Decor, Kids

A playroom with less toys and more activities

This is a packed post with how to paint a chalkboard wall, free door sign and how to plan for a room kids can grow into. I’ll show you how we’re focusing on activities instead of more toys with things like foosball, book wall and movie projector. Our playroom sees a lot of kids and I’m spilling my secrets to keeping it presentable and safe.

A major perk in our new house is this converted garage turned playroom. It’s so nice to have a space for toys and messes that has a door we can close! It started a blank white box, but slowly I’ve added fun details and pops of color. Let me give you a little tour. After all, it’s the only room in our house I consider “done”!

fun play room kids can grow into - playroom with chalkboard wall and foosball table and book wall and movie projector

book wall with spice racks and chalkboard wall

inexpensive foosball table for kids

Paint a wall with chalkboard paint

book ledges for five dollars on chalkboard wall

Play room decor and ideas

robot decal for light switch for a pop of fun in a playroom or kids room

playing in the playroom

White playroom with pops of color and gray curtains - ikea furniture

playroom for all ages of kids

classic toys for kids - ikea kitchen favorited by all three kids

wooden dollhouse in playroom

Cheap home movie theater - review, quality and awesomeness

twinkle lights in playroom

movie projector in playroom

Neutral basics

The basic pieces here — walls, couch, shelves, curtains — are neutral and can stay as the space matures with the kids. All the pops of color are inexpensive and can easily be switched out.

pom poms on frames for touch of fun

scrap fabric dot goes on the wall with starch spray

Pops of color

For some inexpensive pops of color (which I always love against white walls), I made $1 polkadot decals like this. I didn’t even bother putting them below, where little hands can take them off.

I added some cheap pom pom garland on the frames. And I bought the large rug at Ross for $25, and my mom found the round one at a consignment store for $30. I’m not a huge fan of carpet, but I do love it here! The kids can tumble, little ones can practice walking and it keeps the sound down — because wow, it gets loud.

Large playroom layout with chalkboard wall and foosball table and movie projector

Baby proof and durable

It needs to be baby proof and withstand a beating. This room sees a lot of kids. In addition to regular playdates, we host a biweekly small group with 13 kids and growing! For this reason there are no lamps or tall shelves. The outlets are all covered. Blind cords are tucked up high and out of reach. No pillows are on the couch because they just end up on the floor.

colorful playroom that kids can grow into

Less toys

I also don’t want toys with a million pieces that can be dumped. There aren’t actually that many toys in here. I keep games in the living room because kids and game pieces don’t mix. Legos are in the boys’ room because they don’t want other kids to mess with their creations, and I don’t want little pieces where babies are.

The white baskets underneath are essentially empty. I have found over the years that they play significantly more when there are less toys and less clutter.

A month ago or so the boys decided to sell most of their toys to put toward a giant bean bag chair. It didn’t make sense to me, but I was like heck yes! We sold them to a kids consignment shop the next day, before they could change their minds! And so now, we have a ginormous bean bag chair.

It’s not an aesthetic beauty, but it sure is comfortable and perfect for lounging with a book or watching a movie. It’s kind of great.

I would never expect a house with kids to be completely toy free though. See this page for our favorite toys by age. >>

Activities instead of toys

pops of color in kids playroom, foosball table


So what do you do in a playroom with few toys? The previous homeowner left us this foosball table. I don’t think I would have thought to buy one of these, but kids play with it all the time. Even grown ups! And somehow we haven’t lost that one ball we have.

How to do a giant chalkboard wall

Chalkboard wall

I painted a chalkboard wall for drawing and tic tac toe games. It will be fun for movie feature nights or angel wings or seasonal creations! I used a quart of this paint ($10).

reading wall with cheap spice racks for books on a chalkboard background

Book wall

After awhile I decided to paint another small protruding wall with chalkboard paint to balance the larger wall. We also put $5 spice racks from IKEA up for books too. It worked out really nicely.

Play kitchen

The IKEA kitchen is always a kid favorite. This one has been through three kids and has been well worth the money. My seven year old doesn’t play with it anymore, but the three year old does almost every day. It’s always the go to for new kids too.

the joy of a giant bean bag chair

Giant bean bag chair

Kids exhaust themselves jumping on and off this thing. It’s an activity in itself. I searched a long time for the best chair at the cheapest price, so far we’re pleased with this one.

Inexpensive movie projector in playroom for big impact

blank wall for movie projector and giant bean bag chair

Movie projector

I spent under $100 on a movie projector and it has been FANTASTIC. I bought it on impulse on Amazon Prime day, but I would pay full price for sure. Ours is out of stock, but this is the updated version. I can’t say how fun this thing is! Seriously. I think I love it more than anyone. It takes up the entire blank wall.

You can get all the details about our super cheap home theater here.

How to do a chalkboard wall for ten dollars

How to do a chalkboard wall

Chalk paint completely changed the feel of the room, and added so much fun! It feels whimsical to kids to be able to draw on the wall. Mine love it.

It was simple! This is how I did it:

  • A quart was enough for both spaces.
  • I did not prime the wall.
  • I taped off with blue tape.
  • It took three coats.
  • I used a roller for smoother application.
  • Dries quickly, but wait a day before use.

How to clean a chalkboard wall

I’ve been asked on Instagram how the chalkboard wall cleans up and if chalk dust is a problem. I wash it with this microfiber cloth from the Dollar Tree. I dampen it, ring it out and wipe. It’s worked really well.

And there is chalk dust. This is a carpeted playroom, so the colored chalk has tinted it a little right up by the baseboard. I wipe the baseboard with the microfiber cloth and vacuum, not wipe the chalk from the carpet. If you love your carpet, don’t introduce colored chalk. This carpet is just ok, it’s seen better days, but it is a playroom so we’re ok with that!

No food or drink sign - free printable - great for play room

No food or drinks sign

Because there are lots of kids in this room, I have a no food or drink rule. It’s carpet. I’m lazy. You feel me. And so far, it’s worked! I kind of can’t believe it, but they stick to it.

I made this sign to go on the door like this:

  1. printed out poster
  2. laminated it
  3. tied string to a dowel rod
  4. hot glued the dowel onto the laminated sheet

Download the sign here. >>

Big kid playroom - chalkboard walls, book wall, foosball table, movie projector and lots of shelves

Fun playroom ideas

    • chalkboard
    • place to hang kid art
    • table and chairs
    • pop up tent
    • rocking horse
    • colorful banners or garland
    • twinkle lights
  • ledges for books
  • foosball
  • movie projector

Shop the post


Instagram @housemixblog pic

I’ll give you a video tour and before glimpse of this room (it was a tornado!) here. >>

Playroom they can grow into - focus on activities instead of toys - foosball, movie projector, chalkboard wall, book wall

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4 thoughts on “A playroom with less toys and more activities

  1. Hi Kate. Thanks so much for your lovely photos and wonderful insight. I especially like reading about how to organize spaces for children. I was wondering if you could share where you got the wall art “sono un figlio di Dio”. We live in Italy and I would love that for my children.
    Many thanks and all the best for you and your family.

  2. This is SOOOO GREAT!!! Love the whole room! Keeping imaginative play and ditching the fiddly bits is genius :D. I might just be in love with the art around the light switch!! 🤣 I’m now considering a projector for my kiddo’s playroom and wondering where you found the couch? Thanks for sharing all of this, it’s lovely.
    PS – just one wee grammar police thing… fewer toys (definable items), less clutter (not definable items) ;) (my pops was big on grammar, so I come by it honestly ;) )

    Thanks again!!

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