Our Five Ring Circus: Our "Outdoor" Playroom & Creative Play Ideas

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Our "Outdoor" Playroom & Creative Play Ideas

One of my biggest goals for 2016 was to make every room in our home functional!

I couldn't wait to tackle was our sun porch. We have a large sun room that sits off of our kitchen, and it leads into our backyard.  Up until two weeks ago, that room was wasted space.  We rarely used it, so it quickly became an area for outdoor toy storage and messy sensory play. We only passed through it to get to our backyard.

Liam wanted to go out there all the time, but it just wasn't very comfortable.  There wasn't enough sitting room and the floor was cold cement.  After weeks of dealing with my toddler tornado creating a path of destruction through our home, I knew I had to do something! I decided I was going to turn that space into an "outdoor" play area that was fit for ALL of my kids!

I emptied out the entire sun room so I could start from scratch. I found other places to store most of what was in that room, and put aside the outdoor items that needed to stay in that room. Before I brought anything back into the sun room, I put down indoor/outdoor carpeting that resembled grass.

This wasn't a "traditional" playroom, so I had to figure out what elements I wanted to include in that room. I knew I wanted the sun room to have comfortable seating, functional storage for all those small outdoor play items, a place to sit and eat (or enjoy hot tea), and play ideas that would interest kids of all ages.  I ended up going with a few key ideas: Sit, Create, Read, Explore, Build and Play.

For under $50, I created a space that all four of my kids are using for hours each day!  It was exactly what I was hoping for!


Here's what I came up with:


I thought Grant was going to kill me for this one, but after he saw it, he suggested painting an entire wall with the paint!  It was a spur of the moment decision.  I went down to the basement to grab some laundry, spotted the can of chalkboard spray paint, and had an "AHA!" moment.  And that's how I found myself spray painting our storm door at 1 AM!

I placed a $1 pail from the Target Dollar Spot on a hook next to the door and filled it with glow in the dark chalk.  It was a hit!



I wanted the sitting area for the little kids to have a beach-like feel. I set up two plastic chairs, a wooden crate for a table, filled a large sand pail with books, and sat out our favorite sand and water toy!



Our new play space was so inviting, that I wanted to hang out, too!  An extra large Adirondack Chair and a table for my laptop and coffee mug was exactly what I needed!



I really wanted to give my kids a spot where they could eat "outside." I brought up a moveable kitchen island that holds two stools from the basement, and put it to good use!



Our Arts & Crafts Table in our basement still gets used often, but a few of my kids are afraid to go down there alone! I wanted to give them another place where they could create (without fear of being alone).

That kitchen island doubles as an art space!  When they want to eat, we just store the paper in the drawers and place everything else in the compartment where the stools are stored.

I used two more pails from the Target Dollar Spot to hold markers and colored pencils, and used another sand bucket to hold Playdoh.  My girls were thrilled!

Arts and Crafts Table


What kid doesn't love blocks?!? (Or bubbles!)



Everybody needs an escape from the chaos of everyday life.  A popup tent is the perfect solution!



It's no secret that I love sensory play for my kids.  Although we do a lot of messy sensory play, I like to have cleaner options, too!

Try a baby pool filled with balls instead of a traditional ball pit (bonus points for aiming a toy slide into the pool) and a water table filled with pingpong balls and a pool noodle cut into slices!



This one is obvious!  What's a playroom without fun toys to play with?!? (The bus is from 2005, but the sand and water playset is current. We fill ours with aquarium gravel and water!) I also left the Cozy Coupe in the sun room so Liam can zoom around!



Functional storage for outdoor toys was a must!  Our old method of tossing everything into one giant storage tote just wasn't working.  This storage option needed to be Liam proof, too.

I ended up going with stackable plastic crates ($2.99 each at Target). Liam can't empty them out, but all the outdoor toys are neatly organized. I added a pop-up hamper and a basket for all the balls that Liam IS allowed to get into!


Our sun room leads to the backyard, so we keep a basket of outdoor play shoes near the back door.  That way there are always acceptable play shoes within easy reach!



I intentionally left a small section of the sun room without carpet. Although the carpet can get wet, it's the perfect spot for messy play/water play and also a great spot for creating masterpieces with chalk!


I am so happy I created this space for my kids (and me)! I'm sure it will be a work in progress, considering there are already a few more ideas that I jotted down to make the space even more fun!

All four of my kids are using the playroom every single day, and the toddler tornado is distracted.  They love to play and relax in the sun room and *I* love my clean house! It's a win-win for all of us!


 What are your favorite creative playroom/play ideas?


Linking up here for the Family Joy Linky Party!    


  1. That is one amazing "outdoor" space! Obviously you guys are already using it a ton. I'm impressed. I love every area and spotted some toys and and activities I want to get and do with the kids.

  2. I love this!!! I really loved that you used items you all ready had and didn't spend a ton to do it! Such great ideas!!! Enjoy it and thanks for sharing! For sure taking some ideas from this. As usual you have inspired me :)

  3. Stefanie, this is all brilliant! The functionality of it all is making me swoon! And the chalkboard door!! SUCH a great idea!

  4. This is seriously the best ever! I LOVE everything about this space.

  5. This is a great play room. I love all the different areas including one for you!

  6. This is so awesome. It'll be great for playdates too.

  7. You did a great job! I'm sure your kids are so excited. Can you come help me get organized now?

  8. Oh wow! What a perfect space, especially for Liam! I so wish we had a sun porch!

  9. What a fun outdoor playroom. My kids would love this. Thanks for linking up with us at Family Joy Blog Link Up Party this week.


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