Ideas for playroom and related storage?

erosenstJune 13, 2006

I had originally posted this on the Home Decorating forum, but someone wisely suggested that this might be a better place for this post.

We're in the process of building a new house. We will have a finished basement, but at some point I realized we really hadn't created a place for our two year old to play, do crafts, etc.

The good news is that we have a bonus room that's turning out to have much more functional space than I had thought it would, although it's somewhat strangely shaped. If it helps, it's 30' 10" long, 11'7" wide (15'8" at the wider part) and slopes down to 4' on both of the long sides. (Sorry the picture is so blurry - not sure why that is.)

I'd love to hear (and better yet see!) ideas for storage, wall decorations, flooring, etc. My very early thoughts are to paint, or just polyurethane, the floor. I read something a long time ago that's stuck with me about someone who didn't put down anything when their kids did craft projects - the paint, etc. that ended up on the floor became part of the decor. I think that could be kind of fun. (It also might drive me nuts - I'm still deciding. Thoughts are welcome.) We already have a place for "hanging out" and neater playing (games, toys, etc), so I'm not trying to duplicate that.

I also have always liked the idea of chalkboard paint - and think that would be fun on one of the walls - maybe the one around the window.

Lastly, there are no closets in the bonus room, at least as of now. We also will need storage in the finished part of the basement for toys. Would love to see your storage solutions.

Thanks in advance for your help -


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About that chalkboard paint. I don't have it. But I've heard it's really hard to paint over.

But I was at a friend's house recently and loved some of her playroom ideas. Instead of painting the wall with chalkboard paint, she painted large sheets of steel (Home Depot) with chalkboard paint. Then she framed then and hung them on the wall. They are maybe 5 ft. long, 4 ft. high, and there are 3 in a row. Now not only can the kids draw on it, it's also magnetic. And being framed just dresses it up a little, adds color contrast to the wall.

If I could have my way, I'd want sky lights in the ceiling for lots of natural light while doing projects.

Saw something on DIY last weekend, cork flooring. Looked like a good idea for a room like that. However, I have no idea what the cost range was. They talked about how durable it is and that it absorbs sound well.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 1:53PM
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I'd probably take the pie shaped end of the room, run a wall/doors straight across and make it the closet, leaving the rest of the room rectangular...

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 1:59PM
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We have a set of the following in our basement for our (now) 6 year-old:

They are nice, because they are very versatile. You can make them tall and narrow, short and wide, etc. I believe have have 2 cubes high by 5 cubes wide. We also have two of them arranged with the opening at the top to store balls, etc. Another one is two wide to store longer game boxes. Very simple and inexpensive - you can get them at Target, Sam's Club, and I'm sure most department or hardware stores.

While we have it under exercise equipment, I can see interlocking foam flooring as being nice in a play room with a little one. We bought something similar to this at Sam's Club:

It comes in 2x2 squares with I believe 8 squares per package, and around $18 per package.

Both of the linked images are just examples that I was able to find pictures of on the web. They aren't the actual products that we own personally. You'll get the idea...

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 2:09PM
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A thought w/the chalkboard paint. When you erase, the dust gets all over the floors, so you'd want a lip so-to-speak. And being by a window, the dust would be an issue. I agree w/putting it on a board. There's also some very thin, smooth board at Home Depot in the cut sections that work for this as well.

When doing kids areas, they always say create nooks for certain things. Reading, crafting, etc. Create them by putting bookcases back to back.

You could use a counter top attached to the wall as long as you wish and use it for crafts. Make it just high enough so you can add some drawers underneath. Or create an island desk w/storage underneath, just like a built in kitchen island. Make the craft area it's own nook.

My dd has a lot of large items. I always thought it best to use large buckets on the floor, the same size then add a big, long shelf over it. They can slide out the buckets and put things on top of the shelf that wouldn't go in a bucket. That could go the long way up against the wall.

Also, if your child likes books, they say to buy some rain gutter and attach it to the wall, so books can face out. It engages the child more. This w/a bean bag chair in another nook.

I spent money on a child's table a nice one..about $125 w/a chair that you can get on a child furniture site. They come round or square or rectangular. They also are adjustable in height. That was one of the best buys I made. Durable and a great writing top.

Get a canopy (some come in fish or white netting or garden) and make a fun little hideaway in a corner.

But by all means I'd spend money on durability. Things that don't tip or bend or sag. Otherwise you're replacing and tending to boo-boos.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 3:20PM
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Am I the only one for which the playroom concept hasn't worked well? In our last house, we had a daylight basement and I painted murals on the walls, made a castle playhouse in a corner and put a swing up in the beam. They did love the swing, but if I wasn't down there, the toys just migrated right upstairs and they were with me.

