These smart tips will add style, organization and fun to your little one’s room

Kids grow up fast, and the development seems hardest to stay on top of when they’re really little! They’re constantly hitting new milestones and outgrowing clothes, but thankfully all that change provides plenty of opportunities to reinvent your parenting approach.

When it came time to redesign my boys’ playroom, I knew I had a few key goals (read: keeping things tidy) to implement that would make the day-to-day much easier. It’s bright, it’s lively and it really encapsulates their personality traits. It's become my favourite room in our house!

Here are eight things to consider when you're creating a dreamy playroom...

1. Wild with wallpaper

Natalie LangstonJanis NicolayThe first step in this process is deciding on a colour theme and mapping it out. We went with yellow, grey and dark green and I love it! The most creative part? Tying all the details back to the main colour scheme. It also makes it super easy to decide when to rule things out. If it’s outside of the colour theme? Hard pass.

For a wallpaper, we decided on the Five Point Stars from Urban Walls. (Love!) We chose the colours based on what we pulled from this beautiful Jungle Safari rug from Ruggable. We ended up going with a more neutral cream from Urban Barn, but how stinkin’ cute is that jungle rug?

2. Storage solutions

Natalie LangstonJanis NicolayOne of my main goals was to get everything off the ground and organized. This meant utilizing wall units and closed spaces to keep clutter out of sight.

Enter Stor-X Organizing Systems. I could not have accomplished this goal without them. Together, we designed the perfect built-in (if I do say so myself). It offers everything we need to tuck away toys: drawers on the left and right, cupboard space up top for items that are used seasonally or only on occasion, and a seated area in the centre that I thought would be a perfect reading area. 

Those are closet dreams right there, and it is exactly how I had envisioned it would be. Backed by slatwall behind shelving and within the built-in reading seat, the unit holds all of the storage solutions we need, including wire baskets and clear baskets (here and here) from Bed Bath and Beyond. (We even detailed the closet to be a certain height off the ground so that all those important trucks fit!)

3. Living light and bright

Natalie LangstonJanis NicolayI think drapery or wall coverings really finish off any space, and elevate the room beautifully. I wanted to go with something fun to brighten up the overall look, and ended up getting our drapery in mustard yellow to bring all the sunshine into our space. 

The i4Design fabric used is a blend of polyester, cotton and linen so that it doesn’t create more work for you in your home (i.e. Linen can wrinkle and crease super easily, so it’s not always the most ideal material to have with kids around.) The bench seat was also customized with Mazzy Fabric from Tonic Living. It is incredible, truly so much better than I imagined. Don’t be afraid to go with a wild print or fun colour in a playroom. It’s a great place to show some personality!

For the light fixture, we spotted this one from Bed, Bath and Beyond, and it's a little more dainty and white than I originally expected I would go for, but has a rustic feel that I love. It’s  definitely an investment, but totally makes the space.

Next up is one of my all-time favourite items… throw pillows. One way I like to update my decor is changing out my pillows and throws in different spaces of our home, whether it’s seasonally or just to add a pop of colour and bring new life to a space. Lauren from Tonic Living suggested a beautiful grey pillow with black flecks that would pair perfectly with the velvet mustard yellow lumbar pillow and we matched on either side.

4. Superior shelving and signage

Natalie LangstonJanis NicolayAnother great way to celebrate your little one's personality? Fold in some really fun photos of them as a focal point.

I also wanted some signage that said “Brothers” to identify the space and make it their own, so I reached out to Etsy designer Ellise of Charlie and Pig for a few custom prints. Wall art really brings another element to a room, and putting this stuff on shelves gives them a whole new life. As the boys grow, I will definitely change out the artwork and continue to have pieces that hold meaning that are teachable reminders for them. 

But would it be a shelf without some greenery and florals? Not in my house. Shelli from Maple Ridge Florist brought the space to life with some fresh florals, eucalyptus and pampas grass on the top of the play kitchen! I used wood elements strategically on the shelves to ground them and tie in the other elements in the room, while also utilizing some of the toys that Pierce loves to play with, like this Service Station Parking Garage.

5. Decked-out with decor

Natalie LangstonJanis NicolayI definitely would recommend these precious peel-and-stick growth charts (Hexagon Growth Charts from LLDgifts by Lauren Lash on Etsy) so you don’t ever have to part with this if you move or leave your home. I have seen too many parents (moms especially) who are absolutely heartbroken when they move and have to leave their kids' growth charts behind.

