Embracing Minimalism in Playrooms: Why Less Is More
In a world filled with such much excess, our children’s playrooms are often no exception. Shelves are crammed full of flashy toys that the children stopped playing with within days, items that are broken, and kids that feel bored. If you and your child are feeling overwhelmed, a minimalist play room may be just what is needed.
We think if we have a lot of toys it will keep children entertained for longer. But the opposite is actually true. Less toys can lead to more space and more creativity and can feel far more inviting to children than a cluttered space.
As a former preschool teacher with a degree in early education who is now a toddler mom, I see a refreshing trend that’s gaining momentum – minimalist playrooms. Could it be that less really is more? Embracing minimalism in your children’s play area can create a more serene, enjoyable space that encourages creativity, learning, and imaginative play.
In this post, we’ll explore how to plan, design, and maintain a minimalist playroom that sparks joy and fosters a love of simplicity.
I moved abroad with 3 suitcases years ago and it drastically changed my life, to say the least. Met and married my husband abroad, adopted some fur babies, and then we had our daughter. I headed to the United States to visit family while I was pregnant and took the opportunity to purchase our baby items. I only had a suitcase of room so I was very minimal and strategic about what I bought for our baby. We were very pleased with the items we had and it worked out great.
Fast forward to now, I do find it more challenging with a busy toddler to keep things minimal but I have learned some tips that have really helped that I want to share with you today.
We moved to a different rental a few months ago and I was thrilled to see that it had a large room with an enclave. My husband and I were able to make the large room our shared office and the enclave a playroom for our daughter so I can watch her while I work.
You can learn more about that here: Working From Home With Your Toddler
You Don’t Have To Have a Big Playroom Or Dedicated Space For This To Work
I’m really thankful for this space but it doesn’t matter if you have a full playroom for your children, a space in the living room, or even a small space like a play closet. You can use these tips to reduce the clutter and stress. Many of these tips can go beyond the playroom too if you have other areas of the house that tend to collect toys and play items.
And you don’t have to consider yourself a minimalist mom either!
I love things to be clean and organized and I did move abroad with minimal things but I don’t consider myself a minimalist. We run two businesses from home and we have stuff. But we are more minimal than many and I’m passionate about helping people feel peaceful at home.
You don’t have to have everything stark white and grey and not have any pictures or books or things you enjoy to be more minimal and peaceful. For me, It’s about eliminating what you don’t love and need so you can create space for your family to thrive.
Please note: I’ve included links to products in this post to inspire you and help you if you are looking to add some great toys and organizational resources to your child’s dedicated play area but you do not have to buy anything to make your playroom work. All the product pictures are clickable if you do want to check anything out!
We are talking about a minimalist playroom design after all. There are resources here that can help but you can use what you already have around the house as long as they are safe, shop locally, at a thrift store, or swap items with other moms. There are many ways to get that perfect space for your child that you are looking for and even a space the whole family can enjoy together.
We want to teach our children to play independently but also remember that they need us more than anything. We can all spend time together in these spaces too, reading favorite books, playing, and enjoying the precious moments together. The playroom is your child’s space but can be the perfect spot for families to come together at different times of the day. Simply rearranging and cleaning out your kid’s playroom will go a long way in refreshing the space.
That said, let’s dive in!
Planning Your Minimalist Playroom
Assessing Your Space and Needs
If you have a playroom, then great but as I mentioned before you don’t have to have a whole dedicated room to use these tips. If you are just deciding where you want the play area to be then take this time to assess your space and your child’s needs. How much room do you have to work with, and what are your child’s interests? Thinking about these things first can help you create a functional and enjoyable playroom that can grow with your child.
Something that I have given a lot of consideration to as a mom who does want to have fewer things is when we do get items I like most of them to be ones that can grow with our child. Multi-purpose toys and furniture are great for this. For instance, we had a shelve bench built for our daughter’s nursery that I knew could have many purposes and then grow with her. It is now in her toddler playroom right next to our home office.
