Soothing Playroom With Learning Centers

I’m so excited to share this recent project with you! It was a little hard to narrow down all of the photos, so this post is a little longer than usual. Hopefully it will give you some inspiration and guidance on on how to set up a soothing playroom with learning centers for school aged kids. Although many of us don’t have a full room to dedicate entirely to this type of space, it has got me thinking about setting up small areas in our home to encourage the exploration of different subjects and interests. I hope you are as inspired as I have been throughout this project!

The Project

My client is the mother of 5-year-old twins (boy and girl) and wanted to create a holistic playroom that would serve as the learning and play hub of their home. She requested different learning areas that would include art, reading, science, blocks, games, dramatic play, and schoolwork. As a former preschool teacher, I could easily imagine these different “centers” and decided to approach it as if I were setting up a homeschool room.

Soothing Playroom 7

My client’s most important request was to create a soothing atmosphere. Their old playroom was disorganized and a little chaotic with too many visible choices, which can be over-stimulating for kids.

The Plan

The space they chose for their new playroom has two rooms, separated by a door. I decided to use the larger of the two rooms for the art, science, and schoolwork areas.

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The smaller room was the perfect spot for a cozy reading nook as well as board games, blocks and manipulatives. Around the corner there is a tiny space where I added a light table and some translucent materials. In the other hidden corner there are large baskets and wall hooks for dress up clothes and a spot for their puppet theater.

Soothing Playroom 22

Art/Science/Schoolwork Room

After developing a plan and choosing products, I created a drawing and mood board of the room so my client could get a sense of what the finished space would be like. She wanted the style to be somewhat traditional, inspired by Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn Kids.

Main Room Design And Products 1

In order to minimize the stimulation from so many choices, my client asked if we could hide most of the art supplies from view. I decided to use their large bookshelf/cabinet from their old playroom and use streamlined baskets to hide the majority of supplies.

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I also decided to keep her old art cart and organize it to hold a few supplies that might need to be wheeled around. This can be wheeled over to the easel for painting, or to the table to carry heavy clay.

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Their previous playroom had an additional cart that was perfect for re-purposing as a science cart.

Soothing Playroom 29

For this project I was super inspired by Playful Learning’s One Room School House. I that knew my client and her kids would love to have simple, inviting, science and writing centers similar to the ones from Playful Learning. So I pulled together all of their science materials on the cart in an inviting display and added a wall rack for writing tools.

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I stored the rest of the art supplies in the large shelving unit. Inside the bottom cabinets are basic supplies like paper, stamps, glue, scissors, etc. Although they are behind closed doors, the kids can easily access these supplies on their own.

Soothing Playroom 24

The baskets on the upper shelves hold extra supplies that can be brought down by an adult. Of course, labels make it so much easier to find what you are looking for!

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The warm gray wall color adds a soothing element to this bright space, but also acts as a chalkboard and magnet wall.

Soothing Playroom 10

The magnetic paint isn’t very strong, but it does hold fun site-word magnets (affiliate link). They are like the popular poetry fridge magnets, but they are made for kids!

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Cozy Room

For the second room I decided to create a simple reading area with big comfy chairs and extra floor space for playing. For the storage, I wanted to continue the use of streamlined baskets to hide the visual clutter. Here is the drawing and mood board of the space:

Small Room Design And Products 1

And here is the finished room:

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This tiny corner nook was just the right size to add a light table and shelf. I left part of the shelf and some containers empty so that they will have room for new items that they will collect over time.

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My girls were excited to see what I had been working on and came to visit me when I finished up the project. They loved checking out the new space! It was really sweet of my client to let them visit and I loved showing my kids what my work is all about.

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Do you have a playroom or homeschool room that is separated into learning centers? Have you noticed how visual stimulation affects your kids? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments! Or if you are having trouble setting up your own art space, check out my e-guide, The New Playroom. It includes step-by-step instructions on how to set up a home art space for kids as well as ideas on how to introduce art supplies, keep kids engaged, and keep your space organized.

