Montessori environments including classrooms are known for being warm and home-like. But what if you have moved house or set up a new environment that has you feeling a little cold? Here are a few of the ways I've intentionally 'warmed up' some of our Montessori home environments. Most of these are super easy and quick to do.
- Add life, add a plant. Air plants, seedlings, propagate some plants, full grown indoor plants will instantly add warmth to your area. Plants can work really well in an infant area but be selective in toddler areas. I recently put a plant on Otto's infant shelves (he's not at the crawling stage yet) and wow, it made a big difference, it's now a space I want to spend time in.
- Add flowers, a small bud vase. Sometimes it's the little things. Even a few green leaves or some herbs from the garden in a glass jar can warm up an area, or try growing some plants in water! If plants or vases aren't going to work in your area due to safety, I'm thinking a toddler bedroom where you want it 100% child safe, how about putting them on a high window ledge or have a hanging plant, I'd love a hanging macrame planter!
- Add texture and textiles. Floor rugs, wall hangings, cushions. Oversized cushions work well in reading areas. In Otis' reading corner we used some large cushions (he picked them out) and Otto's bedroom instantly feels warmer with a large wool floor rug.
- Look for woven and baskets of natural materials. Book baskets, baskets holding napkins or pencils, look for a way to replace any plastic or unsightly receptacles with natural baskets.
- Soft lighting. This can be difficult in an infant or toddler rooms but it worked really well in my older boys' rooms, both now have desk lamps which we put on in the evenings and it instantly makes their rooms feel cozier and gets them ready for bed. I've seen lamps used really well in Montessori children's houses to mark the end of the day. I've seen lots of Reggio environments use fairy lights (much like we did with Caspar's room here) to add a bit of warmth and sparkle.
- Nature prints, watercolors paintings or child made art. Have a child, sibling or cousin make some small art pieces to put on the wall, even small pieces of art can make a difference. Waldorf stars on the window always look warm and inviting, they are simple and quick to make.
- Always use timber picture frames. We have used white frames before but really love the warmth provided by light honey toned timber frames, again it makes a big difference.
- Use Beeswax candles. Candles can help to warm up snack time or meals. A lovely friend suggested using some candles at breakfast when we first arrived to the UK and were really feeling the darkness in the mornings.
- Pets. A small fish tank and hermit crabs have really helped some of our environments feel alive! Pets can last a lifetime though, so obviously choose for the right reasons.
- A nature display. As pets aren't an option for us right now a small nature display works perfectly. Otis has a small tray in his room of some of his new nature finds and some viewing lenses (a magnifying glass would work too), it's little more than a few leaves, pine cones, interesting sticks and some rocks but it brings some of the outside, inside.
- Mix old and new materials. Use some secondhand or perhaps vintage materials or furnishings, rugs or baskets. Throughout our new home we've used vintage, worn or handmade planters to help create a personal, warm feel.
- Go for handmade whenever possible. For classrooms, this can be as simple as asking parents to make napkins or aprons. I can only sew simple things but love making tablecloths using unique prints. For things like children's napkins or aprons, I will often use Etsy. I love to use ceramic handmade vessels to hold odds and ends or handmade mini bowls in activity trays.
- Use essential oils. Child-friendly essential oils can be both warming and calming, they can be found or included in a few products such as soaps, playdough or room spray. Even some dried lavender in a bowl can help make a space feel cozier.
Above Otto's room is now feeling warmer and cozier! Some baskets, a plant and, a wool rug has made all the difference.