Updated: May 25
If we’re fortunate, home is the place we feel most like ourselves – most relaxed, confident and happy. It’s also the spot we share with family and friends. That’s the case for adults and it’s the same for children. So that’s why at Country Mouse we have styled our nursery so that it feels like home from home. We’ve given it that calm, cosy feeling – the Danish call it hygge, which translates as “courage, comfort and joy.” In doing so, we hope it’s a place our children can feel at ease and in which they’ll have the confidence to explore or snuggle down.
Here's what we've done. We've painted the nursery a soothing grey and chosen rugs for the wooden floor that mimic the type anyone would have at home – plain, deep pile – instead of the jazzy play mats you usually find in nurseries. There are armchairs to curl up into and framed photos and pictures any living room might be proud of, as well as curtains and blinds in pretty hushed tones. We’ve thrown out most of the big, bright plastic and moved in plenty of wooden play equipment, swapping out a lot of toys and replacing them with every-day, household items that are familiar to every child – a jug on the table, pots and pans etc. These not only help promote that homey atmosphere we are looking for but encourage imaginative play.
We think the whole effect is warm, welcoming and peaceful. And, from what we’ve been told, it’s clear that parents entrusting their children with us do too! But we're not just creating a "pretty place" for the sake of it. As Anita Rui Olds, eminent American designer of child play spaces, explained, “When children feel comfortable in their physical surroundings, they will venture to explore materials or events around them.”
That "comfortable feeling" takes more than bricks and mortar of course – which is where our nursery staff come in. We at Country Mouse aim to be as supportive and as nurturing as family to a child. Our children get lots of cuddles for one! The emphasis always is on togetherness and friendship: we all eat together and we practise our table manners; the children who are old enough help themselves to their portion, and this is always a home-cooked meal; together, we read stories, play and chatter; and at any time of day, if someone small is tired, it’s fine that they take themselves off for a nap in our new sleep coracles, just as they would snooze back home.
That's not to say that we can't get rowdy! We have plenty of room to make a mess when it's needed – a lot of our space is open plan so the children can decide where they go – and our garden is perfect for letting off steam! There's a dustbin lid drum kit, for instance, and plenty to climb. Country Mouse believes that a space like ours has such an impact on emotional well-being that it helps to build a happy, confident child who is then ready to get busy with the activities of the day!