For flooring, I would look at some of Tarkett's no glue vinyl. It has a cushion and has the roads for driving cars. I put the glow in the dark stars floor in my youngest's bedroom. Spills wipe easily and it is easy to change as they grow. I chose this for my oldest two son's bedrooms and it looks like punched metal. Very cool.

Remember that if the toys are all over the house (basement, other rooms for games) you will end up chasing them all over the house. I would want to consolidate storage. I really prefer laundry baskets for most toy storage. It allows for easy change and the dump factor is good, while not being deep like a tradional toy chest.

My youngest is now 6, but when they were smaller I kept on of those bigger Little Tyke climbing things in the room. See if you can hang a swing from a ceiling beam. By far the best indoor toy. You just have to keep "stuff" out of the swing zone.

The blackboard paint sounds fun. You can also leave the windows bare and use glass markers which just wash off. I have found child sized tables don't always allow for enough room for projects. I have a round coffee table which has small chairs I've picked up different places. If I was going to do it again, I would buy a kitchen table at the thrift store and cut down the legs to use as a craft table. It would wipe easier than my coffee table. If you do use any type of bookcases, I wouldn't have them project out from the wall. Be sure and attach them to the wall with L brackets to eliminate the tip factor if someone decides to climb. And mine always have climbed.

I made our inside playhouse out of a 4' x 8' piece of plywood. Cut in half and put at a 90 degree angle with L bracket, it went right into a corner. Since I had 2 boys at that time, I cut it so it was shaped like a castle and painted the wall corner to match. They would crawl in there with pillows.

At two, I can't think your child will spend much time in there alone, so be prepared to make a corner for yourself with a rocker or comfortable chair. I would also just pick an easy decorating theme. Primary colors is the easiest. So much stuff is really cute, but they grow very fast. A four year old just isn't thrilled with those bunnies like they are at two. I've seen the splattered paint floor idea. You have to leave the plywood subfloor bare and paint in and seal. I wouldn't care for it unless the paint splatters were planned.

As part of the decorating, I would pick a spot for a growth chart. Put in on a board or something, so in case you do end up moving you don't have to cut a chunck of the drywall out. I knew someone who actually ended up having to do that because she couldn't leave the pencil marks behind. I had to paint over ours when we moved. Sigh.

Have fun!


    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 6:28PM
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Wow - thanks for all the great ideas! The sheets painted with chalkboard paint are a great idea - and I could potentially figure out a way to frame them to help with the dust issues. The window won't be an issue, as I have terrible allergies and never open the window - but just erasing the chalk will make its own mess over time.

Shelland - interesting that you like that storage system. We have one in the garage, and it's constantly coming apart - but I think it's because DH doesn't put appropriate things in it. (Large detergent bottle on the top - not so good.) Potentially, DD could be "trained" better. :)

I really like the countertop idea - something I hadn't focused on at all. I might even keep it open underneath, so that I could just store bins, buckets, etc as her needs/equipment change.

Quiltglo - glad to hear someone who has seen the "splattered" floor IRL, even if you didn't like it. As I said, I've gone back and forth on that one. Also agree that a two year old won't be in there alone...and I might wait to do anything in there until she's older, and I know more of what she likes to do, what we don't have space for, etc. Having said that - a lot of these ideas will transfer easily to the basement, where most of her toys will be kept. (And where there's a comfortable couch, music, etc for me to hang out on while watching her!)

Thanks for the ideas - and keep them coming!


    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 7:41PM
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Emily, I was going to mention, but decided just to be quiet, that you might really want to use the space for yourself. In our other home, I set up the playroom, had rooms for all of the kids, husband had a home office space, the family room.....and there was no private space for me!

When we moved to this home, I could have easily set up my "room" for a family room or playroom. It's right off the kitchen and kind of long and narrow. But I decided that my kids weren't hurting to just use the living room and their bedrooms for play areas, as well as outside. I LOVE having a private area. I have one end set up for reading and the other end has a table for sewing and crafts. The kids are in here with me all of the time, but it's MY space. My books, my fabric, my craft stuff, mine, mine, mine!!!!! LOL

When I had one child it didn't seem like such a big deal. Now, with four, I really have to carve out time for myself and having this little area to myself really is special. I don't have to wait until everyone is in bed to feel like I can grab some "me" time. I just come in here.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 3:49AM
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Quiltglo, although it has gone in spurts....a playroom. I really use a playroom as a single place to put everything as opposed to a play area. Unless you have a very convenient space that no one can see...not down the hall or out of the loop, they work. But kids like to be in the loop in the main areas, so ours doesn't work well except for the fact that she knows that ALL her toys go in one room.

