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Design Dilemma: how to make space for a baby

Furniture designer Carol Anne Leddy turned her kitchen into a baby-friendly space

A playroom has replaced the dining space, and is furnished with a robust Ikea sofa.

Like many Irish homeowners, Carol Anne Leyden, owner of CA Design, and her husband playwright, Conall Quinn, had a kitchen extension added to the rear of their 1870s home. It was perfect for their needs as newlyweds but when two babies arrived within two years of each other, the space was teeming with baby paraphernalia and as Leyden found herself working from home more often than not, the kitchen was also doubling up as a mobile CA design headquarters.

“We had to rethink the entire space, as there was just stuff everywhere,” says Leyden, “we had a small bathroom off the kitchen, so we decided to convert it into a pantry and baby storage space. We fitted the entire space with shelving for dry food, room for recycling bins, cleaning equipment and space for baby gear.”

Carol Anne Leyden of CA Design: “We had to rethink the entire space, as there was just stuff everywhere.”

This also allowed Leyden to swap out all the above counter kitchen cupboards to open-shelving. “When you have everything staring at you, it stops clutter building up and also stops you filling cupboards with food you end up forgetting about and dumping later,” she says.

The couple previously had a long diningroom table and eight chairs, which straddled the section between the new glass extension arm and the old kitchen perimeter. “It took up half the kitchen, so we replaced it with a glass circular planter dining table in the middle of the room with bright Eames-style DSW chairs for a pop of colour.

“The space where the dining table used to live is now the kids’ area. It has a big play mat and a pretty robust Ikea couch so they can sit there playing and watching the wildlife in the back garden. There’s loads of space for books and toys and it totally feels like a separate room even though the kitchen is open plan.

Carol Anne replaced her long dining table with a more space-friendly round table and colourful chairs.

“Beside this we have a changing station for the babies from The White Company so we don’t have to run up and down the stairs to change nappies every half hour. The dining table swap also allowed me to claw back a corner of the room, which I laid out as a small work station. I like my work area to be clean, minimal, not over-fussy, yet warm and cosy. I sourced a great small but efficient oak and lacquered metal desk from Universo Positivo and placed a bright orange egg chair in the corner to make it feel just a little bit funky and to give me inspiration,” says Leyden.

She also wanted to create a few cosy corners so the family could also relax in the space at night, “so all the main task lighting goes off and floor lamps, reading lamps are switched on to create a warm, mellow atmosphere.”