Longing for the perfect playroom? You don't need to look much further than some creative toys and simple-but-effective storage systems.
Creating a great area for your kids has less to do with space and more to do with the kind of toys and games you stock it with, says Stacy Test, a Texas mom of three and creator of the website Kids Stuff World
Adding toys that encourage creative play are the first step to creating your child's dream playroom -- without offending the grown-ups' design sensibilities.
"The toys in the perfect playroom encourage learning and imaginative play, but still look attractive enough to be left out on display," Test says. "When selecting toys, be sure to choose items you can think of at least three ways to play with. This way you get triple the use."
Triple the use also takes up one-third the space, she adds, pointing out that although the toys may look great on display, creating an organized space will help when it comes time to clean up. Storage bins that can be assembled into multiple configurations, depending on the size and shape of your room, are a good choice. Test recommends the Trofast System
from IKEA or the kinds of colorful plastic bins and baskets that can be found at most big-box retailers.
Test shares another tip for families that may face space challenges: Change the toys out every week to keep your child interested in them, and also to increase their "shelf life." Do this by sorting the toys into groups -- animals, trains, cars -- and place them in clear locking storage bins.
"Rotate one or two toy bins into the room at a time," Test suggests.
Toy bins not in use can be stored in a hall closet, the basement or the garage, she adds.
If you do have a lot of space to work with, California-based interior designer Michelle Workman says parents should get creative. Paint a mural on the wall, use decorative wall stickers or drape fabric to spark your child's imagination. Use bold colors and fun accessories to complete the theme, and look to unusual sources for inspiration.
Kids love to role-play, and so Test recommends creating an extensive dress-up box for your child's playroom. Buy clearance-rack costumes after Halloween or give the kids your own discarded clothing, she says.
"Outfits that allow your children to act out life as an adult will work wonders for their changing personalities," Test says. "[Occupational] outfits such as firefighters or nurse's uniforms work as well as dresses for acting out fantasy roles."
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