Eli's Montessori Room

Eli’s Montessori-inspired room is finally done! With the completion of the rag rug next to his floor bed, it’s officially time to call it quits… well, for the next couple of months anyway.  This room is perfect for where he is right now, but once he’s pulling up and then walking, we’ll be changing things up a bit.  But for now…


We incorporated the idea of art at his eye level, while also decorating the entire room from floor to ceiling with items of visual interest.  I see him wake up from naps and just stare at his wall decal, wall of shelves, or the butterfly mobile for long periods of time.

The letters on the wall above are metal from a local shop, and the bird pic is a print from World Market that came matted, I glued the mat to the backing and then glued a wide brown grosgain ribbon around it for the “frame” and a loop to the back for a hanger.  The kneeler/step stool was a gift, so I’m not sure where it’s from.

As he’s getting bigger, he’s crawling off his bed and towards his low shelf that has toys in small baskets easily accessible to him.  Obviously the monitor needs to be wall-mounted before he starts pulling up, but the cords are secured behind the bookcase where he can’t unplug them.

Also once he’s pulling up and “cruising” the shelf is a good height to hold on to and cruise along, and then he’ll be able to reach the items on the top as well.

Above his bed is a wall decal from Simple Shapes on Etsy.  Excellent quality on that decal, we were really impressed.  We ordered it reversed from the way it’s shown in her store.

His bed is a 4-inch cotton futon made by Gold Bond and can be ordered through Amazon.  It’s 100% cotton, and the flame retardant is boric acid, which, from what I’ve read, is the most natural flame retardant out there.   It compresses to a nice firm 4 inches after not much lying on it by an adult (we just made sure we lay in different place every time, but we just did this to play with him, or in my case, nurse sometimes, we didn’t even have to sleep the whole night or anything to achieve this), that’s definitely firm enough for a baby that can roll over and hold up his/her head.  We started him napping on this when he was about 5 months old.  I was impressed with the quality of the mattress and the almost complete absence of smell.  It had a slight smell on the cover from the plastic it was shipped in, but that aired out in about 24 hours.

We covered it with a cotton hypo-allergenic waterproof mattress cover (we ordered two, so we’d always be able to throw a dry one on if needed), and then organic cotton sheets from Target.

The rug I’m rather pleased with because even though it’s far from “perfect,” it’s the ultimate upcycled piece.  It’s a hand made rag rug that only cost the price of an “S” sized crochet hook.  I made it from some tablecloths, sheets, and stash fabric and used scrap threads from other projects to stitch it together, you know, like all the random colors left wound on your bobbins from previous projects.  I’ll post more in depth about its creation now that it’s complete.

In front of the small window, is a butterfly mobile that I designed. You can view the post on that and download the butterfly shapes here.  It’s not one of the series of Montessori friendly mobiles you’ll see if you’ve been searching for Montessori baby ideas, but he loves the paper butterflies and how they move in the slightest bit of air with a window open or the ceiling fan on, so I’m sticking them there and leaving them for a while 😉

He has a play area downstairs where I’ve been rotating various handmade hanging toys that fit with what he’s interested in as he’s developed, but he’s almost out of the hanging toy phase I think…  Another post, another day on that 😉

The birds on a branch are also a free pattern from Spool.  They have it shown as a mobile, but I riffed of Meg McElwee’s idea for Finnian’s Montessori room and glued the finished stuffed birdies onto a  branch for the wall. (Which, if  you’re interested in Montessori rooms and you haven’t seen that one yet, it’s definitely a must see, and now the most famous Montessori room on the internet as her design has inspired so many others).

The banner over the window is my adaptation of a pattern from Amanda Blake Soule’s Handmade Home, and you can see close up pictures in this post from when I first made it.

The wall shelves and low shelf were custom-made by Earl Linn of Old Country Cabinets for you local readers.

The low wall art are just images I printed out and mounted to cardboard with a good scrapbook quality glue stick and then mounted to the wall with Command adhesive poster squares because I didn’t want anything with glass in it, or even anything he could easily get off the wall.  These he can’t get off the wall, and even if he did, there’s not much he could do to himself with paper and cardboard.  He could eat it, I suppose.

He loves his floor bed!

For more on the Montessori philosophy and method with babies and young children, check out Montessori from the Start and How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way.  The first one is rich in content and methodology, the second, despite having a cheesy title that’s way too long, is full of great practical ideas and pictures of what it looks like.

And in case you were wondering about the paint colors:

Blue: Babbling Brook 401-3 from Porter Paints
Green: Pickling Spice 310-3 from Porter Paints
Brown: Stonington 416-4 from Porter Paints
The orange I lost the card for unfortunately.

And there you have it!

T-shirt corkboard

I had this office drab cork board by my desk in the library that fortunately has a good frame on it, actual wood instead of that cardboard-y stuff that I broke off for this cork board makeover.

I also had an old gray t-shirt of husband’s in my stash that had gotten some holes in it.  A match made in heaven, I thought.

So here’s what you’ll need for this project (and yes, most of it’s not pictured in my supply picture… it’s late, I have a five month old, sue me):

  • a cork board
  • an old t-shirt or two depending on the size of the t-shirt and the size of the cork board of course
  • glue gun
  • glue sticks (mine took about 1 1/2 of the long ones)
  • jute twine
  • paint
  • paint brush
  • hammer
  • nail
  • cup hooks (4)
  • Scissors

If desired, sew the pieces of the t-shirt together before gluing to cover the board. I didn’t because I didn’t think of it till after I’d started gluing one side of the shirt.  But it’s not that big a deal.

I used these little angled wood things to push the t-shirt fabric into the glue and under the edge of the frame.  I confess that though they come with some of the art canvasses I buy, I don’t know what they’re for, but they came in handy for this because I could get the angle nice and tight in the corner.  You could also use a popsicle stick or the edge of a ruler.

Glue around all sides and trim fabric leaving just a little hanging off to roll up (knit fabric like this rolls by itself if you leave a raw edge).

And paint! To get this shabby chic look, use layers. I had leftover Ivory Black and Dioxane Purple mixed and wet from painting the final edge of my last painting, so I watered it down and glazed the whole frame with it.

Then I took a piece of sponge and dabbed white acrylic craft paint over the whole thing and wiped it partly off with another sponge as I went. The idea of course being to see the other layer of paint through the white so it looks like it’s been painted and repainted over the last 50 years or something 😛

I also randomly smeared paint on the canvas as I went, then used an angled brush to decorate with the last of the white paint.

I like paint on my fingers :-)

I then took a nail and drove it part way in and removed it four times to create small holes in the frame for the cup hooks. Remember to only hammer in part way so you don’t nail into your wood floors on the other side like I did (just kidding, honey!)

Then screw in the cup hooks. I use a pair of pliers to get them all the way in, and bonus, it takes a little of the finish off of them, so they look a little shabby now too 😉