Our Montessori-Inspired Family Room

In our Montessori home transformation, the family room stood out to me with a unique challenge. There was a tug and pull in trying to strike the right balance between cultivating a space for my husband and I without excluding our children, while in turn including our children in a way that didn’t totally dominate the space.

In their shared bedroom, playroom, and even the kitchen, the main focus was accessibility: How can I bring this space to their level so that they may do more for themselves? In the family room, however,  this is a space primarily where my husband and I connect, as well as where we host when other loved ones visit us. It is where we gather around the TV, but also where we spend unplugged family time.  So, instead of focusing on accessibility, the focus became inclusivity.

In the past, our living room had been easily taken over with toys, tipped too heavily to a space for the kids. I used to call it our “control center of chaos.” Montessori’s principle of structure and order was hands down the biggest saving grace for this gathering space.

I assure you this room absolutely gets messy, though, because it is a living space. The cushions come off the couch for forts, the rug gets used as a backdrop for building cities and roads, toy instruments get scattered from dance parties, but because everything has a place and belongs in its place, returning to order is more practical on a daily basis, thus transforming it into a truly livable, mutually-enjoyable room. 

Also important to note, you’ll notice this room is decorated with our own budding sense of style. I used to think that including my children meant shopping what the mainstream children’s aisles had to offer – bright, primary-colored, cartoonish items. Montessori’s principles for a prepared space of beauty, nature and reality, helped me treat our design choices more purposefully. What items bring calm and joy to our walls?  We shouldn’t feel limited in how we design our homes because of having young children; Our young children are capable of appreciating beautiful items and learning to care for them, too! This isn’t a choice that overlooks them, but truly further supports them. Too many loud, busy decor choices typical to commercialized kid stuff can be overstimulating.

Have a look!

We utilized the accessible part of our console table to store four baskets of items that invite them to engage in play. We are a screen-conscious family, so I especially like that this setup invites them to come here for things other than passive entertainment. I do not rotate this space as frequently as I do their toy room, because the items I’ve chosen are “evergreen” – books, unit blocks, and some musical instruments. The wires related to our TV have not been an issue. There was a short period where I had to re-direct our youngest from them, but after some consistency, it was a boundary that they learned to respect. Same with the vases atop and the big lamp to the left.

I held off on using the bottom ledge of our fireplace as a space to decorate. It is the perfect height to place one or two quiet activities for the kids. Some people have seemed perplexed that we don’t have this gated off, but in our case, I feel it’s an unnecessary safety precaution since they are capable of learning limits and boundaries like “no running, no jumping.” We’ve personally had no safety issues by using the fireplace ledge in this way. 


Similar to the console table, I utilized the low shelves on the other pieces of our furniture for the kids. I purposely placed our music player low so that they can access music when they would like. Music for us is a daily thing – both for burning energy and for calming down.

The coffee table shelf holds beginner board games or floor puzzles. I love having these here as opposed to a closet because these activities invite another nice alternative to screen time, and unlike other toys that promote independent play, these promote cooperative play –  which is nicely aligned with this room’s focus of quality family time.

I do like to offer a gross motor element in this space. Pictured here is their Pikler climbing triangle, but sometimes I offer cushions, a push wagon, a fort, a giant empty box, or a few stepping stones. It’s unrealistic to expect my children to join us here only in quiet play or stillness, so I enjoy offering something where they can direct the energy they have. We try not to reserve movement as something ONLY for the outdoors, because movement in learning happens both outside and inside through the entirety of their days.

That’s it! By focusing on structure and order, beauty and natural materials, it has really brought a lot of joy and functionality to the sometimes-challenging task of sharing a space as a family. If you have incorporated a shared space with your children, I’d love to hear what tips have worked well for you!

If you’ve missed my room-by-room series thus far, here’s a recap of the spaces we’ve transformed from our Montessori journey at home. More to come!

Intro: A Look Inside Our Montessori Home

A Montessori Shared Bedroom

A Montessori Family Calendar

A Montessori-Friendly Kitchen on a Budget

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