One of the big selling points for our new home was the adorable playroom on the main floor. Well, that and the shiplap wall. But we really felt like our last home just didn’t have a great space for the little ones to play, so we really wanted that in this house! The previous owners turned their formal living room into a playroom – and it was PERFECT. And I’m excited to share with y’all my fun playroom ideas for toddlers, now that our playroom decor is all finished!
I took some photos of the previous owners playroom, because I loved the way they had it set up. They had painted the lower half of the wall with chalk paint, and put a chair rail shelf (not a technically correct term, I’m sure) in the middle for books.
This shelf doesn’t make it easy for a 3 year old to get a book independently – but it does prevent them all from being pulled out at once!
Aren loved the teepee they had, but I wanted to add a tent instead. I also liked the playroom organization and storage they had with the bench storage and seating by the window. However, I know the more storage we have… the more stuff we have. So for now I am leaving that out.
Some quick searches on Pinterest and Instagram gave me a few new playroom ideas for toys and decor – and so I got to work!
Aren got this Kid Kraft vintage kitchen last year for her birthday, and it is still one of our most played with toys! Both Aren and Rowen love to cook up snacks and make coffee for me. At some point they ripped out the kitchen sink, but it has taken a beating and is still standing!
We have some random assortment of pots, pans, dishes, cake, and ice cream. I’ve thought about replacing these with “cuter” kitchen accessories – but they love what we have! So why fix what isn’t broken, right?
Notice anything strange about this shopping cart? Oh yeah, NO WHEELS. That’s right. I didn’t read the directions when I put the thing together. Clearly that was a bad idea because I ruined the wheels and had to toss them out. Oh well. Glad my kids aren’t judgy.
Tent for Imaginative Play
I really like to incorporate playroom toys that foster creativity and imagination, and this Tnee’s tent is perfect for that! We can pretend to camp out, make it a rocket ship, or use it to play house. And it folds up easily to even take outside when the weather is nice!
I got the mud cloth pattern for their tent, if you were wondering. It is gender neutral and matches our decor.
With our hardwood floors, I wanted the kiddos to have something soft to sit on while they play. They love this leaf mat from Blabla Kids (do you remember the Blabla Kids mobiles in Aren’s and Rowen’s bedrooms?).
Rowen will either lie down on the leaf mat and pretend to sleep, or grab it and drag it around like Linus with his blanket. It’s the cutest thing! He brought in some leaves from outside to play with too. This as as close as I get to camping. Sorry, kids. Not mama’s thing!
Reading Nook with Recliner
While the playroom is primarily for the kids, I planned for the adults too! Dorel Living was super nice to send us a recliner to try out, and it was the finishing piece for our playroom reading nook. I added in this Baby Relax recliner for two very important reasons:
- These floors are HARD and adults need somewhere comfy to sit.
- It’s great for reading books with the babies – which they LOVE!
Rowen is in a biting phase, so we have to keep a close eye on him. I can easily sit in this chair and rock while Ro and Aren play nearby. The grandparents also come over often to play with the kids or watch them while Arien and I go out. They definitely don’t love sitting on the floor, and this chair is much more comfortable for them.
Of course, these kids are quick to grab a book and climb in someone’s lap if they get the chance. I’ve even caught Aren rocking and reading to her babies. She loves pretending to be a teacher!
I keep a small assortment of books on the ledge behind the recliner. Only a small selection though, to keep it from being overwhelming for the kids. Too many choices can be frustrating for little ones, and they do best when they have a few books to choose from. We also read over our favorites many times – which is great for early readers! They learn new vocabulary and can start “reading” the books themselves after memorizing the words.
Play Rug and Wooden Figures
We were super happy when IVI World asked us to try out this 3D play carpet, and I bought some Melissa & Doug wooden farm figures so the kids could interact with the rug and have fun! Rowen is my little sensitive skin kiddo, so it was important to me that this rug was latex free and the yarn had non-toxic dye.
