From the moment we met Erin Perez Hagstrom of the blog calivintage we knew we had found one of our people. Not only does Erin rock the perfect mix of vintage and sustainable clothing, but she carries this style and thoughtful approach over to how she shops for her two littles, 3-year-old Adam and 1-year-old Edie.
Erin is currently documenting the restoration and renovation of her dreamy 1920s home in Redlands, California while also creating a Montessori learning environment for her two small children. Today, we are super excited to share a peek into Erin's home and the Montessori inspired environments she has created for her two babes. Prepare to walk away inspired to make a few small tweaks in your own home to better accommodate your little learners.
1. How would you describe the style of your home? How has it changed since having two babes?
It’s a 1920s Tudor/storybook style house, which is so classic here in southern California. We bought it with the goal of restoring it, but we’ve decided not to do period decor. I love vintage, so you’ll see a mix of elements from different decades-- a bit of Scandinavian in the kids' room, a little more mid-century modern mixed with bohemian in the living room, Bauhaus in the dining room. I guess I’d say it’s an eclectic California home. Just a relaxed and mellow environment for the kids-- nothing too precious, but still having some fun with the style and making it our own.
2. How did you first hear about The Montessori Method, and what made you choose a Montessori school for Adam?
My mom studied early childhood education and taught the Reggio Emilia approach for a time, so she’s the person who’s introduced me to a lot of alternative approaches to education, including Montessori and Waldorf. She also incorporated a lot of different elements from those methods into her own parenting when I was growing up, so it was something that I naturally adopted once Adam was born. When we decided to move our family back to my hometown, the Montessori school here was high on our list because they have a really great reputation. We knew it was a unique opportunity for us to really embrace Montessori both at school and at home.
3. What are the key principles of creating a Montessori inspired space? What are a few simple ways you have edited your home to incorporate Montessori-inspired spaces for Adam? Same question for Edie.
The basic idea is to create a completely child-accessible environment to facilitate independent movement and activity. We aren’t homeschooling or anything, so our goal in the home is to compliment what they’re doing in school so they have an easy transition between environments. We’re not trying to create a classroom environment in the home and we mostly allow them to engage in free play. However, we do have a lot of the typical elements that you see in a Montessori room: low shelving with toys and activities neatly organized in baskets, a floor bed so they can easily get in and out without assistance, a small table and chairs, little garment racks and child-sized dressers. You start very small, and then expand their options (and the height of things) as they grow older to better suit their size and developmental needs.
It’s also about creating beauty and harmony, introducing nature both indoors and out. Their bedroom was once featured on a home decor site and I laughed because a lot of commenters were really concerned about the safety of having plants in a room with little ones. Yet so much of Montessori is about nature and independence! Adam actually takes care of the plants and loves to water them, he doesn’t eat them. Of course we keep an eye on Edith, but I think it’s good to give her that exposure to beauty and nature in the home.
4. At what age do you think a mom should begin to think about if Montessori is right for them?
I’ve noticed that a lot of parents will send their kids to a Montessori preschool and then take those first few years to decide if it’s right for them. Some kids will stick with Montessori, others will transition to a more traditional school once they reach elementary age. I think it’s a good time to try it out because it can be disruptive for an older student to switch schools in general! Then of course there is the transition between a traditional school and a Montessori school to think about, so it’s not necessarily something to take too lightly. We still don’t know what path our little ones will take, but we’re letting them take the lead and observing how the environment works for them as individuals.
5. What does a typical day look like for you? If that does exist?
We do try pretty hard to keep a consistent schedule. The morning routine is probably the most important for the whole family. My partner is usually home to watch the kids while I take time for myself to get dressed and ready for the day. Putting on an outfit I like and doing my makeup really helps me to get started, and it’s something nice that I can do for myself. Then I get the kids ready and take Adam with me to the coffee shop before I drop him off at school. By the time I get home, I feel energized and ready to dig into work! That morning ritual is really what keeps me productive and sane!
6. You are very thoughtful about the furniture and products you bring into your home. How important was it to you to have a “green or organic nursery”? What nursery products were most important to you to choose organic and you would recommend investing in?
I am definitely eco-conscious and try to shop responsibly when possible.That means a mix of vintage and eco-friendly options, when possible. For the kids' room, I did choose to go with organic mattresses and sheets, which was a bit of an investment, but it’s what made me feel the most comfortable. I also try to go with a lot of natural materials like wood, linen, and wool when picking both clothes and toys. Some of those items can be a bit pricey, but I like that it keeps us from collecting too much stuff. In a way, it helps me to slow down and be more thoughtful about what items we bring into the home, and it helps reduce clutter, which is probably one of the best things you can do for the environment. Less is more!
7. Do you always try to include Adam and Edie in meal prep? What types of snacks or meals do you try to include them in? Do they enjoy helping you out?
Whenever I’m doing anything around the house-- whether it’s meal prep, laundry, cleaning, or even building a piece of furniture-- I try to include the kids if they’re interested! One of the things about Montessori is that it’s important to build a lot of practical skills, and I think it’s good to show them how it’s done and to give them the opportunity to learn. They really enjoy being included in simple activities like tossing clothes into the dryer or dusting the baseboards. It does require a lot of patience, but you’d be amazed at what they can do at such a young age! Adam already does a good amount of cleaning around the house, which ends up being a big help!
8. You work from home with the kiddos, any tips or tricks to having a productive day of work and morning?
It’s almost impossible to watch the kids full-time and still work from home, so I’ve tried to balance it out by working from home part-time in the mornings while Adam is at school. I have someone who watches Edith in our home while I get to work, and it’s been a good middle ground for me while they’re still young.
But honestly, I think just having kids has taught me how to be way more productive than I ever was when I didn’t have kids! You learn how to do things like vacuum the house with a wiggly baby balanced on your hip haha. I think I used to take all of my free time for granted and now I’m really focused on using my time as wisely as possible. It’s a lesson in creative problem solving, which is great for productivity!
9. What are some of your favorite organic baby goods from Noble Carriage right now and why?
Everything Misha & Puff. They are hands down my favorite baby clothing line.
The Oeuf Toy Storage shelf is perfect for a Montessori room!
Hazel Village dolls and animals are the best! The kids love them and they make the perfect gift.
The Kalon Field Tent is so adorable! It would be so fun to set up in our backyard on warm summer evenings.
What a beautiful space! i am wondering where she found the child-sized clothing rack? Thank you!
I loved learning more about how you do what you do and that your mom was involved in teaching too. That definitely seemed to have stemmed to you!
Your home really is Scandinavian looking, but is so perfect. I love it.
I wish I had my kids work on meal prep with me when they were toddlers and such. I think it would have been so good for them. This is where I think you are amazing in your mothering.
I loved this feature so much. I’m completely intrigued with Montessori and Waldorf so it’s fun to read about it from a real mom.