Montessori furniture: Creating an empowering environment

Looking to make your home Montessori-friendly, but not sure where to start? This room-by-room guide to Montessori furniture will get you started off in the right direction.

Incorporating Montessori in your home may seem daunting… But I am here to assure you that you do not need to totally overhaul your space. With some thoughtful planning and intentional shopping, you can easily realign your home in a way that will help your child’s learning and development.

Let’s start with the basics…

The Montessori method & furniture

Montessori furniture is a style of child-friendly furnishings built to help young children gain independence by empowering them to actively participate and be included in regular household activities.

Popular Montessori pieces of furniture include Montessori floor beds, toy shelves, learning towers, and child-sized tables and chairs.

Montessori furniture is generally minimalist in design with a focus on function and beauty. Finishes are almost always in neutral colors or natural wood tones.


Montessori floor bed

Not even sure what Montessori is? Here is an introduction to Montessori to see if this style of learning is right for your family.


What makes furniture ‘Montessori’?

The Montessori method is focused on fostering self-direction, hands-on learning, and collaborative play. Furniture is then designed with those outcomes in mind and is intended to facilitate independence – Much like the toys and activities are.

Furniture from this style invigorates children’s natural curiosity and piques their inquisitive nature… Meaning that you can create an engaging and functional space that they are naturally drawn to. By creating rooms that are child-friendly, you will also enable them to deeply explore their areas of play and rest. 

Much of the items in a Montessori home are made of natural materials. Think natural wood and neutral tones.


Benefits of using Montessori furniture in your home

The beauty of Montessori furniture is two-fold.

Firstly, I simply adore the simplistic and natural look of their pieces! As cute and exciting as other children’s furniture can be – I’m looking at you, bright rocket-ship-themed bed! – they can be super distracting for young children.

If rooms are overly decorated or vibrant, this can pose a hindrance to your child’s ability to focus and increase the chances of frustration/upset. That is exactly why I am drawn to the Montessori style – It is the perfect combination of simplicity, functionality, and beauty.  

Secondly, Montessori furniture pieces are highly empowering for your young ones! Since one of the core tenants of this method is promoting independence, the pieces are designed to make children feel included and able to participate in regular household activities. Because the pieces are child-sized, they also feel in charge of their personal space.

This means that furniture should be intentional, with each place playing an important role. For example, if something is meant to be played on, the child should be able to easily climb without assistance. This supports independence in a safe environment while giving the kids or toddlers more self-confidence.

Extra bonus? The muted and/or natural tones of Montessori furniture also assist in reducing upset caused by over-stimulation!


Montessori furniture

Tips for each room in your home

Remember the basics: Simple, functional, and independent. When choosing or building Montessori furniture pieces, aim for items that will let your child have full access to participating in daily life activities. This means baskets, hooks, and toys at their levels and furniture appropriate for their size.

While having full-access toys may seem scary at first, try to remember that you will be presenting fewer options… This means less mess and quicker cleanup!

Here are a few tips to consider while planning your space…

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Playroom/living room

For a more detailed article, check out my other post on Creating a Montessori Playroom In Your Home!

Low shelving and easy access

Look at your room from your child’s perspective! Think of how high they can reach and consider if they can see all of their toys.

Natural light

If natural light is an option, use it! Have play mats/activity tables where children can enjoy indirect sun.

Toy rotation

Rotate toys in the playroom – It’s up to you how frequently, but always include activities that let them work on their current skills.

Sensory table

Many Montessori households have a sensory table. You can fill these with different materials for the kids to explore while they develop their senses and learn through play.

Intentional organizing

Everything should have its place. This will make cleanup easier for your little ones as they will already know where it belongs

Bedroom

Accessibility: Montessori floor bed

Again – think low & accessible! You want your little ones to feel empowered by their environment, especially in their own room. Make the whole space functional & safe… To them.

Ground beds (like this one from Busy Wood) are great so that littles can climb in and out without assistance.

Reading area

Incorporate a reading area for quiet time or pre-bedtime reading if you can. This gives them a quiet spot to sit when they need alone time and creates a comfy space for parents and kiddos to sit together during the transition from play to sleep.

