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Creating Play Spaces in the House

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Creating Play Spaces in the House

By Phil Schmidt, Networx

No one entering my house for the first time would wonder for a second whether we have kids. One good clue is that most of the artwork was created with washable marker and is hung at eye level for a medium-size dog. Upon closer inspection, it’s clear that the play spaces occupy roughly half of the home’s square footage (2 adults, 2 kids; seems fair). Without suggesting that everyone give their kids the run of the place, like we do, it’s safe to say that creating dedicated play spaces is invariably good for both kids and parents, even if it might mean your house will never make it into Metropolitan Home magazine.

Basement

Call me old school, but I think concrete is a lot more fun than carpeting. I grew up skateboarding and riding bikes in the basement, which were possible only because my parents never finished it. As a large concrete box, an unfinished basement is the ultimate rumpus room. And it means you always have the option of saying, “Don’t do that in here. Do it in the basement.” Of course, a finished space makes a great hangout for older kids and a relatively safe play area for toddlers. The important thing is to keep it simple. Don’t make the mistake of turning your basement into another living room where you have to worry about stains and climbing on the furniture. Think: durable, washable carpet and secondhand furniture. Also, try to keep the space as wide-open as possible. Open areas facilitate so many types of play, and they’re so rare in most regular living spaces.

Art and Craft Space

If your kid is the type who goes nuts with the glue stick and glitter, you know it can be hard to manage the mess and accumulated artwork. A dedicated studio space can help on both counts. Choose a corner somewhere for a kid-size table (one that can be painted and drawn on), a supply cabinet (a cheap, plastic drawer unit on casters works well), and ample wall space for displaying artwork. Let the kid decide which pieces are display-worthy and which can be archived (after a suitable waiting period, the parents secretly decide which stored pieces get pitched). In general, do what they do in preschool: set up the space so kids can create a lot of different things and make a huge mess as needed, but enforce a strict “clean up when you’re done” rule.

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Read more: Children, Crafts & Design, Crafts & Hobbies, Family, Green Home Decor, Home, Household Hints, Materials & Architecture

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46 comments

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6:15PM PST on Dec 24, 2011

great ideas, but so much of this assumes that the parent/s have a large enough house to do all this. However, even a small apartment can have a craft corner, even if it folds up when the kid is done. I wouldn't throw out the kid's artwork though. Some kids will forget, some kids are very particular and will feel hurt if they come back later and something they were working on or liked or planned to keep has been chucked. If the kid is old enough to draw anything more than scribbles, they are old enough to care about their work.

11:05AM PDT on May 23, 2011

GREAT IDEAS

5:32PM PDT on Mar 31, 2011

good idea

4:42AM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

It is nice to do this.

11:36AM PDT on Mar 18, 2011

Play should be encouraged! These sound like fun ideas for adults too! Just because you're over the age of 12 doesn't mean you don't like to play anymore.

10:57AM PST on Mar 11, 2011

great ideas... thanks...

10:57AM PST on Mar 8, 2011

Great ideas, I may try it

5:54PM PST on Feb 28, 2011

i think dedicated areas regardless of the size of your house works well. children love organization and freedom combined.

4:43PM PST on Feb 28, 2011

thanks

10:19PM PST on Feb 27, 2011

children need their own play spaces,great article thanks

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