A Happy Cozy Playroom on a Budget

When Lindsay contacted me about helping her with her daughter’s playroom a while back, I was very excited for the challenge. The room was a great size, but was sort of cave-like and gloomy, with windows on only one wall, a large brick non-functioning fireplace on the opposite wall, and dark wood planks covering all of the walls. She was on a tight budget, and since she and her husband were also renting, they couldn’t make any major changes to the space (in other words, painting all that wood paneling was out of the question). Still, it was a room that they spent a significant amount of time in as a family, so something needed to be done to make the space a more cheerful and happy place to be.

I got right to work creating a game plan and design board to give her an idea of how all of the elements of the new design would come together.

Playroom Design Board yellow rug

I suggested a fun and bright color palette of yellow and mint green, along with plenty of white to help balance all of the dark wood. Because of the limited budget, I gave her some DIY projects, including painting an existing heavy wood armoire mint green (there were too many wood tones in the room as it was, but the armoire housed a television and provided ample storage for toys, so it had to stay). I also sent her on a mission to find a side table and pair of lamps at her local Salvation Army or Goodwill, with instructions to spray paint them and replace the shades in order to give them new life and fit within her color palette. Finally, I suggested she spray paint the existing brass chandelier the same mint green as the armoire.

To soften the wood walls, I recommended hanging flowy sheer curtains, which would still allow light into the room. For comfortable seating, I included some cushy floor pillows to turn the empty fireplace into a cozy reading nook, and kept the Ikea chairs she already had, since that was where she did a lot of her working and reading while her daughter played. The most important element to really soften the space, however, was the addition of a large area rug. I gave her two options, explaining that the button rug was more vibrant and fun and would bring some energy into the room, whereas the yellow rug, while still a nice pop of color, would create a calmer look and feel. Lindsay ultimately decided that she preferred the yellow rug, and I agreed.

Playroom design board button rug
Playroom Design Board yellow rug

In addition to making the space feel brighter and cozier, the only other requests Lindsay made were to provide extra toy storage, book storage, and a place for her daughter to create and display her artwork. Since she lived only 15 minutes away from the Charlotte Ikea (jealous), I suggested she make a trip there to pick up their very affordable children’s table and chairs to be used as an art table, one of their kitchen storage systems on the wall to house art supplies, and wire curtain rods with clips to display artwork on the wall. Near the reading nook, I recommended rows of picture ledges so that she would have a place to display her beautiful children’s books. Lastly, to go below the windows, I placed a storage shelf with baskets, which would house the majority of her daughter’s toys and books.

Lindsay immediately got to work transforming her playroom, and incorporated almost all of the suggestions into the space. Not only were we able to stay under budget, but the small and inexpensive changes made such a difference in the overall feel of the room. Unfortunately we were not able to get any photos of the final product before she and her family moved out of their rental and into their first home, but hopefully their eagerness to make the most of their temporary space will inspire those of you in a similar situation to do the same! No matter what your budget or restrictions are, there is always something that can be done to make your space a happier place to be.