Welcome back! We are on Week #3 of a 5 Week series I am calling:
5 Week Design Jumpstart Program
Over five weeks I’m revisiting some of the most popular posts from last year. But I am adding a bonus to each project-I created a special freebie to go along with each new weekly post. If you missed it, check out the full posts and freebies fro past weeks:
But on to Week #3, and today is all about the kids and the fun!
10 Must Have Items for Your Playroom Design
You can grab this Playroom Mood Board + Shopping List in my Free Resource Library right here:
So what was one of the most popular posts from last year?
In the last year, design request for Playrooms have tripled over here at Postbox Designs! Why? I think for so many of us parents, we looking for solutions to organize the avalanche of THINGS that come with our little ones. Plus, kid spaces are so much fun! You get to use colors and patterns and choose whimsical little items you couldn’t use anywhere else in your home.
In my home, we don’t have a dedicated Playroom for our kids (bummer). So we have carved out niches in their bedrooms and in our Living Room for our three little ones. Whether you have a separate Playroom or just a corner, I have rounded up 10 Must-Have Items that will make your kid’s space more beautiful and more functional. And because I’m one of those Type A personalities, everything on the list is practical, durable, easy to clean, and will actually get used.
6 Things Not to Waste Money on for Your Playroom Makeover
Plus I rounded up the items not to waste your money on! Between being a designer for 13 years and having 3 kids of my own, I have sometimes learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t. You want your Playroom to be a place where your child can actually play and use, not just a room to look pretty. And you can get this week’s Freebies right here in my Free Resource Library:
For this week’s freebie I created this custom Playroom Mood Board just for you guys! It is gender neutral and will work for just about any age group. You can find the Playroom Sources Shopping List in my Free Resource Library:
I’m about to save you a bunch of time and money so read on, and let’s dig in!
Must Have Playroom Item #1: Flexible and Practical Toy Storage
The problem with a lot of toy storage systems is they aren’t flexible. They are made for a certain sized bin or basket, and that is all they will store. Or they aren’t big enough to store everything. I have seen so many Playrooms where the parents have three or four different units-each organizing a different type of item. One for small toys, one for big toys, one for books, one for craft supplies, etc. That is why I am totally 100% in LOVE with the Pottery Barn Kid’s Cameron Storage System. I have used it a dozen times in my own client’s designs because it can work for anyone. It comes in a myriad of different configurations, sizes, and finishes to suit your needs. You can get cubbies for small toy storage, doors for large toy or book storage (or to hide those bulky, obnoxious toys), and even arts and crafts storage.
In a Playroom, I would absolutely recommend spending the biggest chunk of your money on some type of practical and durable toy storage. While the PBK Cameron system works for toy storage as they are younger, it can easily last into their teen years. You can use it for homework/craft/media storage as well. Can you tell I’m a fan?
Below is a different playroom makeover for a different client, while still using the Pottery Barn Kids’ Cameron unit. I used it in a different configuration and with a totally different styling above. You can check out all of the details:
Must Have Playroom Item #2: Practical Lighting
What the heck do I mean by “practical” lighting? Let’s be straight: something your kid is not easily going to break! If you have older kids, by all means you can be a little more flexible here. But when you have young children using this space, I want as many objects to be unbreakable as possible. When designing a Playroom or Kid’s Bedroom, I tend to choose lamps that are metal, wood, or plastic (not glass or ceramic) that are less likely to break if bumped. You can also go with a shade-less light (think a pharmacy style lamp).
I’m actually a HUGE fan of using wall sconces when designing kid spaces. It gives you extra, flexible lighting that is out of your kiddo’s reach. You can use a plug-in sconce if you don’t want to bring in an electrician. I recently used these in my own son’s bedroom makeover!
Playroom Must Have #3: Something Fun and Whimsical
A Playroom is a kid’s space…so have fun with it! Use décor to make it fun, charming, and sweet for your little ones. You can do it with artwork, décor items, rugs, or pillows. Be creative!
Boy’s Adventure Themed Bedroom Makeover
You can find this entire 6 Week Makeover Series plus the Free Mood Board + Shopping Lists in my Free Resource Library!
In this recent playroom I designed for a grandma in California was chock full of whimsical fun items-such as these signs, animal heads, and faux Land of Nod fire set! You can see all of the details here:
Playroom Must Have #4: Washable Wall Paint
You can get any paint color in a washable version, and there is no other way I would go in a kid centric space! In fact, I painted my entire home in a washable finish paint. Just come on over to see why (how did macaroni and cheese get smeared 6’ high on the dining room wall??). It costs a bit more than standard paint but it is worth every penny.
