It’s no secret that I love IKEA. Most of their products are usually affordable, simplistic in design, of good quality, and are often available in a neutral color scheme. When I purchase items I look not only to what purpose it may serve now but also whether it’s something that will be useful five years from now or even ten years from now. We’re on a pretty tight budget when it comes to homeschooling, so I like to make sure that every dollar counts!
If you’re just starting on your Montessori-inspired journey and looking to create a prepared environment in your home for your children, or perhaps you’re simply looking for ideas on how to better organize your children’s spaces, here are some of the most practical and functional items from IKEA that we love.
IN THE SCHOOLROOM
1. IKEA’s BESTA shelving units are offered in a variety of sizes. We opted to use two of these in our schoolroom and simply purchased the shelves separately. You can install them as floating shelves, add feet if you prefer the additional height, or customize in many other ways. If you’re using these units in a main living space, doors are available to provide a more streamlined look — although I do recommend open shelving for kids under the age of 4 or 5. NOTE: I would recommend purchasing in store if possible. I ordered them and most of the shelves arrived with dented corners. It’s purely cosmetic, but it is aggravating.
2. We now have a few SMULA trays because they are so versatile and great at containing messes. One is kept in the kids’ food preparation area to help contain any errant spills or crumbs. The other two are kept in our schoolroom and regularly used with kinetic sand, modeling clay, and play-doh. They fit perfectly on our tray table which makes them even more convenient. We also like to use them when re-potting plants to catch any dropped soil or gravel.
3. The MALA paintbrush set is both affordable and good quality. We purchased ours nearly 3 years ago, and they are still in great condition. They’re the perfect size for little hands.
4. I held off on purchasing the MALA easel in our former home because we didn’t have the space for it and we already had a gorgeous desktop easel. But when we moved I went ahead and splurged on the MALA easel, and I’m so glad I did. Both my kids use it regularly. I plan to make the dry erase side of the board magnetic to increase its versatility.
5. The KLIPSK bed tray is one of those random, spontaneous IKEA purchase success stories. I wanted a foldable tray table for the kids and found plans for a wooden one, but with a project list a mile long I had no idea when we’d get around to making it so I figured we could try the KLIPSK bed tray, and if it didn’t work out I could always use it for my laptop computer. Well, it works! Granted, we have yet to fold it because it’s used pretty much all the time. I love that it’s lightweight so the kids can easily carry it around the house or even outside. It’s constantly in use as a snack tray, an art tray, a sensory table — the SMULA tray fits perfectly and protects the actual tabletop surface from getting dirty, a LEGO building tray, and with a lot of the Montessori math materials. The raised edge helps keep loose items contained, and it has a slot to prop small books up as well. It’s definitely a worthwhile product to check out if you’re in store.
6. When we built our corner desk in the schoolroom I had to find a stool that was a certain height, and I really wanted something that featured a place for the kids’ feet to rest. I ended up selecting the RASKOG stool, and it’s a perfect fit. Plus, the stool’s sleek black finish matches the other hardware in the room. Yay! It’s actually surprisingly comfortable to sit on as well.
7. Although I originally bought the FLISAT stool for our entryway to serve as a small seat for the kids to sit on while putting their shoes on or taking them off, the girls prefer it at their easel so that’s now it’s designated spot. The stool is the perfect height to allow them to sit and draw or paint at the easel or, when standing, it can be used as a side table for paint supplies.
8. The TOLSBY picture frame is a versatile addition to your home. We use them to display art cards throughout the home, but if you search Pinterest you’ll find lots of other creative uses for the TOLSBY as well. My older daughter, in particular, loves that she is able to independently switch the pictures out by herself.
9. For only $3.99, the SIGNE rug is a perfectly functional work mat for Montessori at home. If you’re making a trip to IKEA, be sure to check for the plain one that’s a neutral cream color. It’s perfect! I found ours right by the SIGNE rugs, but I forgot to record the name and it’s not currently available online. UPDATE: The plain rug is called SORTSO and is now available online!
10. Caring for living things is integral in a Montessori environment. Displaying just one or two houseplants in your child’s space provides numerous benefits, and these MUSKOT planters are well constructed, provide a neutral backdrop that allows the plant itself to shine, and are extremely affordable. We simply fill the bottom with small rocks and then add soil and a small plant.
11. I bought the SPONTAN magnetic board years ago and never got around to hanging it up in our home. I had actually resolved to sell it since it wasn’t being used, but when the girls received Magnatiles this past Christmas we finally found a use for it: a super functional building surface! If your kids are Magnatiles fans, the SPONTAN board is definitely something to check out as it provides more stability to their magnetic creations.
