A year and a half ago, we began work on our basement to finish it. With Covid hitting, like many families, we needed more functionality out of our current space.
While I managed to add more desks in the bedrooms to help the kids focus on virtual school, they did not have a place strictly for them where they can play. The family room was occupied by them but boy did that create havoc! We adults never had access to the TV and the room was always mess. Many things were damaged, had to get replaced along the way or were simply dysfunctional.
Pre-Covid, when we received visitors, all the kids would gather in the family room and run across the living/dining area and spill over to the upstairs which was very inconvenient. Clearly the kids needed a space they can call their own.
The other issue we had is when we had family stay over, we reassigned the kids to various rooms to provide guest space. It created discomfort for the guests and kids. Lastly, the current bathrooms were always occupied causing more damage and accessibility issues.
Determine Y0ur Goal
The goal was to create:
- guest bedroom and bathroom
- laundry room
- storage area
- entertainment room for the kids to transition their activities from the family to the basement play area.
The reasons are obvious for this. With heavy usage, the floors, walls and furniture have suffered greatly. I was desperately looking for a solution to allow the kids their own space that would reduce damage, dirt and overuse of the main and upstairs floors. In addition, I needed a dedicated space for guests so they can be more comfortable during their stay.
Functional Basement Floorplan
When it came time to configure the floor plan, the bedroom, storage, bathroom and laundry rooms were fairly straight forward. To ensure plumbing was all circulating within the same vicinity, it was key to keep the laundry and bathroom side by side.
The play area needed to accommodate a few needs:
- Entertainment space for TV, gaming console and other devices
- Homework/arts and crafts nook
- Exercise/floor games area
- A stylish sitting area that’s comfortable for TV watching and game playing that can accommodate several people at once without eating up too much space.
Quite a few demands all from this one space! But it is a key space.
Basement Entertainment Area
That space is meant to accommodate the gaming station, TV, arts and crafts and board/floor games and exercise space.
When the kids were playing games in the family room, the sitting area was so dispersed, they ended up turning the coffee table into a seating area.
The sectional, coffee table and entertainment unit are integral for TV watching, snacking, and board games. Functional chairs will be included for gaming time to ensure the kids don’t damage their posture.
For the arts and crafts nook that will double as homework and playtime on other devices are, I’ll be adding a desk, chair and shelving units. The shelving units will store away the markers, papers, story books and toys. That spot will double as sensorial/ crafty and reading/homework station. Like many parents we’ve all had our fair share of virtual school and finding a spot for each child in the house that has good internet connection and a desk was challenging.
Video Games Offering
Video games provide a great avenue for kids to learn new vocabulary, fine motor skills (hands and eyes), collaboration. This is especially important for their development. The Xbox will remain an integral part of the space but they will have access to other devices to play on.
We recently landed on Play’s.org, a site providing free games that are ad-free! It offers a range of games for entertainment and learning, all free of charge and ad free. Not only that, they can be played on a phone, tablet or computer, so when 1 kid is occupying the gaming console, the other can play on another device.
My son played arcade classics like Pac Rat by Pac Man. Following the cheese trail to continue spawning his snake really exercised his eye movements. He brushed up on his math skills with the Guardians – Defenders of Mathimatica game. It works you through multiplication, divisions, additions, even basic statistics. His favourite though had to be Nick Hockey Stars with Spongebob as his key player.
You can form your team with other Nickelodean cartoon characters and play some quick matches or a tournament.
I think the most frustrating (and comical) part for him though was that the Crimson Chin was the goalie that was blocking most of his shots.
Basement Exercise Area
Games and homework aside though, physical movement is extremely important and nurturing. One of the most common struggles amongst parents, especially throughout the last year, has been keeping their children active. With schools closed or restricted, parents were scrambling to prevent children from turning into couch potatoes.
I could be exhausting my lungs all day begging them to go outside, get some physical activity, but it fell on deaf ears. This of course gets worse in the winter where it’s even less enticing to go outdoors in colder weather.
To remedy the situation, I am keeping an open space where they can freely move, jump, roam on their hover board, even kick the ball. I’ll be adding a basket ball hoop and a punching bag which would be hanging from the wall so no floor space takeover.
The open space will provide ample opportunity to move. I’m planning to use that space myself and with the array of music offerings from Amazon Music, it will encourage the kids to jump on board.
Given the pandemic, there’s been a large offering of virtual exercise platforms, most for adults though. Active Kids 2.0 is a virtual on-demand physical education program that helps kids get off the couch and their gaming devices and become active.
With a myriad of courses such as gymnastics, boxing, ballet, hip-hop dance, cheer, karate, cardio, strength, and yoga, there is a perfect “workout” every family. Classes run between 20 to 30 minutes and offered throughout the day. Kiddos can try out classes that they normally wouldn’t have access to because of logistics/finances. Their classes appeal to children of all ages and parents are encouraged to participate to engage their kids and make good exercise habits. They also provide a way for children to safely socialize and interact with one another, which is crucial for development.
The Gist of it
Configuring a space to make it useful is not always obvious. Evaluating your objective is key and configuring it in a way to maximize on space and utility is the most crucial part. Having the guest area was important but ensuring the kids had a comfortable area they can call their own was integral to their endeavour. What’s are your key elements for an entertainment space?
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