Basement Therapeutic Play Space

Hi everyone, welcome to Embracing Small Steps! Same person, me… Amber Pierson. Same sarcasm. Same writing style. Same direction as far as content goes. Here to hopefully share some insight, encouragement, hope, uplifting words, lots of laughter and some helpful information all while sharing our story with you of raising a child with developmental delays and medical challenges. Just with a different look and more consistency. I’m so glad you’re here.

Today’s post I will be sharing with you how we turned part of our unfinished basement into a play space for our little man, Kai. You see, Kai’s birthday is December 11 and we knew we couldn’t really have a party to celebrate him because you know… COVID and such. And Kai has more toys than any kid I know. So for his birthday, the last thing we wanted was to get him another toy that he might not even like or use. We wanted to give him something useful and practical yet still exciting for a 3 year old to receive as a birthday gift. Thus came the idea of turning part of our basement into a therapeutic play space for him. Since his school has now gone virtual until mid-January 2021 and all of his therapies are currently virtual as well, it also made sense to create a dedicated space for these.

First, we sat down and made a list of all of the things we wanted to put in the space. We placed an order on Amazon and IKEA. We also got supplies from Lowes and Hobby Lobby. We knew we wanted the following to finish the space:

  • Flooring
  • Stuff to make the “Little Room”
  • Storage for toys/books
  • Wall Coverings
  • Decorations

Since our basement is unfinished and we live in a new build, it was very dusty! Not to mention, we haven’t really done as far as organizing the basement since we moved. So… needless to say, it was a disaster and there was a lot of stuff that needed to be moved and cleared out of the way. That took a whole day in itself!

Once we had that cleaned up, it was time to lay the flooring! We knew we wanted to cover a large space but were also being money conscious. So, we were very selective on the foam flooring that we chose for the space. The best price we found was from Amazon from a company called Tadpoles. The squares were only 1 ft x1 ft and to cover the large space we wanted, we ended up having to buy 6 packs of them. My husband, Danny, did the math. I most definitely don’t do numbers…
We knew we wanted colorful flooring to brighten up the space in our unfinished basement.

We were overall happy with this flooring, although it was kind of thin. If we weren’t on such a tight budget, we would have looked into some sort of padding to put under it as well but decided not to do that for now. Next up, it was time to build the “Little Room”.

You’re probably wondering, what is a Little Room? The concept was created by Dr. Lilli Nielsen who worked as a preschool teacher, a psychologist, and a teacher of the blind.  She wrote books on the development of children who are blind and best known for her work on Active Learning. This is based on the belief that ALL children can learn and it’s important to create environments or situations that encourage active exploration, without interference from an adult. A Little Room is a safe space where toys and objects are suspended from the ceiling with elastic cords and the child is free to explore and experiment with what he/she discovers while moving hands and legs. Below is an example of one and a few links with more information about little rooms.

little room

When we started thinking about how we wanted to make a little room for Kai, we knew that we wanted the space to be big enough that he could sit in it and even possibly wheel his wheelchair inside of it. We knew we wanted to build it out of wood to make it a little more of a permanent structure. Again, since I am not a numbers person, the hubs did all of the calculations on wood/accessories needed to make the Little Room. Though it doesn’t interest me at all and I had nothing to do with it… if you have more detailed questions about the making of the Little Room, comment below! I’ll be sure to get my husband to help answer that! LOL

Okay, now it was time to do all of the organizing of toys and take inventory. Kai has SO many toys, so I started by getting rid of some of the toys he has either outgrown, were overused or no longer used. We found three different types of organizers to store the toys we kept.

  1. Storage Bench and clear plastic tubs from Amazon

2. Colorful Drawer Organizer from Amazon

3. Tiered Trofast Storage Organizer from IKEA

After all of the organizing was done, I wanted to cover the walls to make it feel more like home and less like a “dungeon”, which most unfinished basements feel like. We wanted to continue with our bright color scheme, so I ended up purchasing a box of teal plastic table coverings. We used command strips to affix the plastic to cover the walls. I also purchased a large ABC wall covering from Amazon and made two of my own posters using Canva and had them printed at CVS. I wanted to make sure I personalized it somehow and this was a cheap and easy way to do so! Below are the posters that I made and also links to the wall coverings!

Tablecloth link:

ABC Wall Covering link:

Now we were in the HOMESTRETCH! It was time to put on the finishing touches, add a little bit of decorations and we were finished! I purchased some colorful banners from Amazon to hang on the ceiling, got a cute map decoration from Marshalls and an encouraging canvas decoration and some little throw pillows from Hobby Lobby. Lastly, Danny hung the swing that we’ve had for Kai for awhile now up on one of the I-beams and we purchased a cube chair with matching tray for him to sit in for therapies and other activities. He’s used these cube chairs in therapy before and it was also a suggested item from another new blog that I’ve loved following called Navigating Special. We got the cube chair in red and the tray in blue. Let’s face it, we can’t have any yellow and blue together in this house… it’s way too close to Michigan colors and we are NOT about that! haha!

And…. VOILA! Just like that, we were finished! We were able to get it done in ONE week and spent approximately $830 total. Yes, I know that seems like a lot. The flooring alone was around $180 and all of the storage approximately $220. The wood and supplies for the little room were about $160 total and then all of the other little things added up to that grand total. All in all, we were happy to keep it under $1,000 and know this is a HUGE gift for Kai. And let’s face it, it’s not often he will receive such extravagant gifts for his birthday but man… does this kid deserve it. We know that it will get a lot of use and will all be worth it in the end!

Thanks for coming along this journey with us in our basement transformation! I can’t wait to share more of our story with you all in the future and hopefully continue to provide useful content. Thank you for being here and being a part of “Team Kai” and embracing life every small step at a time with us.

Much love,

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2 thoughts on “Basement Therapeutic Play Space

  1. Lovely and brilliant! I don’t think the cost was bad at all and was worth it. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. Much love, LV


  2. So cool…I would love to have a room like that for me…maybe soon I can get down and just chill in Kais room with him and play!


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