Lane & Tom’s Shared Nursery Tour

In our two-bedroom apartment, Lane (age 3) and Tom (5 months) share a bedroom. We call it the nursery.

If it looks big in the photos, it’s because we kept the furniture to a small scale to save space. (For example, Lane has a toddler bed instead of a twin.) We wanted to maximize the open floor space so there could be plenty of room to play.

Our home is grounded in shades of brown — wood, leather, baskets, and linen — and the nursery has its share of brown too. We balanced it with white curtains and bedding to emphasize the light that pours in the southern window. The kids’ toys and accessories provide the bright colors without being too much.

Colorful outfits on wooden hangers announce who lives in this room.

In the center is an iron mantle I found at an antique junk shop. It had an amazing patina, but rusty bare iron isn’t well-suited for a nursery, so we had to paint it. I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

If you’re counting, I have three mantels, but no real fireplace. (The others are the one in the living room and the one we use as a headboard in the bedroom.)

In one corner is the play kitchen, and it’s set apart from the rest of the room by a heavy brown sewing cabinet I bought at a flea market 10 years ago.

Over the years the sewing cabinet has been storage, a diaper changing table, and most recently, a hiding place. A couple of years ago we put a light, a bench, and a secret shelf inside.

The dresser is a Craigslist find. The kids’ clothes fit in the dresser, which makes their closet available for general household storage (the back room).

We turned vinyl rain gutters into book shelves. They can be cut to any length, and these are mounted on the wall behind the door. It’s an efficient way to use space that would otherwise be empty.


The simple chandelier is a single lamp cord with 11 small glass balls from CB2 suspended around it. I made it in 20 minutes, and the instructions are here. Total cost: $30.

We made the bed canopy by hanging a pair of sheer curtains from IKEA on an embroidery hoop with a 15-inch diameter. I wasn’t sure if it would last, but we hung it up about a year ago and it still looks nice. Total cost: $8.

There’s no fancy toy storage here. The shelves are just two boards and a couple of brackets. The baskets are from IKEA.

Lane uses the top shelves and Tom gets the bottom shelf.

We keep only half of the toys available at a time, and the rest of the toys go in a storage box in the back room. It would be better if this box wasn’t see-through.

The dollhouse is the first thing kids are drawn to when they come over to play. Doug built it for Lane from a kit. The furniture is from my vintage Little People dollhouse.

The magnetic boards are great for a child’s room or a homeschool classroom. They are found at IKEA also.

Under the crib makes a nice reading spot. We pile a bunch of pillows and blankets under there to make a nest.

The much-loved cardboard robot was shared here.

~ The End ~

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Cutest room ever. Seriously. Your ideas are so creative. I love how you really approached it from a child’s perspective.

    Meg´s last post…The Olympics

  2. I love this room! Simple yet full of inspiration…little nooks filled with toys for little hands to explore, encouraging creativity. I absolutely LOVE the light fixture and have to make one for my home!!! And the best thing…it’s totally accessible to the children so they can do things on their own. So smart! Well done!!

    Michele´s last post…Nourishing Traditions Class

  3. Karen (Scotland) says:

    What a beautiful, simple room for the kids. I love the rain gutter bookshelves. I know children could technically still pull every book out and throw them on the floor but it will take a bit more effort than just sweeping an arm along a flat shelf. ;-)
    Also love the old post about the cardboard robot. Over the festive period this year, we made a “pipe boat” (Daddy works in the offshore laying oil pipes). Cereal boxes, toilet roll tubes, a couple of tinfoil box cranes, a rope on a winch made from a cardboard coil thing and lots of hastily cut out and painted fishes and other sea monsters and our little ones played with it for hours, days, WEEKS.
    I too wondered why we bother buying toys when that was the most successful toy with our three year old. Ever.
    Thanks also for the instructions for the glass bubble chandelier yesterday – it is so pretty!

  4. Adorable! Cutest nursery ever–and so many clever ideas!

    mrs.e´s last post…Best Moments of the Week

  5. I love the simplicity in the kid’s bedroom. I also like how they share a room. My kids are getting big (almost 4 and almost 2) we constantly have WW III around here, sharing anything is just not an option!

  6. THAT IS TOO CUTE! I love everything of it. I especially love that it is clutter free! Great job!

    Mrs. Money´s last post…Is Phantom Electricity Draining your Bank Account?

