The Making of a Montessori Toddler Room

The Making of a Montessori Toddler RoomEli will be a toddler in less than a month. Eeek! To prepare for this developmental change, Brian and I wanted to create a space to fulfill growing and future needs: to serve as a bedroom for our older children (when we have more children) because the current nursery will remain a nursery, to house a greater amount of rotating materials, and to provide our newly forming tot school co-op group space to work and play.

At the front of our home, two bedrooms with an attached bathroom were always deemed “for kids,” but before Eli and during his first year, the front room of the two served as a guest space (the other room is the nursery). We had recently overhauled the front room closet, transforming it into the start of our homeschool closet, so it was now time to tackle the entire guest room to create this new needed space.

TMM BeforeFirst decision: paint color. Many Montessorians keep a quite neutral paint palette–whites and off-whites, but I’m the daughter of two architects and artists, so I like a little color on the walls. Because we will be using this room as a work space as well as a sleep space, the color chosen could not be distracting or overwhelming. While researching untypical “neutral” paint colors, I came across this Apartment Therapy article about the green paint used at Disney Parks. Although the paint color is green, it was specifically designed to hide in plain sight. A color designed to be ignored? A color created to make other objects pop? Sold! My hope has always been that the beautiful Montessori and Montessori-inspired materials would steal the show in this room to further entice an absorbent-minded toddler, and this Disney green paint may seal the deal. Of the paint colors noted in the article, we chose Sherwin Williams’s “Relish,” and it was love at first paintbrush stroke.

Next decision: furniture. Ikea is my best friend. We love the Kallax shelves in Eli’s nursery and living area work space, so although the dilemma “to cubby or not to cubby” kept me up at night (oh, the struggles of a Montessorian! Ha!), I ultimately settled on cubby. For me, cubbies scream simplicity and organization. It forces less: less materials in one spot, less materials out at any given time. Because we went with a 1×4 Kallax shelf for under the windows, I can envision the future placement of primary sensorial materials, such as the red rods and brown stairs, or any other non-cubby friendly material resting on top of this particular shelf (or even the 2×4 Kallax shelf when Eli grows taller).

IMG_0137We also purchased a Kallax 2×2 shelf for an Ikea hack child-sized closet. Thank you, Pinterest! Although Eli already chooses which cloth diaper he wants at diaper changes and helps us dress and undress him, I’m excited for the self care sensitive period that will begin soon, the freedom (with limits) he will have in choosing his clothes and dressing himself, and of course, the practical life practice of folding and hanging clothes, etc. On one side of his new closet, we hung a mirror and storage basket for his brush and comb. On the other side, we hung two hooks for quick access to a jacket or apron. We also placed a low step stool that Eli can use as a bench to aid in dressing.

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IMG_0139For the bed, we chose Ikea’s Kura loft bed. I love how Eli will continue to be in his floor bed until he is ready for the top bunk. Plus, the top bunk is low, which makes it safer for younger children and more convenient for goodnight kisses.

IMG_0159Finishing touches. I added various indoor plants to bring some nature indoors as well as provide practical life opportunities (i.e. plant watering, dusting plants, etc.). I also added a few Impressionist/Post-Impressionist art prints to the wall, low enough for easy toddler viewing. One of my favorite aspects of Montessori is the appreciation of the arts from a very early age, and I plan on cycling other famous works of art as well as adding interest-specific art or posters to the wall in time, which will hopefully cycle in and out as effortlessly as his interests will. And, what toddler space would be complete without some gross motor opportunities? Our Christmas present to Eli this year was a stair climber, which also flips and turns into a rocking boat for imaginative play. In our stairless home, he has loved this challenge of crawling up and down, and I suspect when he starts walking he will also enjoy his stairs for the same reason.

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IMG_0134We won’t be transitioning Eli into this room full time until he is older and/or we are expecting baby #2, so I’m sure little things will be added here or there as needs arise. Until then, we are enjoying this new “yes” space as a place to explore and work both independently and with our friends.

IMG_0143Thanks for touring our new Montessori room! What are some of your toddler space “must haves”?

30 Comments

  1. Florencia Ugalde

    What a beautiful space for your child! Inspring! I would like to share it with my niece so she can do something similar. Thanks so much for sharing and congratulations.

    Florencia

    • Lindsay

      They are. We found them in the bathroom section. And even with an 11 month old using the basket to pull up on, they have remained securely in place.

    • Lindsay

      Thank you! Yes, Eli still has his nursery, which is a bedroom attached to this new room. In his nursery, he has a work shelf, wall mirror, and rotating gross motor work. He also has a small work shelf in our main living space (living room/kitchen in an open floor plan) as well as his weaning table and chair.

  2. amelia

    Beautiful! I am a montessori A to I guide (birth to 3), and I love this!! Would you mind linking to the kallax hack to make it into clothing storage? I have 3 very young children of my own and would love to do this!

    • Lindsay

      Thank you!! We just saw pictures of a couple versions and came up with our own plan: we left off one shelf of the 2×2 Kallax shelving unit to make a long, vertical clothes hanging area (my husband cut and hammered in the remaining bit of wood dowels), bought a drawer and a cabinet insert from Ikea and installed per directions, replaced the Ikea hardware with $0.98 1.25 inch wooden knobs from Home Depot to make it easier for little hands to open, ordered an 11-13 inch suspension rod from Amazon (Home Depot didn’t have that small of one at the store), and then added the Ikea hooks, mirror, and basket. It took less than an hour! I hope this helps!

  3. Izzi

    I love this! Was the closet hard to make? How did you remove the shelf and add the dowel? This is such a nice space. I wish we had room for a second “yes” room, but you have used the exact bed we were thinking of for a 2 kid room!

    • Lindsay

      One day we hope to sardine 3-4 kids in these two rooms! Ha!

      The closet was so easy! When putting the Ikea shelf together, it is quite simple to leave off the one shelf to make the long hanging clothes section. It doesn’t change the structural integrity of the shelf unit at all. Then once it was finished I twisted the suspension rod as tight as I could. If Eli yanks his shirt too roughly, which happens because he’s still 11 months, the rod can fall, but it’s so easy to put back. I hope this helps!

  4. Stephanie

    Hi! Thanks for this great article. It inspired me so much that I went to IKEA and built a wardrobe for my daughter. I bought the exact same little basket and mirror for the side (just here in Europe). But the bathroom hooks don’t hold on the furniture. I’ve tried with double sided tape but it still doesn’t work. How did you do?

    • Lindsay

      Hmm, the suction hooks from Ikea worked on the side of his closet for us. One will occassionally fall, but it’s worked pretty well. We have the best success if we clean and dry surface and avoid hanging anything in the hook for 24 hours after placing on closet. Not sure if this reply is of any help. We’ll most likely be installing hooks to his bedroom wall pretty soon, so he won’t have any issues when applying toddler force (😉) to hanging an object.

  5. KG

    This is exactly what I am looking for to fit in my babies room!

    Can I ask how and where you found the rail to fit?

    Thanks 🙂

  6. E

    Love LOVE the set up! I’m definitely going to try the dressing station.

    Warning to parents considering plants in room though, the philodendrons pictured are NOT SAFE for children if ingested. Be sure to find some that are child friendly 🙂

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