Living with littles: PLAYROOMS tips + tricks


Good morning. Danielle here. We usually post our weekly blog post on Wednesday's, but yesterday was a rough day and work, or design or playrooms were the last things on our minds. But, alas "We still have work to do!" ...and indeed we do. 

So, with that, let's talk playrooms!

When Wes and I moved into our home, we actually thought we could keep Penny's toys contained within chic little baskets on our main living level. It did not take long to realize how naive that thought was and soon, I was giving up my (3rd bedroom) home office for a tiny 6'x9' "bonus" room home office (we have a guest suite on the 3rd floor that I considered off limits to my office or a playroom - though I don't know why because we never have overnight guests! haha!).

My not even 2-year-old daughter now claimed two full sized rooms in this house! 

"Why not move her toys into her bedroom?" I was asked. The answer was simply that I did not want our good sleeper suddenly distracted by all of these toys in her room. She'll still have baskets of toys all over the house but now we have one main space where the bulk of it, or at least the big stuff, can live

After a few months with this new space in use, I can tell you, it's been a HUGE success and now that the holidays are around the corner and we know of a few big gifts this kiddo will be receiving, this playroom is going to prove imperative!



  • As per all our design advice, work big to small. Consider the big picture things first (colors, furniture then work to the details, art, shelving, fixtures). 
  • Consider a theme or inspiration for your design. For example, our entire space was inspired by the Alice in Wonderland re-designed book by Rifle Paper Co. The advantage of this approach is that it tends to decrease the chances of inadvertently having a more cluttered space because the base and it's decor and furniture are all a random assortment of individually cute choices that amount to a cluttered mess when used together. For our playroom, we chose our theme, then mostly played it out in wall art. 
  • Select colors which tie into the rest of your home's design. You have to live in this space too! It doesn't have to be boring. But aim to strike a balance. We selected the lightest lilac ever for the top color and we opted for a black chalkboard wall on the entire lower half of the room. The black ties into the accent of the entire home and pale tones are right at home here. We tie them together in a playful way later on with art and accessories (and toys!). Speaking of toys: keep in mind that the toys (and books and stuffed animals) are presumably going to be adding a lot of color on their own. Often a nice subtle color balances it out.
  • Consider the activities of the room and make furniture and design decisions around those. For example, We suspected the primary activities of the room (for now anyway) would be coloring (chalk, crayons etc.), building blocks and other floor toys and games, playing with trains, reading books and watching TV. To accommodate these activities we bought a big plush comfortable rug with a good rug pad, we bought a kids activity table and chairs for 4. We bought a television, and shelves and bins for toys and books. 
  • Consider the adults that will need to spend time in the space. To accommodate an adult when not playing with Penny, we added a nice comfortable adult-sized upholstered chair. We also bought (for $35 on amazon) a simple black adjustable height laptop table that can nestle up next to the chair and allows me to work sometimes when Penny is just watching a show. 
  • Ensure good, even lighting throughout. This time of year it gets dark hours before Penny's bedtime. This means the playroom will be dark. She'll likely want to sit at her table and color during this time, or across the room color on her chalkboard wall or play with toys in the middle of the room. All areas need to be well-lit to accommodate all areas of play.
  • Keep as much as possible accessible to little ones. We keep the TV and remotes out of Penny's reach but everything else we have designed for her to be able to do without our help. Her bookshelves are hung low. Her toys are in bins and baskets at her height, the closet (used for additional toys organizes everything within her reach), the chalkboard wall is lower half of walls and her table and chairs are all kid-sized (kid height). This instills confidence in her and provides autonomy. It's fun to play with her and we certainly do but it's equally important for her to learn to play on her own.
  • Use bins. Galore. We use a lot of bins because this allows us to put toys away in a somewhat organized way. All the blocks go into one big bin dedicated to holding just the blocks. It is easy for her to learn to put them away in this bin and it's always the same bin so she already understands it. We put things away and clean up the room at the end of every day. It helps maintain our sanity and it's like she starts from scratch at the beginning of each day. The room never seems to be used (and abused!) in the same way twice. It's fun to watch! 
  • Create a space to hang kid art. Keep in mind you're child is going to create art and you're going to think it's amazing and want to hang it. I keep a wall area dedicated to her displaying her art. It can change regularly but knowing you'll want to put it somewhere, this is a logical home for it.
  • Room to grow! We didn't design to fill every inch of this space. In fact, we designed to include jut the fundamentals (sitting for adults, sitting and workspace for kids, a few shelves, bins and tv and that was it). Now, months later as we head into the holidays I've still got room for new toys. The space has got to grow with your child(ren).
  • Don't be too precious with the space. We don't want Penny to go to other people's homes or public spaces and think it's ok to draw with marker all over their walls or furniture. So she's not allowed to do it at home. She is learning there is a difference with chalk from crayon and marker and where/how she's allowed to use these things. She is smart enough to understand (or will be over time!) and it's important to teach it. However, at the same time, she's a kid. Hell, she's a baby still! She definitely does NOT color within the lines and this playroom is used - truly used- every day. It (and we!) need to be tough. Or at least not too precious with it. 
all photos by:  Suzuran Photography

all photos by: Suzuran Photography

So there you have it! Head over to our instagram and leave a comment with your own tips and tricks for playrooms! Thank you again for stopping by. We love when you visit and hope you'll stop back next week or visit our Instagram in the meantime. 

If you'd like to find out more information about working with us to help you design a playroom for your little, let us know!

My best,