How to Create a Playroom That Appeals to Children and Adults (2023)


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Thanks to an awareness that design affects children’s development, playrooms are no longer ‘the worst room in the house.’ You may even want to hang out there.

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How to Create a Playroom That Appeals to Children and Adults (1)

By Tim McKeough

If you were a child again, what kind of playroom would you rather have: a basement filled with castoff furniture (because no one cares if you jump on that worn-out sofa), or a colorful room that celebrates toys and art, inviting you to climb up the walls?

It’s not hard to guess which one many parents have recently been choosing for their children.

“When I grew up, the playroom was always the worst room in the house, because there wasn’t much attention given to it,” said Karri Bowen-Poole, a former teacher who founded Smart Playrooms, a design firm in Rye, N.Y. “So it’s been incredible for me to see the transformative thinking that’s happened. Design does affect kids — how they feel about themselves, what they do and what we can get them to do, just by how we create a space.”

(Video) We Surprise Our Kid With a Playroom Makeover!

A thoughtfully designed playroom should be equally appealing to children and adults, said Anne Gillyard, an early-childhood development specialist who founded grOH! Playrooms, a design firm in Washington, D.C., with Jodi Arellano, a former teacher.

“One thing a lot of grown-ups feel when they walk into their children’s playroom is, ‘Oh, my God, I don’t want to be in here,’” Ms. Gillyard said. “But if we can create this space where the whole family — grown-ups and kids alike — feel welcome and want to spend time, then they’re more likely to use it, play in it, bond and just have this really rich relationship.”

So what makes for an extraordinary playroom? We asked designers for some tips on how to create one.


Have Fun With the Décor

If there is one room where you should feel free to play with color and pattern, the playroom is it.

“This is the spot where you can do anything,” said Susana Simonpietri, a partner at Chango & Co., a Brooklyn-based design firm that has attracted admirers on Instagram with photos of children’s rooms blasted with color and pattern.

Ms. Simonpietri loves using bold, graphic wallpaper in playrooms, and has installed patterns with vibrant diagonal yellow stripes, illustrations of animals and large-scale overlapping geometric shapes. For durability, she sometimes chooses a vinyl-based wallcovering, but in most cases, a high-quality paper wallcovering will work just fine, she said, especially if the room has wainscoting.

Some of her clients worry that they’ll tire of those eye-catching patterns or that the wallpaper will be damaged over time, Ms. Simonpietri said. But she reminds them that it can be replaced fairly easily.

“People think that wallpaper is this thing you have to love for the rest of your life, but it’s actually temporary,” she said. “You can go for it now and change it later.”


(Video) Kim Kardashian Reveals Kids' Playroom

Another option is to paint a mural or bright, solid colors on the walls and ceiling. The designers at grOH! Playrooms frequently design murals for walls and ceilings with motifs evoking mountains, rainbows and lily pads. Much like wallpaper, a mural may feel like a big decorative risk, but not if you remember that it can be painted over if you get tired of it.

Prepare the Floor

Hardwood, painted wood and wall-to-wall carpeting are all acceptable flooring choices for a playroom. But if you’re renovating and have the opportunity to try something new, Ms. Bowen-Poole recommended choosing a tough material like luxury vinyl tile (also known as LVT) or laminate.

“They’re just super easy to clean,” she said. “Pets, kids and markers barely leave a mark.”

Mary Flo Ouellette and Steven Santosuosso, the partners of Squarehouse Studios, a design firm in Somerville, Mass., like commercial-grade carpet tiles, like those from Flor. Not only are they easy to clean, but if you buy a few extra, it’s easy to replace individual tiles in the future. That way, Ms. Ouellette said, “you don’t have to worry about spills, paint and that kind of thing.”

Layered on top of the primary flooring, area rugs can add softness and help define sections of the playroom. They’re also easily replaced when they get worn or stained.

In active areas where there is the risk of a crash landing, Ms. Bowen-Poole likes to roll out a thick foam mat. And when there’s enough space, she sometimes builds a pit of foam cubes.

Install Friendly Furniture

To furnish a playroom, Ms. Simonpietri prefers long, low seating options with no sharp corners, because they’re just as good for headstands and somersaults as they are for lounging with a book. Sometimes she installs a low-slung sectional sofa. Other times, she uses French-mattress-style cushions on the floor, piling them with throw pillows in patterned fabrics.

