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Decorating Secrets: Fun with Function

The Perfect Play Room on a Shoestring Budget

By ARAContent

Playrooms are ideal spaces for encouraging children”s creativity, providing them with the stimulation they crave, and helping them create a connection with others. The great news is that you don”t have to build an addition onto the house or set aside your family vacation fund to create a great playroom.

A Cubby or a Nook

Many unused extra spaces in the home can function as a perfect playroom.  A sewing room you no longer have time for or an extra bedroom that isn”t being used are great options, but smaller spaces under staircases and large closets can also make for great play areas, giving an almost fort-like feel for your child to play make-believe in.

“Don”t let a small space rain on your playroom parade,” says Nancy Bohnett, Academic Director of Interior Design at The Art Institute of Las Vegas. There are simple ways to make a room feel larger, like adding a mirror. It can be used for dress-up time and helps the space feel larger.  Children can also use washable markers and paints on the mirror, which can easily be cleaned once playtime is over.

Regardless of whether you choose an enclosed room or a more open area, the important thing is that you make sure the space is safe and secure for the ages of children who will be playing in it.

A Room with a Reason

Once you’ve found the perfect play spot you must define a goal for the room, taking into account who will be using the space. Need some direction? Review online resources for playrooms or visit stores that offer playroom ideas. Places like Target and even children’s clothing stores can be great resources for fun, functional and inexpensive ideas and designs.

‘Create universal spaces that will grow with your children,’ encourages Bohnett, ‘Your first child may be a 3-year-old girl who loves princesses, but she may outgrow her love for pink in a few years and gain a baby brother who will also use the space as he grows.’

Keeping it Simple

When it comes to the walls, playrooms should be bright and cheerful, but there”s no need to go overboard with paint. ‘The reality is that children”s tastes change as they grow. Creating an accent wall in a favorite color is a great way to bring color to the space and save money. It can be something your kids help with, putting their handprints on the wall or something fun, and can be easily changed over time,’ says Bohnett.

In fact, Bohnett encourages restraint in all the decor. ‘Be careful not to choose a theme that will be outdated in a short period of time. Allow the toys and creative pieces your children create in the room to dictate the space. You”ll save time, money and frustration in the long run,’ she says.

The Nuts and Bolts

Decorating your room is important, but you also need to think about the functionality of the space. Durability and safety are important factors, allowing for kids to be free to create and play, while keeping the elements of the room intact.

The Down Low

When it comes to flooring, hard and washable surfaces are ideal for these spaces. ‘Having floors that can withstand the rigors of childhood play is important for a parent”s sanity,’ says Bohnett. ‘Not only do children play with many things that roll along the floor, but they also play with messy things like paints, clay and Mommy”s nail polish.’ Laminate wood or tile is washable and a great choice for kids. Individual carpet tiles are also a great way to add both texture and softness to the room, and if one tile gets ruined, it’s economical to replace.

The Sunny Side of the Street

Lighting for the space can be a breeze as well. Overhead lights that are already built into the space, daylight and some indirect light are all you need. Grab an old lamp from the garage and paint it to match the new scheme. It”s a great way to personalize the space and an inexpensive alternative to a custom child-themed lamp.

For the Grownups

Don”t forget that even in a kids” space, parents need a little room. Make sure there”s a comfortable place for you to sit and supervise your children.

Finding your Fill

Now that your room is taking shape, make a list of the items you”ll need and want, whether it”s an easel for your little artist, bins to store a large collection of blocks or a table for the perfect tea party.

You may find that you have many of the items you need, whether they are crammed into your child”s current space or stored in the garage.  For the items you need to purchase, take advantage of places like Ikea online, peruse a garage sale, check the listings on Craigslist, find some treasures on eBay or visit a recycled furniture store to pick up pieces you need.

With a little TLC and some paint, any piece can make a great addition to your playroom. A vamped up chest of drawers is a fabulous hiding spot for puzzles, games and tiny trinkets. Fill the drawers with plastic ice trays for sorting costume jewelry; silverware organizers for pencils, paint brushes and craft supplies; or shallow plastic food containers for Legos and the like.  Closet sweater stackers and over-the-door shoe organizers are also great places for coloring books and art supplies. The possibilities are endless.

Creating a safe but fun playroom for your child shouldn’t break the bank. By being creative, repurposing the things you have and staying away from trendy themes, you can count on a playroom that works for your family for years to come. To learn more about The Art Institute’s schools, visit www.artinstitutes.edu/nz.

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