Outfitting a play space for children might consist of nothing more than setting up a few old furniture pieces, plastic storage bins and the extra TV.
But some parents want the play space to reflect their design aesthetic, to balance kid-friendly with cool.
Some options to get you inspired:
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Lots of decor from the ’60s and ’70s works well in a play space: mod lamps, modular furniture, pop art and fun, space-age prints for wallpaper and textiles. Hues popular back then – orange, yellow, teal, green, white – add energy to furniture, cushions and rugs.
Check out Modshop1.com and Designpublic.com for pieces – many of them kid-sized – that fit the style.
Hip, retro-style robot, typography and animal patterns designed by New Yorker Nancy Wolff are at AllModern.com.
And chocolate, tangerine or red knitted poufs and flat-weave rugs with geometric graphics are part of the signature line at Fab.com.
For a low-key look that still fits the aesthetic, think smooth-edged Danish modern wood furniture. Armless upholstered club chairs look smart and are perfect for lounging; find new ones at Overstock.com and vintage ones on Etsy.com. Or take a cue from Australian designer Anna Williams and use midcentury credenzas for toy storage – check out ThriveFurniture.com and OneKingsLane.com for options at various prices.
Accent with “Mad Men”-era posters or toy ads, and add floor pillows covered in patterns drawn from the era. Soothing hues such as umber, avocado, mustard and sky blue keep the energy relaxed.
Rooms with an industrial feel – warehouse-grade tables and storage, furniture and decorative elements with a rugged look – appeal to many kids, who sense they can let loose in these spaces. And the style’s on trend, so it’s easy to do.
Neutral color palettes mixing whites, grays and browns work for either gender. Look for ceiling lights caged in metal (no worries about errant pillows or Nerf balls), riveted furniture and repurposed machine-shop elements such as gear pieces, tools and signage. A galvanized-iron, locker-style dresser makes a great storage piece (www.pbteen.com).
Powder-coated in crisp red or white, Ikea’s PS metal cabinet adds a pop of color (www.ikea.com). A magnetized blackboard fits the edgy vibe and lets inspiration fly. Make your own inexpensively with instructions at TheTurquoiseHome.com.
Rugged-looking play tables offer surfaces for messy art and often offer great storage for toys and games (www.rhbabyandchild.com). Lumber, flooring and stone yards will often give old pallets away.
Animals, trees and sky or earth elements can inspire children to be creative in play spaces, and many contemporary pieces appeal to both kids and adults. At Stardust.com, find a version of Eames’ polypropylene elephant-shaped chair.
Clouds and intergalactic silver orbs are two of the striking mural wallpapers at DesignYourWall.com. Ikea’s Vandring Spar low-pile rug features an Impressionist version of a nature walk, complete with grass and sandy footprints. And a soft gray and white wool rug silhouettes romping deer and a leafy forest at LandofNod.com.
• Create inexpensive, customized storage in a playroom by painting or staining ready-made kitchen cabinets. Metal tool carts can be side tables as well as portable art supply zones or storage stations for small toy parts.
• Multipurpose pieces serve the whole family’s needs. Land of Nod’s round coffee table with drawers is user-friendly for TV watching, table games and crafts, with no sharp corners to worry about. Also from the retailer, a farmhouse-style work table with storage on the ends provides space for teens and laptops, grown-up tasks and art projects. Ikea’s Kivik sectional can be reconfigured a lot of different ways; it’s hardy, comfy and versatile for a family room.
• Display books face forward on wall-mounted shelves with a lip, so covers can be easily seen. Or scrounge flea markets for old wooden carpenter’s tool boxes, which are sturdy and shallow. Use games as art by displaying the boxes on floating shelves; old game boards hung on a wall add color and visual punch.
• Shoot photos of kids’ favorite toys – close-ups, Instagrams and black-and-white look cool – and then mount them in identical frames. Ikea has inexpensive options, and Michaels’ crafts stores stock three-packs of LP frames. When the kids set up their own places in a few years, this will be hip art with happy memories.