Playroom Decorating Ideas

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

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Jack Elka A generously scaled wall unit combines conventional bookshelves with school- style cubbyhole storage. Designer: Tamara Harmon, CID, T.H. Designs, Inc.

Storage is a big challenge in any child's room. As parents and teachers know, kids aren't naturally neat, but they won't play with toys that are all in a jumble.

That's understandable -- you know how daunting a cleanup chore such as spring-cleaning the garage can feel, and you're a grown-up! For kids, it's just plain overwhelming.

To help children keep their books and playthings visible, accessible and orderly, the right storage pieces can make a real difference.

In the area shown here, study areas and active play zones are set up for youngsters' convenience. Shelves are shallow, drawers are ample and there's plenty of room to move around. A color scheme of bright white and primary hues boosts visibility and excitement.

A color scheme, es­pecially with rich hues, can also be the main element of a decorating idea, as you'll see on the next page.

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You don’t need expensive furniture or elaborate wall treatments to put together a play space kids will love. Stylist: Amy Leonard. Manufacturer: The Glidden Company.

Rich and bold, the hues used in this spacious playroom look just right, thanks to the use of some basic color how-tos.

While all the hues are intense, the ones used in abundance on the floor and walls are cool so they don't overwhelm.

Color striping gives furniture pieces like this toy chest a refreshing new look. Just be sure to use child-safe paints.

Against this deep sea of emerald green and royal blue, accents in warm yellow and red

stand out in just the right proportion. They're energizing but not overheated.

Using lots of white on the ceiling provides visual relief from the bold hues. (Studies show most people are more comfortable in a room that's dark on the lower part, light on the top, to mimic the earth and sky.) Bright white around the windows maximizes the room's intake of light, further enhancing the feeling of balance.

Most of a child's responses to color proportions won't be at a conscious level, but they'll enjoy spending time in a room that feels both exciting and comfortable.

The whole family will find the playroom exciting and comfortable when it's got snacks and games to offer, like the one you'll find in the decorating idea on the next page.

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Everything a youngster could wish for is taken care of in this up-to-the-minute play/study room.

Kids are naturally forward-looking, but they also crave cozy reassurance. This play/study room delivers both innovation and comfort.

Futuristic furniture delights the eye, while warm colors and traditional surfaces provide the necessary grounding.

The room is not only appealing to kids, but also a winner with those who love them. Here's where the children can do their homework, play computer games and read to Grandma or have her read to them.

Rich colors and a pattern inspired by Matisse give this cozy upholstered seating visual appeal. Designer: Carol Spong, ASID; Carol Spong, ASID Interior Design.

The to-scale ice cream parlor mural is a masterpiece of trompe l'oeil, while a vintage Coke machine and full-size popcorn cart provide real snacks. Furniture has rounded corners in case all that floor space inspires some impromptu roughhousing. Designed for kids, this is a room the whole family can love.

To go from designs for kids to designs by kids (at least in part), check out the imagination-rich decorating idea on the next page.

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These raucous colors may seem garish, but in these wallcoverings everything comes together. Manufacturer: Brewster Wallcovering Company.

The most delightful thing about decorating a child's room is that you can let your own imagination run free.

You don't have to worry about whether teddy bears and butterflies go together or if you dare use a chest of drawers that looks like a perso­n-size carrot.

Your child will be happy to help you come up with wacky and wonderful images that can come to life with today's nontraditional wallcoverings, borders, furnishings, and decorative accents galore.

If you're tired of the usual color sche­mes, try hot tropical pastels, jewel tones, or cotton candy tints. As long as you repeat some of your basic colors in at least three places in the room, you can mix them up with abandon and the room will still look nicely planned -- not haphazard.

A playroom should be a place for children to put their imaginations to work. With help from the design ideas in this article, your imagination will make that happen for your kids.

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Mary Wynn Ryan is the author of numerous interior design books including The Ultimate Kitchen, The Ultimate Bath, Cottage Style, Fresh Country Style, and Garden Style. She has written about home furnishings and interior design for various magazines and served as Midwest editor of Design Times magazine.

Heidi Tyline King is an accomplished writer and editor. She has written extensively about America's arts, culture, history, nature-based attractions, and decorating projects, including All About Paint and Wallpaper, Beautiful Wedding Crafts, Pelican Guide to the Florida Panhandle, The Unofficial Guide to the Southeast with Kids, and others.