One day last fall, I was sitting in the kitchen, looking around the first floor of our house at baskets of LEGOS and blocks and drawers overflowing with trucks and tractors. I thought, “We need a playroom.” We have lots of storage on our main floor, but at the end of the day, it always looked like a toy explosion, with every drawer and cabinet emptied of its colorful contents and strewn across the room.
At first, I tried working with Theo to put away each toy or activity before moving to the next, but it was a losing battle. We’re still working on it, but he’s not quite old enough to do it consistently. I wanted a room that could get messy, without driving me crazy. Theo’s bedroom is small, so that wasn’t an option. I thought briefly of turning Elie’s office, which is off the family room, into the playroom. But, Elie didn’t like that idea very much. The only other option was our basement, where we had a finished movie room/workout room. There were two downsides to the basement. One, there’s no natural light. And two, we would always have to be downstairs with Theo while he’s playing (at least until he’s a little older).
The movie room seemed like the best option, so we decided to turn that room into Theo’s playroom. It already had built-in storage, which would be perfect for organizing all his toys and activities. And because our kitties sleep down there, we had already installed a durable, patterned carpet that hides stains beautifully and can handle wear and tear. We moved out the sofa sectional and coffee table, but left the treadmill, moving it to the back corner of the room. That left lots of space for the playroom. We also left the television on the wall. While Theo doesn’t get to watch many shows at home (we leave videos for the car and travel days), it will be a fun place to watch movies in the future.
Then came the fun part! Before purchasing anything, I did quite a bit of research on blogs and Pinterest, looking at different types of playroom decor, furniture and storage. I knew I wanted something that would easily grow with Theo, a space that could transition him from toddler to little boy. I drew most of the design inspiration from Emily Henderson, a designer who I don’t know personally, but whom I adore, both for her style and her life views (her blog and Instagram stories are both fun and thoughtful, if you don’t already follow her.) I also love the organizing style (hello, shelving books by color!) and sense of humor of The Home Edit. (Follow their blog for organizing ideas and their Stories for laughs.)
We purchased this play table from Land of Nod, because it has multiple functions (train table, art table, storage) and will grow with Theo as he grows. It comes with legs of different lengths, so it can eventually transition to a standard table height. For Christmas, Santa brought Theo a kitchen set, which he loves. We went with this one, because of its sustainable construction, with this refrigerator. Theo also has this art easel from the same company. I love it, because it keeps all of the paint and supplies organized.
I got a lot of storage containers from The Container Store, including these bins to house different types of toys (grouped by trucks, trains, magnets, outdoor toys, etc). I will probably label the bins at some point, so that Theo can put his toys away on this own. More of these bins are inside the cabinets, along with these totes and inserts to organize crayons, markers and art supplies. These round acrylic canisters hold things like pom poms (good for SO many activities!), stickers, colored pencils, washi tape and more. On the top shelf are containers I got at Target, and these are Theo’s sensory bins, one filled with rice and one that I use for pom poms or water beads.
Because I wanted to inspire a sense of adventure and travel with Theo’s playroom, I looked for artwork and decor that went with this theme. I found this airplane art cable to display Theo’s work. And we switched out the generic light that was hanging in the room for this pendant, inspired by a vintage railroad station light.
I had a hard time finding artwork that I loved, until I stumbled across original, downloadable art on Etsy. I just searched for the themes I was interested in, and I found so many I loved. I ordered prints from this shop and this one and this one. Once you make your purchase, you can just download the files. I had them printed at a local print shop, and then I just bought frames at Michael’s (on a 50% off sale) and framed them myself. It was really inexpensive, and I love them!
I had so much fun designing Theo’s playroom and putting everything together for him. But the best part is, he absolutely loves to play in his room. In the morning after breakfast, he goes to the door and says, “downstairs!” We can happily play down there all morning long. It’s also a great place for playdates while the weather is cold. I know the playroom is definitely in the category of ‘want’ and not ‘need,’ but I do see many years ahead of enjoying this space together.
Photos by Matthew Land Studios.