  7. Oh, this is lovely, lovely all around. Thank you for sharing!
    Could I trouble you to tell us more about the curtains hanging from the embroidery hoop? I’ve been hoping to create just such a bed canopy for my daughter.

    • You know how an embroidery hoop is made of two wood rings? The curtains are hung on the outer ring just like you would hang them on a curtain rod. The inner ring holds them in place, and the outer ring has a screw to tighten it up. The IKEA curtains are like mosquito netting with little holes. We looped twine through the curtain holes and around both rings of the embroidery hoop to help secure it and suspend it from the ceiling with a hook.

  8. I SO LOVE your taste. My brain does not think that way – I think I have decorators block :)

    Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last post…Homemade Isn’t Always For Me

  9. So beautiful! Looks like it belongs in a magazine….


    steadymom´s last post…Inspiration for Your Weekend

  10. WOW! I LOVE this room! The “bookshelves” are a GREAT idea!!! You’ve really made the most of this space! It’s wonderful! :)

    Catie´s last post…I {heart}…

  11. I share your IKEA love it is only 10 minutes from my house. I have to say – the room is very cute and Lane and Tom could not be any cuter!!

  12. Beautiful. I love her bed. Could you tell me where you got it?

  13. Very, very cute. Thanks for sharing! Not to stir anything up, but did you know that Ikea made the 2010 Sweatshop Hall of Shame? Just wondered if you’ve ever wrestled with the ethical dilemma of weighing the cost between affordable products and our responsibility in holding companies responsible for their labor practices? I too have been to Ikea. Just curious about your thoughts.

    Andrea @ The Train To Crazy´s last post…Make it, Wear it!

    • I kind of love IKEA for certain things. I haven’t heard about a list like that. When I look at the options for small household accessories, I do prefer IKEA to Target and Walmart for aesthetics and longevity.

    • I saw that too. Disappointing, but IKEA overall has a very good social policy. I don’t have to worry about it too much, living 3 hours from the nearest IKEA! (We just have Walmart, which I avoid as much as possible.)

  14. What a gorgeous room! I love the simplicity–it’s perfect for little ones! I’m so glad to see someone else creating a great play area for their kids in a 2 bedroom home. I feel less like a crazy person when people gawk at me when they hear we live in a 2/1 home with a daughter. It can be done and life is better for it!

    Love your blog.

  15. Jenni at My Web of Life says:

    What an absolutely beautiful room! I love the painted white mantel! And the rain gutter shelves are a stroke of genius! (notice all my exclamation points?)

    You’ve insprired me to tackle our tired childrens’ rooms. Thanks!

  16. Sandra Gonzales says:

    How sweet! It was a good a idea to create a communal area for your kids. That way they learn from an early age how to share things and their time with each other. I’m sure they’ll be life long friends.

  17. Oh, what a beautiful room! Thank you for sharing. I do love a room tour!

  18. Thank you for showing me that a brother and sister can share a room! This is inspiring as we are pregnant with our second. We are looking to downsize from our four bedroom apartment to a three, but now I might even be interested in a two bedroom! We also live in Dallas! Thanks for the inspiration, truly!!

    Jill´s last post…Our Monday Adventures…

  19. Looks great; creative and inviting.

  20. magical. my kind of magic.

    Prairie Chick´s last post…The Peasant Princess Project, Part VII

  21. The nursery is adorable. I am definitely going to use this as inspiration. I do have some questions … more practical ones. Does Lane sleep in the nursery? How do you handle different naps times, bedtimes, waking up during the night, etc? Thanks so much for offering your lives on the blog. It is so helpful to see how others do things!

    • Lane is a heavy sleeper and she’ll sleep through Tom’s crying. Tom is a light sleeper. The kids both go to bed at 8:00, though Tom will wake up after a few hours. I have them take afternoon naps in different rooms; Tom might sleep in the swing in the living room.

  22. I love those book shelves. my son (2) is a serious book hound – he gets 10-15 books out a day for me to read to him. I keep his current favorites in a box next to my bed but really love how you’ve displayed these. thanks for sharing.

