““But if we can create this space where the whole family — grown-ups and kids alike — feel welcome and want to spend time, then they’re more likely to use it, play in it, bond and just have this really rich relationship.”“How to Create a Playroom That Appeals to Children and Adults,” Tim McKeough, The New York Times, January 31, 2023
It’s odd when you think about it, but those who design play spaces don’t talk to those who make toys. Shouldn’t there be a dialogue? Shouldn’t architects and interior designers have something to say about how toys can best interact with furniture, floors, walls, and ceilings? And shouldn’t those same architects and interior designers benefit from knowing what toy companies are planning so they can design empathically?
That went through my mind when I read an excellent New York Times article by Tim McKeough entitled “How to Create a Playroom That Appeals to Children and Adults.” Mr. McKeough starts his article with this quote:
If you were a child again, what kind of playroom would you rather have: a basement filled with castoff furniture (because no one cares if you jump on that worn-out sofa), or a colorful room that celebrates toys and art, inviting you to climb up the walls?“How to Create a Playroom That Appeals to Children and Adults,” Tim McKeough, The New York Times, January 31, 2023
“Celebrates toys,” I like that. Anyone who wants to celebrate toys is someone with whom I want to spend some time; what new ideas could come from a conversation about how toys and space should go together?
We can get an idea of the conversation that might take place by reviewing the steps Mr. McKeough lists for creating an ideal play environment for children and adults. He writes:
Have Fun With the Décor
Prepare the Floor
Install Friendly Furniture
Create a Toy Hub
Add an Art Station
Let Them Swing, Jump and Climb“How to Create a Playroom That Appeals to Children and Adults,” Tim McKeough, The New York Times, January 31, 2023
The author provides a lengthy dissertation on each point. This article has a lot to unpack (I recommend that you read it), but I want to focus on “Create a Toy Hub.”
Mr. McKeough spoke with Anne Gillyard, “an early-childhood development specialist who founded grOH! Playrooms.” She had this to say about keeping a playroom civilized.
Storage is critical if you want to keep a playroom from becoming a chaotic mess. And the most vital piece, Ms. Gillyard said, is a storage wall she calls a “toy hub.”
This could be an inexpensive unit from Ikea or an elaborate set of built-ins, she said, but her favorite designs include cubbies that keep different types of toys separate. “It really helps kids know where things go back,” she said.“How to Create a Playroom That Appeals to Children and Adults,” Tim McKeough, The New York Times, January 31, 2023
Ms. Gilyard describes a way to make old toys seem new again. She suggests having two storage forms, one on view and accessible and the other hidden and not accessible.
Why hide some of the toys? So you can rotate your in-home toy stock. By hiding away some of the toys and restoring others, the excitement returns as children play with toys they have not seen for days or weeks.
By making a playroom the center of family life, parents and children would be immersed in play. That kind of immersion would likely lead to more play time and more toys.
Have you engaged an interior designer or architect when planning a line of toys? If you have, let us know about it. I for one would like to walk Toy Fair with a playroom specialist. In fact, I am going to do just that.