side bar: that will happen in the future) I realized the main issue I faced was that all our sleeping rooms are on the topmost floor of the home. And frankly, no one especially my elderly mom, who is helping me out with my kiddos, was going to be keen about schlepping up and down the stairs to:
Change the baby's clothes.
Put him down for a nap; or
Change his nappies.
The solution to this problem was for me to identify a room that:
Didn’t get a lot of foot traffic (to minimize noise when the baby is sleeping);
Was located on the main floor of the home (to reduce the number of times folks must take the stairs to change the baby)
Had a bathroom close by; and
Was spacious enough to accommodate a crib.
The room that fit that bill and will ultimately perform double duty was my living room (or drawing room, like my British friends call it). Once the room location was set, I focused on a furniture layout, color scheme, furniture selection, and décor. For details on creating a furniture layout and decorating a multipurpose room, check out the blog post on my office design. Since I'm not a fan of themed rooms, I settled on a neutral color palette and infused pops of color through art.
As for selecting furniture, I strongly believe that buying a piece that will grow with your kid is key. In other words:
Invest on a solid crib that converts into a toddler bed down the line.
Don't buy a changing table. Instead, purchase a dresser that's not juvenile, has ample storage, and surface area to hold a changing basket. Side note, I can use the top of this dresser as a bar for drinks when entertaining guests.
Repurpose a China cabinet into a wardrobe and a piece for hiding toys. Once the kid is older and the cabinet is no longer being used for hanging clothes, the clothing rail could be used to hang and display teacups.
Ditch the rocking chair and invest in comfortable seating. When I had my second child, I bought a rocking chair and never used it. Now it is gracing my basement with its presence.
For my nursery/living room, I focused on vintage pieces made of quality materials that have stood the test of time. These are pieces that will stay in the room even when my son's crib and toys have vacated the space.
Like I said earlier, this is an atypical nursery, but it works. So now I'd like to hear from you in the comments, will you consider creating a multipurpose room in your home? If yes, what key functions would the room have. And if no, why not?