Unfinished Basement Play Areas? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 08-22-2008, 12:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Does anyone have a play area set up in an unfinished basement? Pics you could share? Tips on organization?

I currently have two bookshelves with craft supplies, an old oak coffee table that I painted with chalkboard paint and put a craft tarp on when doing paint projects, a small sandbox and tricycle, Fisher Price Car and a Step 2 roller coaster ride on track toy.

I want to get things more organized into specific stations or areas and I need a place where I can put my baby (7 months) down to crawl and explore. I am thinking of getting a piece of remnant carpet and then gating a safe area off for him so he can lay and play on the rug. I can also hang one of those jumpers from the support beams for him as well.

Any ideas are welcome!

"Hey, I've got nothin' to do today but smile." - S & G
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#2 of 21 Old 08-23-2008, 07:28 PM
 
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Hi there. I don't have any pictures, but I think unfinished basements make great play spaces. They can change as your kids grow You can cover the walls with the kids artwork, pretty fabric, even large unframed kids posters (like from storybooks). Maybe a reading nook or quiet area? Enjoy setting it up.

~Joan, Happy mom to 2 beautiful kiddos, one new puppy and 2 lovely felines
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#3 of 21 Old 08-23-2008, 09:49 PM
 
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I'll be watching this thread! We have an unfinished basement too that I've been thinking about trying to set up for the kids.

A happy woman
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#4 of 21 Old 08-23-2008, 11:03 PM
 
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We just did what you are thinking of. DH came home with a cool purple remnant of carpet and put it down in part of the basement. The area is below a smaller section of the house so the carpet fills in the area within 3 walls. We only had to block the fourth side with gates. Within the gated area are all the toys. I have a big table outside of the area for my stuff. I can sit and mosaic for example while kids play. My DH's cousin built a slide and areas to ride small bikes & big wheels around in his basement. His kids were older. His basement is tiny but he got creative with the space.
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#5 of 21 Old 08-24-2008, 02:58 AM
 
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I have an art table and keep all of our art supplies down there. I tape some cardboard under the table, but if the floor gets messy, its not the end of the world

Mama to Raina (9/06) and Peter (8/09)!
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#6 of 21 Old 08-24-2008, 09:23 AM
 
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I do!

I spent a couple weeks painting out entire basement white (even the floor) to brighten things up a couple years ago, and it's been a work in progress every since.

Here's a photo of the main play area.

I took that last winter; the swing and trampoline are currently outside but will come back in this winter, along with a small slide and climber that will go on those big foam interlocking blocks (we get them at Costco).

I also have a big play table down there (3x5 . . . we cut the legs off our old dining table). Art supplies are down there too (we try to do art near the laundry sink for easy cleanup), and we're moving toys down there (we've had to give up our playroom to give DD her own room). So far, the Duplos, Lincoln Logs, and play kitchen have made their way down to join the train set and toy cars. These are not shown in the photo, but each set has it's own plastic bin.

To the right of the main play rug is a TV/VCR and couches. This is our relax and watch TV area.

Our plans include getting the foam blocks to make a play area with the slide and such I mentioned before and getting another rug to expand the current play area (also helps with warmth down there).

There are storage areas in our basement, and I block those off when friends come to play. I also "hide" storage using plain white sheets (they also hang and cover the oil tank and water heater). Helps to hide some of the visual basement clutter and keep kids away from shelves and things.

Our basement is the one area in my home in which plastic rules. All toys are stored in plastic bins, and I try to make sure that shelves are either metal or plastic (the table is wood but can be moved). If we get a heavy rain, we can get water in the basement (even with two sump pumps). We have it set up that we can easily roll up the rugs, push all the furniture to the high areas, and ensure that nothing gets wet that can't just be dried off (after three mini floods, we've learned the hard way ).

Also, because basements can be damp, we recently bought a dehumidifier. Best purchase ever for our basement (aside from the sump pumps). Keeps it nice and dry and clean smelling.

We spend a lot of time in the basement. I'm not as fussy with mess, and the kids can run around and be wild (there is a lot of open space not seen in the photo as I keep storage up against the walls). I would love for it to be pretty and finished (our house was built in the 50s, and it shows its age sometimes), but it works well for us. Cobwebs and dead bugs are sometimes a battle (our house is not infested, but we get normal basement crawlies down there)--I vacuum a lot if we're having company--but no one seems to really care. When kids come over, they always ask to go in the basement.

