Hello everyone and welcome to today’s blog post which is about designing my toddler’s new Montessori space. For those new to my blog, my name is Carly Heung, an interior decorator that specializes in small spaces, based in Toronto, Canada.
My design style is underpinned by simple, light and airy interiors that give spaces and people the ability to “breathe”. My designs include seamless and subtle elements of nature that blend into one another – clean lines with neutral tones and textures that work together to elevate our entire being. My design philosophy is driven by the goal of living our best life possible, with a home that supports our continual pursuit of greatness each and everyday. You can learn more about me here or get in touch with me here.
For this upcoming design, I will be tackling Ollie (my 10 month old toddler’s) bedroom, which will be used mostly for sleep and reading/quiet time. Previously, in our old condo, Ollie was sleeping in a Closet-nursery as linked below.
By 12 months old I am hoping that he will have a full-fledged toddler room set-up, Montessori style, so I’ve spend quite some time researching, planning, sourcing and setting up his space and I’m taking you all with me on this journey.
What is Montessori?
What is Montessori and what components are in a Montessori bedroom? So I’ve been listening to “The Montessori Toddler” book on Spotify this past week. It’s quite a lengthy book, around 7-8 hours of audio time. Montessori includes principles developed by Dr. Maria Montessori to facilitate a rich and rewarding environment of curiosity, respect, independent learning and exploration for your toddler. The six principles of Montessori spaces which is freedom, structure and order, beauty, nature and reality, social environment and intellectual environment. In terms of designing a space, it includes setting up the home with activities that are just the right level for the child, including tools and child-size implements that help them to succeed, looking at the room from their perspective, placing artwork at their eye-level, and keeping things uncluttered and simple.
Based on the information I found above, I decided to create two separate spaces for Ollie. The first one is his sleep space which I will call his Toddler Room. In this room he will spend some quiet time in the evening reading, getting ready for bed, sleeping, and getting dressed in the morning.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent some time pulling together some inspirational photos of Montessori spaces to get a better understanding of how a child moves around in the space. One of the key features of both spaces is the ability for it to adapt to the growing child. For instance in a Montessori room, artwork is placed at the child’s eye level, therefore as the child grows the placement of these pieces of artwork will also need to be able to be adjusted easily. I haven’t quite figured out how to do this yet. Perhaps 3M sticker hooks (as these do not leave holes in the wall and can be removed easily), or a gallery wall situation where there are different pieces of artwork at different heights so that there is always something at the child’s height. I’m also thinking of a laundry rope situation.
“One of the key features of both spaces is the ability for it to adapt to my growing child.”
Another key feature of Montessori spaces is the freedom for the child to explore their spaces how they please, from getting out of bed to reaching for and playing with the toys they want. So everything needs to be safe for the child to explore on their own. That means all bookshelves or large furniture items need to be securely installed into the wall. A staple of Montessori bedrooms is a mattress on the floor without a bed frame so that the child can get in and out of bed on their own safely. Items also tend to be displayed in a structured and orderly fashion, so toys are often displayed on a book-case like shelf, in trays or baskets, at the child’s height. The colours in the spaces tend to be calming and unified with lots of plain simple colour schemes, such as white or plain pine wood. Often there is nature brought into the space either through low-maintenance plants placed on the shelf or on the floor, or rocks, dried plants or artwork of plants and animals.
The challenge with children’s rooms is being able to make it a space that is associated with simple harmony, uncluttered and well maintained, while maintaining peace and tranquility. These environments should be inviting and welcoming to all. While there is a purposeful aspect in stimulating children’s development, what peaks my interest the most is the types of materials used. Natural materials including real wood, reeds, bamboo, metal, cotton and glass is preferred over synthetics or plastics. A Scandinavian space works very well with all of these aspects in terms of materials, decor, and style.
Design Inspirations – Bedroom
For design inspiration for Ollie’s bedroom, I created the mood board linked below. Some key elements of this space include the following:
- Repetition of angled shapes, such as triangles or pitched shapes
- Sense of horizontal movement by painting only the lower third of the wall
- Emphasis on the floor bed
- Unity in a neutral, Scandinavian colour palette, with accessories that depict burst of cheerful imprints of the natural world (flowers, plants, animals)
- Harmony in the sense of a peace and calming atmosphere, particularly in the complementary nature of the sage green wall paint to the natural blond wood found in many Montessori-styled toys
- Variety in pastel rainbows through accent pieces that add a touch of playfulness to the space
With the inspirations above I have formulated the below plan for the pieces that I will be placing into his bedroom. Some of the items have already been ordered so I’m just working on a few final touches to get the wall decor and harmony in the space just right.
The room itself is quite long and narrow. It has dark brown French Roast hardwood floors and a large window with a view of trees which aligns nicely with the theme of the room (“Tree Friends”).
The Paint Colour
We picked a nice saturated pale green with blue undertones for this room. It’s called Van Alen Green (HC-120). It has a nice small tinge of blue in it making it look a bit like a mint green, giving it a nice whimsy look to it while still reading like a soft pale green. This colour works perfectly for rooms with north facing windows since the bluish light from the windows helps to enhance the blue undertones in this paint colour. The colour also paired nicely with the crisp white floor boards and window trim in this space and looked great with the dark brown floors we had. It almost gives off a schoolhouse type of vibe while still being relaxing, soothing and peaceful.
I’ll have to write another post when all the furniture pieces arrive for this room but for now I’m still looking for some soft and fun wall decor pieces for this room that would tie in nicely with the plain blond wood furniture.