Painting, Upgrading, And Organizing The Nursery Closet

As you may remember, our nursery closet left a lot to be desired. Yup, this tiny nook (which can’t be expanded thanks to ductwork on the left and the back of our living room fireplace on the right) was in need of a serious upgrade. But we were determined not to spend over thirty-ish bucks to take it from terrible to sweet and organized. What? We’re cheap.

First my smart (and surprisingly design savvy) hubby suggested that we paint it the same soft aqua color as the ceiling to make it a bit more fun- especially since we removed the door because it constantly banged up against the main door to the room (check out the rest of our nursery paint job right here).

Then we put the original clothing bar and shelf back in and painted them a nice crisp semi-gloss white color. And next we hung a little homemade curtain to instantly cute things up (see how we DIYed that right here).

Then we added a few storage solutions and a second hanging bar… and now it looks like this:

Now granted we hung every single item of baby clothing that we have so far- many of which we’ll probably store folded in our newly refinished dresser (our friends and family are insanely generous). But we just couldn’t resist the urge to fill the bean’s closet up with her pint-sized clothes after we added a bunch of organizational systems – you know, just to see if they worked.

First we’ll show you how we created the little custom hanging cubbies on either side of the top clothing bar. They’re actually shoe organizers from Ikea but we got them on the house (a friend of ours was purging and sent us home with two of them- thanks Kristin!). But obviously with that newly installed second clothing bar, we didn’t have room for them to hang at full length anymore…

… so we cut them down to size…

… and now they work like a charm. They can be used to house everything from bibs and stockings to onesies and little undies and even socks and burp cloths. Again we’ll probably put a few of those things in our newly refinished dresser but it’s nice to know that our closet not only has space for hanging items but also has small cubby holes to tuck other things into.

And since we mentioned that our sweet friend Kristin actually gave us two of those shoe organizers, we placed one on each side of the top hanging bar for even more stash space (after trimming a bit of length off the second one as well). Of course that one is totally empty thus far, but we keep hearing this rumor that kids come with lots of stuff so we’re sure it won’t stay that way for long…

You’ll also see from the picture above that we stashed a little striped fabric storage box that we already had around the house on the left side of the top shelf of the closet (that’s also empty but we figure it can be used to corral everything from toys or books to extra linens or even blankets when the need arises). And on the right side of that shelf you can see from the photo below that we just folded four of the blankets that we’ve already received (I’m telling you, our friends and relatives are too kind) so they’re easy to grab at a moment’s notice.

The bottom portion of the closet consists of that added second hanging bar that we mentioned (from Home Depot by the way) and a little double tiered shoe rack from Target (which we’ll probably use for Baby P’s shoes when she gets bigger someday, but currently functions as a place to store rolled crib sheets and changing table covers along with even more blankets (the beanette will never be cold!).

You’ll also notice those two blue fabric boxes on top of the shoe rack. They’re actually things that I’ve had for years (originally from Crate & Barrel back in my NYC days). And although I used to use one to store my sewing supplies (aka: a few rarely-used spools of thread and a plethora of iron on Heat & Bond tape) and the other to store iPod cords and other electronics, it was easy to find another box for those items since their punchy turquoise color fit so perfectly with the rest of the nursery. So now they too are empty, but we love that they can easily be used for toys or crayons or legos down the line. Empty bins and boxes = room to grow. Note: we also have a third one, as seen in this post.

And speaking of room to grow, we love that there’s still a little slice of space under the shoe rack on the floor where we can tuck another set of bins and baskets or even store shoes and boots down the line. You know, when the bean’s feet actually touch the floor.

So that’s our little closet overhaul for ya. And since we vowed to do it all on a shoestring (pun semi-intended after all that shoe talk) here’s a budget breakdown for ya:

  • White tiered shoe rack on floor (from Target): $12.99
  • Second hanging bar (from Home Depot): $5.37
  • Blue boxes: already owned
  • Two hanging shoe organizers (from Ikea): free from a friend
  • A plethora of baby clothes, blankets and bibs: courtesy of our sweet friends and family
  • GRAND TOTAL: $18.36

Not bad right? Especially for something that started out looking so bleak. Plus even if we had to buy those hanging shoe organizers they’re just $6.99 a pop at Ikea, so with two of those we still would have come in at $32.34. Of course that doesn’t include the price of the curtain (which we factored into this curtain making post) or the paint (although that was free since it was leftover from the ceiling). It’s definitely still a sliver of a closet, but with our big double dresser and a bunch of other storage options that we’ll be adding to the room we’re pretty sure that our baby girl will have plenty of places to stash her stuff. And speaking of stuff-stashing, have you guys used anything interesting or unusual to keep your closet organized (Hat boxes? Easter baskets? Recycled cereal boxes?). Or have you adapted anything to make it work (like cutting a storage system down to size )? Spill it.

Psst- Wanna see our nursery progress from the very beginning? Here’s our painting post, our big shopping spree, our crib hunting rundown, our curtain-making tutorial, our fun little chair search, our mirror-painting extravaganza, our DIY faux sheepskin project, and our big dresser makeover (and subsequent drawer lining project). Good times.


