Reqest for Input -- Ideas for a Kid's Basement Playroom

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Topic by Patrick Jaromin posted 05-13-2008 02:28 PM 20903 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Patrick Jaromin

13 posts in 5536 days

05-13-2008 02:28 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question basement playroom decorating remodeling

I’m looking for input/design ideas from members…

We’ve recently learned that we’re expecting our third child. While our house isn’t tiny, it’s getting ever more crowded with our daughter’s (2) and son’s (1) toys. The solutions: to the basement!

Our basement is “L” shaped and my current plan is to put a theater stage at one end and a “Tree” house in the corner of the “L”. The other end of the basement, with the sump pump closet and doorway to storage will likely be restricted (likely physically with a short gate)...we’re going to make this section into storage for exercise equipment. (My wife says it’s the exercise area, but my guess is “storage” is more appropriate).

Here’s my very rough, not-even-close-to-scale sketch:

The colors/patterns on the floor are my rough idea for carpeting—a “normal” carpet for the “theater,” green “grass” for the tree house and blue for the rest which might be a lake/river/etc.


I’m a reformed actor/set designer/theatrical carpenter/technical director who married an avid theater fan. Naturally, we thought that a stage would be a great fit for our kid’s playroom! I’m planning to line the back wall with “tub wall” (http://wiki.xtronics.com/index.php/Shower_Board_as_a_white_Board) so the kids can draw their scenery. We’ll also install some colored spots overhead (track lights) and a front curtain. I’m thinking we’ll need some costume/prop storage off to the side as well…and maybe bean bag seating.

”Tree” House

This corner will feature what looks like a hollowed-out section of a tree trunk with a door and window and branches that fade into the walls. I’ll probably have to work in some kind of “woodsey” mural that somehow morphs from the deep woods into the interior theater…and maybe a cove on the other side. In fact, now that I write this it occurs to me that one of the kid’s current favorite movies is “Peter Pan”...so perhaps a swashbuckling theme for the “cove” side.

I’d love to hear your thoughts—and would especially appreciate any ideas you might have. Perhaps someone here has done or seen something similar? I’d love to see some photos!


-- Patrick, Chicago, IL www.TenonAndSpline.com

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

331 posts in 5541 days

05-13-2008 08:30 PM

I don’t know that I’ve got anything substantive to add other than “awesome!”, but as someone who later in life is learning how to deal with clutter, just make sure that you’ve got enough shelving and closet sort of space to store all of their toys about one and a half times over. I’ve gone a good portion of my life thinking that things need to be crammed into drawers and closets, and though stuff often expands to fill the space available to store it, making sure that it can all be easily put away is, in my opinion, a necessary thing for kids.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

View tenontim's profile


151 posts in 5541 days

05-13-2008 09:20 PM

Pat, you might also want to think about making those stairs curved, to get rid of the sharp corners. Kids always seem to find something like that to fall on. Might make it less painful, especially carpeted. Looks like a great plan for a place to keep them entertained.

-- Tim

View MRTRIM's profile


743 posts in 5541 days

05-14-2008 12:27 AM

i have a book that i think i bought at woodcraft. its all kids playroom ideas . when i go to the shop tomorrow ill try to remember to get the name and author for you .

View Catspaw's profile


35 posts in 5525 days

05-14-2008 12:46 AM

I suppose if you wanted to get real tricky about it….put storage behind the white board. Even put multiple panels on sliders for scene changes, but, still have access to all the storage.

Of course at one and two they’re probably still thinking about eating the paint for the scenery rather than putting it on the board. Probably a more serious concern than the stairs.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

13 posts in 5536 days

05-14-2008 03:04 PM

Thanks for the replies…

mrtrim—sounds like a book I should go get

cats…yeah, they’re a bit young now, but I’m pretty certain they’ll get bigger ;)...and with my schedule the way it is, they’re likely to grow quite a bit before it’s even finished! I like the idea of “backstage” storage…have to ponder on that one.

My big thing right now is trying to determine how to construct the tree. I’m leaning towards a plywood-rib support system, filled with carved blue/pink foam and great stuff and then topped with fiberglass and/or bond-O. I’ve typically used a rubberized roofing compound for stage trees, but I don’t think that’ll hold up well in a kid’s playroom and could prove to be too great a temptation for “picking at” with little fingers/nails. My biggest concern is that I’ve never done fiberglass before—and a large tree seems a bit ambitious for a first timer. Of course, that’s never stopped me before!

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL www.TenonAndSpline.com

View MRTRIM's profile


743 posts in 5541 days

05-14-2008 09:45 PM

you can also mix fiberglass resin with bondo , mix it to a very thick soup and use both hardners , it adheres quite well to a lot of sifferent surfaces . you can use the cloth or mat with it also . just a thought

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

13 posts in 5536 days

05-14-2008 10:25 PM


Prompted by your comment, I did a google search on “mixing fiberglass resin with bond-o” and found a some good tips! I’ve only used body filler for fixing voids in painted plywood projects—and have never played with fiberglass before. This sounds like it’ll fit the bill. I may have to experiment a bit to see whether or not I need the mat. Thanks again.

