Playroom Art Gallery Wall

By Kate Riley January 24, 2011

Hi all, hope you had a great weekend!  A few weeks ago, I mentioned that one of my home goals for this year was to take a bare patch of wall in my kids play space and turn it into an art and homework station.  Many many moons ago, before the little ones were born, I actually had a ‘formal’ dining room.  Ha!  Those were the days when we had an entire room dedicated to formal dining.  No point in that these days, so after those babies were born we decided to better use that square footage to store their toys, games, etc in a kid friendly space.  

There was a bare unused patch of wall in there, so over the weekend I created a little art desk and wall gallery for my daughter.  Art is her most favorite activity ~ drawing or painting is the first thing she wants to do when she wakes up, and the big excuse she uses to wiggle out of her looming homework.   I decided to encourage her talents and dedicate a little station to my budding artist. 


Her older sister gave her the desk from her bedroom, so that meant I didn’t have to buy one!  Yeehaw, gotta love shopping your house for the perfect solution!  I gave it some grosgrain ribbon trim around the edges for a fun pop of color.


desk edge


I had a glass top made for the small desk at a local shop, then to add a fun pattern, I layered a simple cotton print fabric underneath the glass ~ it’s stapled underneath so it will stay in place.

staple blue fabric


The small lamp is from Target, I added some fun ribbon to the shade with hot glue.

embellished lampshade


I thought about taking a trip to IKEA for some floating wall shelves, but then luckily I found some laminate ones on clearance at my nearby Target.  I primed them with oil based primer, then gave them a quick coat of white paint!   

prime and paint shelves


No one has to know they were two different colors before ! 

cg gallery shelves


Most of the picture frames are Goodwill finds, or found on discount at either Michaels or Target.  RustOleum has a fun line of ‘Painter’s Touch’ colors like ‘Aqua’ and ‘Green Apple’ ~ they make it easy to change a frame’s color with just a can of paint. 

rustoleum spray paints


Together, my girl and I went through her stack of her drawings and paintings, and she picked a few recent favorites to frame.

frames mats art


The nice thing about a gallery like this is she can change out her drawings so easily.

cg wall art on shelves


Here’s a peek at the other walls in their play area.  Here is the TV/storage wall and the laminate media center I painted last year. 

kids playroom media center


On the other side of the media center is the sofa with a giant map behind it.  This wall map is from National Geographic and comes in three vertical sections.  It’s easy to get up on the wall ~ I used a staple gun to attach it to the wall and double sided tape to keep the seams together.  To create the frame, I trimmed it with MDF chair rail after I spray painted it espresso brown.  The map can be purchased here

wall map


girls playroom


Opposite the new art desk and gallery is this window wall, above it is the wood cornice I built last summer.  The rug is from Rugs USA, available here

cornice playroom


This bonus room downstairs is a great play space for art, games, movies and entertaining their friends, and we think a much wiser use of square footage than a formal dining room.  And my daughter just loves her new art gallery wall!

wall gallery after


I’ve got another fun project to feature later in the week, but today I’m packing my luggage.  Yep, it’s another airplane trip, this time I’m headed to the Blissdom conference in Nashville.  I’m very excited to meet up with so many of my home blogger friends who inspire me greatly. 

What DIY projects do you have in the works right now? 




  1. I love this idea! You inspire me to be better and more organized in my home. This is a project I am going to do in our home as well. Thank you!

  2. What a pretty, yet functional use of your space! I love the idea of floating shelves…no constant hammering, nailing, or touching up. Do you use any kind if adhesive to keep the glass to stay in place on top of the desk? Love the little touches that make the space pop–the ribbon, the fabric. Great job!

    Our addition opens directly off of our dining room. For a couple of years now it’s sort of been in limbo. Is it a playroom, another “room,” or what? I have my craft desk in the back hallway, but I rarely use it. I think it’s time to turn the entire area into a dedicated play room to give the kids more space. Since my oldest moved into a bigger bedroom with her little sis, I could turn her old room into a guest room/craft space.

    So…thanks for the inspiration to use unused space! :)

  3. I love everything about that room. It’s kid enough, but busting with plastic toys everywhere. I love the desk area and wall art. Beautiful job, as always!

  4. Oh my goodness, I am in love. This is fabulous. I love the fresh colours, and all the little whimsical details. Awesome job!

  5. How imaginative! I am sure your little artist is loving her new space! Just curious, where is your dining space now (the one that can be seen in the background of the first two photos? Is that part of your kitchen? A floor plan post would be super-helpful for those of us who love to follow along!

