This unfinished basement playroom is the perfect solution for those who need more space for their little ones to run and play. It is great for anyone on a budget that doesn’t have the time and money for a full basement remodel but wants something more. Read on for ideas for unfinished basements and to see how and what we did to create our basement playroom.
This past winter, my husband and I have worked super hard to create a great DIY unfinished basement playroom for our little girls to play in. Covid has prevented us from going anywhere and we live in cold and snowy Wisconsin. So we decided we needed a great indoor space for our girls to run and play.
Early in the season, my two-year-old started to get a bit stir crazy. All of the toys in our upstairs playroom were great but there wasn’t nearly enough room for her to run around and burn off her energy. The temperature dropped to below 0 and the weather got snowy. While we still would go out for our daily walks when and if it was warm enough, she just needed a place to ride bikes, jump, and run.
While in the future we are planning on finishing our basement, it isn’t currently in the budget. So, we decided to spend just a bit of money and pull together our resources and create the perfect basement play area for our little girls to play. Here is what we did to create this playroom and our tips on how to go about doing this.
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1. Clean out your basement and designate an area for storage.
This was the easiest of the tasks for us as we have a large basement with tons of storage space. Our basement is the whole length of our house and is basically a circular shape around the stairs. My husband designated a spot in the basement in the back corner for storage. We put all of the things that we could into labeled storage bins and he created the DIY storage shelves found at https://www.whitehouseblackshutters.com/how-to-make-a-basement-storage-shelf/. Anything that didn’t fit on these shelves was organized next to the shelves in the back corner. This left us a large open space for our play area.
2. Paint your space (if desired)
We covered the brick walls of our basement in a bright white paint to help it feel brighter and cozier when we turned it into a playroom. It took us two coats to really get it covered but really made a big difference in the look and feel of the play area. Eventually, I want to hang up all of my letter, number, and calendar items from the days when I taught Kindergarten but until then the white walls make it look great on their own!
3. Decide what kind of flooring you would like for your playroom.
With a two-year-old and an 8-month old, I knew that I wanted some of our playroom to be carpeted and the rest to be hard floor for her to ride bikes and play with some of the outdoor toys on. I wanted something to make it seem cozy and finished without the cost or time commitment of finishing our basement.
We took a day to have the grandparents watch the kids and went to Menards (our WI hardware store) in search of the perfect solution. At the back of the store, they have a whole section of discounted carpet scraps for sale.
We knew we had a large space we could cover while still having a lot of area to play so we ended up with a 10’ by 11’ scrap of carpet. Because I knew we would be spending a lot of time down in the basement we also bought a large scrap of carpet padding and cut it to size to fit under the carpeting to make is easier on the feet. In all, we probably spent about $200 on our carpeting and it was so worth it!
*Some of the carpet scraps come with built-in padding but the majority of the nice ones in most stores go quickly. When we were looking they only had two with padding built-in and one was green and the other wasn’t soft to touch so we decided to buy both pieces separately. This also saved us some money.
When we got home we laid the padding and carpeting out in the corner of our play area and it really made the corner seem more cozy and inviting!
4. Determine what kind of furniture you want in the playroom (if any) and lay it out.
We had a somewhat nice fake leather couch left from our college days. When we moved into our new house we purchased nice furniture for our living room and our old couch moved into the basement and sat unused. We also had an old TV and cube organizer left from college. We decided to put these things in the carpeted area to give it a more cozy living feel.
If you don’t have any extra furniture that you want to use and are on a budget I’d suggest checking out Facebook marketplace as I’ve had awesome luck and found some great items on there!
*We also recently purchased a nugget play couch for our girls for in the basement and absolutely love it. It is awesome for gross motor and allowing the girls an area to run, climb, and jump on!
5. Move extra toys downstairs
Half the reason that we needed a basement playroom was that our upstairs was overflowing with toys. Our girls are the first grandchildren on both sides and they tend to get a little spoiled by their grandparents and aunts/uncles. We began to run out of toy room and storage and needed somewhere to put these items. Some of her favorite toys to play with are/were large toys that took up a lot of space (this fisher price roller coaster was a favorite of hers but takes up SO much space!). We started by moving these downstairs. We found a wicker basket to store smaller toys in and moved that downstairs as well.