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL www.TenonAndSpline.com

View MRTRIM's profile


743 posts in 5541 days

05-23-2008 12:58 AM

patrick sorry it took so long but the name of the book i mentioned is the kidspace idea book author , wendy a. jordan . a taunton press pub. it has some pretty good ideas in it

View MRod's profile


15 posts in 5519 days

05-23-2008 06:01 AM

That kidspace book IS great! Good choice MrTrim.

Here the other books I used for our basement remodel (18 months in the making).

Technical – electrical, hiding soffit, plumbing, building walls, insulation
Remodeling a Basement (Build Like A Pro)

Complete Basements (Stanley Complete Projects Made Easy)

Smart Guide: Basements: Step-by-Step Projects (Smart Guide) by

From the gang at HomeTime, this video was very helpful in building a soffit around my duct work. But it covers a LOT of other things too, plumbing, insullation, etc.


Finishing Basements & Attics: Ideas & Projects for Expanding Your Living Space (BLACK & DECKER)


Design Ideas for Basements (Design Ideas)


Self-Published – Basement Ideas.com, just a guy that wrote a kick butt book on basement remodels PLUS ideas

——————— Plans for the permit, etc.

Not sure if your getting a permit, but this software from Punch! helped me easily put together plans for my own needs and the local permit office.

My Plan for my basement:
Punch Software

-- MRod, Henderson, Colorado

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

13 posts in 5536 days

05-23-2008 01:27 PM

Guess I gotta head out to a library/book store! Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve taken the “before” photos, mounted the video cameras and have begun the initial clean up/re-org of the crawl space. Once the floor is visible again, I will take the actual measurements and begin the design process in earnest.

Thanks again for the book list!

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL www.TenonAndSpline.com

View clieb91's profile


12 posts in 5538 days

05-26-2008 07:49 PM

Patrick, Sounds like we are both kind of leaning towards the same ideas. My basement is currently in the works, my shop is done and office is next to be followed closely by a playroom for my daughter and her future friend.
I too am planning a stage area but plan to put a tree house type concept in the corner of the stage. We were planning to paint the waal behind the stage with Chalkboard paint. We have used in on a wall in the kitchen and it works great. We are going to also put tile on the stage and carpet the other section of the playroom so that artwork and playdoh projects can be doen on the stage.

Let me know how that Bondo and fiberglass thing work I may have to visit it myself. I love the idea of the different colored carpets to enhance the imagination play.


View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

13 posts in 5536 days

05-29-2008 02:07 PM


One of my favorite materials from my theater days was called “Jaxsan”. This is a water-thinned, tintable, non-toxic rubberized roofing material, pretty thick and gritty stuff that works well for organic shapes. I used a cheaper variety I got at HD for my daughter's room, but was concerned that it wouldn’t hold up to the abuse it would undoubtedly see in a “play room.”

After much thought, I remembered that I have a old theater buddy from 10 years ago back in Buffalo (NY) that might have some suggestions. Not only is he an excellent set designer, he also works for the science museum and has been known to build enormous pieces for them as well as movies, etc. He informed me that he’s been building “Jaxsan trees” for the museum for the last few years and that they’ve held up great under the active (ab)use of literally thousands of kids. The key he said, is in the construction technique—you apply the stuff to the front and back of strips of muslin which you then layer like papier-mâché.

I’ll blog about this in more detail when I begin the project.

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL www.TenonAndSpline.com

View clieb91's profile


12 posts in 5538 days

06-01-2008 04:03 AM

PAtrick, I’ll keep an eye out for that blog. I alos still have a friends involved in theater. I’ll have to ask about it.


View gennythomas's profile


1 post in 2359 days

12-21-2016 07:57 AM

Did you go ahead with your own idea or you took professional help in setting up your kids playroom in the basement?

Genny Thomas
Game Development India

View HomeReno's profile


2 posts in 2181 days

06-15-2017 01:38 AM

I have a couple suggestions with children basement areas.

1. Sound proof.

Sound Proof the ceiling if possible. As your kids get older, it will make a huge difference. (Drum set anyone?)

2. Grappling Mats.

Mixed Martial Art / Jiu Jitsu / Wrestling / Zebra mats are PERFECT for the floors (Even walls) with kids. You can lay or plug the grass directly into a mat. Which you can get cheap off of craigslist or at a closing school. The inch of padding will mean any rough housing, trips or falls will not be a problem. Plus, kids love walking on them (They are a bit squishy).

Aside from those couple practical ideas, even as an adult I would be thrilled to have a basement like that.

-- Founder, http://www.grandhomedesign.com/

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