We kept her baby toys and books on it in her nursery and now we use it for her stuffed animals and labeled play bins. Later she will be big enough to sit on the bench. If ever there comes a time that she doesn’t need it anymore it will work as an entryway bench and shoe holder.
This is just one of many examples of multiple-purpose furniture but it is something to think about as you create your minimalist playroom.
Measuring Your Playroom Area
You do not need to spend a bunch of money to create your playroom. IKEA is a popular resource along with Amazon. You can shop locally and check thrift stores which I’m a big fan of if that is available to you. We love supporting small businesses. You can also repurpose items from around the house like low furniture, baskets, and storage bins. Just make sure you always check for safety.
If you are going to purchase new items it is a good idea to plan your room out on paper and measure to make sure the furniture and items will fit well and still leave room for good flow. Remember part of the purpose of a minimal playroom is to create floor space so children actually have room to play.
Measuring your playroom area ensures that you make the most of the available space. Precision in measurements will help you decide on the size and placement of furniture and storage solutions.
I don’t use room planning apps personally as I have been moving furniture around and rearranging our home for years but they could be a great option for you if you just cannot picture how things will fit and look. Apartment Therapy has a nice list of Room Design Apps.
Identifying Your Children’s Interests
If you have a younger child you may not know yet what their interests are but even toddlers tend to show a strong interest in certain things. Your playroom can cater to your child’s interests and developmental stage. Identify what makes your child the most excited and interested, whether it’s art, reading, building, or imaginative play. Tailor the playroom to their passions. But make it flexible as children are always changing.
Setting a Budget for Your Minimalist Play Room Makeover
I’ve mentioned this already, but creating a minimalist playroom doesn’t have to break the bank. Set a budget for your makeover, and explore cost-effective ways to transform the space. Remember, less spending doesn’t mean sacrificing quality.
There are so many ways to get great second-hand items that are in good condition. Check online groups and forums and ask around. Moms are often selling or giving away items as their children change and grow.
Look for budget-friendly decor options that align with your minimalist theme. One thing we loved about our daughter’s room was using peel-and-stick decals. We got her llama wall decals and plants on a shelf decals. It is a low-cost way to add a bit of whimsy to what could otherwise be a boring room.
As mentioned, I also love second-hand stores and online marketplaces for gems that can elevate the room without costing a fortune.
Decluttering and Organizing
The Art of Decluttering Toys
Decluttering is at the heart of minimalism. I know it can be a dreaded process but the benefits are so worth it! If you are struggling with decluttering your home in general check out the Reset Your Home Worksheets.
When it comes to decluttering toys and learning items here are some tips:
Have three bins or bags ready:
- One for trash to use for broken items that you will not have repaired.
- One for donations.
- One for items that you want to rotate out.
Go through all the items and put them in the appropriate bin. Throw out trash items and put the donation bin in your car after you fill it up so you can drop them off the next time you are out. You want to go ahead and get these items out of the space. It will feel so refreshing.
If needed you can also have a bin for items that do not belong in the space and need to be moved to another area of the house.
What If You Are Worried Your Children Will Miss The Stuff?
Everybody I have heard from that has done a playroom declutter the children don’t miss the things that were eliminated. They enjoy the free space and it is easier for them to play because it is less overwhelming. Of course, keep the things that you know are your kids’ toys that you know are favorites.
If there are things you are not sure about and think they may miss you can always create an organized space and then put those unsure items away in a box for a month and see if they notice or ask for them.
Rotating Toys for Variety And Easy Clean-Up
The rotation bin is for items that you want to keep but maybe are not age-appropriate at the moment or something your child used to love but has become bored with. Or just excess items you want to rotate so they feel new again later. Toy rotation is one of my biggest tips to keep a more minimal space and keep children engaged.
