Room to Play: An IKEA Small Space Transformation

When my husband and I moved into a new home with our two kids last year we talked about options for creating a new play area in the small room off of our living room. Normally, our children simply play and read wherever they see fit, and usually that is in the living room. We love that and don’t want it to change. But the 15ft by 9ft addition to our living room was calling out to us as a place that would be a perfect kid-centered addition to our living space–with special areas for reading, art, and play.

Flash forward a year and the room was still empty–busy day-to-day life having gotten in the way of our good intentions. It was the onset of back-to-homeschool (and the holidays on the horizon) that made us realize we couldn’t postpone our plans any longer. Then, we heard about IKEA’s great new Share Space initiative–providing an inspirational place online for people to share their room designs–and we knew we wanted to take part by sharing our very own transformation.

With a seven-year-old and a 22 month old we knew we were going to have to be creative to build a space both of our kids would love. We wanted to have a quiet, comfortable area for studying, reading, and art, and a whimsical, open area for the imaginative play that takes up most of the day. However, the room is so small that we wondered if we would be able to accomplish so much in such a limited space. I have to say, we were pleasantly surprised.

My first step in the redesign was to make a list of our wants and head over to the IKEA website to see what items would make a good match. I was immediately impressed by the fun selection of children’s furniture and accessories that I found featured in their “room ideas” section. Because we were working with a small area, I was excited to see items like the KURA Reversible Bed with Bed Tent that utilizes the horizontal space and and provides a perfect place to read, color, and day-dream. The functional EXPEDIT bookshelves that are designed to hold storage containers such as the 100% recycled cardboard KASSETT Magazine Boxes or the KNIPSA Seagrass Baskets also felt like perfect solutions for our small space. And the LOVA Leaf Bed Canopy and child-safe TORVA FJARIL Curtains stood out as distinct decorative touches. My kids made me promise we would include the imaginative BUSA Play Tunnel and CIRKUSTALT Circus Tent in our final selections as well. Using the website‘s nicely tagged featured rooms we made a handy shopping list and saved it for our trip to the IKEA store later in the week.

In addition to the fit and style of the items, my husband and I were very concerned about the safety of the products we were purchasing for use by our children, as well as the environmental impact of the redesign. I wondered about IKEA’s environmental policies and was pleased to find that IKEA is a leader in eco-practices in their industry—having adopted the Natural Step Framework as the base for its environmental plan in 1990. This plan includes such things as strict standards for toxins in products, ever-increasing utilization of reusable energy, and minimal packaging of their products (something we discovered first hand when we ended up with very little to dispose of after redoing the room). Their standards for child safety and independent testing are also high.

The next step was to figure out how we were going to get a whole room’s worth of items home from our nearest IKEA store–more than 150 miles away. As it turns out, this should have been the least of our worries. The items were so carefully arranged and minimally packaged to reduce size that we were easily able to fit all of them, along with four people, in one minivan.

In fact, the trip to the IKEA store went much more smoothly than I imagined. I was, admittedly, a little stressed about trying to navigate a toddler and energetic seven-year-old around a large store, find and collect a wide range of items, and get them all back out to the waiting minivan without issue–but IKEA made it easier than I had expected. The store boasts an simple to navigate showroom that allows you to peruse items and write down the their storeroom locations, then grab them up on your way out. Large metal carts made moving the heaving boxes a piece of cake.

Even though we changed up our list a few times during our shopping trip we were still able to find everything we needed, grab a snack at the IKEA Restaurant, and get out of the store in about 4 hours.

Once home, it took my husband and I (with the help of my sister-in-law) two partial days to assemble everything and get the room put together. Even with two kids running around we found assembly to be a straight forward and simple process with easy to read instructions and smart packaging. In fact, I put the two EXPEDIT Bookcases together myself while my husband and sister-in-law assembled the reversible bed.

Once done, we both felt like we had accomplished our goal of creating a small space that allowed for quiet time and play time, and that made the best use of our limited square footage. We spent just under $1000. Take a look at the images to get an idea of what we were able to come up with, and view the room on IKEA’s Share Space site to see all of the items tagged for easy saving.

About Share Space:

IKEA’s Share Space is made by and for people like you. You don’t have to be an interior designer, just a lover of design. It’s a place where you can admire rooms you like and save them. You can even select IKEA products to save to your wishlist. Get started by adding your own home, or just take a look through others. So come back as often as you’d like to inspire and be inspired!

This Share Space design was sponsored by IKEA.



Melanie Mayo-Laakso


Melanie Mayo-Laakso is the Content Manager for Mothering is the birthplace of natural family living and attachment parenting. We celebrate the experience of parenthood as worthy of one’s best efforts and are at once fierce advocates for children and gentle supporters of parents.

6 thoughts on “Room to Play: An IKEA Small Space Transformation”

  1. Great room. Love IKEA.

    I may be a little off… but is 15ft X 9ft really a “small space”? Our bedroom is that size and we fit our queen sized bed and the same bunkbed pictured above in our “sleeping room” along with a reading nook with bookcase and my husband’s dresser and nightstand. I guess, when I think of “small space”, I’m thinking along the line of 3ft x 5 ft – the size of our homeschool nook. :o)

  2. I’m with Jennifer – my bedroom is 10ftx11ft, our twins share a 10×10 room, and my daughter’s bedroom is 10×8. 15×9 is about 1/8 of my whole house, and only a little smaller than my living room, which doubles as play space for the kids and seating for the adults. It’s cute though, for those in larger houses!

  3. Ha – as I was reading this article my thoughts paralleled both Jennifer and Angela! I was going to post that 15 x 9 sounds great for space. My 2 young girls share a 9 x 10 ft. room, the same size as our “Master” bedroom. The design is very cute, modern and fresh, but I think e need to be more realistic about what space we NEED. Compared to most dwellings on earth even the smallest North American home is a castle. I didn’t know about IKEA’s share space campagin however and will look there for more great inspirations!

  4. I think 15×9 is a pretty small space to most people,and it’s amazing how much you did with such a small area. It looks great! I <3 the carrot 🙂

  5. This room is cute, but the article is simply a long ad for IKEA. I’m disappointed in for publishing this type of thing and letting it masquerade as anti-establishment (small spaces, environmentally friendly, child-safe). Mothering and are better than that.

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