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—Photography by David Lauer; Styling by Liz Finkelstein

A Whimsical Playroom (With Real Trees!)

This Boulder basement channels the woodland fairies of children's storybooks.

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This forest-themed playroom is the collaborative effort of interior designer Liz Finkelstein, woodworker Michael Auldridge, and the homeowners, who wanted a creative place that would entertain their four-year-old daughter. The original idea was to build a custom treehouse, Finkelstein says, but as the design evolved, the idea for separate trees emerged. “The goal was always a space that was kid-inspiring and fully interactive but adhered to the homeowners’ fantastic taste,” she says.

Designer Liz Finkelstein reveals the magic behind the look:

Nix The Clutter: “For a space to be inviting to adults,” Finkelstein says, “the kid clutter must be contained.” The easiest way to do that is with built-in drawers and cubbies, in this case designed and constructed by Auldridge. Beautiful freestanding baskets add visual interest.


Be Playful: Real trees that Auldridge hand-selected, per the homeowners’ love of aspens, create the 10-foot-long forest along the back wall. “You can walk through it, hide, read, play in the corner nooks, and climb onto built-in ledges,” Finkelstein says. “It is, in the truest sense, user-friendly.”


Give The Grown-Ups Something: In a nod to the golden hue of aspens in fall, the sofa and chair (from the Ligne Roset Togo collection) are kid-friendly and cozy but also, as Finkelstein says, “all-stars of contemporary furniture design. By placing these pieces, we’re announcing that this room is for adults too.”


Table, chairs, and stools from Restoration Hardware Baby & Child are just the right size for little fairies (and their stuffed best friends) to do some serious crafting. Designer Liz Finkelstein created the custom art gallery using antique frames, mirrors, and windows, which she spray-painted white. The corkboard is great for rotating in new artwork, and an indoor/outdoor Dash & Albert rug makes cleanup a breeze.


Personalize It: The walls boast a mix of the homeowners’ art collection and their daughter’s creations, some with frames that are “antique, locally found, and spray-painted white for a modern update,” Finkelstein says.


BONUS: Bring outdoor play inside with these four picks.

1. Fox Forest Pop Wall Decor (above), $29, Land of Nod

2. Medium Restore Felt Basket in Yellow, $99, Design Within Reach

3. Log Cushion Seat, $59, Land of Nod

4. Birch Tree Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper, $40 per roll, Simple Shapes


Photo credits: 1. Courtesy of Land of Nod, 2. Courtesy of Design Within Reach, 3. Courtesy of Land of Nod, 4. Courtesy of Simple Shapes

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