It is something I did as a preschool teacher using different toys and learning items for different seasons. It is a game-changer for moms. Minimalism doesn’t mean boredom. Rotating toys cuts the clutter big time and keeps the playroom fresh and exciting. This approach allows your child to rediscover forgotten favorites when you decide to bring items back out.
We rotate toys and books and it has been so helpful in having less to clean up. Less toys force children to be more creative. You can rotate on a certain schedule or just by when you feel like your child needs some different items.
You can store items that are out of rotation in bins by category so that you can take toys from each category when the time comes to put new items out. This keeps a variety of toy types out each time for children to play with.
If you have a storage room, you can keep extra art supplies, and the excess number of toys in there until you are ready to rotate them with overplayed items.
When you get new toys evaluate what will enhance kids room and what will be multiple purposes that can grow with your child and what you have enough space for. This will help you have less stuff and avoid creating clutter again.
Efficient Storage Solutions
To maintain a minimalist aesthetic, invest in efficient storage solutions. Think sleek shelves, discreet cabinets, and multifunctional furniture pieces that hide away toys when not in use. I also love bins and rectangle woven baskets that children can pull out and then put away themselves.
I have labeled bins that fit on our daughter’s shelves that she can pull out and play with and then put away. You can teach children to play with one or two bins at a time and put one away before getting another out to keep things more tidy.
Think about how you can use minimalist toy storage ideas like wall-mounted organizers, clear bins, or modular shelving units. These offer easy access to toys while keeping the room tidy. Get attractive ones that look nice and they double as room decor. Opt for neutral colors and labels to keep the room organized. Ensure easy access for your child and encourage them to participate in the tidying process.
Organize items and group like items together. Labeling with words and pictures can be a great way to help your little one with language development.
Selecting Minimalist Playroom Furniture
Essential Furniture Pieces
We have touched on this already but choose essential furniture pieces that serve a purpose while maintaining a minimalist aesthetic. Minimalist play tables and chairs provide functional seating while keeping the room uncluttered. Think about maintaining clean sight lines when everything is put away.
Minimalist Play Tables and Chairs
Opt for play tables and chairs with clean lines and neutral colors. These pieces create a serene atmosphere and provide a designated space for activities. You can also get tables and ottomans that the top lifts off for storage. This makes clean-up quick and easy.
Incorporate multi-functional furniture pieces that can adapt to your child’s evolving needs. I mentioned our bench shelf. There are also some great Montessori wood climbing toys that have multiple functions and the natural wood can make them look like decor pieces. Another idea is a toy chest that doubles as a bench or a bookshelf that also serves as a room divider is both practical and space-saving.
Neutral Color Schemes
Neutral color schemes are your allies in achieving a minimalist playroom. Shades of white and gray provide a blank canvas that allows other elements to stand out. But don’t be afraid to add some other calming colors if there is a color you love. Embracing a calming color palette doesn’t mean sacrificing vibrancy. Neutral and soft colors, such as pastels, create a tranquil atmosphere that fosters relaxation and focus. You could even paint an accent wall to cheer things up. One of our favorite colors is light mint.
A soothing palette can have a calming effect on your child, reducing stress and promoting a sense of well-being. It also complements the minimalist aesthetic, keeping the room clutter-free.
Creating Reading Nooks
Designate a cozy corner for reading by integrating a child-sized sofa or bean bags. You can even get bean bags that you stuff with stuffed animals so they double as storage. Keep it simple with a small bookshelf and a selection of books to encourage reading. Our daughter loves to look at books. As she still tears the pages sometimes I keep the more delicate ones up for us to read together but always have board books down and available at her level.
I love the wood floating wall bookshelves also.
Creating a Tranquil Atmosphere
As with any minimalist home decor ideas for other rooms, you can create a tranquil atmosphere in the playroom by incorporating soft furnishings and décor in soothing hues of nature and also by adding texture. Think plush rugs, throw pillows, and curtains in calming colors.
Then you can add pops of color strategically to infuse energy and vibrancy into the room. Consider colorful artwork, cushions, or playful area rugs for a dynamic touch.
Personalizing the Playroom
Minimalism doesn’t mean sacrificing personal touches. Encourage your child’s creativity by allowing them to create artwork or decorations that reflect their personality. If your children are old enough, you can have them help you decide on decor pieces like area rugs by giving them some approved options.
This gives them ownership over the space and can make them even more excited to play in the area.
Incorporating Natural Elements
I love natural textures and colors when it comes to designing any minimal space. Your playroom is a great place to include natural elements too.
Wooden Toy and Furniture Options
Incorporate wooden toys and furniture for their timeless appeal and durability. They fit seamlessly into a minimalist design and often come with eco-friendly benefits. There are so many options now that can grow with your child so you can buy a piece and they can play with it for years.
The Appeal of Natural Materials
The appeal of natural materials lies in their simplicity and connection to the environment. Wood, bamboo, and organic textiles bring warmth to the space. High-quality toys that are wood are often open-ended toys that help children play creatively. These are so much better for brain development than flashy, noisy toys that tell the child what to do.
Think blocks and wood tea sets and animals.
Indoor Plants in the Playroom
Plants are another element of nature that can help clean the air and add freshness. With children, we need to be very careful however as many plants can be toxic to Children. Consider choosing low-maintenance plants and put them up on a shelf out of reach. You can do a search online to see what plants are safe to have in a child’s space.
Creating a Montessori-inspired Play Space
I have mentioned Montessori items multiple times in this post because it is a philosophy of education that I really like. It is based on having child-centered design and including natural elements and minimalistic toys is a big part of that philosophy.
It encourages children to take charge of their learning and play experiences. Have fewer toys but strategically choosing the favorite toys is a great minimalist approach to your playroom.
Montessori principles emphasize independence and self-discovery. Low shelves and accessible storage promote autonomy, as children can select toys on their own. Child-size furniture like tables and chairs is one of the best ways to build a child-friendly space.
Learning through Play
A Montessori-inspired play space integrates educational elements into play. Activities are designed to teach essential life skills and encourage curiosity. You can have a play-size kitchen but with real snacks and a working sink for example.
Visit the Montessori board on Pinterest for Inspiration.
A few ways you can incorporate Montessori into your playroom are with open shelving and low hooks. These make it easy for children to see and access their toys. Children having access to help put their toys away makes it so much easier to keep things minimal and tidy.
Allowing children access to toys also fosters more independence and more independent play which can give us mommas a break. Think about ways to help your child participate in keeping areas clean as you design your playroom. Montessori playrooms often follow an organized layout, with specific spots for each type of toy. This approach helps children learn where things belong and be able to put things back.
Promoting Imaginative Play
Imaginative play is so good for children. You can encourage more imaginative play in the playroom by creating stations or areas that make imaginative play easy to happen.
Here are some imaginative play ideas that you can rotate in your playroom:
- Tea Party: You can set up a pretend tea party with stuffed animals or dolls and a nice wooden tea set.
- Doctor’s Office: There are so many cute play doctor kits now to let them build their pretend practice.
- Construction Site: Provide toy construction vehicles and building blocks, and let your child become a builder. They can create roads, and buildings, and use their imagination to create cities with blocks and cars.
- Puppet Show: Buy some puppets or DIY your own out of socks or paper bags, and put on a puppet show. You can even build a small puppet theater using a cardboard box.
- Restaurant: This is a great idea at our house because we have a home food business. Set up a pretend restaurant and play kitchen. Let your child feed you as they work as the chef and waiter. There are some neat wood sets like this wooden food truck or this cool wood play diner seat. But you can always DIY out of boxes too!
- Space Explorers: Do you have a little one interested in the universe? You could create a cardboard spaceship or get a space tent and explore the galaxy. Your child can imagine they’re flying through God’s beautiful creation and galaxies.
- Dress-up Time: Many children love to play dress-up. You can make a box of dress-up clothes and accessories for your child to play with. Our little one loves hats. Little armoires are great for organizing this area too.