Sample New Playroom2

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37 comments

  • Shira November 19, 2015  

    This is such an amazing transformation! Love it! Would you mind sharing where you sourced the metallic woven baskets?

  • A Stinson November 19, 2015  

    The transformation is amazing. I love the various center areas. The science wooden trays and the light table nook area are my favorite. Very well done. Super job Megan!

    • Megan Schiller November 19, 2015  

      Thanks Aja! What a great compliment, coming from a Kindergarten teacher :)

  • Mariah November 20, 2015  

    I love it! What a gift you have given this family…

    • Megan Schiller November 20, 2015  

      Thanks, Mariah, your playful learning spaces have always been such an inspiration to me! I would love to come visit your new studio someday :)

  • Brigitte November 20, 2015  

    Oh my goodness … If only for the space, I would LOVE to do this! We have to fit my four year old’s space into the living/dining area so it’s a bit tight but I get inspired by the posts you put up and the PDF’s I’ve bought from your site. I used to have everything down in a separate studio but we couldn’t get to anything due to someone else taking that area over and it needed to be in the house so it was more accessible. It was even more important over Winter to have it close at hand rather than running through the rain to retrieve anything. I’ve even brought my art equipment up from the studio so I can work on my own paintings while she happily plays (or watches TV) … The next thing will be to move some of it into her bedroom so it can be her own little sanctuary and free’s the living area up. I do like to keep her room free of chaos though I must admit so if it does go in there, I really want it streamlined as well. i don’t want chaos where she sleeps, but something that she can wake up to and play at while we sleep for a bit longer!!!

    • Megan Schiller November 20, 2015  

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Bridgette. I’m so glad I have been able to inspire you and hope to continue! I think that as kids get older, the bedroom can be a great space for an art area. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions or get stuck.

      • Brigitte November 22, 2015  

        Thanks Megan! :0)

  • Katrina November 20, 2015  

    Beautiful work Megan!! Would you share where you found those great reading chairs?

  • Sara Rognstad November 23, 2015  

    I love the horizontal and vertical paper (and envelopes?) organizers in the art area. Where can I get them?

    • Megan Schiller November 23, 2015  

      Thanks, Sara. Both of those organizers are from The Container Store. Here is the link to the horizontal one: http://www.containerstore.com/s/office/paper-file-storage/sorters-trays/adjustable-paper-sorters/123d?productId=10032280
      I can’t find the vertical one on their website, but they are small acrylic ones (this photos shows two, next to each other) and are from the office section. I used putty to attach them to the horizontal one below so they don’t slide around. Hope that helps!

      • Brigitte November 23, 2015  

        Oh my goodness! I could have a field day on that site!!! AND they ship to Australia … Now to save my money. We have a smaller version of that here called Howards Storage but this one looks HUGE!!!

        • Megan Schiller November 29, 2015  

          I know how you feel! Imagine going into one in person. You would love it!

          • Brigitte November 29, 2015  

            For sure! Almost overwhelming but not quite. :0) Put aside a day and enough money …

  • Lina November 24, 2015  

    Wow – what a beautiful and inviting space! I’m inspired! Lots of great ideas here… speaking of which… Maybe I missed it, but where are the wooden trays from?

  • Jane November 30, 2015  

    Absolutely love this and see the incredible value in what you are doing for families!!!

    • Megan Schiller December 1, 2015  

      Thanks, Jane, I really appreciate it!

  • Jacintha January 7, 2016  

    I love the soothing colours. Our playroom has an IKEA sofa which has either a white or red cover on it and the red one really seems to create far more wild play involving jumping and climbing and screaming. I recently asked the children (6,4,2) why they never played sitting concentrating games in the playroom and we discovered that it was too busy in there for them. I’ve since taken down their shop, put 1/2 the toys away in the cellar and now everything goes away at night. They are now in the room daily, pulling out different toys they haven’t used in months and really utilising the space once again. I now need to make the art supplies more accessible for them and shall use your site for tips. Thank you

    • Megan Schiller January 7, 2016  

      Oh wow, Jacintha. That is such a great story to hear. I think many families have the same issue with over-stimulation, but they just don’t realize it. Thanks so much for sharing! And always feel free to reach out with any questions about setting up your art supplies.

