Room To Play by Katherine Sorrell

Putting together a child’s play space is a great opportunity for imaginative design.

Children need their own space so it is beneficial to create a dedicated space in which they can work, play and relax.

Where to begin

Is the room just going to be a playroom, or will it double as another room, for example a child’s bedroom? Consider available space and its shape, who will use the room, your budget and your child’s likes and dislikes. Sketching a floor plan helps, or involve an architect or interior designer.

Design basics

Flexibility is key. Keep the basics plain and simple – neutral walls, floor and major items of furniture, with less expensive and easily changed items (such as blinds, cushions or storage boxes) themed to whatever colour or character will stimulate your child’s imagination.

On the floor

The ideal playroom floor is non-slip, easy to clean, hard-wearing and not too hard underfoot. Wooden or laminate boards plus a soft rug (on an anti-slip mat) is ideal, while vinyl, linoleum, cork or rubber are good choices. A play rug with a design such as hopscotch or a racetrack adds fun. Soft carpet will break falls but can stain, so use a texture or pattern that won’t show the dirt and have a stain-resistant treatment applied before installation.

Off the wall

Add interest to plain walls with your child’s artwork in bright frames, removable stickers or good-looking storage. Blackboard paint or colour-in wallpaper allow for individual expression, or cover a wall with maps, flags, cork tiles, pegboard, sheet music, artificial grass, a hand-painted mural or a series of LEGO base boards.

Furniture and fun

Leave space for whizzing around but perhaps add a swing, slide, tunnel, indoor activity frame or climbing wall. Floor cushions and beanbags are better (and cheaper) than quickly outgrown miniature sofas and chairs. Built-in bench seating along one wall, with storage beneath, is a perfect dual-purpose solution. A quiet corner for reading and a special spot for craft activities or homework are essentials, while a den or hideout of some kind is a great idea – even if it’s simply a blanket slung over the back of two chairs. Include a dressing-up corner with fancy dress outfits on hangers and a low-level mirror to provide colour, interest and fun.

Storage

To encourage tidiness, storage should be plentiful and easy to access. Incorporate it into tucked-away spaces such as chimney alcoves or below a window. Low shelving plus a variety of boxes or baskets is ideal. Avoid toy chests that could trap tiny fingers, and suit the size of containers to the size of their contents. Peg rails, hooks and hanging fabric organisers are all useful space savers.