You can go two ways when it comes to choosing the perfect Playroom paint color. You can go super neutral (white or pale gray for example) and let your artwork or kid’s décor bring color and fun to the space. OR you can have some fun with the space and go for some shade of color that you wouldn’t add into the rest of your space. I personally like to go somewhere in the middle. If your child’s favorite color is aqua, look for a muted, soft version of it, like in this Mood Board. At my own house, instead of hot pink, my daughter chose a pale shade of pink. She got her pink room and I got to keep my retinas.
P.S. Shown on today’s Playroom Mood Board: “Constellation” by Benjamin Moore
Playroom Must Have #5 Desk/Activity Table Chairs
My favorite chair to use in a kid’s Playroom, Homework Station, or desk area is a colorful metal chair. They are inexpensive, come in full colors, durable, easy to clean, and are lightweight enough that a kiddo won’t get hurt if it topples on them. Sounds like a winner to me! Target is a great place to grab these, at less than $50 a chair. Want a different look? Colorful wooden chairs, stools, and plastic chairs also work well.
I used similar white metal chairs + a rustic table for this Kid’s Craft Table:
Playroom Must Have #6 Soft Seating
You can grab a beanbag, a pouf, a comfy armchair, or a sofa depending on how much room you have. But squishy, comfy soft seating is super appealing to kiddos! It gives them a perfect spot to snuggle in to watch a movie or read a book. If you have the space, I like to have a spot specific for each sweetie OR have a larger piece of furniture like a sofa that has room for multiples. Because otherwise you know they will fit over who gets the beanbag! Bonus points: Some beanbags have covers you can take off and wash-those always get bonus points with me!
I recently created this shared Playroom/Homework Center for a brother and sister:
Playroom Musts Have #7: Inexpensive Patterened Rug
If you have hard floors, adding a cushy rug into your child’s Playroom design or your child’s bedroom makes a lot of practical sense. It gives kids a soft place to play and provides a cushy landing for babies and toddlers. However, think about the first place where dirty footprints will happen, or craft messes will drop onto…the floor.
For my clients I always choose an inexpensive, heavily patterned rug that will help hide stains and dirt. I try to stay away with solid colors or dry clean only materials. In my opinion (and as a mama of three), there are certain things you don’t want to invest in when your kids are young. I would much rather have an inexpneisve rug that is okay to get spilled on, than have an uber expensive one that I am constantly helicoptering my kids not to mess up. I want a Playroom to be a spot that they can fully use and enjoy!
This Playroom was for two young twin boys: let’s just say everything had to be durable!
Playroom Must Have #8 Heavy Duty Toy Bins
Like with the toy storage unit, toy storage bins need to be all about durability and practiciality. When my own tater tots were little I bought beautiful wicker baskets…that they destroyed in about a year. Likewise, cheap filmsy bins that don’t hold their shape will have you wishing you had spent your money once-on something quality. I like lightweight metal bins or heavy duty canvas ones, like these from Land of Nod. For the best, most cohesive look, I would recommend doing the same bin throughout your space.
In this recent Playroom Makeover, not only did I use the Pottery Barn Kids Cameron System but similar Land of Nod canvas bins AND these heavy duty woven baskets for art supplies:
Playroom Must Have #9 Activity/Craft/Homework Table
I get on my soapbox a little later about Playroom furniture NOT to waste your money on, and kiddie sized furniture is one of them for me. Instead of furnishing an entire kid’s space with kid sized furniture, instead find adult sized furniture that will work for them. Or look for adjustable, grow-with-them furniture, like this Land of Nod activity table. You can adjust it to three different heights so you can change it according to their age or activity needs. Pretty sweet!
I also love to use furniture that does double duty. Another option is using a full sized table (look for a small dining table) that doubles up as a homework station and activity table. Or choose a coffee table with storage. Then pull up poufs or beanbags to it. If can do triple duty as a coffee table, craft storage, and activity table.
In a different Playroom Makeover that was shared with a brother and sister, the client wanted a bright and fun Playroom they could share together! Plus we included this adjustable activity table to grow with them:
You can find all of the details on this makeover right here:
Playroom Must Have #10 Fun Artwork
Wall décor is what is going to put your Playroom design over the top. It is the perfect, and inexpensive way to incorporate a color, theme, or playfulness I especially love this print because it is interactive! As your family visits new locations, you kids can add a sticker to the location on their map!
Artwork is one of the easiest ways to decorate or update your Playroom’s décor! Whether you want to freshen up the space or your kid’s obessions change (which can happen on a monthly basis!), adding in new wall art can change the entire look.