Hope my novel helps!
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#7 of 21 Old 08-24-2008, 10:41 AM
 
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#8 of 21 Old 08-24-2008, 11:19 AM
 
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Perfect timing - we are in the process of getting our house ready to be put on the market (hopefully next week!) and the house we might rent has an unfinished basement that will become the playroom.

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#9 of 21 Old 08-25-2008, 08:19 AM
 
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We have an unfinished area for the kids in the basement, and what I have found to really improve the area:

-carpet remnants!

-colorful quilts on the wall: we were given some great quilts when the kids were born, but they are too small for the kids to sleep under now, so I've hung them on the wall downstairs .... really nice!

-organization really helps --- take an unfinished basement and throw a bunch of toys in there haphazard, and it just looks messy --- but if you have shelves/units where toys have a place to go when they aren't being used, then it kind of improves the whole vibe of the area -- I know my kids play much more focused when their toys aren't just thrown everywhere. $15 units from Target and everyone's happy.

Mama to A 8/05 and S 11/06
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#10 of 21 Old 08-25-2008, 11:37 AM
 
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Definitely assign "zones" for the different tasks that will be going on down there. A 'play area' for the kids, a 'mom area' for you, etc. And like another posted mentioned, have shelves with baskets or bins for the toys...if you have them out everywhere, the basement will look cluttered in no time.

You could even put up some folding screens to 'section off' areas if you don't have any walls down there to divide the spaces. Or hang long curtains from the ceiling to divide the space.
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#11 of 21 Old 08-25-2008, 12:31 PM
 
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Jess A or anyone else...I would LOVE to see more pictures! I just got really fired up about this. Our basement is kind of small, because we've already used about 1/2 of it to finish in a bedroom for ds1 (which he loves). But, I think it's still got a good amount of useable space. I'd say what's left is probably the size of a decent playroom. I'd love more ideas on how to use a smaller space to maximum potential.

Also, does anyone else have a furnace that's not blocked off? Ours isn't, and I'm wondering what we can do that's safe and cheap in order to keep my littles away from it. Thanks!

Oh...and heat...what do you do for that if you don't have ducts installed? We have a vent in our ds1's room, obviously, but the rest of the basement isn't heated. One of dh's ideas so far has been an electric or propane wall heater.

A happy woman
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#12 of 21 Old 08-25-2008, 12:51 PM
 
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Our daughter has her toys, games, etc in an unfinished area of teh basement. It is partially drywalled (by the previous owner) so she put posters, maps, etc on the walls and has shelves with her stuff on them. We got a carpet remnent from a local store for cheap. It is nice cause it can get messy and it doesn't bother me (too much!) cause it is out of sight. I also have my scrapbook desk down there. It can be a little chilly in the winter but not too bad. If you don't have another room upstairs for a play area, I think it is a good option.
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#13 of 21 Old 08-25-2008, 02:11 PM
 
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Since DS won't nap, we'll head down and take some photos.
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#14 of 21 Old 08-25-2008, 05:17 PM
 
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OOOHHHhhh I am so excited about this thread!! :

I am wanting to finish setting up a nice play area in the basement for this Fall & Winter. Our basement is unfinished and I still need to vacuum a LOT of cobwebs but it is very close to being usable. We need more lighting ,and I need to decorate.
I LOVE the idea for the dehumidifier and also painting everything White.

We have a couple of Plasma cars (also called Wiggle Cars) that work very nice on the basement floor. They will support the weight of an adult (up to 220 pounds) so I can play with those too!!

I will try to get some pics of the space we are working on...before and after

Good Luck everyone!!!


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#15 of 21 Old 08-25-2008, 05:24 PM
 
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Here you go!

Anyone have any ideas as to what kind of adhesive would work well on cinder blocks? I want to hang art on the huge white wall down there, but masking tape always falls off.

Every once and a while I wish our basement were finished and pretty like some of my friends', but I'm proud of what I've accomplished. I've done TONS of decluttering and arranging and trying to make it a place where the kids like to hang out . . . and I'm always coming up with new ideas. We're slowly moving most of the toys down there as the kids get older, so I like to see what others are doing. I keep trying to declutter and pare down so we can use more of the basement for play.

