Style Watch

How to design a fun, durable playroom

A seldom-used breakfast room gets a creative conversion into the perfect play space, complete with animal murals and a playhouse.

Michael J. Lee

 WHAT DO YOU DO when you’ve got a spacious room that’s underused? For the owners of a Georgian Colonial in Concord, the easy answer was to convert their 13-by-20-foot breakfast room, located just off the kitchen, into a playroom for their three children. The couple turned to Concord-based interior designer Janet Gaffey for help, and she and her team incorporated ideas from both mom and kids, designing a room that’s imaginative and durable, with custom elements that help reduce clutter.

1 > CUSTOM SHELVES store the kids’ abundant stuffed animal collection, and a pullout bin on casters was designed to fit snugly under the last shelf to hold overflow.

2 > A THICK FOAM MATTRESS provides a comfortable spot to read, and its washable corduroy cover and linen pillows make it easy to keep clean, too.


3 > THE DEEP-BLUE RUG is made of high-density nylon, a stain-resistant material. Durable finishes and fabrics are a must in kids’ areas, Gaffey says.

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4 > CHAIRS FROM POTTERY BARN KIDS, painted to match the room’s color scheme, fit around a custom table that collapses against the wall when not being used for games or crafts. “A folding table is great because it easily gets out of the way to make open space for the kids to jump and play,” says Gaffey.

5 > THE PLAYHOUSE, complete with barking-dog doorbell, is a favorite hangout spot for twins Steven and Brittany. With Salem-based artist Jill Pabich, the pair came up with the idea for the lively animal murals. “Don’t create a mural with a Thomas the train theme or something that is specifically geared to little children,” advises Gaffey. “The room should be able to grow with the kids.”