A cozy + happy playroom (and the secret weapon that’ll keep kids in there)

My cousin Hailey lives in Arizona with her doctor husband and three kids that rival mine for cutest children on the planet. She asked me recently for ideas on how to make her playroom work better for the family—a fun challenge!

The room is a great space (and these photos were captured from video, so sorry for the quality):


Hailey said, “I just would love it to be cute and sweet in here. It just kind of is a thrown-together room that gets messy every day.”

Playrooms are tricky in the first place because do kids actually play in playrooms? Mine want to be by my side 24/7. I wondered if this were a plight unique to my life, but when I asked you on Instagram, 94 percent of you said your kids do the same (and to the remaining 6 percent, you won the lottery with kids who occupy themselves).

So that was Challenge #1, but here are Hailey’s other concerns and musts:

  • The toys and craft supplies are stored in the closet, but the kids have a hard time putting stuff away and keeping things tidy (to which I say, such is life).
  • The room needs more storage—maybe bins or something to make it easier to stash things.

I worked up this little moodboard of what I would do if the space were mine:

Source list at end of post

Here are the details:

• First, a playroom just begs for whimsical wallpaper. The great thing is that a chair rail is already in place, so wallpaper could be added above that, which would reduce cost. (P.S. The wallpaper above comes in a removable version too—score!) The wall color is good, so I wouldn’t change that. And look at the big window! I would take down the blinds and add a roman shade or woven shade that can be left open most the time and provide texture too.

• Second, a daybed centered under the window would be perfect in this room. It would give the kids a place to snuggle up while reading books or playing with toys. But it would also be an ideal spot for Hailey to rest or read while kids are playing (because, you know, kids like to be around Mom).

Also, Hailey had a trundle bed growing up, so I thought it would be fun and nostalgic to add one here. That also turns this room into a guest room and makes this a fun space for the kids to have “sleepovers” on weekends. My kids love sleeping in each other’s rooms or the basement on Friday nights, so this could be that kind of space for her family.

• I would move the existing desk to the same wall as the closet. Hang three animal prints above the desk and mount a battery-operated picture light like this on the wall above. If the space isn’t illuminated, it’s hard to make pretty art. Having a wall-mounted light fixture is a good alternative to a lamp that would eat up workspace and could fall on the floor.

• I always love a dresser for extra storage. Bins are fine, but they tend to look busy or messy; this way the kids can drop their stuff inside, shut the drawers, and it’s all buttoned up. I love a midcentury dresser to complement the Jenny Lind daybed, and I love the idea from Vintage Revivals to paint a pink swath up the center. I also like a stained-wood dresser in a kids’ space because it’s bound to get dinged up, and dings won’t show as much on wood as they will on painted furniture.

• That reminds me, the room needs to be a good balance of feminine and masculine because Hailey has one son and two daughters. So the bed is black metal and the buffalo check feels boyish, but the little dabs of pink add a touch of sweetness without being saccharine.

• Having a closet in this room is awesome, but I would recommend tearing out everything inside and installing floor-to-ceiling shelves. We did this in one of our daughter’s closets upstairs, and I store toys and all my holiday decorations in there (see a real-life photo below).

When shelves actually fit the entire width of the closet, it is shocking how much you can store.

• Hailey said the room will soon have wood-look tile floors, great for cleaning up after craft projects. I would recommend an easy-to-clean and durable rug like this for under the daybed, however. Kids like to play on the floor, but playing on hard floors isn’t comfy. A rug will provide the softness they need and that the room needs.

• All of this is fine and dandy, but until Hailey adds a few vintage finds and sentimental pieces, it will still feel pretty sterile. A stack of old books on the dresser, a big wicker basket for stashing picture books beside the daybed, a favorite family quilt, and more pictures that mean something will be the finishing touches for this space. Oh, and don’t forget a plant. Some faux billy balls would be darling on the dresser.

What a fun project! Thanks, Hailey, for asking me to chime in. What suggestions do you have for this space? •



Desk (similar)


Buffalo-check pillows

Animal prints (all from the same shop)

Floor lamp

Needlepoint pillow


ABC print

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