Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Montessori Home Tour: Living Room

When Matt and I were unpacking and moving into our new home in Austin, we tried to keep Montessori principles and ideas at the forefront of our minds as much as possible. I went back to this post about how to set up each area of the home. Of course we had to make adjustments based on the space we have and the set-up of our new rental house.

The living room is the hub of our home. We don't need a separate "play room" for Henry because we spend most of our time in the living room, and he wants to be where we are. We intentionally devoted all of the low shelves to Henry's toys, so we can create "an environment of yes's." We don't want to waste a lot of energy saying "no" all the time. As a side note, Henry used to listen to us when we said no. Now he doesn't, which means we have to exert even more energy removing him from the forbidden object (he loves to stuff fistfuls of Hoss's dog food in his mouth). We try to be as consistent as possible. Matt and I say no to the same things, and if he doesn't listen, we remove him from the object and explain why he can't have/touch it.

We intentionally turned this IKEA bookshelf on its side to create as much space as possible for Henry. In Montessori environments, we avoid big baskets full of toys. Instead, we create a distinct spot for every object. Having a separate spot for everything fosters order. Order in the physical environment is very important because children are absorbing their environment and it impacts the organization and development of their brain. Also, it usually reduces the number of toys in the environment. The "absorbent mind" takes everything in, so it's important not to provide too much stimulation.

Henry's toys include this puzzle and this puzzle to encourage the development of his hands (although something more simple would be more aligned with Montessori). He also has this drum, these wooden toys, and a basket of three balls (including a puzzle ball). We devote one shelf to a food object. Ideally, we would have a separate shelf in the kitchen for Henry to explore new fruits and vegetables, but we don't have the space. Instead, we just set aside a spot in the living room, since this bookshelf is right next to the kitchen. This week is had a pineapple, but I just cut it up to make fondue, so I quickly put in some tangerines.

This shelf includes this alligator, a toy from Pottery Barn, and this xylophone.

We decided to put our coffee table in the little front room and instead just use our ottoman from IKEA with a DIY slipcover that used to be in Henry's room.

His weaning table and chairs are in the living room, again since we don't have room in the kitchen. I placed them as close to the kitchen as possible, while intentionally placing it in a well-lit and beautiful spot by the window overlooking the park. My plan is to get one of those plastic mats (that go under desk chairs) at the office supply store, so clean-up will be a snap.

Henry's wooden walker with blocks (similar to these) sits in the corner, ready for use at any time (although I wish we would have bought this wagon instead; it's not as pretty, but I think it's more functional in the long-term since kids can push each other in it).

And that's it! The space is intentionally calm, orderly, de-cluttered, and organized. Once we de-cluttered and organized our last house before putting it on the market, I vowed to maintain a more minimalist aesthetic for future homes (of course it's even easier now that we live in a 3/2 with a garage!).

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Anthropolochic said...

It looks fantastic, easy to clean and very baby-centered. Congrats on your destuffing.

Kylie D'Alton said...

Your home looks so warm and comfortable but still simple. It's lovely Sara. I can't believe you have just moved in. I love to see what Henry is playing with too.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Don't be fooled, Kylie! We still have boxes in the garage and closets! I just prioritized getting our most frequently used living spaces together.

Kelsey said...

Love the simple decor, looks great and like there's some good natural light in that room!

Catoctin Mountain Mama said...

Your home already looks like home sweet home in less than a week...wow! Thanks for sharing the photos. I hope Henry is having tons of fun exploring his beautiful new environment. Congrats on your move!

kaelee said...

I agree with everyone else, you made it look like a home so quickly, and It's so refreshing to see so much simplicity in kid's areas.

Monkey Toes Montessori (Jodi Pollack) said...

We have the exact same Ikea bookshelf in my son's room and we also turned it on it's side! It makes the perfect toy shelf! We plant to buy another to stick in our living room for when we start school!

Lovely environment!

Unknown said...

I love it! Where did you get the chair and stool?

Sara E. Cotner said...

The chair was from Ebay (search 1950s booster seat) and the stool was from an antique shop!

seeta nanoo said...

Thanks so much! I think your set up is so smart!

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