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Transition your playroom from toddler to teen

Update your playroom

The kids may grow and change to suit their ages, but the family playroom certainly doesn’t. Here are some suggestions and tips to help make your kids’ space more age appropriate.

Teen girls in playroom

Keep the kids' development in mind

Teresa Signorelli, PhD, CCC-SLP, clinic director at Marymount Manhattan College, says the playroom is an opportunity to encourage growth in all ages: "As a general rule, it is ideal for a playroom of a child of any age to have a range of items and activities that foster the pertinent areas of development. There are five areas of human development that mutually influence each other: physical, intellectual, social-emotional, emotional and moral."

Systematize

Helene Segura, a certified professional organizer and owner of LivingOrder San Antonio, advises parents to create designated spaces for everything: "Divide the room into zones: Arts and crafts, toys, books, etc. It helps develop the ideas of categories, plus kids learn to concentrate on one project at a time. It builds up their attention spans and helps them remember where items need to be returned."

Be the cool house

As the children outgrow their dolls and racetracks, transform their toy section into an area with older games and movies. Teens enjoy an indoor basketball hoop, darts, a pool table and comfortable chairs or beanbags to lounge in. If you want to entice the kids and their friends to hang out at your place, include a freestanding popcorn machine or cooler with drinks. They won't be able to resist.

Eye level and accessible

Segura also recommends organizing by the child's eye level: "In general, the most used activities and objects should be kept at an easy-grasp height for the users. So a playroom for toddlers has items lower to the ground, while a playroom for teenagers needs storage higher up the wall. The specific organization of the room depends on what activities need to happen there."

Decorate appropriately

Interior designer Natalie Umbert says she always incorporates her clients' favorite colors, interests or activities: "But the key is to not go overboard or too thematic. This should be a space they can grow into that shouldn't have to be drastically changed too often. You can do a theme like baseball or cars, but do it tastefully with art, rugs, furniture or other accessories that can be swapped out as the child grows and her interests change."

Furniture

Signorelli points out the importance of size-appropriate furniture: "Ideally, children should have their feet on the ground. If feet are dangling, children may spend energy balancing to stay in their chairs that could take away focus on the tasks at hand."

Get creative

Umbert reminds parents to let creativity rule, which can mean allowing the children to help plan their space. "Treat a kids' room as its own entity. It doesn't need to fit in to the general design scheme in your home," Umbert says.

"There is no one right way to design and stock a playroom," Signorelli finishes. "Make sure to have a nice balance of items and activities so that developmental areas are all fostered."

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