12. I may hang one of these BEKVAM spice racks above our corner desk in the schoolroom to display some of our most used art supplies, but a quick Pinterest search will return dozens of nifty uses for this product. Bonus: It’s actually a great little building project for kids.
13. The MOPPE mini storage unit is a more recent addition to our schoolroom. We currently use it to store an assortment of items: art supplies in the top row of drawers, sewing and knitting works in the middle drawers, and music CDs and small musical instruments in the bottom drawers. I like that the kids can remove the entire drawer and carry it to their work surface and then simply return the drawer when they’re finished. In my opinion it’s a great option for families who have toddlers and preschoolers or older kids sharing the same space.
14. I am considering purchasing the KVISSLE letter tray to store our art supplies that do not fit well in our current assortment of drawers and jars, specifically Lilly’s new markers and pen case, a new set of colored pencils, and a travel watercolor kit. It would be kept on top of our bookcase in the schoolroom closet. What do you guys think? Yay or nay?
15. Here’s another item I’m currently considering. The KVISSLE wall magazine rack could be hung on the wall right inside our schoolroom closet and be used to store construction paper, watercolor paper, pastel paper, etc. If anyone uses it for this purpose, I’d love to know how it’s going. Right now the girls retrieve their art paper from an accordion file notebook, but honestly it’s kind of clunky and papers keep getting strewn everywhere. I really like the KVISSLE’s minimal design, and that it provides space for up to five different types of paper.
16. The girls ended up receiving a several board games from family members for Christmas, and I needed to find a solution to the increasingly wobbly and pretty inaccessible stack of boxes quickly. Enter the VARIERA pot lid organizer. We used it in our previous home for its intended purpose, but since moving into a new home it was no longer needed. When I saw this Pinterest hack, I decided to give it a try. I’m happy to report it’s working fantastically and looks great, too.
17. Consider using the MOSSLANDA picture ledge to display books, pictures, sandpaper letters, Schleich animals, or small language objects. It can be a fun decorative item for any home.
18. I really, really love the SKADIS pegboard that IKEA released last year. I’ve contemplated mounting it on the wall above the girls’ corner desk in our schoolroom, but we really don’t need it — yet anyway. However, if anyone is looking for a minimal storage solution for art supplies that doesn’t take up any floor space, definitely give this consideration. It can be customized with a variety of bins and clips to fit your specific needs.
19. If you don’t already have a nice basket for books, definitely check out the FLISAT book display. We currently have one, and I hope to purchase another 1-2 more to keep in other areas of our home. I’ve been really impressed with it so far.
20. Not shown in the graphic above is the many bins, baskets, and trays available at IKEA. I always check out their small storage options when we go to the store because usually they’re pretty affordable and I’ve yet to have any quality issues with any of them. If you’d like to see some of the small storage options I’ve highlighted in the past, feel free to check out this blog post — IKEA Favorites: Montessori-Friendly Bins, Baskets, and Trays.
IN THE KITCHEN
1. If you’re implementing Montessori at home then I’m sure you know by now that you can never really have too many washcloths. We keep a bunch of these TEKLA dish towels in a low drawer to clean up any spills, dry hands, and dry dishes. They’re affordable and durable.
2. My go-to choice for a child’s first ‘real’ knife is the SMABIT from IKEA. We opted not to use the peeler because we had a more child-friendly one already available. I wish they would sell the set separately.
3. I love the small APTITLIG chopping board. It’s been in regular use by my children for 3 years now. It’s small footprint means storage is a breeze, and since it’s lightweight it is also incredibly easy for the kids to move it around the kitchen as needed.
4. I love hanging plants. The SKURAR hanging planters are my favorite since they’re lightweight, easy to adjust, and easily match any decor.
5. We keep a SMULA tray in the kids’ food preparation area to catch any spills and crumbs. It’s nice to be able to simply shake it off and then wipe it down. Since it has a slightly raised edge, it also prevents water from spilling over onto our floors.
6. We have one PLASTIS dish brush we use to scrub shoes and another we use to scrub pots and pans — both much loved practical life activities in our home.
7. If you’re in need of a small table with chairs, I recommend the LATT children’s table and chairs. Use a sealant on the wood to increase its durability, and if you’re concerned about the beveled edge, buy a small tablecloth to help protect the tabletop. But for the price, I really don’t think it can be beat. You can easily cut the legs shorter if it will be used by a toddler.
8. I decided to try out the VARDAGEN milk pitcher on a whim after our previous small pitcher broke. It’s the perfect size for us at breakfast and lunch, and it feels more comfortable in my hands than our previous one. It also seems easier for my kids to use, probably because it’s lighter in weight than our old one.
9. We’ve tried a few different types of small glasses in the past, but these VARDAGEN ones are my favorite so far. They’re lightweight yet durable and seem to be easier for my kids to grip. We also use the larger size ones; we really like them that much!
