Creating a space to play

Girl playing tea parties
Try working together with your child to design, create and build their ultimate play area with our top tips and practical advice.
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Creating a space for play and creativity is great fun - and not just for your child! It doesn't matter if it's just a patch on the floor in the dining room. What matters is that the child has a space they can call their own to play quietly... or noisily!

Getting started

By choosing a design for the area with a theme based around your child's interests, you are filling the room with images that will indulge their imagination. So begin by brainstorming with the little people who will be using the space. Talk about interests and hobbies and tease out favourite colours and characters.

Next bring some grown up judgement to the results. Fads and crazes come and go - and some can be quite outlandish. If you’re decorating, a tip is to keep the background neutral and to incorporate their ideas in accessories and trimmings. Also, think about your child needs - security and stimulation for younger children, excitement and individuality for older children, and privacy and space for friends for ‘tweens'. Try to reflect these in the space.

Remember to be realistic - how much space do you have to work with? Perhaps it’s part of the bedroom, a whole room, or a space in the living room. Also decide on a budget - however large or small.

Finally, draw a plan of the space – decide what will go in it and how it will be organised.

Get your child designing

This is a space where your child's imagination will roam free and their creativity be inspired, so what better way to get them going than by having them put their artistic touch to the design?

Buy white sheets and let your older children tie-dye them in the colours they want, or create their own designs with fabric paint. Cover a standard corkboard with fabric and use it to hang up artwork, photographs or pictures. Using cork tiles instead will enable you to make the board as large as you wish. Hang it close to a desk or table where it can inspire your child as they work.

Fun storage

A good way to encourage your child to keep their new play area tidy is to introduce fun storage systems into the design of the space. You could string a series of storage boxes together to make a toy box train, or paint wooden crates in bright colours and arrange them on top of each other.

Other ideas could include a trunk that both serves as a seat and storage area, a net hammock, hat boxes, drawstring bags, mini plastic drawer sets and so on.

A tall bookshelf works well if you are creating space to play in the main living area. Items can be kept on the lower shelves within easy reach of your child.

Arts and craft space

Every play area needs a resilient washable surface for arts and crafts projects. Include a scrap box in which your child can collect odd bits of materials, such as fabric scraps, packaging and other potentially useful recyclable items. Include a tray for scrap paper and a hook for aprons. You will find it handy to keep a sponge close by to clean up spills and old newspapers to protect floors or surfaces.