Having a dedicated space for play is a wonderful thing, if you’ve got the room.
For some families it even makes sense to have siblings share a bedroom if it means another room is freed up for playing.
And if you’re going to put in the time and energy to set up a playroom, make sure it’s a space that will appeal to your kids — hopefully for a long time.
Start by clearing out the space. Toss out broken toys, puzzles and games with missing pieces, and dried-out markers. Give away or sell unloved stuffed animals and toys your children have outgrown. Then incorporate these eight elements into the play area.
1. A sense of whimsy
A single imaginative touch, whether it’s a built-in feature (like the Alice in Wonderland-inspired door shown here) or a temporary one (like wall decals) can take a playspace from ho-hum to magical. It’s the wow factor that draws children in and entices them to play.
Ideas for adding a whimsical touch:
- Creative wall decals
- Murals (hand-painted or decal-style)
- Creative ceiling treatment (a starry sky, wild wallpaper, painted stripes)
- Strands of twinkle lights
2. Plenty of comfortable floor space
Block structures, train tracks and toys all need floor space to be fully enjoyed and used. Uncovered hard flooring doesn’t make the most inviting space for floor play, and deep-pile rugs make building difficult (plus tiny toys and Lego can get lost in those tufts) — so opt for a big flat-weave rug or carpet tiles instead. Another benefit of carpet tiles, like the ones shown here, is that you can replace just one tile, rather than the entire rug, if it gets stained or damaged.
Bonus: Include a tumbling mat that can be pulled into the center of the floor, so active kids can get their energy out on rainy or snowy days.
3. Easily movable furniture
Smaller, lightweight pieces of furniture in a playroom make it easier to shift things on a whim … when you suddenly must make room for a fort, or a stage, or a giant block construction project, for instance. Soft chairs, poufs, stools and small tables can be endlessly rearranged — or even dispersed among other rooms when the day comes that you no longer need a dedicated playroom.
4. A few classics
Toys that have stood the test of time tend to be simple and open-ended, and to appeal to a wide age range of kids. These are the sort of toys that may require a bigger initial investment but tend to last far longer than the latest plastic games and gadgets.
Ideas for classic toys:
- Wooden blocks
- Play kitchen and food
- Dolls and stuffed animals
- Board games
- Building toys
- Dress-up clothes
5. A great big worktable
When kids are immersed in play, they need plenty of room to spread out, so choose the largest table your space can handle. Little ones can use it for spreading out art projects, and older kids can use it for building Lego structures, conducting science experiments and playing board games.
Bonus: Include a large roll of paper on or near the table to encourage creativity.
6. Self-serve art materials
When art supplies are invitingly arranged and within reach, children are far more likely to use them. Place a caddy on the table or on nearby open shelving, or bring in a wheeled cart to keep favorite art materials handy.
Ideas for stocking your art caddy:
- Washable colored markers
- Colored pencils
- Children’s safety scissors
- Washable glue sticks
- Googly eyes
- Found “treasures”
- White copy paper
- Construction paper
Bonus: If you have a prolific artist in the house, a drying rack can make a smart addition to the art area. Use it to keep all of those wet glue and paint masterpieces from taking over every available surface.
7. Flexible display space
Displaying children’s artwork gives kids a sense of ownership over their space, and shows that you value and support their work. Instead of hanging traditional frames, consider picture shelves, art clips and bulletin boards, which make it easy to quickly swap out artwork whenever the mood strikes.
Bonus: A chalkboard wall appeals to all ages, making it a wonderful addition to the playroom — you can even use it as an extra display space by taping up children’s art with colorful masking tape.
8. Activities tailored to your kids
Playspaces are not one-size-fits-all. So if your child prefers being active to sitting quietly and reading, it doesn’t make much sense to devote a large portion of the playroom to a quiet reading corner.
Playroom ideas for active kids:
- Climbing wall
- Loft playspace with rope ladder
- Performance stage
- Balance beam
- Tumbling mat