Putting a Sink in the Nursery Putting a Sink in the Nursery

What is it that completely transforms a spare room, study or guest room into Baby's room, making the room seem as if it were tailor-made for the needs of this new little creature who will utterly change your life?

Of course, you could just paint the walls a pale pastel, install a crib and changing table, and hang a decorative plaque that says "Baby's Room" on the door.

But if you're looking to make Baby's room as convenient and practical as possible, consider installing plumbing directly into the room. By installing a sink directly into an old dresser and hooking it up to the existing pipes, you can create a quarter bath in Baby's room, which will continue to prove useful even as Baby grows up into childhood.

Any new parent knows that one of the big surprises of having a baby is how difficult bath time can be. While bathing baby in the kitchen sink is a time-honored tradition, so too is transportation by horse and buggy, and just because you cherish those cute black-and-white photos of yourself at six months being bathed in the kitchen sink, you don't have to do things the hard way.

The practicality of putting a sink right in Baby's room will depend on the structure and layout of the house, and in some places you may have to get a building permit from your city or town. If you own a co-op or condo apartment, you may have to get approval from the building's board.

The plumbing is the most difficult part of this project, and for this you'll need to hire a plumber. But you may be surprised at how low the estimates can be, if one wall of Baby's room abuts a bathroom or kitchen. Most of the work will require cutting a hole into the wall at the place where the existing water pipe is, and securing attachments that will allow the water to come into the new Baby's room.

Once you get an estimate you can live with from a plumber, the next step is to find an old dresser or chest of drawers, which you can pick up at a used furniture store, flea market or yard sale for very little cash. Make sure the piece of furniture has a top that is wide enough to accommodate a small sink and still provide enough room to serve as a changing table. Also, check to make sure the height is comfortable for you - remember that you can saw the legs off a bit to make the piece shorter if you need to. You can buy a small, round sink and a tall faucet at any plumbing supply store.

To install the sink, draw a template of the sink on top of the dresser, including markings for the faucet. Using a jigsaw, cut out the holes. Remove the drawer immediately below the sink; save the drawer front, which you will later glue back in place, creating a "dummy" drawer and saving the look of the cabinet's front.

Remember that once the plumbing is hooked up, you won't be able to move the piece of furniture, so paint the dresser at this point. You might paint it a glossy (washable!) white, and add stencil designs on the fronts of the drawers. Choose some colorful drawer pulls to complete the look. A towel bar mounted on one end will prove particularly handy.

The next step will be for the plumber to turn off the main water line, and with some pipe and connectors, hook up the plumbing to the existing pipe and extend it through the wall.

Put the dresser in place, and install the sink, drain and faucet, and then hook up the plumbing - or have the plumber do this part. You may want to stabilize the dresser by securing it to the wall, just to insure there will be no temptation to move the dresser which is now as permanently placed as any sink.

Once this sink-dresser combo is in place, you'll find it's enormously useful for changing Baby, bathing Baby, and washing up as you tend to Baby. Having a sink in Baby's room will soon seem as necessary as having a Dustbuster or a laundry basket. And as Baby grows to toddler-hood and beyond, it will always be helpful to have a separate place for teeth-brushing and hand-washing, and the dresser can be painted as the décor of the room changes as Baby matures.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design

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