    Nina´s last post…the living planet aquarium

  23. We’re going to be working on creating our nursery over the next few weekends….might have to copy a few of your ideas! :)

  24. Three things stand out immediately as huge pluses…

    The fact that everything is on a child’s level of reach, it’s simplicity, and the hiding place that allows for a “getaway” in a large open space for moments of make believe and to inspire the imagination. And it seems that this was all done without great expense while still looking fabulous! Well done!

  25. Absolutely adorable! I love the sense of calm it has, I’m sure your little ones enjoy it so much! Great pictures!

    jeana´s last post…Please do me a quick favor? AND recipe for Chicken Parmesan Sandwich and Cracked Pepper Potato Chips

  26. like all the other visitors said, lovely room.

  27. Absolutely beautiful! I can’t thank you enough for this post. We are pregnant with our second (and we don’t know the gender yet!), and we already have a girl. I’ve been thinking about them sharing the same room since they will be close in age and it would really save us money, but I wasn’t sure about decorating! These are truly fantastic ideas!

    Elizabeth´s last post…Too few days

  28. This is beautiful! thank u for sharing. very creative and some great ideas here. My favorite is the gutters turned bookshelves. awesome.

    Candy´s last post…Just call me MOOO – MA!

  29. absolutely love it. we’re in 2bed apartment as well and have two children. i’ve been looking for decorating tips. thanks!

  30. Thank you for the instructions on the bed canopy! I really, really appreciate it.

  31. Beautiful. I love how you incorporate the idea of “quality over quantity” into your decorating. It really makes a difference!

  32. What a wonderful, wonderful room! You have given me so much inspiration for my own nursery.

    This Thrifted Life´s last post…Thrift Wish

  33. Ok You absolutely have to have to have to show us more about your sewing cabinet… I really want to see how it all fits with a secret hidey place – how awesome is that!!! Totally love your kids spot!!! Have a fun weekend.

    se7en´s last post…Cool Carrot Cake in Se7en Steps…

    • If you look at the top right, you can kind of see the shelf. It’s really only visible if you’re two feet tall or under.

  34. I love the room! How exactly did you attach the gutters to the wall?

    Tara´s last post…Thoughts on music

  35. I love this room. The little fireplace is so cute.

    Sarah Sarniak´s last post…Major Budget Decorating

  36. Brilliant idea re: bookshelves!! ;) (and I love the rest, too!!)

  37. I love this. Really, really love it. This room looks so light and airy and like a wonderful place for sister and brother to live and play.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Courtney´s last post…That’s what she said

  38. I love it! Everything about it. Made me smile to see that same Ikea lamp that are in many rooms at the cottage.

    All that bright light, all that space to play -it’s simply perfect.

    Emily@remodelingthislife´s last post…Gussy Giveaway

  39. Thank you for the inspiration, Rachel! I love it and its about time our daughters room gets updated so this was perfect.

    nicole aka gidget´s last post…An Adoption Story

  40. I mean.

    I have no words for how much I LOVE THIS.

    Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last post…40 Days of Joy {day 3}

  41. Oh my gosh, you are just so clever!


  42. thank you for the “you’re not crazy” check. My two are 3yr and 4.5 mo right now, and are now sleeping in the same room (we just moved little man from the bassinet in our room to the crib in the “kids” room). I was wavering on giving the guest room to little man, but really need it for all the visitors we have (we live in a vaca. destination, so the extra bed is nice to have).

    Anyway, I’m off to clear out the space under our train table and fill it with pillows as I think DD will love to curl up under there with a book :D Thanks for the inspiration, love your blog!

  43. What a sweet room! You have some lovely and creative ideas. It looks so very inviting and fun to play in.

    abbi´s last post…Celebrations with Creativity instead of Cost

  44. Beautiful! Very simple and creative.

  45. gorgeous space! every inch of it is really great

    Casey´s last post…still around

  46. You have got to be the cleverest person I have ever known. Seriously, you put Martha Stewart to shame AND I’ll bet you’ve never been to prison ;)

    Lisa Medley´s last post…Fun with dryer lint

  47. what a beautiful, frugal, playful, utilitarian room!
    our kids share a tiny room and we have done similar things to make fun use of the space. i love the tour, rachel, thanks.

    nicola´s last post…entertained

  48. Late in commenting, but LOVING this room – especially the shared girl/boy room since we’re in the same boat:) The chandelier is INCREDIBLE and I’m loving that fantastic dresser and the mantle and the sweet sweet dollhouse!

