Minimalist Montessori Toddler Bed

From the day we brought Plumblossom home from the hospital, she slept in her crib. We hadn’t researched other options, and she made it clear from the start that she had no interest in a family bed (the girl has always liked her own space). No matter, we weren’t offended: she was sleeping, we were sleeping, all was good.

However, around her second birthday, she started plotting an escape. She had height to her advantage, and began hoisting a leg over the side and teetering on the brink. She didn’t have quite enough leverage to get over, but she was close; we knew it was only a matter of time. So she was still sleeping, but we weren’t—every bump in the night had one of us jumping to check on her.

It was one of those milestones both anticipated and dreaded: time for a big girl bed. We could have bought a conversion kit for her crib; however, in the time since her birth, we had discovered and begun to implement Montessori practices in our home. And no Montessori home would be complete without a floor bed.

We would have loved to have put a mattress on the floor and called it a day—easy peasy lemon squeezy. Unfortunately, in our house, that would have been an invitation for mold; we needed a floor bed with air circulation underneath.

We decided to go straight to a twin-sized bed (rather than a toddler-sized one), as our little beanpole would certainly outgrow the latter by year’s end. But, as we learned after exhaustive Google searches, super-low twin bed frames are a rare commodity indeed. So our DIY minimalist Montessori bed project was born.

Time was not on our side. The nights were nerve-wracking, and we were determined to both build the bed and transition Plumblossom into it over the Christmas holiday (in case her newfound nighttime freedom meant no sleep for us). By no means would this be a designer-quality example of fine woodworking—we needed to throw something together fast.

Our solution: take the Ikea Sultan Laxeby slatted bed base, paint it white, and elevate it on three 4×1 wooden rails.

We also made a padded headboard and sideboard with plywood, batting, and fabric to add some cushioning and warmth against the wall (Plumblossom likes to sleep flush against the wall, with her head up in the corner). These padded panels are attached to the wall, and rest on the frame for additional support.

Here’s a photo of the finished product:

Minimalist Montessori Toddler Bed

We kept telling ourselves it was a temporary solution until we found something better—but, to be honest, we like the way it turned out and have no plans to change it. Most importantly, Plumblossom seems to love it—she made the transition without a hitch. And, as a bonus, she can do all the jumping and acrobatics she wants on it without her mom having a heart attack. :)

[Note: Montessorians recommend skipping the crib and using a floor bed from the start—not a bad idea if you can sufficiently baby-proof the room.]

So have you read through this entire post, even though you have no little ones underfoot? Bless your heart, and thank you for sticking with me. Because guess what? The concept makes a lovely, minimalist adult bed as well—my husband and I are sleeping on the queen-sized version, and we love it, too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, be they about toddler beds, Montessori beds, or just minimalist beds in general!

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

Extreme Minimalism: Bedding

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m devoting September to more extreme forms of minimalism. Although I’m currently settled with a new house and baby, my soul is still that of a wanderer.

When my husband and I lived nomadically, our largest and heaviest possession was our roll-up Ikea mattress—and boy, was it a royal pain to drag around! In hindsight, it would have been much easier to carry individual “beds” such as the following:

(Photo: Futon Company)

Even this “sofa” looks more portable than the mattress we had:

(Photo: Futon Company)

I imagine an inflatable mattress or good old sleeping bag could work, too (and be even more lightweight); however, I’ve never spent more than a few days on either of these and can’t vouch for their long-term comfort.

(I’d love to wander through Japan, and enjoy the culture’s traditional sleeping arrangement: a thin futon on tatami mats. Since the tatami itself is a few inches thick, it creates a much more forgiving base than a hard floor.)

Of course, you can (and we did) eliminate the portability problem by renting furnished sublets; but that can also mean living with more furniture than you’d like, and sometimes an uncomfortable bed to boot! In fact, my husband spent a few months on a camping mattress, because our sublet’s saggy-soft bed hurt his back.

In writing this post, I’m certainly not suggesting anyone sacrifice comfort in the name of minimalism–it’s just me indulging in my new nomadic fantasy. I hope others find such ideas useful for guest bedding or small living spaces, or just have fun daydreaming along with me.

So has anyone out there abandoned a traditional bed and/or mattress for something more compact, portable, or space-saving? Please share your experiences and recommendations in the Comments!

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

My Tiny Apartment Tour: Minimalist Bedroom

After last week’s post (400 Square Feet is the New Black), I received quite a number of emails and comments requesting more photos of our tiny apartment.

