By Cathy Lara, Houzz

Let’s not forget the importance of some much-needed creativity-boosting downtime or indoor play within the comfort and security of the house. Let’s take a few design cues from real homes on Houzz to see how different families are creating cool indoor and outdoor spaces so that kids have plenty to do right in their own homes. Even if these spaces are out of reach for many, they might inspire pared-down versions of activities and entertainment.

Related: Family Activities as Close as Your Backyard


Gabriel Builders Inc., original photo on Houzz

This traditional home in Greenville, South Carolina, is in tune with what kids want in the house. The large common room is equipped for fun activities and lounging: There’s a climbing wall, superslide, rocking horse, chalkboard, reading nook and TV, with plenty of comfy armchairs should the kids opt to stay in for movie night or simply get swallowed up by the marshmallowy softness.


 Tracey English/One Apple Designs, original photo on Houzz

Illustrator and mom Tracey English converted her Victorian row house’s attic into two separate bedrooms. Her two boys each have their own room, making them feel like they’ve been allotted a special place to escape and unwind in the house. The low vaulted ceiling brings the dormer windows closer to a reading nook, letting plenty of light in for reading and playing; it’s energy efficient and connects the boys to the outside.

Related: A Toy Organizer That Keeps the Playroom Tidy


Menter Byrne Architects, original photo on Houzz

Part play pavilion, part events hall, this converted garage in Seattle goes all out for the kids and parents. There are monkey bars, ropes and various swings; hammocks provide the perfect place for reading or simply letting the mind wander; and a small bathroom and utility sink are nearby, making cleanup after parties and gatherings a breeze.

The room can easily be converted from a gym to a party room, hosting a small dinner party or a family movie night for the kids’ besties — and their parents, too.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of crayons, markers, colored paper and scissors. A couple of hours seated in front of a well-stocked craft nook can keep the little ones busy making handmade birthday cards and artwork that’s frame-worthy.


 John Kraemer & Sons, original photo on Houzz

Keeping the kids indoors and active isn’t too hard in this modern-rustic Minneapolis house. Although the gym is custom made for basketball and indoor soccer, there are so many other activities that the kids and the entire family can enjoy in this space: jump rope, dance parties and dodgeball, to name a few.


 Cara Woodhouse Interiors LLC, original photo on Houzz

An indoor hockey room like this one in New York, formerly a basement, would bring out your little one’s inner hockey beast. The room ups the cool and safety factors with rubber floors, so you don’t have to worry about too many bumps and scratches.

Yoga isn’t just for adults — kids also love to go into Downward-Facing Dog and are pretty darn natural when it comes to going into Happy Baby Pose. Don’t worry too much about a separate space if you don’t have much room to spare around the house. Just switch a few pieces of furniture around and clear enough space to unfurl a yoga mat, put on a yoga for kids DVD and voilà — you have yourself a makeshift studio.


 Shades of Green Landscape Architecture, original photo on Houzz

Here’s a well-divided contemporary garden in San Francisco, which has designated spots for sitting, playing and roaming. The strip of orange, the picnic table and the swing scream summer fun for both kids and adults. The sunken garden space and the surrounding cement, wood and landscaped wall give plenty of privacy while still remaining open — a perfect combination for a home with kids.

Related: Supervise From a Porch Swing

A tree house provides endless amusement. Don’t forget to keep a steady supply of board games and snacks on hand, plus flashlights and blankets at night.

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