When we built our home, I didn’t think much about it when they put a walk-in closet under our stairs. There was a normal sized door to the closet and then the ceiling slanted down to a smaller door that led into more storage space. After we moved in and the months went by, we used the closet to conceal all sorts of stuff we didn’t want guests to see or we didn’t want to deal with at that moment. But then, I got pregnant. While in my “nesting phase”, I decided to open that closet door and really see what was inside. What a mess of stuff that didn’t even belong there! Maybe it was the combination of hormones and reading the latest Harry Potter book at the time but at that moment, I decided this small closet under the stairs would make a perfect play area!
I filed the idea back in my head and contemplated how I wanted it to look for months. A lot of time passed between the initial thought and me actually doing anything about it. The final inspiration came when I was visiting my new neighbors’ house and they had done decorative painting in the playroom. The artist did a fantastic job of making a stage and theater for the girls. It was just the style that I had been looking for and I immediately begged for that talented person’s name.
I called her up and had a quick chat on the phone about what I was envisioning. She immediately clicked with my idea and we set up a time for her to start working. It only took her two days to make the vision in my head appear on the walls of the closet! I wanted a whimsical forest where my daughter could play. I wanted it to be generic enough to evolve from playing princess to Robin Hood to Goldilocks. Right now, it is still being used as Shrek’s forest and the small door in the back that the artist made look like the entrance to a tree house is Shrek’s house. The small details she included made it even more special. She painted dancing mushrooms down in one corner and you can almost see a little gnome peeking out from behind a rock if you look closely enough. She even took into consideration the most mystical lighting for the forest. The sun is setting so the colors are filtered and brilliant. I sometimes find myself escaping to Shrek’s forest for a little bit of reflection time. I close the door and I am in a land far, far away…
Look around your house for some unclaimed space that might turn into a fanciful play area. A closet in a child’s room could turn into a puppet theater by putting in a bi-door and painting curtains and a stage on the outside. Perhaps you also have a closet under the stairs that could become an undersea adventure land or a trip into outer space. If painting the area seems a little too permanent or time consuming, consider looking at some of the really nice wall murals they have available now. Then, you can just remove it and change it out as your kids grow and change interests.