I've hesitated posting the completed children's Playroom for a few reasons, one being the mess factor. I think a sign of a successful Playroom is that it is used and loved… which this one is. Unfortunately this means mess as well. So how much to show in the photos was the quandary. I decided to show it as it is, but reasonably tidy - this means it is not how it would present if it were photographed for a magazine. In that case, they'd remove all extraneous toys, clean off the blackboard wall and put up some more picturesque chalk drawings done by an adult, place scatter cushions around and generally make it magazine worthy.
The design of the Playroom was something I had plenty of opportunity to think over. For the year that we rented a house in Melbourne prior to moving into this house we had a room that we called the Playroom. It was the first room off the hall as you walked into the house, more of a study. Essentially it functioned as a toy storage room in the end - the children did not like being separated from us by playing in there - so they would drag toys down to the living area, and at the end of the day, we'd drag them all back there.
This said to me that a successful playroom is one that is adjacent to where you are. I'm in the Kitchen and living area a lot during the day, so having it next to the kitchen was ideal. One the children are older (teenagers) I thought that I'd probably want to be able to keep a bit of an eye on them and their friends, so this also works for the future. The second point that I noticed with friends playrooms (and our first attempt at one) was that an internal room (as in, without a door to the outside) felt enclosed and did not get used as much by the kids. So access to the garden directly from the room was something that I wanted to incorporate. I'm also realistic about the amount of toys that kids have… with three children all with different ages and interests, there's a lot to incorporate, so storage was also important, but I wanted it to be flexible for their future, so no built- in storage.
The room has a dual aspect, which gives light throughout the day and provides either a view of the front garden and glimpses of the street, or of the back garden which is accessed off the veranda and a wide flight of steps down to the lawn. Once this room was finished, Mr AV suggested that perhaps this could be his study… while I also started to think about the possibilities as a Design Studio of my own… but the kids have won out, and it's most definitely theirs.
They helped with the selection of the wallpaper. I'm not a fan of Design by Committee (always a compromise), but to give them some sense of ownership it was important to consider their views. In discussion they decided they'd like to have a "Where the Wild Things Are" feel to the room (one of their favourite books), so I found two wallpapers for them as options, and they chose the Cole and Sons' "Woods and Pears" which has beautiful gold foil pears dangling from the bare birch branches. This also covers the sliding door that goes into the laundry, so that it becomes a secret door. One wall was painted in metallic blackboard paint so that they could draw and graffiti to their hearts content, and also stick up their artwork with magnets.
The flooring is the linoleum that is used throughout the extension. The furniture is mostly new for the space, excepting the sofa. The sofa is our 14 year old Jardan sofa which I bought slipcovers for around 6 years ago when it started to look tatty. It's still got a lot of life left in it, and just fits in neatly to the space. I didn't bother to put scatter cushions on it as they'd just end up on the floor permanently.
The storage pieces are from IKEA, and are the Stuva range, which you can customise to suit. I did a fairly exhaustive search, but found that either things were really expensive and flimsily made, or just expensive, or just made in sizes that didn't work with the spaces I had. I have a bit of a love/hate thing with IKEA - while it is well priced, a lot of it is not well made and is pretty much future landfill, which does not sit well with me. These pieces are fairly sturdy though, and I'm hopeful that they have enough flexibility to last until the children have finished using this space and move out of home.... I chose three of the wardrobes which are 128cm high and fitted them out with shelves only. These pieces were good because they had some depth to them, but weren't the same depth as a kitchen cupboard. I could fit a lot of toys into them as a consequence but they didn't 'block' in that part of the room. The central unit has a small tv in it. I was not so inclined to give them a tv on display at all times - I find that they tend to want it on if they can see it. In a cupboard they don't get that visual prompt. This works fine, and we already had the small tv, so it was good to use it, although I can see a day in their future (teenaged) years where they demand a bigger screen.
On top of the wardrobes I store the larger items of toys that don't fit in the cupboards. There's also a lamp from Freedom Furniture that works well in the space with its black shade and natural timber base. The coffee table is actually two more of the Stuva benches back to back with large drawers on rollers under them. They contain puzzles on one side, and games on the other. The benches are very sturdy. The other Stuva piece is the Art cupboard in their art and craft area. It has two deep drawers for all the craft sets they get given for birthdays by friends (to be brought out on rainy weekends), along with a caddy for each child's pencils/ textas etc. There's also all their paints, glitter, stamps, origami papers, stencils etc etc. This area is used the most by my daughter, who absolutely loves Art at the moment and spends a lot of time snipping small bits of glittery paper up and creating things.
The table is from Pottery Barn Kids, and is the Carolina Craft Table. It's really sturdy and solid - I've been really pleased with it. I purchased small replica Eames chairs as they were much cheaper than the Pottery Barn Kids ones, and they match our Eames chairs in our dining area. I bought 6 of them so that they could sit here with their friends as well.
The little kitchen is from IKEA as well, and was a gift a few years ago. The youngest two love playing in the play kitchen, but all three will often set up a cafe now, where the patrons have to sit at the Art table, and the menu is written on the blackboard wall.
The main light is a pendant light, and has a little bit of natural timber at the top of the fitting, which works well to introduce a nature element to the room. There's also one set of LED down lights directly over the craft table.
All in all, this room works really well. The kids love the space, and when they have friends over I can keep an eye on what is going on without having to be in there with them. There's a large sliding door from the kitchen into the playroom, so if the room is a horrible mess at the end of the day I can just slide it shut and ignore whatever project is being created in there. It's nice to let them create something that is an ongoing project without them having to pack it up at the end of the day too.
So, the details
Flooring: Forbo Marmoleum from the Dutch Design range "Piet Hein Eek" M0512
Wallpaper: Cole and Sons "Woods and Pears"
Storage Furniture: Stuva range from IKEA
Table: Carolina Craft Table from Pottery Barn Kids
Chairs: Replica Eames Kids chairs
Sofa: Jardan (discontinued design) with slipcovers from the Slipcover Shop
Pendant Light: Coco Flip
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