Either way, she said, “you want something that’s really well cushioned,” to prevent injuries. And if you choose mattress-size floor cushions, she added, they can be pulled out into the room for sleepovers.


(Video) Organizing a Playroom for Triplets with The Home Edit | Master the Mess EP 4

Tables can also be designed to move. Jen Talbot, an interior designer in Chicago who began her career designing children’s spaces, often uses work tables on casters in playrooms.

“We do a lot of kids’ tables on wheels, so you can move things around,” Ms. Talbot said. When the table is in the middle of the room, it can be used for art projects, games and puzzles, she said, “but then it can move out of the way if they want to build some huge block structure.”

Create a Toy Hub

Storage is critical if you want to keep a playroom from becoming a chaotic mess. And the most vital piece, Ms. Gillyard said, is a storage wall she calls a “toy hub.”

This could be an inexpensive unit from Ikea or an elaborate set of built-ins, she said, but her favorite designs include cubbies that keep different types of toys separate. “It really helps kids know where things go back,” she said.


Smaller toys can be collected in bins or baskets that are stored in the cubbies. “Larger or strangely shaped toys can go on bins on the floor,” Ms. Gillyard said.

She also suggested having a set number of bins in the playroom and putting surplus toys in deep storage. “We often get the question, ‘Well, where is everything else?’” Ms. Gillyard said. “Our answer to that is toy rotation, with a library of toys located somewhere else.”

One advantage of this system, she noted, is that children often find old toys that have been in storage for a while enticing all over again.

If you’ll be adding built-in shelving to the room, Ms. Ouellette recommended keeping it fairly plain rather than opting for a juvenile design, so it can be used as book storage in the future. “If you’re going to do built-ins, and put that much work into a space,” she said, “you need to ask how it’s going to work for you in five to 10 years.”


Add an Art Station

Beyond toys, an area for making art is a popular playroom feature. Depending on the shape of the room, a table and chairs could be set in an alcove or nook, or at one end of the room.

Walls near the table can play a supporting role. One or a few walls can be covered with chalkboard paint or a dry-erase coating to allow children to draw on the walls. Ms. Simonpietri has installed large bulletin boards. Ms. Talbot once strung a line with binder clips to create a place for displaying art.

For one playroom, Squarehouse Studios created a multifunctional wall by mounting floor-to-ceiling metal panels that work with magnets but are also coated with chalkboard paint. Then the designers added holders for rolls of paper that could be unfurled for painting.

(Video) Playroom Makeover into a KID OFFICE!!


Let Them Swing, Jump and Climb

If you have the space, you can add features that make your playroom feel like an indoor playground.

When Ms. Bowen-Poole started designing playrooms, she focused on toy storage and art stations, she said. But today she often looks for opportunities to introduce equipment that focuses on gross motor skills, including monkey bars, rock-climbing holds and swings.

“We can use the walls and ceilings, and have all these activities that meet their sensory needs, because they can swing, jump and get vestibular input,” she said. When she couldn’t find the products she was looking for, Ms. Bowen-Poole co-founded a second company, Project Playroom, to make them, and now sells the pieces to other designers and to individuals.


Children will likely tire of having just a few bars or climbing holds, she said, so when she installs them, she tries to create a circuit: for instance, a wall of climbing holds that leads to a run of ceiling-mounted monkey bars that leads to a suspended rope.

Just remember that such play equipment needs to be securely mounted into a material stronger than drywall. “You need some form of blocking, unless you have a concrete ceiling,” Ms. Simonpietri said, referring to solid wood installed between ceiling joists that will accept mounting screws.

Ms. Simonpietri is also a fan of swings and suspended chairs in playrooms. “But we definitely crashed a couple of them when we first installed them,” she said. “That’s how we learned.”

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Continue reading the main story


What is the most important thing to consider when planning the design of the playroom? ›

Space planning is the most important factor. There must be sufficient space for storage and space for activity. In terms of storage, you can consider a mixture of built-in storage and ready-made shelves and cabinets that are accessible and within the reach of your child.