  1. Alicia says

    Both of our closets have smaller doors and a lot of space inside that we couldn’t quite reach. We took out the long bars and installed 2 rods on each side of the closet that sort of made a mini walk-in closet. My husband has 2 rods on his side and I have 2 rods on my side. Now we can see everything when we step inside our closet and there is no wasted space! We also put up a tie holder on the back wall for my husband’s ties so that space is being used too.

    I love your Bean’s closet! Great job, guys!

  2. courtney says

    love the closet. simple and sweet. itty bitty clothes are so sweet.

    our master BR closet is long and narrow. we could only do shelving/rods down each side (like a galley kitchen). it left a small bit of wall at the end. so i installed a small pc of pegboard – about 24″ wide x 36″ tall. i hang all of my necklaces, scarves and small handbags on it.

  3. KK says

    The shoe organizers worked out great! Fabulous idea, Sherry! If only my clothes were that small. . .

    • says

      Aw shucks, we were hoping you’d see our little thank you shout out Kristin! Your shoe organizers really made our closet. We love them! And you’re the best.


  4. Lisa R. says

    Oh, I see some prefolds in there!! ;) Good for you! I’ve CD’d my last 2 kids (and will for #4). It’s easier (and not as gross) then people think.

  5. Allison says

    When we were planning our babies room, we added some wire shelving and I bought tons of canvas bins (the ones that are square). They are really deep so they were great for extra towels, blankets and clothes that were too big for her still. We also had some that would hold her clothes for Newborn-3 Months and so on so it made changing time really easy and fast! Especially for her dad lol!

    Another good tip if you want some more storage ideas for the dresser is to pick up the sock container or dresser storage containers from IKEA. You can curl tiny socks up or onesies and it makes the drawers nice and neat! :)

  6. says

    This little closet is so cute and cheery! Wanna come do mine next? Hmm as far as what I do to keep my closet organized, I have a hanging bar (from Wal-Mart I think) that adds instant storage by creating another bar below the first row of clothes. I originally got it when I lived in the dorms in college (such small closets!) and it has traveled with me to many locales. Such a good investment!

  7. Robyn in Chicago says

    Oh my gosh it’s so exciting!!! To see all those little clothes in there made me so happy for you guys…it’s all happening!

    Question – Lisa R. is using some mommy code words above. What are “prefolds” and what does “CD’d my last 2 kids” mean?

    • says

      Hey Robyn,

      CDing is cloth diapering, and prefolds are the little inserts that you slip into some of them. The main ones we’ll be using actually don’t take prefolds but we have some of those on hand just in case. We’re excited that we landed on BumGenius organic all-in-ones with snaps as our main go-to cloth diaper (which have a built in prefold). They’re also one size fits all, so we should really get a ton of use out of them for the bean (and even future kids afterwards). They say you can save up to 3K per child with cloth diapers alone! And you know we like to save our pennies…


    • says

      Hey Amy,

      Nope, there’s no light in the closet, but thanks to pulling the curtain back it gets some nice light from the room. I guess if we ever really needed more light in there we could pick up one of those battery operated tap lights as a quick fix. So far so good though…


  8. says

    I absolutely love your ideas for open storage. Still living in a tiny apartment near NYC, I’m itching to implement the open storage option as soon as possible! Thanks for your great ideas…

  9. Erin H. says

    I can’t tell by the curtain, but did y’all fill the hinge holes in your door frame? We have taken several doors off in my house, and we are left with these ugly hinge holes (on a frame last painted in the ’80’s). Any input?

    • says

      Hey Erin,

      Yup, we just used some putty and painted right over the holes. But we can always chip that stuff out if we want to hang that door again down the line (I don’t know why we would though, since it constantly hits the main door of the room- design flaw!).


  10. Johanna says

    We use an ikea billy shelf that was originally intended for cds in our bathroom because there is absolutely no other space for any other solution and it holds all that we need.
    And for the rest of the apartment: since we only have 2 big closets we have to put everything in there meaning there is a lot of stuff that needs to be stashed. But I am not going to spend a fortune on coordinating boxes! So instead I recycle the cardboard boxes that come when I order online. I just have to glue wrapping paper on them and put a little bit of see-through tape on the edges. Sometimes when I see a pretty pattern online that goes with the color of a box, I print it and put it on the box.
    Some of those boxes are now several years old and I get to use what I already have at home instead of having to buy it :)
    And I think that everyone knows this but I am writing it down anyway: I also liked the size of their boards made out of cork but not the look. So I upholstered it with fabric (just some staples in the back) that went with the colors in the room. Easy to pin messages to and nice looking :)

    Great closet make-over, I love the colors and ideas!

  11. says

    I see lots of diapers (disposable or cloth) in that second shoe organizer…in lieu of the one that hang on the sides of the cribs or changing tables. I never had luck with those…they were too hard to get in and our of and they were always in the way hanging on the crib. Also once the kiddos start walking around that’s the first thing they go after and you spend all your time picking up diapers…lol Such a cute nursery :D