We're sharing expert advice for designing an exceptional play space that your little ones will love.
Photography: Jane Beiles1 of 13
A well-designed playroom does more than just provide your kids with a safe space to horse around in—it should engage and inspire them, too. "A playroom is for both children and adults to enjoy," says Denise Davies, CEO and founder of D2 Interieurs. "You don't have to sacrifice style in order to have a functional play space." Karri Bowen-Poole, the founder of Smart Playrooms and someone who regularly collaborates with Davies to design both commercial and residential spaces for kids, adds, "A well-designed playroom needs to be able to grow with the kids but also appeal to them in the present. That's why it's important to keep the space gender neutral and appealing to kids of all ages."
So, what elements constitute a fun but functional play space? For starters, Bowen-Poole says you'll want to make sure there's "lots of comfortable floor space, ideally cushioned with a soft, flat weave rug or carpet tiles, so your kids have plenty of room to safely roam and play." Once you've padded the playroom floor, you can get creative by layering in colorful (and durable) furnishings, interactive toys, and sensory-rich nooks. "Really think about how your child will use the room and create specific zones throughout the space," Davie explains. "Have a space for arts and crafts, a zone for building blocks, a physical play area, and one for pretend play."
Both of our experts also stress the value of refraining from decorating around trends and themes, such as cartoons and movie characters. "Themes are dated and outgrown quickly," says Davies. "We like to design spaces that kids can grow into. Opt for furniture and indoor-outdoor fabrics that can be recovered (or replaced) easily, like peel and stick wallpaper and bean bag chairs."
No matter what design style you choose, remember what this space is meant to do: inspire the imagination of your children, says Davies. "The goal is to use design elements, like colors, shapes, and textures, to create a stimulating space that children will want to keep coming back to," she adds. If you're not sure how to do just that, read on for a few our best tips for designing a playroom that's functional, inspiring, and brimming with style.
Photography: Courtesy of Ruggish2 of 13
Don't let the good looks of this sleek area rug fool you. Designed with plush memory foam, you can flip the double-sided rug over to reveal an interactive play map on the underside.
Ruggish "Romy" Play Rug, $199, ruggishco.com.
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Comfortable floor space is key to creating a successful playroom. Soften up the floors in your children's play area by adding this hopscotch-inspired rug. Not only does it look good, but it also helps your child develop motor and balancing skills.
IKEA "Hemmahos" Rug, $25, ikea.com.
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"When kids are immersed in arts and crafts or playing a game, they need lots of room to be able to gather their materials," says Bowen-Poole. This convertible kids table provides plenty of surface space for spreading out supplies. We like that it includes two sets of legs so that it can grow with your child.
Delta Children "Grow with Me" Convertible Kids Play Table, $139.99, amazon.com.
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Bowen-Poole, a grade-school teacher-slash-designer, suggests mounting wall activity boards, like this one, to promote literacy-rich learning opportunities around a playroom.
Wood Designs Lego Wall, $204, wooddesigns.com.
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World Map Decal
Removable wall decals are ripe with interactive design opportunity for a playroom. This peel-and-stick wall mural features a giant map of the world marked with animals and icons so kids can explore different types of wildlife across the globe.
Harriet Bee "Where In the World" Peel and Stick Wall Mural, $153.99, wayfair.com.
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Toy Storage Cart
"One of the key elements to keeping kids interested in the playroom is occasionally switching up the layout, which may mean having to move storage furniture to a different area of the room," says Bowen-Poole. This wheeled cart comes with removable handled trays so you can move toys around with ease.
The Container Store Kids' Craft & Toy Storage Cart & Accessories, $68.94, containerstore.com.
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Bean Bag Chair
Snug seating is crucial in a comfortable playroom. Turn an empty playroom corner into a bonafide reading nook by pairing a colorful vinyl bean bag chair with a bookcase.
Target Small Vinyl Bean Bag Chair, $34.99, target.com.
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Even storage can make a stylish statement in a playroom. Install a few of these floating picture ledges on an empty wall to display everything from books to toys in a gallery-style format.
NEX Floating Shelves Wall Mounted Shelf Picture Ledges, $27.99, amazon.com.
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Pretend play gets a sophisticated upgrade in the form of an elevated kids kitchen. We like that this one, which is made from sustainable birch and maple wood, has turning knobs and storage cabinets will keep the kids engaged for hours.
Milton & Goose Essential Play Kitchen, $649, miltonandgoose.com.
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Adaptive Climbing Wall
Consider this climbing wall the Rolls Royce of playroom accessories. Designed with grab-bar handholds and ledge-style footholds, this fun toy strengthens motor skills and promotes inclusive play.
Flaghouse Adaptive Climbing Wall, $1,669. flaghouse.com.