Today, I thought I’d give you a sneak peak into the bedroom. I feel a little shy inviting thousands of people into this space, but what the heck – here goes.

To be honest, there’s really not much to see. It measures only 9.75 x 9.25 feet, for a grand total of 91 square feet. Suffice it to say, photographing it was somewhat of a challenge!

Tiny minimalist bedroom

Tiny minimalist bedroom

A few notes:

* I know a mattress on the floor is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for us. It also makes the high ceilings seem even higher. :-)

* We have no built-in closets, so all our clothes are in these two wardrobes (mine on the left, DH’s on the right). Above each wardrobe, we’ve corralled out-of-season items (sweaters, scarves, gloves) and other extras in white nylon Ikea storage cubes. I like the way they blend into the wardrobes and the walls, and give us a little extra storage space.

* I’m not a huge fan of the carpeting, but when you’re in rented accommodations, you learn to live with less-than-ideal finishes. If it were our own place, I’d choose either dark, wide-plank, weathered wooden floors, or white painted wooden floors.

* Yes, there’s a distinct lack of color here; but as most long-term readers know, I *love* white (see my posts Minimalist Home: White Walls and Minimalist Design: White Floors). I particularly like white linens in the summer – so cool, crisp, and refreshing! I’m considering adding a pop of color with a throw pillow; perhaps something in aqua or lavender, with a botanical print. Of course, I welcome suggestions from more décor-savvy readers.

* This bedroom was made for a minimalist – there’s not enough room for a dresser, nightstand, or any other piece of furniture. I love the way it requires one to boil things down to the essentials: a place to sleep, and a place to store clothes.

As I say in my book, I think the bedroom should be the most uncluttered room in the house. It should be a place of peace and serenity, a haven from our hectic lives. But it doesn’t have to be BIG to serve these needs. By keeping things simple, a small space can provide just as wonderful an oasis for our weary souls!

{If you’d like to read more about minimalist living, please consider buying my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

Minimalist Home: White Walls

It may come as no surprise that I *love* white walls (and white floors…and white textiles…and white décor…).

So I was happy to see this Apartment Therapy feature on white bedrooms. How gorgeous! I think the monochromatic color scheme gives the spaces a serene, minimalist look, even when they have a little more “stuff” in them.

They’re also a great example of how “minimalist” doesn’t have to mean “modern.” Now I love streamlined furniture and glossy surfaces as much as the next minimalist, but my favorite bedroom of the lot (pictured below) is actually quite the opposite:

Seeing this space actually made me miss our old 1920s bungalow in the States. DH and I had painted every single wall, ceiling, door, window, and piece of trim a uniform white. Not a creamy white, or an eggshell white, or any other kind of decorator, hint-of-color white. We used the “bright white” that you pick up in giant cans straight from the home improvement center’s shelves—the kind that doesn’t have to be carefully mixed into some pretty shade at the counter.

The monochromatic paint job took significant time and effort (in one room, we were painting over a brilliant emerald green) but the results were amazing. It gave an ethereal, airy feeling to the space, making the rooms look larger, and the walls as if they were floating; the effect made me smile every morning when I opened my eyes to it.

It wasn’t the first time we’d covered every inch of a place in a beautiful, stark white. In fact, we’d done something similar to almost every apartment we’d lived in.

I’m writing this as I sit in our new UK flat, with warm, cream-colored (almost light yellow) walls. We won’t be trekking down to the paint store anytime soon, as our lease prohibits us from making cosmetic changes. It’s strange, though; my husband and I have moved around a lot, and always settled in quickly to any new living space. This place, though lovely, has never felt quite like “home” to us; it feels more like an extended-stay apartment than “our” space. Originally, I’d chalked it up to living in a foreign country. But you know what? I think it’s the walls.

Minimalist Platform Bed

bed-futoncompany(Photo: Futon Company)

Of course, the ultra-minimalist solution to bedding would be a mattress on the floor. But if you’re not quite ready to take that step, the Gallica bed from the Futon Company (pictured at left) is the next best thing.

It’s made from rubberwood with a walnut stain, and can be used either alone or with two tatami mats under the mattress.

I love the low profile, sleek lines, and absence of a headboard. It satisfies all the functions of a bed frame without the fussy detail or bulk of traditional furniture. The small side table (sold separately) is perfectly proportioned for, and blends in beautifully, with the bed.

On a budget? Learn to build your own platform bed with this handy video from YouTube:

YouTube – Platform Bed Building

Or follow the step-by-step instructions outlined here:

How to build a platform bed : My Family Loves It