Confession: the basement playroom is my favourite room in the house and I don’t let the kids down there nearly as much as I should. I don’t want them to mess it up. There, I said it. I know, I know, what is a playroom for? I think I’m just a little jealous that my sister and I didn’t have a cool room like this to explore, create and play in growing up.
Our basement is actually ground level, so there is a nice amount of light in the room with easy access to the backyard. But the space is quite narrow and it is rather small and awkwardly shaped. I love a challenge. I wanted this room to serve as a space for the girls to explore, create, play, read and just have fun in, without the distraction of a television or the fear of breaking anything precious. I also wanted the space to feel whimsical and fun, but not childish, since I knew that myself and other adults would also spend a lot of time there and we should enjoy our surroundings as well. I wanted to include a variety of zones in the room, a private hangout zone (the tent), a reading zone (the couch), a work area (the table and chairs), a drawing area (the easel), a mini mud-room (the hooks and shoe shelf) and open space to run around in.
The core pieces of the room are in the black, white, grey and wood colour palette. I chose to stay with these neutral tones since I knew that a lot of colour would be infused in the form of books, toys, artwork, etc. Even though I stayed with neutral colours on the large pieces, I still chose some fun patterns and designs, like on the rugs and wallpaper.
Upon entering the room, you are greeted by a mini mud-room area, with hooks and a shoe shelf. Next to this area, is the main feature of the room, the bold wallpaper, which I nicknamed the Enchanted Forest Wall. The wallpaper is from Bouclairs and hung gold vintage-looking mirrors on it, as well as some butterflies for added whimsy. The mirrors feel like little portals into another world, which along with the black and white round rugs from Ikea, help lead the way to the main zone in the room.
The main zone in the room is the seating area, an old Klippan couch from Ikea that everyone has owned during their lifetime, covered with a new grey slip cover. God bless Ikea for coming out with new covers for their old stuff. Above the couch is the Alphabet Wall, a perfect piece complimenting a space used mainly for reading.
The Alphabet Wall is framed by lights. At night, when we have guests, I turn the lights on for the girls and their friends, so that the room has a super cool vibe (or at least I think it does…wait, am I the only one?)
Because of the narrowness of the room, I chose pieces with round shapes so that it is easy to maneuver around, physically and visually. For example, instead of a regular rectangular coffee table, I used two round side tables, that can be easily moved to free up space and additionally used as stools. These tables originally had a faux wood top, but I covered them with black shelf-liner so that they would pop against the bold black and white Ikea rug. (Shelf-Liner, the BEST Invention Ever). The circle is a re-occuring shape in many areas of this room, I used it because it helps the space feel less narrow and rectangular.
I purchased a lot of the furniture pieces for this space from Ikea and Target, since it’s a space for kids and budget was a strong consideration. I made an effort to customize many of the pieces so that the space wouldn’t look like an Ikea showroom. For example, I painted the small wooden table and chair set and the wooden easel frame matte black. If I hadn’t done that, there would be far too many shades of wood in the room. There is only ever one shade of black.
I also included a book-shelf and a side-table, both from Target, to offset all the kiddie furniture. The shelf is great for storage and for housing some of the odds and ends that don’t quite fit in other places in the home (isn’t that what a basement is really for anyway?)
I reserved an area in the back of the room for an explosion of colour, in the form of toys on a shelf, a tent and those dreaded alphabet mats. Yes, I gave in and bought one against better judgment, but it’s small and is used as a parking spot for the kids’ mini strollers and shopping carts. Every once in a while a letter goes missing, and I search high and low to find it and remember why I always hated those things, in addition to just being a giant eyesore.
I added my personal touch to the Ikea tent by attaching Aurora’s three fairies to it, giving my little princesses a private place to share secrets. The tent space can easily be switched out to other pieces the girls might inherit one day, like a kitchen set or a doll house. Above the tent is a shelf with some of their favourite colourful toys.
The girls’ art supplies, play-doh, blocks, board games and other items are housed in this large cupboard we salvaged from our old kitchen before renovating it. We painted it white and changed out the handles with ones from Zara Home. A piece this size would cost hundreds of dollars to buy new, so I’m glad that we made it work with what we had. Next to the piece are two baskets full of books, and the girls and I often spend rainy days cuddled up on the couch, reading to each other.
Most people don’t love their basements, but I do. Even though it is set up as a playroom now, it can easily turn into a hangout zone for the girls as they get older. I might even let them put a television down there one day, but for now it’s the perfect place for imaginations to run wild. I really should let them go down there more often.