Eli 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.
First 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).
We 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.
For 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.
Finishing 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.
We 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.