How do I make this a functional play area and office space?


Hi, please excuse the mess. We had to redo our drop ceiling and I just threw everything everywhere. Anyway, in my basement, my children have their toy/play area and my "office". I measured my desk and it will fit alongside of the right wall where their toy book is now. I want to give them a larger play area. What are some ideas for a play area for them, where the desk space is now? And, what are some ideas for the desk area (where toys are now.) They are 3 & 2 and boy/girl, so I was thinking about making one side boyish, and the other side girly.... I don't know where to begin! I feel overwhelmed!

q swapping spaces

This would be swapped to my desk area.

q swapping spaces

I want to turn this into the kids section... And maybe add curtain enclosure to close off area?

  10 answers
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 11, 2018

    Hello Ang,

    Pencil, Paper and a tape. Measure the room and transfer it to a scaled drawing if you can of the floor area shape. Measure your desk and any other items that are needed to fit in and name them so you remember what they are. Juggle them around on your plan until it feels right.

  • Joy30150932 Joy30150932 on Dec 11, 2018

    Boys and girls like to play with each others toys so I would suggest you just do one play area for the two of them. You could purchase the plastic cabinet with the plastic drawers for the smaller toys and to train the children to pick up once they have finished playing for the day. Do the walls in a nice bright color that suits everyone's purpose since children grow up so fast. Above your desk area you could put shelves on the walls for your stuff.

    Add some pictures for children on their side and do the same on yours with an adult theme. This will differentiate the two areas.

  • BonBon BonBon on Dec 11, 2018

    I would leave your desk in the space it’s in. Curtain off what you want, if you choose too. Give the children the rest of the room with strict orders they must pick up toys, books, etc. when finished playing. Hope this helps you come to a resolution. Merry Christmas!

  • Ang Ang on Dec 11, 2018

    Thank you! Great suggestions!!

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Dec 12, 2018

    Clean everything out of the room! Paint it a neutral color as the whole area does not look large. Put an area rug down where you want the desk. That will define your "office" space. Then place your desk on it. Bring in the chair? couch?, book cases and other large items. Cull out the toys that aren't used and give them to a thrift store. Get bins for everything. Label them.

    When everything is all done, your number one rule is: No children or toys on Mom's rug.

    If you don't like the idea of an area rug to define your space, and there is enough room, float the beige couch or chair at the edge of your space and put the back of the desk at the back of the chair so you are looking at the kids area. That will create a barrier for toys and kids.

  • Pamela Pamela on Dec 12, 2018

    Pull everything out of the room and paint it a color in a light tone , it will not only brighten the room but make it look larger. My father always made desks for our bedrooms by getting 2 , 2 drawer filing cabinets and placing a piece of Formica covered wood or countertop , or painted wood with clear plexiglass glass over it . You can even pay a collage of maps, pictures of anything of interest to you , under the glass. This gives you a large work space ,that is also washable if used for crafts. It also gives you drawer storage as well !!!

    As for dividing the room ??? It might make it look too small or cramped.

    But if it is needed , I like the curtain idea, it gives you the option of keeping it open or closed.

    As for the play area, do not make a boy and girl area !!! Let them play together and encourage that !!! Girls like playing with boy toys like cars and boys like playing with girl toys like cooking toys. But do get lots of bins for storage. You can take a picture of different types of toys, blocks , cars , dolls , balls,stuffed animals,, and tape a picture to each bin so they know where to put them. Have

    shelves for books and games. It is very important to make it easy for your kids to clean up after themselves, if they dont, they will shove things anywhere and get overwhelmed and not want to do it. It is just as important for them to clean it up themselves daily or 2x's a day !!! This will help give them a structured foundation for keeping themselves organized and responsible in the future.

    for people who say let kids be kids, I agree fully !!! But as a parent you can help them by setting some rules , that will in the long run make both their life and yours easier in the future. You can make clean up time more fun by playing some kids music and say to clean it up by the time the 3rd or 4th song is done, or set a timer, an old fashioned kitchen one , where they can visually see how much time they have left. Reward them ( ok to bribe them, in this case) if they get it done in time, with reading them a story , a small snack , playtime outside , a trip to the library ..Also praise them for a good job!!!!!