How do you create a playroom that will grow with your child? ›

6 Tips for Creating a Playroom That Will Grow With Your Child
  1. Reading Nook. With all of those books, a comfy area to settle in and read is important. ...
  2. Pictures. Picture frames are a great way to surround your child with people who love him. ...
  3. Vinyl Wall Decals. ...
  4. Hanging Art.
Jan 26, 2015

What should a playroom include? ›

  • Storage. No playroom is complete without at least 10,000 baskets! ...
  • Comfortable Flooring. This is something that didn't even occur to me before I had Nathan. ...
  • Display for Kids Artwork. ...
  • Table + Chairs. ...
  • Cozy Reading Nook. ...
  • Hideaway Spot. ...
  • Dress-up Clothes.
Mar 30, 2018

How do you make a playroom fun? ›

Try to choose furniture that will fit both and that will last through developing and re-decorating!
  1. Display fun artwork. ...
  2. Enlarge the feel of a small playroom. ...
  3. Include a homework hub. ...
  4. Add a 'chill-out' chair. ...
  5. Make it multi-functional with a daybed. ...
  6. Introduce natural texture. ...
  7. Fill up the space with fun fabrics.
May 30, 2022

What is the purpose of a playroom? ›

Playrooms create a haven for kids to enjoy within your home; a place they can feel relaxed, at home and proud of when their friends visit to play. And, having an entire room dedicated to toys makes you a very cool parent.

When designing a room What are the most important factors for you? ›

Three factors that should influence your interior design
  • Space and shape. The first factor you should consider when choosing to redecorate your home is the shape and size of the space you're trying to redesign. ...
  • Light and colour. ...
  • Atmosphere and aesthetic.
Apr 16, 2018

How many toys should be in a playroom? ›

Depending on the age of your child, we've found around 8-10 total toys or activities in a playroom to be the perfect number for a toy rotation. If you have another 10 or so in storage that will plenty for a toy rotation, as you don't need to rotate every toy each time you swap them out.

What are three factors when setting up an environment for play? ›

Factors to Consider When Designing a Play Environment
  • Think Variety. One of your first missions regarding playground design should be to incorporate as much variety into the space as possible. ...
  • Consider Everyone. ...
  • Design Natural Boundaries. ...
  • Take Advantage of Your Opportunities.

How do I build a play area in my living room? ›

If you have a small living room, using furniture to separate the spaces can be a great way to create a playroom area. Use a large piece of furniture, like a couch or armchair, to section off the space. This will give your kids their own place to play without all their stuff spilling into the adult space.

How do I get the most of a small playroom? ›

A Few Key Tips for Creating a Kids Playroom Design in a Shared Small Space Are:
  1. Utilize vertical space by adding storage on the wall such as book ledges, shelves, wall bins, etc.
  2. Choose pieces of furniture that are designed for small spaces. ...
  3. Pick a clear element to add furniture or storage without adding much visually.
Oct 20, 2015

What makes a playroom Montessori? ›

“A Montessori playroom is a carefully designed child's environment that encourages independence and concentration. It is a clean, simple playing space with a carefully selected, limited number of age-appropriate toys.”

What are the 5 areas of play? ›

Children learn and develop through different types of play.
  • Physical play. Physical play can include dancing or ball games. ...
  • Social play. By playing with others, children learn how to take turns, cooperate and share. ...
  • Constructive play. ...
  • Fantasy play. ...
  • Games with rules.

Are playrooms a good idea? ›

It's a great setup for families with multiple children, as it encourages them to play together, and the parents can supervise them more easily. However, it might not be the best idea for families where's a big age gap between children.

What is the ideal playroom size? ›

There is no ideal size, however, if space allows it is recommended to go for at least 8 by 8 foot. Another great idea for your toddler is a reading nook. A nook takes little space and is the perfect place to chill after running around all day.

How do you make a playroom safe? ›

Five Tips to Create a Safe Playroom
  1. Choose the right material. ©Shutterstock. ...
  2. Choose the right furniture size. ©Shutterstock. ...
  3. Choice the right accessories. ©Shutterstock. ...
  4. Layout the playroom correctly. ©Shutterstock. ...
  5. Consider toy Storage. ©Shutterstock.
Jul 10, 2020

How do you show kids art in playroom? ›

Art clips are great in a playroom. Hang them low enough that your kids can reach them, that way they can curate their own gallery and decide just what pieces to put on display next. These are a sleek alternative to the art clips. You can line up as many as you need to fill a wall, and even do several rows of them.

How do you organize and declutter a playroom? ›

8 Ways to Declutter Your Child's Room
  1. Organize with Storage Bins.
  2. Maximize Cabinets and Shelf Space.
  3. Rotate Toys for Variety.
  4. Donate Toys.
  5. Look for Space-Saving Toys.
  6. Schedule Clean-Ups.
  7. Keep the Floor Clear.
  8. Use the Walls.