I also really prefer to include toys that are well-made and durable (y’all my kids are WILD, no joke) because I don’t like to toss broken junk out after a few months (ahem, or hours) of play. That’s why we have a lot of wooden toys that are almost impossible to break! This rug is also stain resistant and has a 100% quality guarantee, which is a bonus when you’re raising tiny tornadoes.
Educational Playroom Ideas
In addition to open-ended play and books for reading, I try to include activities that are educational in some way. After teaching for 12 years, incorporating learning activities is just second nature!
My kiddos love puzzles, so we keep some wooden puzzles out for them to do. These are kept up on the ledge so I can help make sure pieces aren’t lost. They love Melissa & Doug puzzles with animals, cars, and even Minnie Mouse.
We also keep a couple of busy bead toys like this one on top of the kitchen. It’s good for identifying patters, colors, and counting.
We do a lot of counting games and songs, and identify letters around us. That’s why I decided to spell out PLAY in big letters on the wall!
We also just got these wooden puzzles from This & That Etc, and my kids are going to go nuts when they see them! They literally just came in the mail today, so I wasn’t able to add them into our playroom photos. Aren and I will be using them for letter recognition and eventually matching capital and lowercase letters.
Rowen may chew his letters for now, haha. I fully expect him to want to put his puzzle together like big sister though! He wants to do everything she does.
Playroom Ideas for Storage and Organization
Well this will be a short section. Our playroom storage is simple:
- Kitchen items get shoved into the kitchen cabinets/oven/fridge.
- Fruits and veggies go in the shopping cart.
- Books go on the ledge.
- Wooden building blocks go into a cloth bag IF we remember to put them in there.
- Farm animals go into the Lorena Canals cloth basket.
- Everything else goes in the Hurricane Munchkin toy box.
That’s it. Pretty simple. While Rowen is in the early stages of learning how to clean up, Aren has it down 100%. She is so particular about cleaning that she has even scoffed at her daddy for putting toys away in the wrong spot.
No clue where she gets that from.
Anywho, after years of trying to teach kids how to clean up, I have one main tip: Everything needs a home. If the kids know where it goes, they can put it away. If something doesn’t have a home, kids get frustrated because they don’t know what to do. So they quit. We get mad. Not pretty.
Also – I think it’s worth repeating – keeping toys and things to a minimum makes it much easier to clean! That’s why we have one toy box for most of their toys. If the playroom toy box gets full, it’s time to purge some things. We only keep what fits in the box.
(Don’t tell the kids, but I do have a storage tub of toys in the basement. Periodically, I’ll switch out toys they are bored with and bring up some “new” toys they haven’t seen in a while. Same with the books. They go wild. It’s genius.)
Ok that last section wasn’t as short as I thought it would be, but this one will be brief for sure.
I bought all of our decor at Hobby Lobby. They had wall decor 50% off.
Again, I really wanted a minimalistic playroom because too much makes this small space feel crowded. Cluttered. And I don’t like clutter. Little kids’ brains don’t handle clutter well, either!
Because I have both a boy and a girl, I wanted colors that were gender neutral. But I didn’t want ONLY neutral colors, so I chose some green with the cacti.
I also like to include words and letters for them to see, to increase literacy awareness. (More on that soon!)
Playroom Ideas on a Budget
If you want to incorporate any of these playroom ideas here, many things can be replicated on a budget!
Check local yard sales or Facebook Marketplace for second-hand toys. People are ALWAYS getting rid of kids’ toys, and books too! Most of our books are ones that I’ve saved from when Hunter and Kaiden were little. They are a little ragged, but still good!
Chalk paint can easily be added to a half wall, or just one wall, and is fairly inexpensive at Home Depot!
Instead of adding a chair rail around the room, you can also just add some floating shelves on a wall. Repurposing pallets or milk crates is also an option that could be free!
And finally, if you know a teacher who is retiring, see if she has some old learning games and classroom decor that she’s willing to part with. Teachers are notorious for hoarding things (can I say that?) and you may luck up and find someone who just wants it gone.
What do you think about these playroom ideas for toddlers? Anything you think I should add in? I’d love for you to share your thoughts!