When I design a Playroom or Kid’s Space my #1 go-to site is always, always, always Etsy. You can get beautiful, unique artwork for a few dollars. If you purchase a digital download version, you can print it off yourself, and get the print in a myriad of different sizes to fit your needs. I love to create a simple Gallery Wall and change out the artwork on occasion.
Free Playroom Artwork
In fact, I created a whole blog on FREE PRINTABLE ARTWORK that is perfect for a Playroom Design, you can check it, and this whole rustic Playroom out right here:
6 THINGS NOT TO WASTE YOUR MONEY ON IN YOUR CHILD’S PLAYROOM
Chalkboard or Dry Erase Walls
I learned this the hard way! In my daughter’s old room I added a chalkboard to her wall. And I discovered that chalk dust gets everywhere. It can even permanently stain carpet and painted trim. And do you trust your child to keep the dry wall markers on that cute little drywall board? If you want a place for them to be creative, try a magnetic wall instead (I would recommend this only for older children, not if you have young ones in the house)
Lots of open display shelves
I love putting bookshelves in a playroom or kid’s bedroom! And I love adding a few decorative items to shelves. But I wouldn’t spend the money or time filling in multiple shelves with “stuff” that is meant to look cute and not touch. Instead try using beautiful books, or store cute (useable) toys there. Don’t create something they can’t touch and you just have to dust.
Breakables or precious items
A kid’s playroom or kid’s bedroom isn’t the place for fragile or precious items. You want kids to have full access to their playroom without you worrying about them breaking it! Depending on the location and age of the children, I will even use plastic front frames instead of glass ones. Using metal or plastic lamps (instead of glass or ceramic ones) or even ones without fabric shades (that can be bent or ripped) are good options.
Really expensive items or hard to clean items + the fabrics I always stay away from:
You can get complete stick shock on some items meant for kid spaces. Recently I saw a beautiful lamp I wanted to use for a client until I saw it was over $300-and it was marketed for kid spaces.
Let’s put it this way: If you are going to cry if it gets ruined than you shouldn’t buy it.
For the average playroom or kid’s space I would stay away from: dry clean only, white fabric (unless it is a slipcover), silk, very dark fabric (which can show dirt and marks just as well as light fabrics) and expensive rugs (this is the most likely spot for messes). Velvet is a really popular fabric right now but can be tricky to clean. Look for terms like “commercial grade” to find a more durable version of it. In a kid’s bedroom I won’t spend a lot of money on items like bedding. In my experience with three kids of my own: they will have potty accidents, sneak food into their bedrooms (what, your kids never do that?!) or decide to color a picture laying on their bed. I put money into good, durable furniture but use less expensive soft goods such as bedding, pillows, curtains, etc.
Kiddie sized furniture
I’m not a fan of using exclusively kid sized furniture in a playroom or kid’s bedroom. Why? Because they outgrow it! Instead, look for furniture that will work with them now and in the future. Many companies (such as Land of Nod) create furniture to grow with your child. For a bedroom, you can look for cribs that convert into toddler beds. In nurseries I always recommend using a dresser for a changing table instead of a one-use piece of furniture that longer longer works when they are out of diapers. When creating a craft or activity table I like to use lightweight metal chairs. They are durable, easy to clean, and will not harm a child if it falls on them.
Gender or Character Specific Themes
Unless you KNOW you are done having children, and just one kid(s) of one gender, stick with a more neutral color scheme. Little brother may not enjoy big sister’s princess themed playroom! I have designed quite a few playrooms for brothers and sisters sharing the space. I either stuck to gender neutral themes such as “rustic” or “adventure” or “animals” with a palette of gender neutral colors. Or I included little niches for both siblings. In a recent playroom we had a train table nook, a dress-up station, and a Lego table. All three were centers that BOTH kids could use and play with!
For the same reason as #5, kids outgrow interests quickly. While your daughter may love Peppa Pig today, next year it is going to be something new. So add touches of your child’s favorite character but don’t decorate it top to bottom with a specific theme. The easiest way to add in a theme is through artwork (and is easy and inexpensive to change out)
Get Your Playroom Design Freebies
You can find the free Playroom Mood Board + Shopping List by clicking on the Mood Board:
If you want to grab even more Playroom Design inspiration check out some of these past projects to get the ideas rolling:
Everything on “How to Create the Perfect Bedding Combo”, to “Creating a Homework Station on a Budget”, and “10 Items Under $40 for Your Kid’s Space”. It is all free and you can access it and much more 24/7 right HERE.
Don’t forget to come back for Week #4 of the 5 Week Design Jumpstart Program, see you soon!