    • Brigitte January 8, 2016  

      Wow, you’ve really got me thinking about our approach … Thank you for sharing Jacintha! We don’t have terribly much but it looks a lot due to such a small area … How to deal with that one? I have no idea.

      • Megan Schiller January 8, 2016  

        I hear you on the small space, Brigitte. Have you tried toy rotation? (It can apply to art supplies as well). If you have a small space in a closet, you store some of your current toys/supplies in labeled bins and keep less of your things visible in your small space. Once every couple of weeks, you can swap them out for the items in the bins. This makes the space less cluttered and helps kids appreciate their toys more when they haven’t seen them in a while.

        • Brigitte January 9, 2016  

          Thanks for your reply Megan. That’s pretty well what I’ve created and the way it seems to be working just by default really. Besides a few big items (like a little oven, Barbie House, Dolls House and Pram), everything else has gone into baskets in one of those cube shelving systems from IKEA. She tends to open up one of the drawers and find things she hasn’t seen for a while and pulls them out for a while before another “natural rotation” happens. I’ve even had to do the same with mine and her art equipment after shifting it out of my dream studio into the house. I have all the felt pens, colouring bits in one container (that’s accessible for everyday use) and then paints in another, along with the trays that were inspired by you (well, all of it was really) and then one very large tub with all the different activities in that get pulled out and swapped around. I even have all the puzzles in one spot that seem to get rotated naturally. It seems to work but I will have to do a slight adjustment since more have been added since Christmas Day … Just not sure how to rearrange it. It’s certainly a lot more tidy than it was. Just wondering how I’m going to make it work when I upgrade her bedroom to a four/five year old room (rather than the baby room it is) and add some of the bits into there instead. I think the only way I’m going to make it work is having a long low lying cube system / shelving / drawers so I can lay out some of the pieces on the top of whatever system I get – so that it’s at a nice height to either take them down onto the floor or play with where they are as well as utilising the drawers/insides etc for clothes … Thank you for your suggestions. I really love your site and PDF’s I’ve bought. It’s really helped me.

  • Nara February 12, 2016  

    Wow! This is awesome! Wish I have that place!!! Would you mind sharing where you found the white board on the wall for the art supplies? And the hook? Looks like just what I want for my 3 kids! Easy to access:)
    You have an awesome talents!

    • Megan Schiller February 12, 2016  

      Thanks so much Nara. The white peg board on the wall is from The Container Store. It’s called the “Elfa Utility Board.” There are a lot of options that can go with it, including hooks, shelving, and small containers.

  • Dalila April 27, 2016  

    Amazing work!! You are so talented and creative! Hope to be in touch soon via your e-design services! So glad I saw the picture on Rue’s Instagram!

    • Megan Schiller April 27, 2016  

      Thanks Dalila! Looking forward to hearing from you.

  • Katie July 24, 2016  

    Beautiful! Where is the stary wallpaper from? Maybe I missed the source in your post, sorry! It’s so dreamy!

  • Megan Schiller July 26, 2016  

    Thanks Katie! The wallpaper is from Anthropologie. Here is the link (the “Buff” color): http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/home-wallpaper/37307055.jsp#/

  • Angie September 10, 2016  

    Just found your page! Could you please tell me where you found the paint containers?

  • Megan Schiller September 10, 2016  

    Hi Angie,
    Sure, the paint cups are from Discount School Supply. They come in a pack of 10. Here is the link: http://www6.discountschoolsupply.com/Product/ProductDetail.aspx?product=27197&Category=29

  • B West November 27, 2016  

    Love this playroom! Thank you! What paint and color for the mocha-gray wall?

    • Megan Schiller November 28, 2016  

      Thanks! The mocha-gray wall color is Benjamin Moore Galveston Gray AC-27 in matte finish. Benjamin Moore also makes chalkboard paint in any of their colors, so one of the walls is the same Galveston Gray color but in the chalkboard paint finish.

  • B West December 3, 2016  

    Thanks Megan!