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Credit: Regan Baker

The 10 Best Playrooms Designers Have Ever Created

updated Jul 8, 2021
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When I was a kid, I can’t remember having any friends who had their own playroom. Kids in my suburb typically played in their rooms (or outside!); if you were lucky, your parents might have ceded you the basement as a rec room. But by the time I was babysitting in the mid- to late-’90s, the playroom had become a thing. Today, there’s hardly a family house that doesn’t have a space dedicated to children’s play.

A special room for play is a luxury for sure, but it’s also a smart and strategic use of space. Separating play and sleep spaces helps kids wind down at the end of the day, and if the playroom gets a real workout, you can close the door on the mess and deal with it later. If you’re tight on space, it might even make sense to have kids share a bedroom and leave one room just for play!

Playrooms are also a chance for professional designers to, well, play! These kid-centric spaces allow designers to have fun with color, pattern, and more. Children’s recreation rooms also present unique storage and organization challenges. Filled with toys, art supplies, and the like, a playroom needs to have a place for everything if you want it to be easy to tidy up.

We called on our favorite designers and asked them to show us their favorite play spaces. Here are 10 truly creative rooms designed for fun.

An all-ages art space

Credit: Julie Soefer

Located in an expansive, newly built home in Houston, Texas, this art and playroom by interior designer Marie Flanigan is used by four siblings, who range in ages from 4 to 10. “The goal of the room was to create a bright, happy space where the siblings can play together and be creatively inspired,” says Flanigan. The full-sized furniture, including cheerful yellow Tolix-style chairs, is meant to grow with the kids as they age. The gallery wall is filled with art by the children. The trick to making the collection of kids’ art look chic? Flanigan framed everything with simple, uniform white mats and frames. 

A cute and cozy Mid-Century rec room

Credit: Jessie Webster

As part of a renovation of a 1949 ranch house in California, decorator Lilly Walton designed this playroom for three sisters ages 6, 4, and 2. With the girls at different stages of play, she included a table and stools for the older kids to draw and color and a play kitchen for their younger sister to be able to play in the same room as her big sisters. Walton says she specified the sofa as “a great place to cuddle up and read the girls books.” A playful pile of mix-and-match pillows lends it a youthful vibe. 

A place to climb the walls — literally

Credit: Regan Baker
Credit: Regan Baker

Interior designer Regan Baker created the ultimate playroom for one Bay Area family — it even has its own climbing wall! To create the climbing feature, Baker’s contractor installed plywood to the wall, securing it to the studs, then screwed rock climbing grips into the plywood. The rope climbing hanging is from Jammar Manufacturing and the fabric swing is actually one meant for aerial yoga!

An adaptable arts and crafts area

Credit: Regan Baker
Credit: Regan Baker

In another corner of the same play space, Baker built out a craft room for the kids. The built-in is sophisticated enough for it to have a life after the littles have flown the coop (and the racks holding colorful paper, yarn, and paints are actually wine racks that Baker cleverly used in a new way!). To the right, IKEA’s skådis pegboards are pushed together to create a mega-wall of flexible storage. 

A candy-colored indoor playhouse 

Credit: Nina Magon

For this lucky family in Houston, Texas, designer Nina Magon dreamed up a custom indoor playhouse. Pops of color, courtesy of polka-dot wallpaper, kid-sized Panton chairs, and a FLOR’s Lilting carpet tiles, make the room pop. A trio of acrylic cloud pendant lights adds to the room’s sense of whimsy. 

An art barn by the beach

Mia Jung, the head of interiors at Ike Kligerman Barkley, says her favorite play space she ever designed was an art barn she created in a shed on Nantucket. “At that time, the kids were about 8, 6, and 3, and I thought this little shed would be great for kids to do their arts and crafts,” says Jung, who is a mom of two herself. Open to the garden on all four sides with windows and doors, Jung painted the doors in playful colors and used the same paint to splatter-paint the floor (a traditional New England finish!). 

A big-kid bonus room

This bonus room by interior designer Emily C. Butler located on New York City’s Upper East Side is a surprisingly sophisticated space for two boys, ages 6 and 9, but that’s because the whole family uses it. Located just off the kitchen, this tiny room is just 6’ x 11’, but Butler says she envisioned it as “a multi-purpose play space for this family.” Butler installed vinyl grasscloth wallpaper for durability and a darling spatterware ceiling for a little playful surprise. A subtle safari theme is threaded through the art and textiles in the room.

A next-level climbing wall and play loft

D2 Interieurs, based in Fairfield County, Connecticut, has such a knack for designing playrooms that they have carved out a niche business co-founded with Smart Playrooms, called Smart D2 Playrooms. In this playspace, this incredible rock climbing mural wall (it’s a depiction of rocks covered in graffiti!) takes center stage, but details like an extra-thick foam floor mats beneath the climbing wall and rope are the things that parents appreciate most. 

A basement that is actually beautiful

Credit: Mark Wickens

When she renovated a 1930s Tudor house in Forest Hills, Queens, for a family with two young children, architect Sonya Lee turned the basement into a destination. The play space features climbing structures, built-in shelving, and walls lined in whiteboards, so the kids can draw on the walls. Hygge & West’s Daydream wallpaper lines the stairway, hinting at the brightly colored furnishings, rugs, and toys below. 

A maxed-out corner for creating

Credit: MA Allen

Vintage Dunbar chairs, a banquette sofa, and a classic tulip table add up to a sophisticated foundation for this kids’ corner in interior designer MA Allen’s home. “I always love designing a space that works for kids and adults,” says Allen of this playful corner that gets used for arts and crafts, games and puzzles, and even movie night. “For kids’ dress-up clothes I couldn’t settle on a silly costume box, so I found this gorgeous brass trunk off Chairish and it’s done the trick!” 

A Beverly Hills baby den

Credit: Tim Street-Porter

Interior designer Jeff Andrews is known for his glamorous Los Angeles clientele (he’s even designed for Kardashians!), so it is not surprising that this Beverly Hills playroom his firm designed would feature a custom painting with the lyrics to the Madonna song, “Little Star.” The understated-yet-glam decor is anchored by a soothing green wall color.