Question: I have a room I use both as guestroom (which has a daybed with trundle), and a playroom. The room is not large. What ideas do you have that would be cute for preschool age children and adult guests?
Answer: This should be a great project! Since the room is small, I think you will want to make a few decisions about what kinds of play you want to take place in the playroom. My recommendation is to keep the center of the room as open as possible so the children have space to play. You could get a play carpet with a neighborhood on it that could be used with cars or dolls. The carpet could then be rolled up when guests are coming or moved to another room. Bring in the folding luggage rack and you’ll be ready to go.
There may not be enough room for a small art table and chairs unless you can find something that can double as a table for your guests. Childcraft Education Corp. (www.childcraft.com) has a great selection of children’s furniture that includes a set of three small wooden nesting tables that are versatile without taking up too much space. These could be used for puzzles, games with small pieces, and drawing. “Big” art activities with things like paint, play dough, and glitter can take place in the kitchen. You might plan storage for a few plastic storage bins of art supplies (small enough for your child to carry). A wall of corkboard could be added to display the children’s artwork or you may want to frame some of your child’s favorite work. A blackboard could be hung on the wall out of the way and could include special welcome messages for your favorite guests.
A book area will be useful to both adults and children. You could set up a basket of books that can be filled with your child’s favorite books and then switch to magazines for your guests. This would also be a good place to keep your child’s library books so you are not frantically looking for missing books on library day. You might also get a large stack of floor pillows for the children to lounge on and use for imaginative play. An aquarium would also be a nice relaxing touch as well as age appropriate responsibility for your child.
Guests and children will also enjoy a music/video center. Look for something that is accessible and simple for children to operate. Organize the children’s tapes and videos where they will be used to make clean-up a breeze.
The biggest issue is, of course, storage. My first preference is shelves instead of toy chests or trunks because children tend to take better care of their toys and they can readily see the toys with all the pieces intact. Feel free to use a storage trunk if you find one that works for the guest room and then rotate toys in and out as needed. Any school supplier, like Childcraft, has low wooden shelves that can be placed along the walls. Some even have felt boards and blackboards on the back sides. You can also organize toys on stacking shelves in the closet. Just be sure the system works for children so they get what they need without too much adult intervention. Label bins or baskets with pictures of the toys so children can see where everything goes at clean-up time.
Most of all – have fun using colors and objects that create a place where you would like to play and visit!
Karen Deerwester, Ed.S.