10. Our children use these small DRAGON forks and spoons. Offering children smaller utensils that are a better fit for their hands sets them up for success when they begin to learn to feed themselves.
11. While I’d love to have some of those touchless automatic soap dispensers, these super inexpensive TACKAN soap dispensers have served us well over the past few years. Since they’re see-through, my preschooler is able to easily determine when they need to be refilled. It’s a simple thing through the eyes of an adult, but one of the ways in which she loves to help out around the house. Another bonus is the dispensers are ridiculously easy to clean.
12. You can’t beat the value of the PABJUDA whisk set. My kids use the smaller one to make scrambled eggs, mix pancake and muffin batter, and whisk up bubbles in the sink. I use the large one all the time, too. My older daughter loves that we have matching whisks.
13. The FLITIGHET dinnerware set has been our preferred set of plates and bowls for years. Since we purchase them in white, the inevitable small chips are not as noticeable. We keep the small plates stored in the kids’ cupboard, and the large plates and bowls are stored in a large, bottom drawer in the main kitchen area.
14. Originally purchased for our kids’ closet area, my oldest daughter soon discovered the BOLMEN stool is the perfect height for her to easily work at the counter in the kitchen. So it’s frequently in use between both rooms. I would recommend this stool for tall 4-year-olds or 5-year-olds and older in the kitchen.
15. For toddler-age children, we’ve had success using the BEKVAM stool as a kitchen helper. We put felt pads on the bottom to reduce the risk of scratches on the floor and to aid in the kids’ ability to easily move it around the kitchen.
IN THE SHARED BEDROOM
1. Originally inspired by the MACKAPAR hat and coat rack for a minimal clothing storage solution in our kids’ shared closet, we ended up building our own for $15 each. The MACKAPAR offers an additional shelf and is longer than the ones we made, but because it’s made of steel it also weighs a lot more and costs twice as much. But if you’re not into DIY though, it could be a ready-made option for a child-height wardrobe setup.
2. We already had a bunch of children’s clothing hangers that were gifted to us, but if I were in the market to purchase more IKEA’s HANGA children’s coat hangers would be my top pick.
3. We use a couple sets of these SKUBB boxes to help organize products throughout our home. The small ones are kept in the girls’ drawers to separate clothing items, and I use the large ones on the very top shelf of our closets to store extra sheets or out-of-season clothing. I also have a few of the medium-size ones holding out-of-rotation school products.
4. In addition to the girls’ wall-mounted clothing racks, we also use a RAST 3-drawer chest to mainly store their pajamas. Alice’s pants and skirts are currently stored in the bottom drawer since she’s not easily able to reach the top of the shelf in the closet. It can serve as a nightstand when placed between two twin beds in a shared bedroom.
5. I know, I’ve already mentioned these SKURAR hanging planters, but I really do love them. I hope to pick up 1-2 more to hang in the girls’ bedroom the next time we’re in store.
6. The TJUSIG hanger is on my wish list. I’d like to hang one right inside the girls’ bedroom closet for coats and/or dress-up clothes, depending upon the season. It could also be used to organize work aprons in a Montessori-inspired home.
7. The LURIGA night light is a fun little light for kids transitioning to their own room who may have fears of the dark. It runs off a re-chargeable LED battery and is easy for kids to turn on and off. The beating heartbeat is a favorite in our home.
8. We created a simple book nook for the girls in their bedroom by mounting a couple of these FLISAT wall storage racks to the wall. If you’re unable to hang things on a wall, I’d recommend purchasing a FLISAT book bin instead.
9. The TORSLEV flatwoven rug is another item on my wish list. I plan to put this small rug between the girls’ beds. We have darker floors, so the white should lighten the space up a bit and I love its simple stripe pattern.
10. When we first set up the girls’ shared bedroom last year, my youngest had just turned 20 months. I was looking for a bed lower to the ground due to her age, and I really wanted the girls to have matching bed frames. I had originally considered buying another TARVA bed frame and simply cutting it shorter, but then I stumbled upon the UTAKER stackable bed. For roughly the same price as one TARVA bed, we could get two matching bed frames that could be pushed together to form a queen-size bed. I liked this option since we’re still transitioning away from co-sleeping so it would give me room to snuggle in with them if needed — and not have to hang off the side of a twin bed. I don’t like that there are no headboards, but I figure that’s an easy enough DIY project for us to complete. We opted against using the super slim mattresses designed for the UTAKER and are simply using regular depth twin size mattresses. One tip though, remove the plastic feet if the beds will be placed on hardwood flooring. We simply replaced them with felt pads.
Is there anything I’ve overlooked or I’m missing out on? Please share some of your favorite products from IKEA in the comments below.