A friend of mine has a playroom off her kitchen that isn't seen by any other room except the kitchen. It's garage-size and completely fantastic. Location, location, location!!!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 11:21PM
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No joke about location. Our old home was a traditional 1970's floorplan, so our dining/living room was L shaped with the kitchen in the other corner. On that floor, there was no way to hide anything. Hauling the stuff to an area on a different floor was time consuming. With kid #2, I would spend time there sewing. By the time I hit kid #4, I just lined the living room with laundry baskets for toys and turned the playroom over to the teens.

If I could design a home for young families, I would have a space like you mentioned off the kitchen, but with the ability to close it off to contain the noise if needed. I would have the plumbing back to the kitchen plumbing so I could put in a half-bath with one of those little toilets like you see in pre-schools and a sink a foot lower than normal. I looked at doing that for our old bathroom, but again, I would have ended up running up and down too many stairs. And by that time we had too many family members who no longer needed a "little" potty and the plumbing would not take a lower sink level.

When we moved to this house and I had made the decision we wouldn't have a dedicated playroom, we then looked critically at the toys. It really made me rather sad to realize the toys I thought my kids should have really weren't the toys they played with. Mine are outside a great deal so more emphasis was needed for bike storage and things like skates. Room in the backyard for the ice rink, rather than a playhouse. That kind of thing. With toy storage set up in their rooms, we now purge the toys much more regularly. But, why doesn't anyone like the trains? I can't figure that one out and haven't been able to let those go.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 5:06PM
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We are in the process of designing a bonus room over our garage that we are planning on having as a playroom. For flooring I am hoping to do wood planks painted white, kind of like an ourdoor porch might look, and expect to not get upset from paint, playdoh and other spills on it. I haven't figured out the walls exactly, but I'm thinking a nice soothing yellow might be fun to kind of try to keep the 'porch-like' feel. Unfortunately there will only be a small amount of windows.

I haven't really figured out how storage is going to work, though we won't have any built in closets. I might just get drawers and shelves like the elfa ones we just got for the kids bedroom closet. I don't think I'm going to worry about storage until we figure out exactly what we will have space for in that room. I definately plan on putting the kids craft table and a glider in there for me.

Good luck with your house.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 12:13AM
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Gloria...I won't let go of our Thomas the Train at all. My dd drags it out every now and then, but trains are one of those things that require the all the right tables.

At the stores..notice they are on a nice table (we have a Nilo Table), but they have all the expensive, awesome pieces and are nailed down so they don't move. I think that's a big trick to it. My dd gets annoyed because they come apart and it's hard to play w/on the floor, because to get from one place to another you have to step over it if it's on the floor.

And wouldn't your bathroom be fun? If I could have I would have done the same exact thing. My friend's playroom used to be a garage attached to the kitchen and it's enclosed. But yep...needs that cute bathroom you're talking about.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 11:39AM
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For trains ....

We used a 4x6 plywood spraypainted green and brown (randomly) and built several really really cool train track set ups. When we found one that was a keeper, I glued down the track. We had some extra track left over for building around the plywood -- use a down ramp to the plywood at the edge and the other track lines right up.

This train set served my kids daily and our playgroup of 12-15 kids several times monthly. We recently pulled up the track and tossed the plywood as we don't have the kind of long term storage it requires.

But, it was fun while it lasted!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 12:51AM
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I use to have a playroom in a spare bedroom. The best think I liked about that room was the door to close it off when I didn't want to see the mess!!!LOL!! We had a huge teacher's chalkboard on one wall- which the kids loved. A bookshelf, beanbags, chairs and little table and the closet was also used for storage. I think the key is to make it real colorful and functional with easy access bins and shelves. Although the kids love to take everything down. I know mothers who put fewer toys out so the kids will play with what is there. When I taught nursery school we use to set up play stations which helps. A puppet show area or cool fort is always fun. I always admired those huge wood boxes on wheels for storage. If I had it to do over again I would probably consider those or the colorful collapsible ones out now. (I have seen laundry baskets that are collapsible maybe they would work)

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 1:51PM
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we likek spreading the train tracks all across the living room floor. They stay together pretty well, even if they're on the rug (low pile, so it works).

The building of the track is what's most fun lately--when DS was younger, he just wanted to run the train around the tracks and I had to beat Dad off to keep him from modifying the track while DS wanted to play.

But lately I think DS would much prefer the challenge of building the track.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 6:20PM
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