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How To Make A Playful And Creative Family Home

Section: Shopping Ideas

Turn your house into a loving, nurturing haven by creating play areas for your toddler

Do you dream of having a home that not only looks great, but also nurtures and inspires your child’s development? Yes, us too *sighs*. Areas in your home where you can spend time together as a family – talking, eating, reading or playing – can support emotional growth and help little ones express and process their feelings, too. But, hello, how does that work in real life?

Olive Loves Alfie founder Ashlyn Gibson, who’s mum to Olive, 10, thinks she has the answer. Her new book, Creative Family Home, has no calm, clean (and unrealistic) suggestions. Instead, the pages are a collection of colour and clutter that are designed to suit life as a parent. ‘I’ve always listened to Olive and valued her opinion,’ says Ashlyn. ‘Our home is a safe place where she can experiment with her own ideas and express herself by contributing to the way it looks and feels.’

So, permission to stop wondering whether that cream sofa is really a good idea granted, and instead focus on ways you can make your home a warm, welcoming and creative hub for family life.

Photo Montage

Encourage your child to create a memory wall of photos, artwork and funny things they say. This makes a living record of your day-to-day life that you can look at and reminisce over with your little ones as they grow. Try eframe for a range of custom and ready-made frames, from £2.

From Creative Family Home by Ashlyn Gibson

Make A Collection

Children love collecting things – shells, stones, plastic figures – that can easily be lost or forgotten. Displaying them in a shelving unit (you’ll find a huge selection at Ikea, from £75) curates them into a child-friendly art installation. Eye-catching, but easily accessible, this can be used to teach toddlers to take pride in their efforts, as well as the basics of numeracy – help them count each object back in its place at the end of the day. Line the shelves with wallpaper samples or postcards for a vibrant, colourful feel. 

Have A Home Library

Keep books on display to encourage your child to look at them regularly and cultivate a love of words and illustrations. Looking at them together teaches even young babies about communication and is the basis of forming their first words.

Make Creative Areas

Give your child the space and tools for creative play – for example, put a desk in the corner of the bedroom and   make it a space for drawing, jigsaws or games. Find vintage desks on eBay and Not On The High Street, or buy new at Aspace from £95. Add fairy lights for a cosy feel.

Storytelling Corner

A sofa for two (£149.99, Homebase) makes the perfect place to sit with your child to tell stories and play with toys. Add scenic wallpaper (£67 per roll, Wallpaper Direct or, for a cheaper version, try I Love Wallpaper) and fairytale prints (£44.95, Zanders And Sons) to allow imaginations to run wild.

Encourage Drawing

Encouraging freedom is one thing – having random scribbles on your walls is another. So, give your child a defined area for them to draw on and keep a box of chalks handy. Paint a panel of a cupboard or wall with chalkboard paint (around £5, Amazon) and let them go crazy. A kid-friendly corner in the family living space will also boost your child’s confidence, as they’ll know you’re addressing their needs, too.

Creative Family Home by Ashlyn Gibson, with photographs by Rachel Whiting (£19.99, Ryland, Peters & Small)

How do you inspire creativity in your toddler? Let us know in the comments box below

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