This pine armoire is a visual treat jigsawed contours,    drawers. Manufacturer: Posh Tots.

There are several strong reasons to carve out a playroom in your home, and they have to do with the nature of kids.

If you live in a climate that allows comfortable outdoor play year-round, a dedicated playroom may not be necessary. Many of us, however, endure long months of cold, and it's a challenge to give kids the opportunities they crave for active play on a daily basis. Here's where a "real" playroom can make a real difference. If you don't want to live with everything laminate for 20 years or have your nice furnishings at risk all the time, a playroom can really help keep the peace.

Where to find space? Even if it's in the basement, today's playroom differs from the old 1950s recreation room in that it's much brighter and lighter. If a basement is your best bet, paint that old brown wood paneling a warm white, and put down a vinyl or porcelain tile floor.

Install ample ceiling light fixtures for the size of yo­ur room (don't skimp) and use the latest advances in bulbs that mimic natural daylight. To get the benefit of real sunlight, a room over the garage is a smart alternative, as is the "bonus room" found in many of today's big new houses.

Wherever you locate the playroom, you'll want lighting that's protected from the occasional football toss; easy-care flooring; and comfortable, movable, easy-to-clean furnishings. Plan different zones with wipe-clean flooring for messy play and softer floor coverings for active play and lounging around.

Beanbag chairs a­nd sectionals with washable slipcovers increase the comfort level; indulge in cheerful colors kids love. A workstation or desk with an ergonomic chair can extend the playroom's use for homework, but, even if you only need play surfaces, make sure all corners and edges are rounded for safety.

You'll find some great ideas for fun and safe playrooms on the pages in this article.

In the Fun Zone Playroom Decorating Idea

Sectioning off areas of the room for work, play and storage can actually enhance your child's fun if done correctly, as you'll see in this decorating idea.

Alive with Color Playroom Decorating Idea

Children love vibrant colors. This decorating idea shows you how to use them without being overwhelming.

Just Hangin' Out Playroom Decorating Idea

The games, furniture and even popcorn cart in this decorating idea make this childrens' playroom one that the whole family will enjoy.

Magical Impressions Playroom Decorating Idea

Start off in the next section with a playroom design that highlights storage but doesn't lose sight of fun.

For more decorating ideas, see: