Add a Playroom to Your Basement

When your living room, kitchen and bedrooms look more like a suburban outpost of Toys R Us rather than a comfortable home, it’s time to make better use of your existing space. If your daydreams involve a toy-free staircase, here’s how to make your basement into a playroom your kids will love forever.

Creativity Counts

As any experienced parent will be the first to announce, kids don’t always want the newest or fanciest gadgets. Sometimes, old pots, ancient cell phones and plain cardboard boxes do the trick just fine.

The point? You don’t have to spend a fortune renovating your basement to satisfy the under-12 set. Painting a wall with blackboard-like chalk paint lends itself to hours of creative fun. Leaving one area without sheetrock (but still painted a lively color) lets kids bounce balls against the wall damage-free. And wood-look laminate flooring makes mopping up spills fast and easy.

To Bathroom or Not to Bathroom?

If you are considering installing a bathroom in your basement, carefully weigh the pros and cons. Because while the idea may sound appealing, younger kids who sometimes forget to flush the toilet, turn off the water or worse can inadvertently cause big-time damage and ruin your investment.

The caveat: if you plan to use the basement as an extra bedroom then installing a bathroom is probably wise. Just make sure you check it regularly for cleanliness as well as clogs and other common problems.

Keeping Tabs

Families with younger children should strongly consider installing an intercom and video camera, especially if kids will be left unattended in the new space for more than a few minutes.

Discreet cameras installed in the ceiling let parents keep an eye on kids while doing other tasks such as making dinner or folding laundry. And because many systems offer two-way audio, mom can always intervene from afar should things get a bit out of control.

A Scalable Renovation

Finally, before you begin your renovation in earnest think carefully about the ages of your children and your plan for the space. Parents of toddlers are well advised to wait on installing the wine cellar and home movie theater; although these luxury renovations are tempting, they aren’t practical and are likely to become damaged.

Instead, at first, keep the space simple and focus on adding toys your kids can’t use in the main part of your home.

Giant bouncing balls, a basketball hoop, remote control flyers and ride-on toys are perfect for the basement. As they grow up, add foosball and ping pong tables. Eventually, when they’re ready to leave the house, you can turn your cozy downstairs space into the game room with wet bar that you’ve always wanted.

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