Designing outside the lines

Toying with playrooms

Story By Leslie T. Snadowsky

Indoor rock climbing walls, curvy slides, secret crawl spaces — you don’t need to go to an amusement park to enjoy these kid-friendly features. Nowadays you can incorporate all this and more in your youngster’s playroom. Igniting a child’s imagination has never been easier, or more fun for their parents, with these out-of-the-box design tips that will ensure your toy-laden tots are the most popular in the neighborhood.

It’s easy to get crafty when creating an art studio for your kids by going bold with color and wild with design. Add some whimsy with a utilitarian feature wall or a statement light fixture.

Arts & crafts

Whether your progeny’s artwork looks like Pop-Art or Picasso, an arts & crafts space within a playroom should lend itself to creativity and utility. For storage, incorporate color-coordinated bins, bookcases, cabinets and cubbies to house crayons, glitter, glues and paints. An art table and bench with storage options can help hide the chaotic mess when company comes, and an easy-to-clean wood or linoleum floor or a vibrant rug that can mitigate or disguise any damage from oopsies and spills, are other ways to delineate an art studio space. Display your child’s masterpieces up high on the walls as a perimeter around the room or hanging from the ceiling. And a modern-day must-have is a bold focal feature like a mural or a wall covered in Lego base plates or framed for a giant blackboard. Peel-and-stick chalkboard options or chalkboard paint won’t erase any chances for fun.

ABCs of design

Nothing engages a child’s mind faster than a good book, so when planning a playroom, create a nurturing reading nook. A real page-turning idea is to design a space that grows with your bookworm as they graduate from Dr. Seuss to Shakespeare. That means adding floating, decorative shelves to display toys and tomes and to conserve floor space for colorful pillows, comfortable bean bag chairs and fluffy carpets – ideal reading vehicles for any age. Plus, adding a desk can re-purpose a fanciful child’s library into a serious place to do homework.

Wow factor

Even if you’re working within the confines of a small space, every playroom can and should have a wow factor. Consider building around a theme, like a pirate’s ship with a rope bridge or a fairytale castle with a fancy throne. Suspend a swing or a disco ball. Add a ping pong table or install an indoor slide. A bookcase can display a tower of toys and games. And a teepee or fort adds a lot of aesthetic value while providing a fun place for your kid to hide away with their favorite stuffed animals. A pint-sized climbing wall makes a big impression in any playroom and can be painted or designed to fit any style. Install some monkey bars from the ceiling, or hang an hammock or a basketball hoop, and you’ll be voted the coolest parent on the planet.

Song & dance

Before your kid wins their Academy Award or goes out on tour to support your rock-star lifestyle, you need to provide them a place to hone their craft. A mini-stage in a playroom lets everyone know who the star is in the family, and it can be embellished with a marquee, a raised platform, lights and mics, musical instruments and sliding curtains to help them rehearse their bows and encore performances. Add some wall hooks, a deep cabinet or some wicker baskets, and convert this backstage area to a costume closet and a private place to practice behind-the-scenes quick changes.

Nap time

A playroom also can double as a dreamy destination for your kid to take a nap. No matter how much activity the room is geared to handle or how many toys it may contain, some simple window coverings or a light dimmer, a star projector for the ceiling, a stereo system to broadcast a little night music and a lavender-scented cuddly can go a long way when motivating kids to catch some zzzz’s in the middle of the day. A designated mat, tent or teepee will help do the trick, but daybeds with plush pillows and blankies will always come in handy for future sleepovers and movie marathons.

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