Small Space Nursery for Two in London (and Montessori-fied Wardrobe Labels)

Our tiny shared nursery for two children, pieced together with renter-friendly items that cost a few dollars. You may have seen the rest of our London house tour, complete with landlord-approved tweaks– this is basically all that, compressed into a 2.3m x 2.1m space.

Back in Singapore, the nursery was bursting with color and texture (see it here), so moving into a rental space with white walls was a chance to really pare back and keep a fairly minimalist look with touches of dove grey and forest green, which complements the new walnut flooring.

Placing the two mattresses in an L-shape saves space. In a Montessori bedroom, floor beds (as opposed to cribs) facilitate independence and mobility. Now, our kids are at the age where they probably can get in and out of a toddler bed, but we are still using floor mattresses to save on buying bedframes and shipping it back to Singapore next year. As with their nursery in Singapore, there are fewer power struggles over sleeping, because they can play or read quietly until they are ready to go to bed (nowadays for naps, I usually sit with them for 5-10 minutes and read a book before leaving them to fall asleep on their own), and there’s also the added bonus of sibling bonding, too.

A closer look at the shelving. The Ikea Kallax shelving is used in a way that is more Montessori-inspired than fully Montessori. The children work on their Montessori trays outside, so the nursery is really just designed to be a calming space with books and a box of blocks that they can help themselves to during quiet time/naptimes. Would love to display the books frontally but until I can figure out where, they stay here.

I try to include Montessori works in relevant rooms (see shoe polishing work in entryway), so there is a self-care tray in the nursery, accompanied by Emmy’s anatomically correct doll. 

We don’t have room to fit in a children’s wardrobe, but I managed to eke out a sliver of space in the corner to mount the shortest Daiso extension pole I could find, which holds clothing choices for the day. This is kind of a compromise and better than having no hanging space at all, I guess. At least it enables the children to see some clothes clearly and choose what they want to wear.

And for additional space, a cactus rack on the radiator, which also has the added benefit of keeping clothes nice and warm. These hold clothes and thermals to be re-worn when we are lazy to wash. Which is often.

Some details to add beauty to the nursery: I mounted a mosquito net from a 3M ceiling hook to diffuse the light coming in and double as a reading nook.

And abit of low art- this is a customised gift from my friend Pei, and it hangs over Emmy’s bed. Fittingly. (Also hides the safety plugs on the electric sockets.)

Though she be but little, she is fierce

This is the other side of the nursery. The flat came furnished with this chest of drawers but no standing cabinet, so we are making do by folding their clothes. And off to the right, you spy the IKEA Raskog trolley for miscellaneous supplies and a single mattress which we usually lie on for nursing Emmy and bedtime stories.

I printed out these free drawer labels from Dadand on Kraft paper. I liked how clear and simple these graphics were, and also that they could be coloured on.

Of course, I am all for creativity, but this time, inspired by observing a directress give a lesson on the metal insets, I asked my kids to color in the graphics without their pencil leaving the paper. Result: lots of concentration from Dylan and fairly neat coloring. Emmy couldn’t care less.

The original text was all in caps and used Americanised terms, so I adapted some terms like “pajamas” to “pyjamas” and “mittens” to “gloves”. Inspired by the movable alphabet we’d just bought, I also Montessori-fied the labels by writing in lowercase Sassoon font, which is what AMI Children’s Houses in London use for their sandpaper letters. (Sidenote: Sassoon font was designed after much research with children, not as a model of handwriting but one possible representation, with the curled tips that help children to join letters later on.)

I used chunky Lyra pencils  (which seem more pigmented than other brands). 

Wardrobe labels are common but I have held off on them until now, and then decided to use both image and text because 3.5yo Dylan is in a sensitive period for language and particularly the written word. 

Plastic dividers from Daiso. When we were moving in, I gave this task to my nine-year-old niece as it involved some abstract mathematical reasoning to create enough compartments with just one strip of divider.

The top drawer contains shared items like socks and gloves (and bedlinens/ towels which is why the right side is label-less), the middle drawer contains Emmy’s clothes and the bottom drawer contains Dylan’s clothes. There are just four compartments in each child’s drawer: sweaters + tops, pants, and PJs. Their heavy duty winter coats and shoes are in our entryway.

Do share what works in your child’s Montessori bedroom, and check out our Facebook page where I am currently posting parenting tips from my AMI course!

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