How to Make Something Montessori: Wardrobe Transformation

I firmly believe in the adaptability of incorporating Montessori principles into various aspects of daily life. When we internalize and understand the Montessori philosophy, one comes to realize that it’s not solely about the specific items we possess, but rather how these items are thoughtfully prepared and utilized. Montessori philosphy serves as a transformative lens, reshaping our perspective on our environment to effectively meet the needs of our children.

Key Elements What Makes Something Montessori

When I think about what makes something “Montessori” in nature I keep a few elements in mind. Note, that there are specific Montessori materials that were created by Maria Montessori to be used in a classroom setting, like bead frames and grammar boxes. For this post, I am focusing more on the common items that can align with Montessori but aren’t Montessori-manufactured materials. Here are the key elements of Montessori that stand out, regardless of whether it is a Montessori manufactured item or not. Then I will share how we took something traditional and non-Montessori in nature and made it Montessori!

Fosters Independence

When preparing our homes we want to consider materials and furniture that allow and foster independence for our children. A few examples of this is having things at their level. Having a place for them to sit and take their shoes off, a step stool so they can wash their hands at the sink, a weaning table and chair to have a snack at, and a low hook to hang their jacket on.

I believe that we can look at any area in our home and prepare it to foster more independence for our child(ren). If there is never a hook low enough for them to hang their coat up on, they will not be able to hang their coat up independently. These preparations are key to fostering independence.

small bench with jacket hanging on a hook in a Montessori entryway

Accessibility

We live in a very adult-centered world. Things are large and high up. Children need accessibility to their belongings. This may look like setting up a small entryway for them and having a dresser or wardrobe that is appropriately sized for them to choose their clothes. We can set up a low mirror and shelf in the bathroom for them to brush their teeth. We can make simple everyday things Montessori by making them accessible for a child. Montessori principles are to take the needs of the child into account and to prepare an environment that meets those needs.

Orderly

Giving everything a place and having everything in its’ place is a key Montessori element. This principle supports the developmental needs of the child. Young children, 6 and younger, have a strong need for order. They need to know where their shoes are, and where they can get water or a snack. We can support this need for order by preparing an orderly environment.

Montessori shelf with four sections. Toys left to right: skwish rattle, basket of balls, spinning drum, small wicker basket with lid

Beautiful

Montessori environments have always struck me as beautiful, warm, and inviting. The simplicity and purposefulness of the objects in the space create a cozy atmosphere. I have more thoughts about the importance of beauty and order in a Montessori environment, check them out here. But for the context of this post, it is fair to say that creating beautiful spaces for our children helps reinforce care and respect.

How we Transformed a Traditional Dresser into a Montessori Wardrobe

Now for the fun part! We were looking for some new storage solutions for our home. I came across this wardrobe on Facebook MarketPlace. It appeared much smaller in the pictures but when we picked it up and finally got it into the space in our twins’ bedroom, I realized it wasn’t a child dresser at all. However, there were elements about it that I thought I could make accessible with a few simple changes.

Before

We had previously done a DIY Ikea shelving unit dresser. When we adjusted our closet organization we needed some more spots for the boy’s clothes. As they were getting bigger so were their clothes! This dresser seemed like the perfect fit. Here are a few things we did to make a traditional dresser into a beautiful Montessori wardrobe for twins!

Previous Dresser
We had previously done a DIY Ikea shelving unit dresser. When we adjusted our closet organization we needed some more spots for the boy's clothes. This dresser seemed like the perfect fit. Here are a few things we did to make a traditional dresser into a beautiful Montessori wardrobe for twins!
Accessible hanging Rod

We added 2 hanging rods on the inside of the closet door. This created a more orderly way to store shirts and will provide lots of great practical life opportunities in the upcoming years learning how to hang something up onto a hanger. The lower hanging rod is where I will set out the 3 to 5 shirt options for the boys. The top hanging rod I can use to store additional shirts. One important Montessori principle is limitation. We want to offer the freedom to choose their clothes but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a choice from everything in their closet. This 2-rod system will help offer appropriate choices while also allowing us to practically store the clothes we own for two boys!

Storage for Now and Later

There are 4 drawers on this dresser but not all of them are accessible to the boys at the current moment. We use just the bottom two for their clothes and the top two are for storage of clothes that don’t yet fit them. This is a great thing in my mind because it is a piece of furniture that they will grow into but still meets their needs at the current moment as well.

Beauty

We added some beauty by wallpapering this alcove, which was for a television. It makes the perfect place for storing baskets, a lamp, and some beautiful artifacts.

After

I am so happy with how it turned out. Adding these small touches transformed something ordinary into something quite beautiful and practical.

Have a Clear Vision

Once you have a clear vision of your goals for a space it is easier to see how you can make changes and adjustments to meet those needs. I knew how I wanted the space to function, it was just time to execute that! Here are a few things to consider when transforming something to be Montesssori.

  • What skills and things can my child do independently? How can I prepare this space to support their independence?
  • How can I simplify this to keeping just the essentials?
  • What elements could I add to make it more beautiful and inviting?

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