Turn a Tiny Space into a Magical Playhouse in a Flash

Turn a Tiny Space into a Magical Playhouse in a Flash

Kids of all ages will enjoy endless hours of creative play in these repurposed spaces.

By Lorraine Allen

In imaginary play, kids aren’t just joking around and being silly. They may also work through inner conflicts, and learn to master their little worlds. Developmental psychologists believe that play is in fact one of the best ways for kids to self-heal, and work through all sorts of emotions including fear, jealousy, anger, anxiety, and insecurity. Giving kids the time and space for their imaginations to soar is all a parent needs to do to foster this growth. And even if you have nothing but a small broom closet under the stairs to offer, as we did, kids can enjoy hours and even years of fun in a magical playhouse, and gain a lot from it, too. You don’t need to spend much time or money making a space feel welcoming and special, and promote creative play in kids. Here are some simple tips to inspire you and get you started.

Once you have identified the space for this project, start by painting the walls. You can use whiteboard or chalkboard paint, which come in all colors, to allow kids to write and draw, and transform the space each time they play, as they wish. Or, paint a fun background, if you have more time and skills. I tried to paint a starry sky on one wall, and a tall tree and field on the other. It came out okay, even though I have zero talent. The idea is to make it look special, personal, inviting, and different from an ordinary house wall or space. Make it theirs.

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Hanging some twinkling string lights is a nice, fast to way to make any corner look and feel magical and exciting. I found some cheap ones with stars that blink and slowly change color, which adds a nice touch of whimsy. I also found a non-glass kid’s mirror that I hung on one wall, to look like a window and add a little more light.

Add some padding and furniture, but nothing fancy. This space should be cozy and welcoming, but not just a place to sit in a chair—it’s a place to play! I put my kid’s tiny toddler kitchen in there, because she still likes to play bakery, but you can use whatever you have, like a small side table, stools, or an old trunk. I also added a couple of shelves on the wall, a bin of her costumes tucked in the corner, and a soft matt on the floor. A few throw pillows are in there too, to make the space cozy.


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A curtain or string of playful beads hung in front or around the space will give kids a feeling of privacy, intimacy and ownership. A chalkboard sign works well too, so kids can “transform” the playhouse, depending on their mood. My daughter’s closet will be a lemonade stand one minute, then a puppet theater the next, a holiday bakery, a vet clinic, and so on. All kids need is a little space to tap into their imaginations, and they can happily play for hours, together with friends or alone.

How do you encourage imaginary play?

Lorraine is a freelance parenting and food writer, and she shares her cooking adventures and family recipes at FeedingLina.com. She lives in New York with her family and one squirrel-obsessed dog. Follow her @feedingLina.

Image ©iStock.com/TK

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