What is the role of the educator in the playroom? ›

Typically referred to as learning stories, they require teachers to observe and document children's play experiences, capture student voice, identify the learning that is occurring as the child plays, and provide feedback to the child about their strengths, interests, developing knowledge, and key competencies.

Why is play and stimulation important? ›

Play improves the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and young people. Through play, children learn about the world and themselves. They also learn skills they need for study, work and relationships such as: confidence.

What is the importance of having storage area in the playroom? ›

A storage area makes it possible to create collections of materials and props around specific themes and to build those themes into the curriculum at appropriate times during the year. Storage also keeps children safe by ensuring that dangerous or hazardous materials are inaccessible.

What makes a room appealing? ›

Main living areas should offer comfort: To appeal to buyers instantly, create family and living rooms that look like you want to stay awhile and enjoy the home. Comfortable couches with fluffed up accent pillows, and conversational areas are ideal. Keep area rugs under coffee tables and in front of couches.

What are the 5 main design factors? ›

They discover new goals and discern what matters to them.
  • Connectedness: The experience should connect to the person.
  • Coherence: The experience should make sense.
  • Purpose: The experience should lead to a goal.
  • Resonance: The experience should feel right.
  • Significance: The experience should matter.
Jul 1, 2019

What is the 20 toy rule? ›

It was with that philosophy in mind that I said, “Buddy, we are going to get rid of some things today. We can throw some things away and give some things away, but at the end of it all, you are only going to have 20 toys left.” We called it The 20-Toy Rule.

How do you organize a playroom with a lot of toys? ›

9 Steps to Organize Your Playroom
  1. Invest in a storage system (like the Closet Maid 6-cube Organizer)
  2. Use the right storage bins.
  3. Keep messy toys out of reach.
  4. Try a toy rotation.
  5. Set rules.
  6. Teach your kids to help.
  7. Do small pickups frequently.
  8. Declutter often.
Aug 2, 2021

Should playroom have a couch? ›

What furniture should every playroom have? A comfy sofa or lounge chair is a must as it's a great place to sit and read a book together…or you might just need a place to sit and take a breather while your kids play! Rugs, storage, and tables are also great additions (more details the following tips!).

What are the three unique features of play? ›

Characteristics of play
  • Active. During active play, children use their bodies and minds in play by interacting with the environment, materials and other people.
  • Adventurous and risky. ...
  • Communicative. ...
  • Enjoyable. ...
  • Involved. ...
  • Meaningful. ...
  • Sociable and interactive. ...
  • Symbolic.
Dec 8, 2015

How do you create a play environment? ›

Be resourced with interesting open-ended toys and resources to look at, touch and explore. Support and enhance the play opportunities of all children, boys as well as girls. Have resources stored at a height where children can see and access them. Make good use of mirrors to create interesting environments to explore.

How do you create an enabling play environment? ›

To create an enabling environment, childcare professionals must consider not only the physical environment indoors and outdoors but also the emotional environment, recognising the significance of parent-practitioner relationships and how safe and at home the children feel within the setting.

What are the benefits of a Montessori playroom? ›

Montessori playrooms are amazing playing spaces for children. They provide a simple, clean, fun environment for kids to learn while they play. If done right, a Montessori playroom will help your child improve their concentration skill and start gaining independence from an early age.

What are the 5 major areas in a Montessori prepared environment classroom? ›

Take a look at the five areas that you'll find in a Montessori classroom.
  • The Language Area. In the language area of the classroom, your child will begin learning about letters, phonics sounds, and reading. ...
  • The Sensorial Area. ...
  • The Math Area. ...
  • The Cultural Studies Area. ...
  • The Practical Life Area.
Sep 29, 2017

How to build a Montessori playroom? ›

Montessori playroom essentials
  1. Choose a quiet, open space. You'll need an open space that is safe and open, encouraging your child to explore, learn, and engage. ...
  2. Add furniture. Once you know where to build the playroom, it's time to add furniture. ...
  3. Encourage physical activity. ...
  4. Make it cozy. ...
  5. Add toys. ...
  6. Keep it organized.
Feb 6, 2022

How do you engage children in play? ›

Tips and tricks for engaging your child in play
  1. Start with what your child loves to do. ...
  2. Show what an unfamiliar toy does and how it can be used. ...
  3. Praise and encourage any responses you get from your child. ...
  4. Alternate sit-down, structured play with more active , free play.

