Use your child’s imagination as a starting point to inspire the perfect playroom says Richard Bond of Jamie Hempsall Interior Design
It is amazing how many large playthings a small person can collect – and how much these invade the rest of home.
One solution to retaining your sanity is creating a dedicated play area where your children can create havoc and you can shut the door blocking out the mess.
Little minds require plenty of sensory stimulation so create a light, invigorating area using interesting colours (such a burnt orange and acid lime). Avoid focussing on harsh primary colours, as these become boring for a child and can severely limit future decoration schemes.
Focussing on wallpaper designs such as the Zagazoo range from Osborne & Little (£44 a roll), which features illustrations by Quentin Blake, helps avoid the inevitable need to decorate in too short a period as interest wanes in more age specific cartoon character choices.
Furniture needs to be the right size for your child so that they can use them unaided. Choose items with round edges to minimise the inevitable bumps all children accumulate. Places like Ikea provide some innovatively designed value items that are also durable and very cost effective (such as the Mammut table & chair, from £7). However, If you want to include serious design influence consider the Me Too range of children’s furniture, featuring iconic pieces such as the Puppy by Eero Aarnio. The price point is higher, but the overall look is wonderful.
You want to create a safe area for your children to play unsupervised. To this end, ensure bookcases or cupboards are well secured to avoid accidents, but at the same time ensure they are accessible so your children feel independent in their own space.
A great way to encourage creativity is by creating a black board wall at home. Use MDF cut to a little higher than you expect your children to grow in the next three years and of a length to span an entire stretch of wall. Coat the MDF in black board paint (available from hardware stores) and fix to the wall. Your children will then have a great space to draw with either traditional chalks or chalk markers.
If you have enough space above the black board fill it by enlarging a special family picture or have a digital image transposed onto a custom made wallpaper (for about £26 per Sq m, from sites such as www.photowall.co.uk).
Washable flooring avoids heart-break and soft play mats are particularly good. They are now available not only in bright colours, but incorporating letters, numbers and even working piano keyboards to facilitate both rough and tumble and creative play (check out www.softfloorkids.co.uk).
You can create a home art gallery to display your children’s artwork by using wallpaper featuring picture frames. My favourite for a Play Room is Funky Frames by Graham & Brown (£20 per roll; www.grahambrown.com).
Fill the frames with photos or artwork and even allow a little self-expression with crayons (if you dare). If you use Blu-Tak, rather than paste you can change displays and even develop the scheme as children get older.
For the finishing touch, add one or two oversize features (a large clock which can be used to learn to tell the time) or some indoor soft-play structures for added fun.