Above the growth chart was the perfect spot for our rainbow from TheWoolyCanvas,  custom made to fit the room’s colour theme. I absolutely love the texture that it provides; an amazing addition to the playroom.

6. Functional furniture

Natalie LangstonJanis NicolayThe key to a playroom is functionality and flow. For the room itself, we had the boys' Kid Kraft Play Kitchen, an Ikea white table and chairs, and two matching Polar Bear chairs from Posh Baby and Kids to position within the room. I really liked that the kitchen was positioned in the middle of the drapery so the drapes frame it, and putting the table and chairs under the TV was genius as it utilizes the room most effectively. The polar bear chairs can be moved easily throughout the room.

The Kid Kraft Kitchen is such a lovely piece: a vintage play kitchen, with upgraded handles to match the wall unit. A marble countertop from Amazon jazzed it up a bitand for only $12.

I added some felt fruit, veggies and foods, along with pots and pans so the boys can have fun cooking and creating! I also got a cooking utensil set, and a sweet little egg carton from Dilly Dally on Commercial Street. We also got the “Kiss the Cook” sign custom-made by Carly of Carly Foster Creations, but here’s a similar one from Etsy.

I’m so happy to have found a wooden milk box toy in an alternative milk option since it matches what we actually have in our home. Clever Coconuts has the cutest things and these alternative milks are one of them! What a wonderful way to expand your toy kitchen if you follow a vegan diet, or encourage inclusivity even if you don’t.

7. Make room for reading

Natalie LangstonJanis NicolayReading is so important for young minds, and the more you can read with your child the better. We make a point of reading with the boys every night before bed and let them pick out their top three books for that day. 

I wanted to create a reading corner for them to dig into all of their favourite books, and to have a place to store them all. They have quite a few books at this point and the library keeps growing. I really wanted a sign for this super special section of the room, so I got one made by Etsy designer Spring Meadow Co. that says “Once Upon a Time”.

The books were all picked out specifically for Pierce from Indigo. Some of our favourites are The Dinosaur That Pooped Their Pants, Frankie’s Food, Little Blue Truck books (and this one), Go Go Monster Truck, I Am Enough, Dragons Love Tacos and The World Needs Who You Were Made to Be

Simple bedtime stories are a great way to start teaching kids about history and important figures. I love this box set, Little People Big Dreams: Black Voices, which features three hardcover books about Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. And explore Follow Your Dreams, Little One or Dream Big, Little One.

Alphabet and name puzzles make such a great gift and I really wanted something for the boys to be able to practice name recognition and learn to spell their own names, especially to get ready for preschool. The alphabet and the clock are great learning tools but also make the sweetest keepsakes with engravings on the back and their names on the front from Etsy designer Dazzle Your Puzzle.

8. Sneaky storage

Natalie LangstonJanis NicolayYou can never have enough storage, am I right? Baskets are the perfect storage solution, especially in playrooms and the baskets from Pehr are my absolute favourite. They are heavy duty and really well made. Pierce can load them up with his hot wheels and I don’t have to worry about them ripping or breaking. Pehr baskets are really durable and you can basically use them for anything, from toys to laundry. They are also so pretty, and the look is perfectly showcased in our open shelves. I love that there’s such a wide colour selection. Pick a complementary colour for your theme and you’re golden. 

I designed this wall unit so the cubby is low enough to the ground that Pierce can grab his toys easily and play with them whenever he likes. I have paint and other items I don’t want him getting into without supervision stored up high in the pull-up cupboards. The pull-up cupboards have a soft open and close features (so they’re quiet and don’t slam).

Lastly, we have this Critter Sitters Storage Ottoman which is so cute and doubles as a stool!

The takeaway

Key to designing a playroom is thinking about maintenance and working backwards. To me, this meant thinking about what would be put away regularly and where it will be put. Storage systems like closets, hidden storage in furniture, and displayed storage like Pehr baskets. Keeping decor simple and out of reach means less to put away and readjust.

Second, tie everything to a theme and colour pattern. Third, think function. Having furniture that’s multi-use but still caters to particular activities is a lifesaver. For example, our reading nook is comfy and an attractive place for the boys to spend time, but it will surely encourage a healthy love of reading as they grow up too.

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