Design the perfect playroom on a shoestring budget

Quality time as parents is golden,
especially when raising boisterous youngsters. Of course family time has its
place – but so does time spent apart at home.

Creating a playroom for your
children out of a unused room –  where
they can chill out, entertain friends or do homework – need not be expensive
and gives them the room to be creative and interact with their peers.

Before buying tons of furnishings
and fittings in navy blue and khaki, plan for the long-term. Create a playroom
that will not only grow with your child but is relatively gender neutral if you
plan on having more children.

 Just about any empty space can be made into a
playroom with enough forethought and creativity. And if space is at a premium,
design it to pull double-duty as a guest bedroom.

If space allows, it is preferable
for children of four and older to have their own rec room. Keeping toys and TVs
in bedrooms is not always ideal because they can prove too much of a temptation
for children who should be sleeping.

 Setting up a playroom on a budget can be
child’s play if you plan ahead.

According to Cynthia Lea,
supervisor at Kirk Home Centre, the most cost-effective way to start off is by
giving the playroom a lick of paint. 

She recommends using low odour
primer, and low odour semi-gloss paints, which are easy to wipe clean and can
be colour matched in soothing pastel shades.

Amy Szerman of Woods Furniture and
Design also thinks parents should avoid high-gloss paint. “[This type of paint]
is highly reflective and given the amount of sunlight we get, it might be too
glaring to be comfortable.”

She prefers the new generation of matt
paints which are extremely child-friendly as they can easily be wiped down when

The interior designer suggests
choosing a neutral colour so that the space need not be repainted when siblings
arrive on the scene.


Since children’s toys and games are
very colourful, parents should avoid making the playroom look “too busy” by
opting for subtler shades of their children’s favourite colours.

 Ms Szerman says: “Brights, especially the
acids, which are very in at the moment, may appeal in the abstract but may
over-stimulate your child if applied to whole walls. If you want to try those
fashion-forward colours, use such shades sparingly to make upbeat vertical
stripes or spaced out circles or to give soft furnishings, like floor cushions,
a punch of colour.”

Heaven forbid that the room should
look boring. To avoid imposing adult tastes on the playroom, let your child
help make some of the decisions.

Forget buying costly prints; let
them display their artwork on the walls. A plain wall with a few colourful
handprints also works.

Stencils are another design element
that need not break the bank.

Funky decals are inexpensive and
are a big hit with children, who will appreciate the wide variety these now
come in. These stickers now range from diamante effect lettering and
butterflies to camouflage effect skull-and-cross-bones and sports pennants.

However eye-catching and
comfortable a playroom, a priority should be to make it a safe environment.

Ms Lea says: “We carry Saftey 1st
products, like furniture corner cushions, door slow stoppers and a range of
press and pull plugs.”

She recommends buying an assortment
of different sized storage bins in canvas, wood and wicker as an ideal way of
organising toys and keeping the playroom relatively tidy.

“Competitively priced children’s
organisers, like ClosetMaid cubicles, are popular,” she notes. “They’re modular
and come in six, nine or 15 cubes, allowing you to slot in an assortment of
cubed boxes for stashing away toys.”

When it comes to furnishing playrooms,
Ms Szerman advises that less is more, especially if you want to come in under

Her top pick would be a small sofa
bed, as they are multi-purpose and compact. In terms of fabric, she favours
heavy-duty cotton mixes with in-built stainguard.

Recycling furniture from other
parts of the home will also keep costs down. If your budget will not allow for
a new couch, try sourcing dark slip covers, which can be tossed into the
washing machine to freshen them up when they start looking grotty, and extend
the life of a couch.

Furniture in the space should be
kept to a minimum to avoid the room looking cluttered when the toys are out.

A sofa (preferably one with
in-built storage), small art table and a few lightweight stackable chairs are
enough. Too much furniture will make the playroom feel smaller and will act as
obstacles when children are tearing around.

And remember, some stores do
lay-away plans; if in doubt ask.


Finally, if your budget can stretch
to it, invest in some decent child-friendly flooring.

Alan Brinas of Paramount Carpets
suggests installing laminate flooring in playrooms. He says that the glueless
laminate is an easy to install D-I-Y product. He says that not only is such
floor covering hardwearing and convenient for the occasional spills, it is
practically impervious to scratching and to fading due to direct sunlight.

Laminate flooring is also fairly impact
resistant – which comes in handy in a house full of boys.


Designing a playroom from scratch need not be expensive.

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