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LAB Work: Mimi

Work Budget:  As needed
Time:  Some shopping time + 1 Friday afternoon
Location:  Oakland, CA

Want to take a seat?
Boy, I do.
At 9 months pregnant, waddling, formerly known as walking, is a chore.
But taking on a new design project?
It's like a craving, I just can't resist when it comes to a LAB transformation.
This is my last one, I promise to cut back.
(For now.)

It's a small & cozy one...68 SF to be exact.
Mimi is one of Zozo's classmates at their bilingual Montessori school. Recently, her parents noticed that M's toys have somehow slowly migrated to take nest in every nook & cranny of their beautiful Oakland home.
Sound familiar?
"We've GOT to do something about this...".
Mimi's mom has always wished for a useful Montessori inspired home space.  Any skills picked up at school is always best when reinforced at home.
Practice means routine.
Routine means freedom.
Freedom to learn, to do, to create, to expand.
So here we are, the LAB is on hand for some much needed help to bring this migration to a screeching halt.

Welcome to "Mimi's Office"...
Mom & Dad each have home offices, so why not Mimi?
The breakfast nook is currently the "random toy storage", which actually serves as a walk way to the kitchen.  So we say "Bye-bye random junk room...Hello new office!"

Here's a quick LAB sketch to plot out the various functions we want:  A reading nook, Arts & Crafts, Self Care Station, Work Area, Snack Prep, Cleaning Station, and Chalkboard.  The LAB came up with an open circulation plan using a toddler table set as the island anchor.  A short "wall partition" shelving unit creates a walkway to the kitchen while providing some privacy to the nook.  Come, let's take a tour around the office!

The Color Inspiration?
The black & white french toile fabric on the existing built-in bench and roman shades.  This is our take off point in setting the pallet in this room:  black, white, and a sprinkle of sage tea green!

The Reading Nook
This beautiful bay window is the highlight of this book nook (See 1st photo above).  The natural sunlight, the view, the bench - all elements that would lure you into this corner to read, think, chat.
But, it was blocked.
A dollhouse was pushed up against the bench wall, making it inaccessible, and worst...invisible.  This focal point needed to be uncovered.  We removed the dollhouse immediately, added a bold stripe blanket, tossed in a tea green pillow, and set a floor lamp with a whimsical floral embroidery for added lighting.  A bookshelf was placed adjacent to the reading lamp for easy access to a rotating book collection.  The set up is now warm & inviting for reflection and reading, alone or with company.

Arts & Crafts Station
If there's one thing kids do, it's art.  And lots of it.  This is one of Mimi's favorite home activities.  We wanted everything accessible for her to retrieve on her own, and of course, PUT BACK on her own.  Let's not forget, this is a Hapa LAB transformation, work is part of the fun!

Top Shelf:  Paper stash & a wood caddy for holding glue, tape, rulers, stapler....etc.
2nd Shelf:  Galvanized metal buckets hold crayons, markers, pencils, brushes, and scissors.
Bottom Shelf:  soft bins to store stationary, stickers, craft ingredients; we used sage green to bring in the color from the toss pillow.

Self Care (Vanity/Grooming)
The original plan had the Reading & Art shelves butting up next to one another.  But there was a glitch.  A 13" wide air vent in the middle of the wall required a back up plan.  In a Montessori space, it's always good to have a Self Grooming Area.  We placed a vanity mirror and a rod with hanging buckets below to hold sunscreen, hair brushes, hair ties and other sundries.  This will help Mimi get herself ready for the day each morning.

Work Area  
Ever try to work at home but you don't have a dedicated seat or desk?  Very inconvenient to say the least.  We threw in 4 chairs and a generous work surface as we expect playmates and large craft projects.  A fun black & white rug anchors this area visually by highlighting it from the wood floor.  This creates a nice circulation to the room, allowing access to the table from 3 sides, getting any supplies needed, and approaching the reading nook.  We hung a roll of art paper and hooks on the back of the dividing shelf, doubling up the function in this small space.

Partition Wall Storage
Our favorite Ikea shelf is back, the Expedite!  In a jiffy, it created a private partition for the office while housing practical life items and providing supply storage below via woven baskets, a soothing natural touch against the white finish.  We added lockable casters so this piece can easily roll to the counter wall when they need to open up during a party.

In the distance (above photo), we mounted a chalk tray underneath the bar counter.  For $12, you can get a can of brush on latex chalkboard paint and turn a boring drywall into a writable surface!  A good use for a vertical wall surface that would otherwise be wasted.  What kid wouldn't want to draw on walls if they could, right?

Snack Prep
Mom plans on serving some yummy snacks in this office.  They have a wonderful little "snack clock" that shows Mimi when her next snack time is, and better yet, WHAT she will be having!  I got her a note clipper so Mom can better display what's coming on the snack menu.
In the cubbies below, we placed a H2O dispenser, glasses, mugs, plates, bowls, utensils, and left a shelf for placemats and napkins.  Clear placement of snack supplies will help her set the table as well as guide her in putting away clean dishes.

Cleaning Station
What LAB transformation is complete without a Cleaning Station?  We used a narrow 3tier shelf to hold the trash can, hand broom, wipe clothes, spray bottle, and other supplies.

The Nature Tray
Montessori welcomes natural elements.
We finished up this M-inspired space with a Nature Tray so that Mimi can get creative with the Earth.  It's so lovely to have cut flowers, stones, leaves, twigs, or anything a child may find on a morning walk around the neighborhood.  We used a wooden tray and a small glass vase as the base.  Zozie designed this display on his own using some cuttings from the garden as a surprise for Mimi.  This is a nice topping on the partition wall, welcoming guests into this space.

So this is it!
Our last LAB transformation before our new arrival comes.
Who's crazy enough to do a new design project at 9 months pregnant?
The same one who opened a new Lobby Lounge for a LA hotel 5 days before birthing Zozie.
Seems like a trend for me.
Install a project, birth a child.
Easy enough, right?
I give Beanie 14 days...


  1. You are amazing! Bring on the Beanie!

  2. Fantastic! You are amazing!

  3. Julie, you're a perfect mom! I love your blog so much especially your montessori homeschooling does inspire me. Thanks so much for all of your sharing.

    1. What a sweet sentiment Belle...It really is a joy to work with your children at home and to see them grow before your eyes. Thanks so much for following!

  4. So beautiful. I recently found your blofg and read it during the few quiet moments I have in the middle of the night when sleep eludes me after nursing my daugter. I have 2 boys who attend Montessori School here in ct. I am trying (quite pathetically) to create a space for them at home that mimics school. I'm having a tough time, to say the least! Any advice on getting a hand in creating a space for my kiddos?