- Farmer: Your little one can use their animal figurines to set up a farm scene. Pretending to take care of animals and gather produce is a great practical life activity.
- Camping: Set up an indoor campsite with blankets, pillows, and a flashlight. Share camping stories, pretend to “roast” marshmallows, and stargaze from the comfort of your playroom.
- Picnic: Arrange a picnic in your playroom. Have your child invite their favorite stuffed animals, and you can prepare snacks and have a pretend picnic.
- Treasure Hunt: Create a simple treasure map with clues and hidden “treasures” for your child to find. Make an adventure pack to go with the activity. This activity encourages problem-solving and exploration.
So Much Fun!
Let your child lead out in imaginative play and see what great ideas they come up with. I have linked some neat sets but your child doesn’t need fancy things for pretend play if you are not up to buying them. There is so much you can do with cardboard boxes and some creativity.
Having a minimalist playroom leaves space to create make-shift adventures and sets that you can swap out when children are ready for something new. It keeps things fun.
Arts and Crafts Stations
Set up an arts and crafts station with supplies for painting, drawing, and crafting. Creative projects are a wonderful screen-free way to spend time. Make this area age-appropriate or just pull out these materials when you can supervise. For younger children, you can add washable crayons or a magic drawing mat for mess-free artistic free play.
Building with Blocks and Puzzles
Building blocks and puzzles promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills, making them valuable additions to your playroom. You can have a few different types of blocks and puzzles to rotate in your playroom so it stays interesting.
Having Different Stations Can Encourage Independent Play
When I was a preschool teacher we had different stations for different types of play throughout the classroom. This can work in your playroom as well. And to keep it minimalistic you can rotate the different stations in and out depending on what your child is most interested in at the moment.
Some Play Station Ideas:
- Arts and crafts
- Pretend play
Also, think about ways you can add an area or resources for physical movement. This will be invaluable for those days when it is hard to get outside and can encourage children to get exercise throughout the day.
Check Your Playroom For Safety
This one is something that can be hard to think about but necessary. Childproof your playroom to ensure a safe environment for your little one. Cover electrical outlets, secure heavy furniture, and eliminate choking hazards. Design your playroom with child-friendly materials and surfaces, ensuring they’re free from sharp edges and toxins. When decorating, opt for non-toxic paints, finishes, and materials in your playroom. Safety should always be a top priority.
*This post is not meant to be professional advice in any way so if you are unsure about how to make the playroom safe for your little ones, consult a professional.
Making sure toys are age-appropriate is another important way to prevent accidents and encourage development. Pay careful attention to small items that could pose choking hazards. Keep small toys away from younger children. If you have more than one child at different ages this can be challenging. Make sure you pull toys out for older children when the younger children are being closely supervised.
Simplicity Is The Way
Remember simply rearranging, decluttering, and rotating items can go a long way in minimizing and refreshing your space. I have included links to neat-to-have items if you are looking for new things to give you ideas. But, you don’t need to buy anything if you don’t want to.
The beauty is in the simplicity and remembering that less is more. If you do want to buy you can start a wish list and start looking for good deals. You can visit my Amazon Minimalist Playroom ideas list here for some of the great playroom items I’ve found on Amazon. Thank you for your support. But more than anything I hope this post has given you practical tips to help you make a creative space that fosters open-ended play.
Kid-friendly spaces do not have to be overwhelming. Young children love simple design ideas that give them floor space, natural light, and natural elements that allow them to be free. May your child have their own place that makes them feel cherished, learn, and develop!
I’m passionate about a more minimalist lifestyle especially for moms because I know the mental load and overhwlem that often comes with motherhood. I want your family to thrive! And a peaceful home can be the perfect place to foster that calm.
When you are ready to design or redesign the space make it a family event. Put on some fun music and get to work. You will love the result.
I would love to know, will you use any of these tips in your child’s playroom? What’s your favorite tip?
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