I find lighting a challenge as well. Thankfully, the people who used to live here actually had a type of greenhouse down here, so there are bulbs and outlets everywhere in the ceiling. Lots of places to have lighting . . . I just need to get some brighter bulbs!

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Also, does anyone else have a furnace that's not blocked off? Ours isn't, and I'm wondering what we can do that's safe and cheap in order to keep my littles away from it. Thanks!
Ours is not blocked off . . . I keep it behind a church pew that we have that keeps most kids away. I have also used a superyard. We are lucky in that ours is kind of tucked into the side that we use for storage, and the kids don't really go over there much.

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Oh...and heat...what do you do for that if you don't have ducts installed? We have a vent in our ds1's room, obviously, but the rest of the basement isn't heated. One of dh's ideas so far has been an electric or propane wall heater.
We have one vent that we keep open when we are down there, and it helps keep things fairly warm. Otherwise, we dress warmly in the winter (our house is not kept much warmer than the basement), and the rugs help keep us off the cold floor. This year, we'll be using a small ceramic heater when we're down there . . . they really help keep things toasty. Often, it's only the adults who get cold--the kids are too busy running around and playing!
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#16 of 21 Old 08-25-2008, 05:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jess A View Post
Awesome! You've done a great job. Thanks for posting those. I love the look of the curtain hanging down...all flowy, but cozy, too.

Would that blue icky stuff work to hang things up? KWIM? Tack, I think its called?
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#17 of 21 Old 08-25-2008, 06:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the ideas and the pics are a great help! We don't have cinderblock in the front part of our basement, it is a walk out so that is all studs covered with plastic nailed to it. I was thinking of having DD paint some cheap canvas or even painters drop cloths with wild colors and then tacking them up to cover up the studs.

I do want to paint the cement floor in blocks of color where her indoor sand box and paint table are but I'm not sure what type of paint works on cement? I also think I want to get a really fun color of carpet remnant, like purple or orange for down there to brighten it up.

We have a sitting area, an office area, a storage area, a pet area, an exercise area and then the kid's area. I will try and take pics of how it is now even though I know improvements could be made.

"Hey, I've got nothin' to do today but smile." - S & G
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#18 of 21 Old 08-25-2008, 08:43 PM
 
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Jess A, thanks for the pictures. I think your basement is awesome! I bet your kiddos love it. I really like the idea of using sheets to block off/hide things too. We have a superyard as well - thanks for reminding me!

Charbeau, I'd love to see pics of yours as well, especially the sandbox area!

My kiddos are super excited at the thought of a playroom. I'm almost embarassed that it never occured to me before the last few days to do anything with it. I guess since it's not "finished" I never saw it as useable space, kwim?

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#19 of 21 Old 08-25-2008, 08:52 PM
 
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Thanks for the pics, Jess A
Your space is AWESOME and it is motivating me
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#20 of 21 Old 08-25-2008, 11:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The "sandbox" is simply one of those flattish roll under the bed storage boxes made by Rubbermaid. I read somewhere that if the box is fairly shallow and narrow they won't want to climb in and the mess is less and this has been true for us. She plays in it all the time and I only have to sweep a little to keep the area neat and clean.

"Hey, I've got nothin' to do today but smile." - S & G
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#21 of 21 Old 08-26-2008, 03:50 PM
 
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Ours is really simple, and now that my kids are older, I find that they don't play with toys as much as they used to. The area gets used most when we have friends over.

Looking down the length of the basement. Pantry and book shelves at the end, toy boxes against the wall on the left.
http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d1...mber207085.jpg

Toy boxes against the wall. Toys can be brought upstairs, but must be returned to the basement when kids are done playing. Dress up clothes in toy box, boxes for different types of toys- play food in one box, star wars guys in another box, etc.
http://s35.photobucket.com/albums/d1...mber207084.jpg

Our little 'family room.' Old couches, carpet remnant on the floor, TV (doesn't have reception) for the Xbox. My treadmill is behind the couches, I often watch movies while I'm jogging.
http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d1...mber207083.jpg

I took these pictures last winter. The biggest change that has happened is that DH made a HUGE table for the kids to run their matchbox cars on, it's sitting in the middle of the basement. We've also acquired several more carpet remnants. It makes it harder for the kids to skate in the basement, but keeps them warmer in the winter.

New signature, same old me: Ann- mama of 2 boys and 2 girls, partnered to a fabulous man.
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