With winter in Chicago, my thoughts have gone to how to entertain kids indoors. The decorator in me wanted to see some unique ideas for turning a basement or play room into a fabulous indoor space. While our basement is pretty much done, we did include a few fun things to keep the kids busy.
INDOOR HOME SLIDES
We have a slide built in to the walls, a swing hung from the ceiling and air hockey, foosball and shuffleboard tables. If you want to see our space you can see in here.
Maybe you have a straight shot of stairs (we didn't have that option) that you could do something similar to these ideas (they would be a lot easier than what we had to do.) For a slick surface try either the white shower board (mounted on something solid since it's only about 1/4" thick or high grade plywood, finished with a smooth paint or varnish.
Ever thought of putting up a pulley somewhere? While this one if pretty fancy, I'm sure you could make a real basic one with a pulley from a hardware store. I'd be careful and use under supervision to avoid any threats of choking or getting tangled up in it.
a toy garden
Make a latch board and hang low on a wall. This will provide a lot of hands-on learning that is so fun.
After seeing this, I just HAD to make one. I realized that things could add up in cost pretty quickly, so I did some looking around. I found tons of great things at our Habitat ReStore. The best is that they have kitchen cabinet doors for $1 and that made a perfect backing! I also found a few latches at Big Lots, then finally hit Menards. Here's how mine turned out:
See the darling little pulley I found at Menard's? I just used some cording and large beads for weights.
This was so much fun to make and really didn't take that much time. No only did the little guy like it, but even my teenagers were playing around with it! It's just that irresistable.
This was another cute version that used a magnetic surface (heating duct sheeting from Home Depot) and then surrounded it with the latches. Definitely makes a fun little center.
Here's a build-your-own matchbox car race track. I'd actually try to mount a version of this low on a wall for a built-in play center.
Like putting a race track on the wall, I love this idea of making ball tubes out of raingutter parts. The picture shows it done on a fence so it can be for balls or water, but I'd do in in the basement too:
Lowe's via Learning through the Clutter
This is the same idea, but designed for water(which I'd also love to make for outside.)I'd use those green nerf balls:
Now combine the magnet wall ...
with the ball runs made from pvc pipe parts and do this:
For some instructions for a suction cup version that could be adapted to magnets, go here.
The Brooding Hen
How cool would this door be for a playroom door? Once again, hit Habitat ReStore for an old solid wood door and you'd probably be able to do something similar:
You can't forget the old favorite of a little area for a play kitchen. There are so many darling ideas on the web for repurposing old furniture. I thought these were adorable:
A hutch top
An old nightstand (perfect for a little space)
An old TV Cabinet
Probably from scratch, but darling ideas:
And check out this amazing store from mostly IKEA parts:
Domestic Candy blog
Scour the thrift shops and garage sales for fake food or look online for TONS of darling felt foods to make yourself:
Along with our slide, we also have one of those great IKEA swings:
Here are so other amazing swing ideas for stores as well as ideas you could do yourself:
from Hearth Song
(if you've never checked this place out, you must! Some of our favorite toys came from here.)
Don't forget just a good ole' tire swing as an idea, even inside.
Do your kids love to climb? Here's some simple to BIG ideas:
How simple is that idea? Normal height ceilings and bars from metal pipes. I think the next one is from a manufacturer, but you could duplicate this one easily with the same pipe idea:
On the indoor playground idea, there are a lot of teeter totter ideas you can make. I think these are cute and could be made so cheaply (people are getting rid of free tires on craigslist all the time!)
Perhaps this one is a bit big, but I love the tractor seats!
Make a simple balance beam like this. It doesn't have to cost much and doesn't need to be high at all to be fun and safe. Paint it a cute color and avoid splinters.
Of course, any kid-friendly space HAS to have a reading area. Here are a couple cute ideas:
Shelves from raingutters again
Shelves from those $4 spice racks at IKEA
Shelf made from a free wood pallet
Darling tree-shaped bookshelf
And every reading area needs a soft, cushy area. These are made by sewing together standard pillows and their cases:
No rest for the creative
I think these square pillows look comfy and would be great for fort building. I think they're from Pottery Barn, but you could do it cheaper with old couch pillows or better yet, how about those crib mattresses that are a dime a dozen because no one wants them. They'd be lightweight, yet comfy and easy to clean before putting on new covers.
These are darling ones made out of large-sized bandanas. You can order them in bulk online for really cheap.
Okay, so this is outside, but how fun would this be in a wall between rooms or to let some light in to that under-stairs closet-turned kid nook? They're really not very expensive and easy to install.
Okay, here's a project I've been dreaming of doing ever since seeing the life-size pin art board at the Rockford Children's museum. I've got a number of ideas, but it still would cost more than I can justify. It was going to involve an awful lot of cocktail Stir Rods... But wouldn't that be sooo cool?
Inspired yet? Anyone ready for me to help finish your basement into a fun area for your family? It makes me wish I could go back to some of the basements we had in previous homes and try again!