By Sara Eberle - Care.com Contributor
Every parent and nanny dreams of the ideal play space where kids can burn off energy, be messy and get loud – and yet there’s still lots of storage space and a separate area for peace and quiet.
To boost your imagination and inner DIY goddess (or the contractor’s), we talked with a master craftsman, interior design experts, decorators and popular home bloggers and came up with six amazing playroom ideas that are fabulous, functional and fun.
But first things first. You must de-clutter. Tip: Every expert starts with clearing out toys and games that are broken or kids have outgrown. Pass along and recycle as much as you can, but toss items beyond repair. Then sort remaining toys into categories, so you know how to factor storage into the final design.
Now, you’re ready to have some fun!
A MAGICAL HIDEAWAY
All kids dream of a secret tree house hideaway. Imagine that special bungalow inside your playroom. Chris Jones, of Kidtropolis (www.kidtropolisbuild.com ) in Vienna, Va., creates custom kid’s rooms and even brought a fantasy tree house playroom to life.
Can’t swing a mega playroom? Jones has ideas for designing on a budget. “Go to IKEA, Home Depot or Michaels, the big chains that sell finished furniture or supplies to create the room you want,” he says.
And, think outside the box. Consider what you can do with a cardboard boxes and paint. Consider a fort low to the ground. Call it a gingerbread house, a barn or a year-round haunted house.
Most kids play with Lego bricks on a coffee table, floor or other horizontal space. How about building vertically and connecting bridges from wall to wall.
At Cafe Boobah, a funky eatery in Brooklyn, N.Y. that was designed for children and their families, mini patrons love the vertical Lego wall (created by Lena Seow and Vrinda Khanna, in collaboration with Suzan Wines, co founder, I-Beam Architecture and Design).
You can easily achieve this awesome Lego aficionado arena in your home. Cover two adjoining walls from floor to ceiling with large green or blue Lego baseplates using sturdy builder’s glue. Organize Legos into multi-colored bins and let imaginations soar.
MODERN, COLORFUL PLAY CENTERS
“Parents want to get kids away from TV and into a playroom where they can use their imagination,” says Kate Jackson, of Kate Jackson Interior Designs ( www.katejacksondesign.com ) in Providence, R.I. “Themes depend on how many children there are, personal interests, gender and ages in the family.”
The trick is to use color to create different zones. Then accessorize. Consider hanging beads or grass skirts as “doors,” to section off a craft area from a creative play and dress-up area. Place bean bags and book bins in another corner to build a reading nook. And fill another section with mini trampolines, mats, a hanging swing, tunnels and jump ropes to create a place to burn off that endless energy. Then paint each area’s wall a different color to differentiate it from the last.
PLAYFUL TEXTURED WALLS
Similar to creating your zones, set up walls that have different purposes. One might be a cork board wall to pin up art projects, inspirational quotes and pictures. Another might be a wall you’ve created with white board paint or chalk board paint. Each provides a different look and feel to the room and a different purpose.
ECO-FRIENDLY “GREEN” ROOM
Creating an eco-friendly playroom is a popular movement that many moms are tackling. “Buy toys used, especially the big stuff,” says Amanda Hearn, a mom of three young children and creator of The Eco-Friendly Family blog ( http://theecofriendlyfamily.com/ ), who got all of her Legos secondhand.
For walls and supplies, Hearns suggests Mythic non-toxic paint or low VOC paint. Hearns loves modular non-toxic shelving and storage from Way Basics, makers of zBoard bookshelves and cube storage bins, which contain 99 percent post-consumer recycled paper, can be recycled and are lightweight and easy to install.
Another way to go green is to shop for fixtures at Habitat for Humanity ReStores . “This is great for families who are doing renovations,” Hearn says. “People donate used or new home supplies and you can buy them at local Habitat for Humanity ReStores.” (Think Goodwill, only for home furnishing supplies.)
Want another great idea? “Reuse old TV entertainment centers by turning them into play kitchens,” Hearns says (check out this picture). “Take out some of the components and get old-fashioned stove knobs to replace the existing ones. Be creative, resourceful and minimal for the best eco-friendly playroom.”
COZY BOOK NOOKS
Have kids who just want to get cozy? Make a Zen zone where kids can relax with their favorite books. Designer and blogger Julie Richards, of Shelter in Salem, Mass., recommends deep comfortable seating with storage underneath. Inspired by a House Beautiful picture, Richards suggests showing the book covers horizontally because so many covers have gorgeous illustrations and it will inspire kids to read them. Add finishing touches with stenciled book quotes or classic book characters.
The blog These Moments of Mine has a step-by-step guide on creating this type of shelving for a book nook.
Care.com is an online service that matches families with great caregivers for children, seniors, pets and more.