Five ways to create the perfect playroom
Ballast Point managing director Mathew Wilk from Ballast Point Projects reveals his top tips for kids’ zones – and why your home should have one
Every child loves a secret space they can escape to; an adult-free zone where their spirit and imagination can flourish. When you see your kids engaged in imaginative play it’s truly inspiring and beautiful. I fondly remember some of my childhood secret spaces and I have no doubt it helped make me who I am today. Now that I have (sort of) grown up and have kids of my own, I think that these spaces are not only for kids, but they can also add significant value to a home. According to sales agent Matt Hayson from Cobden & Hayson Balmain, when selling a home an interesting play area like a loft helps potential buyers engage with the property on a deeper level.
When we are helping our clients with a home design, we want to create something that engages with everyone who will enter, including kids, so we help them identify potential play spaces they may not have previously considered.
Here are five steps to consider when creating your own magic space:
1. Find an unused space and integrate it into your house – most commonly it’s the attic but sometimes it’s just a room with a tall ceiling. Ideally the new space enhances the existing one and adds value to the whole house. Recently we helped our clients Nick and Chloe create a play area for their 11-year-old son Marcus by using some of the tall triangular space created by removing the old ceiling. Marcus loved the idea of an extra play area for toys and for sleepovers. Design tip: The quality of the overall space is the most important thing – work with your designer to ensure the final product is coherent and doesn’t look like an afterthought.
2. Create an awesome way to access the space. The only thing more important than the quality of any space is how you move within it and how that makes you feel. A bulky stair eats up living space and is best avoided. Try to disguise a stair or ladder within adjacent joinery. At our recent project in Llewellyn St, Balmain, we incorporated a play area in the loft which can be accessed via a secret ladder hidden in the living room bookcase which added to a sense of mystery and fun. Design tip: Avoid drop down ladders at all costs, if you need to move things to get in your kids won’t benefit from the space.
3. Create space and light – kids will make use of tight spaces we won’t even fit into so don’t rush to close off tight spaces and build in too many cupboards. Low nooks can change into cubbies with a couple of big cushions. What seems like a tight, unusable space for an adult can feel like a massive room for a toddler. Design tip: Double glazed skylights that open are a cost-effective solution to bring both light and ventilation into the loft space. But not only that, they can help ventilate your entire house.
4. Make it safe and comfortable. There are numerous ways to make it safe. We prefer sports netting, which softens the look and promotes good ventilation. If the play space is near a roof, add insulation well beyond the normal standards. Design tip: Find a balance between safety and adventure. Kids have been climbing things forever, so it’s OK to make access a bit tricky and exciting.
5. Make it fun and use your imagination. Kids love secret doors and secret nooks and crannies. Throw in some beanbags, install fairy lights, add lots of pillows for fort building and all their favourite toys. In Marcus’s loft we stacked joinery boxes in a way that could be climbed for access and designed an adjoining hammock out of safety mesh high above the room below.
Keep in mind that it’s not just for kids – you never know when you’re going to find yourself in the loft. At a recent open for inspection we found that a loft that we designed for kids had captivated the adults just as much. As the buyers came through it was the adults who were inspired – perhaps by childhood memories – to reimagine the loft as a place to hide away and escape everyday life – a music room, a home office, a recording studio, they all had their own interpretation and the place spoke to them as much as it did to the kids who visited.
Need help designing a playroom for your kids? We’d love to help, so please get in touch!