Functional Storage + Engaging Stations + Modern, Crisp Color Palette = A Perfect Playroom
Karri Bowen-Poole founded Smart Playrooms and she has been creating award winning educational playrooms for over 12 years. The company’s goal: to create play spaces that parents and kids alike love.
This project, designed by Bowen-Pool and Smart Playrooms for a 1- and 3-year-old, was new construction, so the team was lucky to work with a completely blank slate. But Bowen-Pool says the size of the space doesn’t matter as much as the layout, storage, and choice of activity zones. “If the space is small, it’s always better to do two zones really well rather than try to fit six activity zones scrunched in a small space,” she advises.
This space had about 1,000 square feet, so they were able to include all the activity zones needed, including an art studio, basketball/sport zone, climbing and swinging/ gymnastic zone, a TV-and-storage area, a playhouse and pretend play zone, and a reading nook with book storage.
The inspiration for this space was the artist peel-and-stick murals sold through projectplayroom.com. The rest of the palette was drawn from that for the storage, carpet, bins, and furnishings. “We used the mural in the physical play zone and turned it into a climbing wall, so it had both beauty and functionality,” says Bowen-Pool.
At Smart Playrooms, Bowen-Pool says she loves to use gender-neutral colors that are not typical primary colors and that impact how the children in the space play. “We always think very carefully about palette and how our choices will affect the kids,” says Bowen-Pool. “Colors that support quiet play, focus, and creativity are various shades of blues and teals. Whites make children feel calm and open; pinks help kids feel love and kindness; greens encourage children to feel renewed, tranquil, and refreshed.”
Not only are there zones in which to monkey around in the space; there are also quiet zones, like the custom SMART circular reading nook. “This space encourages kids to read and think, but it’s also a fun way for them to snuggle into a cozy area to relax,” says Bowen-Pool. “Kids are so overscheduled these days, so a nook that focuses on daydreaming, reading, and storytelling is a win-win for them.”
Bowen-Pool also always thinks about the longevity of the play spaces she designs — not only what the children will use it for now but also what they will use it for in the future. “All of the zones here and in all our spaces are focused on what we want kids to learn now, what we want kids to spend more of their time doing, and what we want the kids to be doing in the future,” she adds. “I want kids to be creative and be problem-solvers, so every activity focuses on how to build these skills in kids.”
No matter how much room you have, there is always an opportunity to build a space the kids can call their own, and it’s so important, according to Bowen-Pool.
“Having a dedicated playroom that kids know is a space just for them can make them feel confident and valued,” says Bowen-Pool. “When the kids love being in the space and feel like it was made just for them, they will want to spend more time in there and invite friends to come over and play more often.”