Our first home didn’t have the room for a playroom. It was a 4 bedroom house but my wife and I worked from home so we needed an office each (and the rooms weren’t that big. Instead we opted to split the sitting room in half by putting a folding divider door in there, with opaque glass to hide the mess beyond in the mini-playroom.
When we moved house, there was an extra room (yey!) so it we thought it was time to build a little playroom for our two children to call their own. So was it worth it? Should you build a playroom for your children? Lets look at some of the benefits and things to think about!
What’s the benefits of a dedicated playroom?
If you’re wondering whether or not it’s worth sacrificing one of the rooms in your house to the great gods oof decapitated Barbie dolls and infinite smashed lego, then there’s a lot of good reasons to go for it.
#1 – Goodbye mess!
Having a place to call their own means that children will have somewhere to keep all those toys. More to the point, you’ll have somewhere to kick / throw stuff at the end of the day, when you’re tired and can’t be bothered to pack hide the toys away somewhere.
#2 – They’ll LOVE it
My two spend a lot of time in the playroom and it’s definitely been worth it for the fun they have in there. They build dens, play with the little kitchen, jump off the sofas and it’s a nice place for them to get out of the way with their school pals.
#3 – Speaking of dens
It’s also really good to be able to leave stuff you and the children have built. A good examples is the humble DEN! I used to hate making a good den for the kids, only to have to take it down when it was grown up time. As I write this, we’ve got a MASSIVE cardboard den in the playroom that they can keep there for as long as they like. (Then some poor soul is going to have to lug it over to the recycling…) But it’s really nice having somewhere they can keep all the stuff they make intact between play sessions!
What age will my kids get the most from a playroom
Really young kids – in the 0 – 2 years range will likely not want to do much unless mammy or daddy is there. Having said that, I used to get up with my little girl 6.30am each day and it was very handy having a place to just go to and start playing. But, generally speaking, children will get the most out of a playroom when they start to get up to 3 and 3 years. Beyond that, they’ll absolutely love to have a room filled with their own toys.
Any problem sharing the room?
If you introduce your playroom as a room they’ll share, there shouldn’t be any issues with sharing it. My two have never once argued over the room or needed to make clear boundaries of who has which bit and so on. There’s been no squabbling over territories yet. Everything else – yes, there’s been fighting over, but not who owns the playroom.
Which room should you choose for the playroom?
One of the mistakes we made, and this is going to sound awful, was giving the munchkins the ‘best’ room in the house. The room we picked of it is at the front of the house and it’s always sunny in there. They’d have been equally as happy causing mayhem in one of the rear rooms. Of course, once they’re in there and you’ve built all the cupboards and put the shelves up, you can’t exactly evict them.
Lesson learned: spend time thinking about which room will make a good playroom, and which room YOU would make best use of too.
Storage and shelving – get this right from the outset
If you’re a parent, you’ll know just how quickly children accumulate toys! I mean the endless stream of guns, swords, Kinder egg toys, happy meal toys, Christmas and birthday gifts to name a few. MAN! There’s a lot of kiddie junk in our house. Just having a playroom won’t necessarily solve this. You’re going to need some INDUSTRIAL strength storage, my friend!
To that end there’s some things you can prepare your playroom with.
Nice long, deep shelves
You don’t need anything fancy per se, but shelf space is vital in a playroom. Long shelves that run the length of the wall are great, and as many of them as you can fit in. And go for as DEEP as you can too. We got a local handyman to whack up some FAB shelves that I think are around 18 inches deep. You can literally PILE them up with toys, and as the years roll by, there’s going to be lots of toys.
Getting some decent cupboards in your playroom will mean that you can hide a lot of stuff and give it at least somewhat of an ordered look about it. They’re good for hiding art stuff, old magazines and all the rest of it.
Storage in the playroom doesn’t have to be boring!
Books – you’ll end up with a little library
Another thing that children seem to magically accumulate at an alarming rate are books. There’s a number of good things you can get to store them, as well as shelving you can put up. Tall book cases are ideal, making sure you get ones where the compartments are tall enough to accommodate those really big books.
Handy storage crates & units
It’s really hard to find places for all the toys to go and, sooner or later, you’re going to need a random place to chuck them. Plastic storage crates are an excellent cheap place to put toys that don’t have anywhere else to go. And if you get some kid of a unit that holds them, this will greatly cut down on the clutter and stop the place looking too ‘messy’.
The more of these storage units you have, the better! (Above: Homfa Toy Storage Unit – Amazon UK)
Each box can have a different purpose and they’re great for storing
- All that duplo and other lego
- Smaller soft toys
- Action figures
Play tables are a lot of fun and a good place to store stuff
Another good little find was a wooden play table we bought which had a city design on it. It also has a little drawer at the front and loads of storage space UNDER it. Something like this is a lot of fun for the children but is really a hidden shelf and place to store stuff that will keep the room looking nice and neat.
Don’t forget somewhere for the grown-ups to sit
Big ones need a place to sit too. (Giant bear – Amazon)
It’s likely that YOU will be spending time in there, and you’ll likely have other grown ups come to visit from time to time. While the children get on with their own games, you’ll need somewhere comfy to rest up and get a coffee. Heck, some days you might even want somewhere to lie down. So a good investment is a nice bright SOFA. Preferably a longish one for those early mornings where you just want to stretch out.
A word on flooring
Touch wood, our flooring hasn’t had anything too horrific happen to it. I think there’s a puddle of dried up slime somewhere, and a few paint spills I should really clean up. But really, it’s not been too bad. We opted for a nice thick (but inexpensive) carpet. You and the children will likely spend a great deal of time ON the floor so be kind to your knees. Get a nice carpet. That’s my advice anyway.
There’s some fab coloured rugs that can make your playroom comfy
Don’t despair if you really want a wooden floor (and there’s some beautiful wooden floors you can go for) but think about getting a good, thick rug if you do. There are some bright and colourful ones out there which will not only compliment your playroom but also save your knees when you’re on the floor.
What furniture do you need in a children’s room?
The main thing I’d recommend getting would be a good table and 2 – 4 chairs. They’ll use this for pretty much everything, from making, drawing, eating, playing tea parties – you name it. The one we went for was the Charles Bentley Safari Table & Chairs. It’s really tough and has lasted a long time. A place to sit and get on with kid work is essential.
A good table & chairs set is essential in a child’s playroom – Above: Charles Bentley table & chairs – Amazon UK
Upgrading and changing the playroom as they get older
Once the children start getting into things like gaming and music, the playroom will likely change it’s function into a different kind of space. That infant slide might have to go and it could be time to install some new stuff. Having a playroom will be something they’ll use indefinitely, especially when they have friends round. Once they hit 6,7,8 and beyond, there’s some things they might enjoy:
- Adding a TV
- Moving the gaming console in there
- Adding some more seating and bean bags
- Putting a mini hifi in (My 5 and 8 year old are really into music at the minute)
- A desk or computer area can really help with school work
- If they’re into arts and making stuff, a dedicated space for this will bring them on a great deal
Making the playroom safe
There’s a few things we found with our playroom that were a bit dodgy when we were setting it up. And we’re talking about crawlers and toddlers here.
- Radiators can get VERY hot, but can be hidden behind a well-placed sofa.
- Old electric fires could be dangerous but you can disconnect them so they don’t work.
- Any exposed socked should be covered over with those cheap plug covers.
That’s all on playrooms. I hope you enjoy choosing some amazing cool stuff for your playroom and that your little ones get as much fun out of it as ours are!