What are the six learning areas found in the playroom? ›

The early childhood centre playroom is divided into various play areas catering to a variety of learning opportunities. Namely; fantasy play, block-building, manipulative play and educational games, sensory play, a book corner, a science and mathematics area, as well as art and writing area.

What are the key principles of play? ›

Play is a process that is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. That is, children and young people determine and control the content and intent of their play, by following their own instincts, ideas and interests, in their own way for their own reasons.

Where should a playroom be? ›

Young children should have a playroom that is close to the center of the home, where parents can always hear what is going on. The youngest of children, of course, should never be left unattended in a playroom, no matter where it is located.

What age do kids stop playing on playsets? ›

How long do kids play with playsets? According to the feedback we've received from our customers, Rainbow playsets are used for an average of 12 years by children. Outdoor playsets are one play option that have lasting power.

What is a playroom called? ›

A recreation room (also known as a rec room, rumpus room, play room, playroom, games room, or ruckus room) is a room used for a variety of purposes, such as parties, games and other everyday or casual activities.

What color should a playroom be? ›

Bright colors are best left for the playroom. Yellow, for instance, is a cute, upbeat color, but the lively daytime effect it gives off might disrupt sleep patterns for your kids. Instead, you could consider a pale, yellow accent color to create a bright, airy effect.

What can you see in a playroom list? ›

42 Toys and Things in Your Child's Playroom
  • Sofa, loveseat, chairs, stools, bench.
  • Decorative pillows, throws, poufs.
  • Ottoman, beanbags, floor pillows.
  • Writing desk, game table & chairs.
  • Armoire, TV cabinet, TV, cable box.
  • Game console, DVD & CD player.
  • Video games and accessories, DVDs & CDs.
  • Other electronics & accessories.

How do I arrange my play area? ›

9 Steps to Organize Your Playroom
  1. Invest in a storage system (like the Closet Maid 6-cube Organizer)
  2. Use the right storage bins.
  3. Keep messy toys out of reach.
  4. Try a toy rotation.
  5. Set rules.
  6. Teach your kids to help.
  7. Do small pickups frequently.
  8. Declutter often.
Aug 2, 2021

How do you sort toys in a playroom? ›

10 Ideas for Amazing Playroom Organization
  1. Declutter Old, Broken Toys. ...
  2. Choose Clear Bins for Toy Organization. ...
  3. Create “Homes” for Their Favorite Toys. ...
  4. Use Removable Labels. ...
  5. Have a Plan for Storing Small Pieces. ...
  6. Create a Playroom Library. ...
  7. Choose Kid-Friendly Playroom Storage. ...
  8. Store Messy Things Out of Reach.
Apr 19, 2018

What should be in a Montessori playroom? ›

What is a Montessori playroom?
  • A limited number of toys that promote engagement more than entertainment.
  • Well-organized, orderly spaces with toy storage.
  • Open space to explore and move.
  • A cozy space to help children feel comfortable.
  • Low shelving to display things nicely at a child's level.
  • Variety of activities.
Feb 6, 2022

How do you create a play space in a living room? ›

If you have a small living room, using furniture to separate the spaces can be a great way to create a playroom area. Use a large piece of furniture, like a couch or armchair, to section off the space. This will give your kids their own place to play without all their stuff spilling into the adult space.

How do you zone a playroom? ›

How can I create zones? Creating zones doesn't have to be complicated. Using baskets, boxes, areas within a room – label with what the zone is (a picture label works really well with younger children), and make each place accessible to the child so that they can easily get what they want and put it away at the end.

How do you tidy a playroom? ›

10 tips for keeping children's toys tidy
  1. Find a place for everything. ...
  2. Opt for attractive toy storage. ...
  3. Make sure big toys are attractive. ...
  4. Cute toys can be left out on display too. ...
  5. Create a place for toys in every room. ...
  6. Have regular clear outs. ...
  7. Look for toys that double up as furniture. ...
  8. Rotate toys.
Jun 23, 2016

How do you organize too many toys? ›

It is the parent or caregiver's responsibility to pare things down from time to time, for everyone's sanity.
  1. Get Rid of "Busy Toys" ...
  2. Pass On Contraptions. ...
  3. Give Away Things for Younger Children. ...
  4. Eliminate Duplicates. ...
  5. Display The Good Stuff. ...
  6. Limit the Number of Toys. ...
  7. Rotate For Variety.


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