I see questions posted on social media often about how to set up a playroom and the best toys for each age. If you're setting up a playroom to impress your friends, then by all means, make it bright and colorful and fill it with hundreds of toys. However, if you're setting up a playroom with child development in mind- less is more.
An understated playroom is less about being a "trendy minimalist" and more to do with the multitude of benefits for your young child. Having a safe space to play freely and strengthen the head, heart, and body should be the top priority.
1) Muted tones
Gone are the days of obnoxiously colored walls, ABC and 123 wallpaper and toys that are more of an eyesore than a dirty diaper on a beautiful beach. In fact, it serves the child's best interest when the walls are painted a soft, muted tone, perhaps even Lazure peach, as this is calming to a young child whose senses are so open to receiving. Children can easily become overstimulated by too much color, but they also have the added benefit of decorating the space differently each day with their wonderous imagination. A blank space can be anything the child wants it to be and they can transport themselves to other worlds in their mind.
2) Everything at the child's level
I once had a college professor who said he dreamed of a world where every pediatrician's office, classroom, and children's hospital in the world featured child sized furniture and all the art was hung at the child's level, sending the message, "This space is for you", rather than serving the adult and expecting the child to adapt. The playroom should have child sized table and chairs, shelves they can reach, book nook on the floor, child sized costumes and role play, and art hung at the child's eye level.
3) Open ended toy only
When I see posts from mothers seeking the best toys for their 18 month old and their 3yr old I cringe! The right kind of toys should be enjoyable to a child from age 12m to 4 or 5 years old. The way the toy is used will change as the child develops, but the toys dont change. The child changes. For example, I bought 5 wooden spheres from Hobby Lobby and pained them different colors one year when my boys were small. They carried them in their pockets and rolled them around at that age. When they were three, these same spheres became the sun, moon, and the planets. Around age four, they used these as dinosaur eggs, apples, or currency to trade each other for things they wanted. Open ended toys are toys that don't "do" anything, but instead allow the child to "do" something with. They can be anything the child wants them to be because they're unformed, undefined, and they don't make noise or light up.
My favorite places for toys are Etsy for "Waldorf toys", Palumba, Goodwill figurines, Bella Luna Toys, Nova Natural, Magic Cabin or handmade toys. If you're fortunate enough to have a Waldorf school in your area, find out if they have a store and check it out!
Thanks for playin', Chelsea
Parenting expert, blogger, inventor, single mom to twins, barefoot nomad, adventure seeker, boho spirit, advocate of play