    Lillian´s last post…Mia and Nick’s Room

  49. What a super cute nursery! Looks so clean, and the lighting seems great! They seem happy in there. And isn’t he just the cutest thing. How old?

    Kelly´s last post…Top 5 Posing and Directing Photography Tips

  50. You are so talented. I would love to spend a day thrift/antique shopping with you! :)

  51. adorable room! it’s so bright, cherry and warm with texture. I love texture in a room. I really love your book shelves and just showed hubby – wink wink. simply lovely.

    Kristen´s last post…creative every day: home

  52. I love what you’ve done with the nursery! We also have more littles than bedrooms, but I’ve hesitated to combine my two little girls because I worry that they will keep each other up. (I fully intend to have them room together at some point) If you don’t mind my asking, how does the sleeping go, and would you mind sharing any struggles/solutions in that area? :) My 6 month old is actually a better sleeper than my almost 3 year old at this immediate moment, but it varies.

    Steph @ Problem Solvin Mom´s last post…Hot Chocolate and Snow Cones

    • I have them take naps in separate rooms, because that’s when they are most likely to keep each other awake. At night they start out in in their room together (bedtime for both kids at 8:00 p.m.), and Tom is usually asleep when we put him down. Lane knows to stay quiet if she’s awake. For the first few hours of the night they both sleep well in their beds. After midnight Tom usually ends up with me to nurse and Lane for some reason likes to sleep on the couch. (I think that’s how they would be even if they had separate rooms.)

  53. You have created a bright, friendly, and beautiful space! I’m struck by the similarities between your nursery and my two daughters’ (I have a 6 month old and a 2 year old). We have the same toddler bed, a similar crib, lots of light from Southern-facing windows, and those Ikea baskets!

  54. jacobsmom says:

    Great room.
    My son is almost 2 years old. Would love to hang one of his cute outfits on the wall like that! Is that an adult hanger? Any suggestions to choosing the right outfit? What size should I use? 2T size would definitely be too big. Sorry for all the questions. I’m clueless!

    • I used adult-size wooden hangers. The little boy’s outfit on the wall is a 3-month size. The little girl’s outfit is a 3T size.

  55. What a wonderful creative space for your children. I absolutely love the simplicity in the design that would appear to foster little minds to invent new worlds and experience imagination to the fullest.

    Boiling It Down´s last post…Quitting Facebook: Saving My Insides From Everyone Else’s Outsides

  56. Am I the only one who looked at this and said, “You’ve got to be kidding?”

    My kids are 2 and 4, and they share a room. Their room looks nothing like this. I wish it could, believe me. But if it did, we could never leave them in it alone (even asleep, because we’d have to be there the minute they woke up).

    They would immediately pull down the bed netting. They would climb the shelves under the window and bang on the window (which appears to be on an upper floor, with no child safety bars on that big expanse of glass). The lamp on the window shelves, with the hanging cord at baby-grab-height, would be gone in minutes. They would climb the raingutter bookshelves, and they would climb onto the dollhouse table to reach things on the mantel and the clothes hanging on the wall. They would pinch fingers in the folding TV-tray table (we know — we have similar tables). They’d fight over who could get into the sewing cabinet (more big expanses of glass!). They would open the dresser drawers, pinch fingers in them, and climb up the open drawers (is that dresser anchored to the wall?).

    I don’t think my kids are unusually unruly. They are strong active curious kids, and like to explore their world. I don’t believe that their bedroom should be a place full of don’t-touch-that.

  57. I just stumbled across your blog tonight – I wish I had seen it earlier though! We seem to have accumulated enough toys for the whole neighbourhood even though we’ve regularly decluttered. I love the idea of books in baskets rather than the bookshelf where they never seem to get touched. Beautiful blog – I see myself using your ideas quite a bit now that we are in a townhouse

  58. I know that you have moved since then, but I am curious about the size of the kids old room. My son and daughter share (but don’t sleep there yet) a room and I am having a heck of a time organizing it- too many doors in the room.

  59. Hello, I was just wondering if you have a changing table in your (new) nursery? I am expecting our second baby so I will also need to make our son’s room into a shared nursery. I would love to see pictures of your current room for more ideas!

    • We didn’t have a changing table in that bedroom; we made a changing station in the bathroom. But now that our son is older, and we’re in a different home, we usually just change him on the floor next to a basket of supplies.