Name: Vincent, aged 2 1/2 Location: Berwyn, IL
A tremendous amount of forethought went into this amazing room, and it shows. When we saw a photo of Vincent's cool bedroom linked from the comments section of a thread here at Apartment Therapy, we couldn't wait to see more, and lucky for us, Alex graciously agreed to share this space, along with her inspiring ideas about designing rooms for kids.
The original concept for this room came out of Alex's own childhood bedrooms, and she says that, "...what I remember most is that my mom always made the rooms feel like they were made just for me and no one else. When making design decisions in Vincent's room, she followed that philosophy, and a great example of this is the artwork, which is all hung at his eye level, "...because what's the use of having great photos or drawings in there if he can't see them?" The child-centric design philosophy shines through in this room, from the scaled down, child-sized chairs and shelves, to the low bed - everything is easily accessible to the room's occupant.
Alex calls it Montessori inspired design, and explains the concept thusly:
Dr. Maria Montessori was a doctor and educator who believed that each child, even at birth, is filled with an enormous potential to learn and grow -- so much more than we often give them credit for. By catering to specific growth periods (she called "Sensitive Periods") and adapting the home and school environment to be responsive to those periods we allow children to fulfill their mental, spiritual and physical potential. Order, simplicity, routine and beauty are paramount. She felt that children are their own best teachers, and by observing the basic rule of Montessori which is to "follow the child" we are helping them to help themselves.
Examples of Montessori inspired design in this room include the bed on the floor, so that Vincent has the freedom to get up when he chooses, as well as the neatly organized shelves. Alex explains, "The toys in his room are displayed neatly on shelves rather than thrown together in one giant toy box. A sense of order is important to children, and if Vincent sees that everything has a place where it belongs he is more likely to put things away where he got them from."
Equally inspiring in this room is that much of it is very affordable design. The fabulous orange hanging lamp, rug, mirrors, curtains, wall shelf, and and chairs are all Ikea, and the corduroy ottoman and bedding from Target. The circular stacking tables, originally designed for dorm living, are from Urban Outfitters. Mixed in with the new are fabulous hand-me-downs, such as the red bear rocking chair and the giraffe hat/coat rack and stuffed animals. And the artwork is either by Alex herself, or Vincent.
Order, simplicity, routine and beauty - we think these Montessori concepts sound like a great foundation to nursery design.