Setting up an indoor playroom can be a real time and sanity saver. Not only does it give your children somewhere to play independently, but it takes the pressure – and mess – away from your main living spaces. And, of course, knowing that your little ones are safely occupying themselves will free you up to do other things around the home.
Indoor playrooms should be all about fun; think cheery colour schemes, robust, kid-friendly finishes, and plenty of well-planned storage so that toys can be found and put away in a flash.
The first step in any playroom design is to make it child-safe. Banish any sharp corners, fragile decorations, dangling cords, and cover all power sockets. Also, make sure that any large storage pieces in the indoor playroom, such as bookcases or chests of drawers, are firmly bracketed to the wall.
Unleash your child’s imagination in an indoor playroom that’s designed for fun; think bold, bright hues on the walls, decorative wall stickers, and festive and whimsical decorations from the ceiling or walls. Give the playroom some “wow” factor with special touches such as a wall covered with chalkboard paint, a bank of child-safe plexiglass mirrors for dressing up fun, an indoor playhouse, or a swing suspended from the ceiling.
Inject some of your child’s personality on the space by hanging their artwork on the walls and displaying their colourful craft projects on shelves.
So what makes a truly successful playroom that kids actually want to spend time in? The best playrooms are designed to appeal to the interests of the children who use them, with separate zones for all their favourite pastimes.
For very young children, this usually means a mixture of different zones for floor play, drawing, building and flicking through books.
With older kids, you might consider adding a long bench for Lego construction or arts and crafts, a display area for finished projects, a piano or music corner, a reading nook, or a tiled area for painting.
If grown-ups will be using the playroom too, incorporate a small sofa or a couple of armchairs so there’s somewhere comfortable to sit.
Little ones spend much of their playtime on the floor, so aim for maximum floor space and a minimal amount of furniture in the playroom. Look for flexible pieces that are easy to stack away, such as stackable chairs and folding tables, beanbags and lots of comfy floor cushions. A sofa is a good idea, particularly if your children plan to watch television or play video games in here, but choose a small one that won’t swallow precious floor space.
Furniture that double-duties is another great space saver, such as a storage ottoman or a toy box that doubles as a craft table or seating. A low-level table and chairs is perfect for little artists or builders, and won’t take up too much space.
Remember that any furniture in a playroom is likely to receive a fair battering, so choose pieces that are sturdy and built to last.
When it comes time to decorate the playroom with paint, flooring and fabrics, choose ones that are tough, washable and forgiving.
For walls, it’s best to choose a wipeable paint finish, such as semi gloss or low sheen. Look out for the new low tox types that won’t fill the room with nasty chemicals. If you’re the creative type, consider painting a fantasy mural across one wall to encourage hours of imaginative play.
If you love the look of wallpaper, again, choose a wipeable type or seek out one that actually encourages your kids to draw on the walls, with empty frames or cartoon bubbles for them to fill.
When it comes to fabrics, choose robust and washable materials such as denim or sturdy cotton in forgiving colourways that won’t show every scrap of dirt – darker neutrals, patterns and stripes all work well.
Flooring should be warm and comfortable enough for hours of happy floor play. Lay a fun, patterned rug over hard tiles or wooden floors, or choose cosy wall-to-wall carpeting in a sturdy loop or cut pile that won’t require too much maintenance. Other flooring materials to consider include rubber, lino and cork.
While playrooms and mess tend to go hand in hand, having an organised storage system will allow the kids to find their toys quickly and tidy them away at the end of the day. Take a good look at the room’s existing storage and see whether it could be improved with more shelves, a fitted bookcase or additional small storage.
Most indoor playrooms require a mixture of different storage types – cupboards for boxed games and sets, shelves for books and display, and smaller storage such as plastic tubs, stackable boxes and baskets for all those little bits and pieces.
Use the walls for extra storage space by hanging toy baskets or hooks from the wall, or suspending hanging baskets from the ceiling. And make sure it’s all properly labeled to make packing away at the end of the day a breeze.
Kids’ tastes and interests change quickly, so aim for a playroom design and layout that’s flexible enough to grow with your child. Schedule regular clear-outs throughout the year to get rid of any toys that are past their use-by date, and be open minded about altering the layout to fit their latest passions. Those things worth investing in – decent storage and quality wooden furniture – should see the kids right through childhood, particularly if you’re willing to use them in new ways, or even in different rooms, as they get older.