Safe Playrooms for Creativity and Fun

Look around – does your house look like it could pass for a daycare or maybe a plastic recycling center? Toys everywhere! Somehow the things don’t manage to stay confined to the kids’ rooms, do they? Here’s a hint: they never will! Time to consider designating a specific room in the house as a playroom. No worries – we’re here to help!

If you’ve checked online for playroom ideas, you’ve probably been as overwhelmed as we were. Some of those playrooms look like they popped out of a designer studio. While they may be visually striking to the adult who has a sense of whimsy, symmetry, style, and ambiance, they’re going to do zip for a young kid who wants to play Transformers vs. Barbies while eating cheese curls and drinking grape juice. Let’s consider for a moment the¬†actually logical components of a good playroom.

Why do the toys end up in the living room (and bathroom, and mom’s closet, and kitchen…)? Because the kid needs space! So when you’re putting a playroom together, don’t overcrowd it with accessories. A sofa to watch tv? Nah. Houseplants? Forget it. Floor or tabletop lamps…now you’re just asking for trouble. You need toy storage and as much space as you can afford for a fun, safe playroom. So start with the basics: walls, floor and space, storage, and lighting.

This can’t be stated too many times: washable walls. There are lots of options that assume kids are going to write on the walls or otherwise season them with their own additions. Chalkboard paint actually encourages the kids to write on the walls (though it’s up to you to teach them that just because it’s ok to write on the playroom walls does NOT mean the dining room is up for grabs). If you go with a standard interior paint, make sure it’s washable. We recommend a no VOC paint for a non-toxic playroom that’s safe from the get-go. Choose colors that appeal to the kids: check their favorite clothes or toys for ideas, or just ask them! Better yet, take them along to the paint store and let them pick out some paint color cards they like. And when you’re ready to hit the switch, nothing is going to last longer than some recessed lighting. Only a direct hit with a well-aimed projectile is going to destroy these babies. No lampshades to double as helmets, no long-necked floor lamps to be ridden into battle.

Let’s talk about the floor. Of course we’re going to recommend EVA foam mats, and why wouldn’t we? The fact is, this playroom is doing more than providing toy storage and play space – it’s teaching your kids how to take care of things, including the space they play in. When the cheese curls are crushed underfoot and the grape juice spills, having an easily cleaned floor will make it less stressful to teach them how to handle these kinds of accidents. And while you’re teaching life lessons, it’s important to remember that kids, just like parents, need some me-time. While you might not feel comfortable leaving the 5 year-old completely alone, if you have created a safe space to play in, you can at least feel comfortable being in another room for a few minutes and letting her have her space. Any slips or tumbles taken on a foam flooring surface is going to be a lot easier to recover from than a hardwood or concrete surface. One or two kisses should suffice.

Bins, boxes, shelves (properly anchored to walls so they can’t be pulled over), and closets are going to make storage easier. Keep them to the periphery of the room so there’s lots of empty space for the imagination to fill. Because after all, that’s what the playroom is all about: being a place that can grow and change with your child and his imagination.