From indoor swings and climbing walls to fairy doors and cozy reading nooks, there are lots of creative ways to add kid-friendly wonder — paired with function — to your home. Get inspiration from truly jaw-dropping designs, as well as tips for easy, affordable ways to add these fun ideas to your home.
1. Indoor climbing walls
When the weather refuses to cooperate with your outdoor plans, these indoor climbing walls can really save the day. Splurge on one (or more) of these by Forest Kids Norway, or transform an existing wall in your home by adding screw-on holds from REI. Check out this video for a quick tutorial on how to create an indoor climbing wall. And for extra-little ones, this foldable toddler climber should do the job.
2. Indoor swings (wheeee!!)
An indoor swing is another great way to bring the outdoors in. These sweet hanging pod hammocks provide some fun swaying action (and maybe even some twirling?) for kids while also creating a quiet space for reading or just daydreaming. Or you can go old-school — and quite cheaply — with a simple wood swing like this one from Home Depot. Check out this article for tips on hanging an indoor swing.
3. Indoor garden
There are many ways to create an indoor green retreat for your kids. Follow Little Lifelong Learner’s lead by assembling a mini world for plants with inexpensive cutting boards and foraged branches. Or create something a bit more life-size by arranging a variety of plants in the corner of a room — ideally by a window. Shop consignment stores for stools and side tables of varying heights to set plants on, and put down floor pillows to create a leafy oasis that kids really can steal away into with a book or a snack.
4. Reading nook
Encourage little ones to get their bookworm on by creating a special, cozy spot that’s dedicated to reading. This gorgeous idea from House of Hire proves that small touches can make a big impact. Recreate this space with a beanbag chair from Wayfair, this faux fur rug from World Market and these floating shelves from Amazon. Or take on something more ambitious by transforming a little-used closet, a space under the stairs or even a large wardrobe into a quiet place to enjoy a good page-turner.
5. Fairy doors
Add a little whimsy to your décor with a fairy door. Usually found just above baseboards, these tiny doors offer wandering forest fairies a place to stay should they lose their way (wink, wink). You can find a variety of fairy door sets for under $20 that come with accessories such as mailboxes, teeny-tiny welcome mats and footprint stencils — to trace fairy tracks, of course. Or you can search for individual dollhouse doors like this one, as well as dollhouse accessories to customize your — ahem — fairy stoop.
6. Nap nook
Naptime can often be a struggle, so having a special slumber spot could be just the motivation little ones need to catch some midday z's. These gorgeous, yawn-inspiring nooks are definitely ones to aspire to, but it can also be as simple as finding a daybed cushion, such as this one from Urban Outfitters or this one on Amazon. to place in a quiet spot. Let your kids pick out a special blanket and pillow, and with the portability of the cushion, you could even move the nap nook around.
7. Forts with staying power
Who says forts have to be just temporary fun? Create a permanent — or semi-permanent — fort in your child’s bedroom that doesn’t simultaneously take over the living room and leave you without any spare blankets. From an epic fabric fort to a loft-bed lair, this article offers great ideas to get you started. Want to keep it simple and/or don’t have much space to work with? That’s okay! It could be something as easy as hanging a canopy from the ceiling directly over a cozy chair or a floor pillow, or setting up a tepee tent.
8. Slide-stair combo
Adding a slide to your stairs would definitely win you Parent of the Century honors, as well as provide some glee for the kid in all of us. (And also maybe get everyone downstairs and out the door for school a little quicker every day!) This hardwood slide/staircase featured on Home Design Lover is well, wow — so file that away in your “dream house details” folder. But if you’re looking for a simpler option, check out this DIY stair slide from Remodelaholic for a totally doable way to transform your existing staircase.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2021 and updated in 2023.
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