I also had quite a few items left from my days of teaching kindergarten that I’d purchased that would work well in our playroom. We moved my colorful storage organizer full of arts, crafts, stickers, and play-doh, as well as loads of books into the play area. My husband had also made a super cute DIY reading tent for my classroom. We added it to our basement playroom and it makes for the cutest addition! Find the directions for a similar one here: https://ana-white.com/woodworking-projects/easy-kids-tent-reading-nook
6. Bring Outdoor Toys inside
Because of the cold and snowy winters we haven’t been able to do my daughter’s favorite task of riding her bike as often as she’d like. We ended up bringing her bike, scooter, cozy coop, and fisher price basketball hoop and picnic table downstairs. This way she can ride her toys all around the basement on the hard floor and have a hard surface for crafting and doing projects on. The baby can play on the carpeted area (and I can gate it off) and my toddler can run, jump, and craft her heart out. I have a visual of her at all times and she can get out her energy.
We also unassembled her trampoline and brought it downstairs. We purchased this trampoline on black Friday sale (found it on the “What Kristen Found” Facebook page for a steal at $70) two years back and it has been the best purchase we’ve made. It is a small 7-foot toddler/kid’s trampoline with a full net. It just fits in our basement with the net up and she can get out so much energy on it. While it was a lot of work, we are so glad that we chose to move it into the basement play area.
7. Purchase any additional playroom toys
We completed our project right before Christmas so we made sure to add a few more fun large motor toys for our basement playroom onto the list. Her favorites include a battery-operated Elsa car, a gymnastics balance beam, and a playhouse. While you definitely don’t need all these items we love having options and these are all great ones that helped complete our basement play area.
We are constantly adding in more toys as our girls have birthdays, Christmas, and more. Because of this we also needed to upgrade our basement storage. We opted to go with cube storage and a few other tips and tricks for playroom storage. Check out some of these here.
Another great toy idea that we created for our basement is this DIY busy board that can be found at https://ourhomeuploaded.com/mamaofminis-diybusyboard/. It is super easy to put together and budget-friendly as you can pick and choose the items to go on it. It keeps our toddler and 8 month old busy for a good amount of time.
We are so happy with how the girl’s play area turned out. While we had wanted a finished basement, I think that this is the perfect solution that saved us a lot of money and really works for what our family needed. Our toddler can run, jump, play, and craft while our infant has a space she can crawl around on freely. The carpeting, couch, pillows, and blankets, create the perfect cozy space. The hard floor is perfect for riding bikes and cars, playing basketball, and going up and down the rollercoaster. When the summer hits we will probably spend a lot less time in it but for the current cold weather (below zero every day last week) it is the perfect way to spend our day.
*Bonus: My husband who has been working from home since the pandemic hit can’t hear us as much if we play downstairs!
Be sure to check out our favorite basement items below:
Your play area looks great!! What a wonderful space you’ve created for your little ones to get out all their energy! Our main play space is in the basement and it’s such a bonus space to have. Finished or not, the basement is perfect for playing on those cold winter days!!
Thanks Gwendolyn! We just finished it and love it so much. It is so cozy and inviting that you forget it is in the basement. You are definitely right. It is such a great bonus space!
Very cool idea. I love the mini-trampoline in the house. I wish we had a basement so we can incorporate some of these ideas. Right now our living room is the play area.
Thanks so much Gregory! The trampoline is so perfect for helping get energy out! Our living room used to be our play area (and still is partially)!
These are awesome tips! I can’t wait to have a basement space that we can spruce up for our daughter! Having all that space to run around and be a kid is so important. Love your ideas!
Thanks so much Lisa! Yes, we love having it be usable now! The space is the best!
All good ideas! It has started me thinking about the playroom that we will be setting up in the basement of our new home when it’s done.
Thanks so much Sue! The basement is the perfect place for a playroom! Congrats on your new home!
This looks great. I wish I had a basement.
Thanks so much Lindsey! We love having a usable basement now!
Wow ! What a way to turn the space around! Thank you for the ideas !
Thanks so much Amanda!
This play area looks great! So fun with lots of room to run and play!
Thanks so much Brittany! Yes, so much room to run and play. It is the best!
Literally perfect for any little to enjoy!
Way to go Mamas!
Thanks so much Abbigail! We sure do love it!