Encourage your child to imagine and explore with an organized, creative playroom in your apartment.
Most people don’t have a lot of spare rooms lying around, but you can create a kid’s playroom in space as small as a corner of your living room or as large as a guest bedroom. If an older child moved out of the house recently or you’re going back to an office setting after working at home, consider making the formerly used room a playroom for a younger child. The child will feel like the space is his own, all of his toys will be in one place and you’ll feel a sense of calm if he can do what he wants in just one area of the house.
Ideally, you’ll leave electronics, such as tablets, televisions and DVD players, out of this room so children can use their imagination, but you may opt to make the room a place where they can also watch movies, especially if you have an extra room to use as a playroom.
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If you have just a corner of a room to spare, make sure it’s in a room that’s quieter than, say, where you watch television with your spouse, or his bedroom, where he’s encouraged to rest. Otherwise, your child might feel he doesn’t have the creative space to act out characters, make noises or draw the best picture ever. Set the corner apart by putting down a kid-minded rug and flank it with organizational pieces, such as shelves or toy boxes. Fill those with books, toys, board games and personal items your child has made, and set a play kitchen, workbench or giant chalkboard or marker board on an easel in the corner.
For those who have a whole room to spare, create a playroom with four basic elements, and provide your kid a place to sit and read, a table to work or draw, organizational pieces to teach how to tidy up and room to play.
Let’s face it, the real purpose of a playroom is to have a place to put all of your child’s stuff. Organize homework, clothes or hobbies with a day-of-the-week hanging organizer ($4.99), utilize overhead space for stuffed animals, bath toys or sports balls with a toy hammock net organizer ($7.99) and keep small pieces together with a few vintage organizer trays ($8.95 each). This Holly & Martin Paige organizer doubles as a craft desk ($199), and a wood bookcase and toy organizer ($149) matches any décor and grows with your child (go from storing toys to storing scarves, shoes, socks and books). Add a few inexpensive wall shelves, and your child will be putting his toys away in no time.
In an apartment, you probably can’t replace the floor in any room. But you can spruce it up with primary colored carpet squares, animal and alphabet squares or rugs showcasing math, shapes, the alphabet, nature, maps or music. If the playroom has different stations, such as an area to read and an area to play, set them off with different colored rugs.
Tables and work spaces
Every kid needs a child-sized hard surface to draw on, measure things out or put crafts together on. For the budget-conscious, select an unfinished table and chairs and set aside a day for your child to paint them however he wants. This IKEA children’s table ($19) doubles as a seat and storage for toys, or you could go traditional with a sturdy wood table and two to four chairs, such as this Sauder Beginnings Kids Table and Stool Set from Wal-Mart ($49), which features open cubby storage on both ends for flat items such as puzzles and notepads, or a Tot Tutors Wood Table and Chair Set ($99.88), also from Wal-Mart.
Shy away from character-themed furniture, as you’ll want this furniture to grow with your child.
Playrooms don’t mean children go non-stop in them. Give him a place to sit down and read a book with a space-themed printed chair ($44.98, from Target), or provide her with a spot to daydream with a pink polka-dotted rocker ($53, from Luxury Lamb). For gender-neutral seating, try a plush green or neutral chair ($99) from The Land of Nod, which has the option to be personalized with your child’s name. Don’t forget to include a throw pillow. Purchase a few bean bags or large pillows so your child’s playroom guests will feel comfy, too.
Fun additional ideas
If you have the space, create a true playroom by adding an indoor slide, funky curtains, decals, a tent, canopies, a kid-sized basketball hoop or even a giant umbrella to make the room seem truly unique. Frame different maps from atlases, colorful vintage record covers and artsy wall calendar cut-outs, and the room will be as visually interesting as it is imaginative.