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How to Plan a Play Space
How To:

Plan a Play Space

A great playroom has space for active play as well as quieter activities like reading and art. Look at your kids' favorite activities – from drawing to building with blocks to performing puppet shows – and plan your room around them. Think function, safety and fun. Even if your play area is part of a living room or kitchen, you can still carve out an inspired spot that accommodates different types of play. Furniture that's sized for kids, good lighting and a soft rug or floor pillows to accommodate floor play are the basic elements to get you started.

Floor Plan & Zoning

First, create a floor plan. Make precise notes of the room's dimensions, so you can choose furnishings that fit well and still leave lots of space to move around. Remember to take closets, windows, heat registers and electrical outlets into consideration.

Then, divide the room into zones for different types of play – reading, art, music, make-believe play, active play and so on. Add furniture and storage pieces to your floor plan to give shape to each zone. Leave plenty of open space for floor play, and be sure to keep wall space open for displaying your children's ever-changing art.

Furniture Placement

You may want to place the play table centrally, since it will be used for multiple activities, from art to games. If possible, situate it near a window or beneath a bright fixture for optimal light.

Consider the room's traffic patterns, too. Create an area for reading or quiet play with comfortable chairs and floor pillows next to a bookcase. Use large toys such as a puppet theater, tent, train table or play kitchen to define activity zones.

Hang a basketball hoop on one wall, or mount a ballet barre at child height. Rugs can also help define areas of the room.

Room-dividing strategies are especially useful if your play space is part of a larger room such as a kitchen or family room. It'll help keep toys and other play items from taking over spaces that are shared by adults, too.

Storage

Plan adequate storage for each activity zone, so it's easy for children to find things – and put them all away. Shelves, bins and cubbies should be easily accessible; add baskets and pails for portable storage.

Consider devoting wall space to a modular storage unit, which lets you reconfigure or add components as needs change; you can also assign compartments to different activities or children. Add fun labels to keep things in the right place and make cleanup easy.