    This will show them that with work there is reward.

  • Kathy Jones Adams Kathy Jones Adams on Dec 12, 2018

    Add can you put desk in closet make this office? I just did this - if not shelves and bins in there - $ store great for baskets/ bins— couch can be used as barrier to office/ play area? I went to a daybed/couch in mine. Can sit or if extra guest comes I have a bed!

  • Debi53 Debi53 on Dec 12, 2018

    I like putting your desk in the children’s current play area. Get rid of the mix and match shelving systems you now have to store toys. I would then line the closet with shelves for the children’s toys and books. Use a shelving system that lets you adjust the shelves as needs change. Lowe’s or Home Depot carry these. You just mount rails to the back of the closet (use sheetrock wall anchors so that the shelves are very secure), slip in the shelf hooks, and lay shelving on top. Easy to do and easy to change Use only clear plastic storage bins for individual type of toys. For example: all Legos in one bin, wooden puzzles in one bin, small cars in another, play dough, crayons, etc. Clearly label each bin so that any adult knows what goes where and everyone can see what’s inside . Use smaller clear containers for smaller toys and larger bins for larger toys. Park riding toys and larger toys on the floor beneath the shelves. When you close the doors to the closet, a lot of the clutter will disappear. If you need more storage, hang more shelves (out of the children's reach) on your walls. Paint the walls a soft soothing color—a pale aqua, ivory, or gray—something neutral that will work for you as an adult and a boy and girl. Paint all the furniture to go in the room white which will brighten up this room. Paint one section of the kids’ wall with magnetic paint. This can go under your wall paint so the children can play with magnets but still have your wall color. You can paint another section of the wall with chalkboard paint or hang a dry erase board when they get a little older. When my children were little, I took a plain 1 x 4 x 72” board, painted it white and used wood glue to glue sturdy wooden clothespins to it every 6 inches or so. This was the perfect place to display their art projects. Place this high enough that they can’t pull the papers off while they are really little. Buy deep fabric baskets with handles to store stuffed animals, dolls, etc. Hang these one above the other (vertically) on sturdy J hooks. Now your floor area is clear. Put in a small table and chairs against one wall so that your children have a place to eat snacks or sit and color. Have your children only take out one or two plastic bins to play with at a time. When they are bored with those toys, help them pick them up and when those bins are put away, they can take out new bins to play with. If you are consistent with this rule, they will have space to play and their area will not get overwhelmed with scattered toys. If space permits, include a comfortable chair where you can sit and read to your children or just be comfortable while they play and two bean bag chairs for the children.

    On your side, put the same type shelves above your desk to hold your supplies. Create a small ‘kitchen’ in your office. Put in a dorm size fridge with a small microwave on top of it and possibly a coffee pot on top of that. Use non-skid pads between each appliance so that they don’t shift around.On the shelves above that, keep snacks, and a few kitchen supplies-sippy cups, coffee cups, coffee, bottled water, silverware, paper towels, wet wipes, etc. Also keep a small plastic tub to carry used utensils upstairs to be washed and back down when they are clean. This will keep you from running up and down the stairs all day and will take up very little space. I know this is quite long, but you said you were overwhelmed and I have spent many years organizing spaces. I hope this helps you.

    • Ang Ang on Dec 12, 2018

      Wow!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for your detailed description! I was reading, and saw your words come to life. Thank you!!!! It's really what I can envision now!!! Now, I need to get started with implementing it!!!! This is great!

  • Debi53 Debi53 on Dec 14, 2018

    So glad I could help you. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I hope your room turns out to be beautiful and well organized.

  • Robyn Garner Robyn Garner on Dec 15, 2018

    One more thing to add - excellent lighting! I always had a play space in the basement for my 2 kids but without great lighting, no one wants to be downstairs.