Dressing area

Clothing racks, hooks, and/or low dressers so that they can reach their own clothing are a great way to increase independence while learning how to get ready for the day. Depending on the child’s age, you might also consider a Montessori wardrobe.

Also, have a mirror in their room so they can practice dressing & gain body awareness from a young age! Children develop a sense of self-image quite young, so it’s never too early to emphasize body positivity.

Kitchen

Kitchen helper

Two words: Learning. Tower (or “Kitchen Helpers”).These are simply amazing for letting your child feel included in kitchen activities like cooking, baking, and cleaning… Even arts and crafts or science time, too! They bring toddlers up to counter height, letting them see what’s happening at the table or kitchen counter. They can also participate, too!

Kid-friendly cooking materials

Create a space that will allow your child to participate as much as possible. Having kitchen utensils that they can safely use will let them feel included in food prep (& will let them help you out tons!)

Let your child help you as much as possible – Whether this is by measuring, mixing, or washing fruits and veggies. It’s all about teaching and learning in a natural way!

Cleaning supplies

Many of us have seen these great little dust pan, broom, and mop sets by Melissa and Doug… They work wonderfully for your little helpers! By having kid-friendly cleaning materials, your kids can help out with daily tasks when they choose to.

Table and chairs

Though high chairs are great for a lot of reasons, they require an adult to help buckle the little one in. This isn’t very conducive to the Montessori idea of independence.

So, opt for a table and chair set that is appropriate for your child’s height. If you have a baby, you may also try a weaning table. A weaning table can be used with babies aged 6m and up, and are built to increase stability and independence from an early age.

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Bathroom

Potty essentials

Potty training seats! These make using a ‘big potty’ less intimidating (and safer).

Usually, you will need two step stools. One for the potty and one for the sink. That being said, you could easily have one and move it as needed.

If it’s possible, the one at the sink should be high enough that they can reach the water and see themselves in the mirror. This way, they can engage deeper with self-care tasks like brushing their teeth and hair.

Self care

Have soap available that they can reach/use. Make sure to demonstrate proper hand washing!

For bath-time, have their toys/bath accessories in an accessible place so they can bring what they need to the tub

Low-hanging towel hooks so that they can get their own towel after bathing is another easy way to encourage independence.

Teeth-brushing – have their toothbrushes/toothpaste in a drawer that is accessible to them. The less adult help required to accomplish personal tasks, the better!

Nursery

Much of this will be similar to bedrooms for older children, like beds on the floor rather than a crib, low shelving, and a mirror… The difference here, though, is the emphasis on child-proofing.

If you are placing toys/beds on the floor, then it’s imperative that you’re confident about their safety! Ensure that there are no choking or fall hazards in their room. Since they will be able to come and go as they please, the entire space must be safe.

If floor beds make you uncomfortable, look into these gated beds here! They’re also from Busy Wood on Etsy.

Nursery toys

For toys, have a few safe options out on their floor shelves. Try teething rings, for example!

Etsy seller Little Star Creative Co. has lots of great options like their adorable activity gyms and shelving sets. My favorite? This Baby Clothing Rail! It’s just so precious!

Montessori activity gyms like this one from the Little Submarine Co are also super cute and a great addition to any nursery.

Shelves with montessori trays

Montessori trays on a playroom shelf

General tips

  • Do you notice your little ones having to ask for help a lot in certain spaces?
    • Be mindful and accommodating of this when you can. Sometimes all it takes is changing the height of shelving to allow them to reach things themselves!
  • Child-sized is key!
    • For chairs, you want their feet on the ground so they don’t feel too small for their own furniture
    • Shelves should be where they can reach and see everything.
    • For art, you want them to be able to enjoy it without having to be held up by an adult
  • Activities should be engaging and attractive! Choose toys they like but that still challenge them a little
  • Everything should have a place. This will encourage them to put things away where they belong (though you may have to coax them to do this at first!)

I hope these tips help you plan your dream Montessori space in a way that gives your children more independence. Happy decorating!

Elke Crosson
Elke Crosson

Elke Crosson has her BA in International Relations with a minor in Spanish at UBC (Okanagan). She is currently in her second year of the Master of Teaching program at the University of Toronto, with dreams of becoming an elementary-level teacher.

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