A Kid-Friendly Basement Full of Games

A clever mix of indoor-outdoor furnishings, kid-friendly craft ideas and tons of soft surfaces transforms the dated basement of a retro ranch into a happy hangout for two active boys.
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Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Fun and Games

Brothers Reyn (left) and Felix (right) have plenty of space to play thanks to mom Justine's practical approach to basement decorating.

Soft Seating Area

To keep the 1950s charm original to her family's split level ranch house, visual merchandiser and stylist Justine Rubin left its tongue-and-groove wood paneled walls as-is, then decorated the room with colorful, kid-friendly furnishings. Sons Felix and Reyn are encouraged to create and craft in the space since it's packed with low-maintenance, easy-to-clean pieces.

Paint it Yourself

Rather than furnishing the lounge area of the basement with a coffee table fit for adults, a kid-friendly parsons table was chosen. For an ever-evolving look, sons Felix and Reyn are allowed to paint directly onto the table, giving it a colorful, abstract and unstructured touch.

Faux Cow Hide Rug

The lounge area is delineated from the rest of the basement with a super durable faux cow hide rug. Since the overall color scheme of the space is always evolving, the graphic black and white pattern of the rug is certain to coordinate as the palette changes.

DIY Lemonade Stand

Always eager to upcycle, Justine gave new life to old wooden shipping pallets by turning them into a lemonade stand. After collecting discarded pallets and scrap wood, the stand was constructed by cutting wood to size with a saw, then fastening each piece together using 3- inch wood screws and a drill.

Open Storage

To keep storage both stylish and simple, Felix and Reyn store all of their toys in totes and baskets made from woven recycled plastics and canvas.

Oversized Floor Cushions

Felix and Reyn, like most active kids, spend a lot of time playing on the floor. To keep them comfy, Justine added vintage, bohemian patchwork floor cushions. Since they're constructed with zippers, the cushions can be thrown in the wash in the event of a spill.

Tree Trunk Seating

For sturdy occasional seating, Justine and her sons added paint to discarded tree trunk scraps leftover by a tree cutting service. In addition to the stools being the perfect height and width for little ones to play on, the stools can also serve double duty as pint-sized occasional tables.

Ever-Growing Art Wall

On a daily basis, both Felix and Reyn can be found drawing and painting in the basement. As their collection continues to grow, Justine encourages the boys to display their artwork on the entry wall, turning it into an ever-growing kids' gallery.

No-Commitment Art Display

To easily put up and take down their artwork, Justine supplies the boys with blue painter's tape which, in addition to being easy to use, won't damage the finish of the wood paneled walls.

Boyish Bunting

Justine, Felix and Reyn also make their own bunting from paper and thread.

Two Different Zones

The basement is divided into two different zones: the left side which is dedicated to crafting, drawing and music, and the right side which is for lounging and reading.

Hardy Outdoor Furniture

With markers, paint brushes and crayons used on a daily basis, Felix and Reyn's crafting station is made up of indoor-outdoor furniture. Easy to wipe and sturdy enough to handle active boys and their occasional roughhousing, the area is outfitted with chairs made of woven resin, molded plastic and welded steel, along with a wood-slat-and-aluminum table.

Playful Indoor Outdoor Rug

For a soft underfoot surface which withstands messy little shoes, the craft space is grounded by an easy-to-clean polypropylene rug. To keep the rug clean, it's simply taken outside and rinsed with a garden hose as needed.

Retro Lighting

After dark, the craft area stays lit with an original flush mount light fixture original to the 1950s house. TIP: Anytime original fixtures are left in older basements, it's best to invest in having the wiring updated by a professional electrician. This will prolong the life of the lighting while also ensuring safety.

Dad's Drum Set

To encourage an appreciation for music, dad Robin's drum set is kept in the basement for his sons to practice on. Anytime a jam session starts, Felix and Reyn are encouraged to join in.

DIY Hat Rack

Justine created a modern tree-shaped hat rack from basic Southern pine lumber and stainless steel hardware. In addition to functioning as open storage for hats and jackets, it serves double duty as costume display.

Vinyl ABC

Almost any surface in the basement is fair game for displaying creativity. To help Reyn learn his ABCs, basic vinyl letters from the hardware store are stuck to the windows.

Painted Fireplace Update

To modernize the dated fireplace original to the 1950s-era house, Justine updated it with charcoal paint in a flat finish. For an even application, she used a roller made for rough surfaces. This cuts down on the number of coats needed since the nap of the roller ensures proper coverage.

Practical Accents

To style the mantel practically, Justine uses recycled glass milk bottles as vessels, filling them with grasses gathered from the yard.

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