This Multipurpose Playroom Is Packed with Smart Solutions
Roberto Gil has created custom furniture for families through his company Casa Kids for more than three decades. Over the years, Gil has figured out how to squeeze a bed, desk, and storage into even the tiniest bedrooms; he has built furniture to divide rooms to give siblings their own spaces; and worked out ways to fit a third sibling into a bedroom that already held two.
But in the three years since the pandemic he says families are looking for even more functions packed into every room. “These days, I think people are even more aware of long-term investment in kids’ furniture,” says Gil. “They want rooms that fulfill many functions and pieces that will last until the kids leave home.”
One recent project for a family in New York City highlights this new phase of hardworking, multipurpose rooms. The parents wanted their apartment’s spare room to function as a guest room, play space, TV zone, and home office — but the room measured just 10 1/2 x 14 feet. Here’s how Gil maxed out the small space.
Embrace the daybed.
To make the room function as a guest room, a place to sleep was a must. Gil opted for a daybed over a wall bed because the family also wanted to use the space as a TV watching zone. When not in use for visitors, the daybed functions more like a couch (a TV is not mounted on the blank stretch of wall opposite the bed). A trundle bed beneath the daybed adds a second sleeping spot.
Go long with the desk.
The family wanted two workstations that both adults and kids could use, and “they wanted to be as far away from each other so they could be able to focus,” Gil recalls. However, in the small room, there was really only room for one desk, so Gil designed an extra-long modular desk for the longer wall, positioning the two work areas as far apart from one another as possible, while still leaving plenty of room for circulation at the room’s entrance.
Choose closed storage.
Because the room would need to hold both toys and office supplies, Gil opted for mostly closed-door storage. This reduced the overall visual clutter in the room and is more forgiving for everyday upkeep than all open shelves. The cutout circular cabinet pulls are minimalistic in style and also a great choice for young kids.
Craft a window seat.
To take advantage of the window wall, Gill created a custom window seat, leaving room for rolling toy storage bins below. He notes that the cushioned bench “has a bit of a double purpose: it’s mostly to hang out or for the parents to sit with their kids, but at 24 inches it’s deep enough that a young child could sleep there.”
Put your toy storage on wheels.
“Rolling bins are an excellent alternative to storage drawers,” says Gill. “It works very well for the kids to take out the bin and go play somewhere else.” These drawers are custom, but you can also buy readymade toy bins on wheels.
Display books like art.
To squeeze in a little more storage, Gil designed a display shelf for an awkward bump-out on the bed wall. At just four inches deep it doesn’t encroach on the play space or block light, but it lets the kids display a good amount of books, plus a few small toys. You could recreate the look with book ledges. Gil says he likes to use acrylic front pieces so you can view the full, uninterrupted book cover, making the books almost like wall art.
If you go custom, go modular.
As a designer and furniture maker, Gil confesses he may be a little biased towards custom pieces, but he says, “It wouldn’t have been possible to get this much function with off-the-shelf pieces.”
However, it may come as a surprise that Gil is not a fan of built-ins. “When you look at this room, it looks very built-in, very contextual: Things are fitted from wall to wall,” he says. “But everything is removable, reusable, and detachable. For example, the desk looks built-in but it can be separated into three separate units.”
If you’re going to splurge on something custom, ask the craftsperson to make it so you can take it with you when you leave!
Include a secret spot.
One design detail that might go unnoticed is the single door on the bottom left of the book display shelf. Unlike most of Gil’s utilitarian-minded design choices, this one is pure whimsy. “I always like putting a door in a corner,” says Gil. “It’s for hidden treasures — for the kids to put some of their favorite toys behind a little door.”
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