  6. I love the apple green and aqua together – what a great combo! I need to get my kids an art station because my husbands’ great-great-great grandmother’s antique dining room table just can’t handle their abuse.
    My next DIY project is bookshelves for the kids’ walls made out of rain gutters, to display their favorite books. I saw it on a blog somewhere and it’s fabulous! I bet they could event be painted in coordinating colors too. I just need to get my hubby excited about it. ;o)
    Thanks for all your great ideas and inspiration!

  7. What a great idea for the desk. I love the fabric and ribbon choices. Considering how few times a year any of us really use a formal dining room, it’s a great alternative to using the space. Beautiful job as always.

  8. As always, another great post! We did the same thing with our “formal dining room” – made it a playroom. It’s a nice sized room with a bay window and where all the toys (are supposed to) stay. (or atleast end up in at the end of the night). My current DIY is adding the National Geo. world map into the playroom! I actually ended up getting the next smaller size – it’s still huge but was just 34.99. Now just need to frame it out, hopefully this week! I’m also adding a playroom wall gallery with framing jacket covers of some of the kids favorite books. Safe travels to Blissdom!

  9. I can only imagine the memories that will be made in this fun and beautiful room. Thanks for sharing the easy ideas you used in the transformation.


  10. What a sweet area for your little girl! I love the art gallery you created. Emily A. Clark is actually guest posting on my blog today about incorporating kids’ art throughout the house, and this is another perfect example! And, I recognize that green clock from Target; I picked up the yellow version for our nursery…love that pop of color.

    Have fun at Blissdom! So wishing I could go, but my little newborn is keeping me grounded!

    – e

  11. I love that your kids have their own space! It’s a great way to show off their creativity. Hopefully, it makes them accountable for keeping it picked up too. A good lesson in pride of ownership.

  12. I bought the same fabric!!! I also found a companion fabric and used them to make pillows in “my” new room dedicated just to crafts, sewing, and fun girl things! :)

  13. Beautiful and functional and exactly what I want to do with my unused dining space. How big is this room, it seems to fit so much stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  14. It warms my heart to see you encourage your little artist. My parents bought me my first easel when I was only 4 and it created some of my most fond memories as a child. If it were not for their encouragement so early I would not have grown into the full time artist and jeweler I am now. Way to go encouraging her! I can tell where she gets her talents from. ;)

  15. This is beautiful! I love how bright and cheery the room is, without feeling too “kid” like. The gallery wall and patterned desktop are brilliant ideas! It looks like it could easily be updated to grow with the kids in the future.

  16. I soooooooo love your house, decorations, and DIY projects. I’d love to do that stuff if I have time. Your daughter’s desk area looks great. :)

  17. i am working on putting elfa in my laundry room…or shall i say closet. it has turned out so well, and i painted the walls with a beautiful silver gray to pick up on the stainless in my washer and dryer.
    i love the extra storage and the cabinet space in the kitchen i just freed up!!
    yay for projects getting done. next up….master bedroom closet in elfa.

  18. This is so fun, I love how a little ribbon trim can go a long way. Right now the hubby and I are working on our nursery for our first baby! He just installed new baseboards (thank you YouTube) and painted the walls w/no-VOC paint. I’m busy making small works of art for the walls and hope to start doing the curtains soon!

  19. I love how the desk looks with the addition of the patterned fabric and glass overlay. I am now wracking my brain on how I can incorporate a similar look into our office/ guest room, just for fun. :)

  20. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that room! The colors are BEAUTIFUL! I am in love and totally diggin’ it. Can I come over and play? Hehe..enjoy it! You have inspired me!
    Stacey :o)

  21. Love it! My daughter would love a space like this. Just have to figure out the perfect spot for it. Great job.

    I spied a brown and white pillow on one of your chairs that would be perfect for our playroom, do you know what the name of the fabric is?

  22. So cheery! LOVE the colors, and the framing of the art. Ribbon on the lampshade is genius! Nice work.

  23. What a beautiful, fun room for the kids. I love the giant map and the desk turned out beautiful. I love that you displayed some of their favorite artwork. I bet the kids love hanging out in there. Thanks for the beautiful inspiration once again.

  24. I LOVE this room…too bad I only have boys. (Well, not too bad, ’cause I love them dearly). Anyway, I love those frames. Do you have to sand and prime them first or can you just spray paint them? I’m REALLY new to all this DIYing and am SUPER excited to tackle some projects. The frames are one of them. Thanks.

  25. Love this idea for kids art. I have a floating shelf wall (ikea) in my bedroom but it displays all things about me and my husband.

    Thanks for sharing and inspiring…might have to use it in the makeover. lol

  26. That is a beautiful space! It looks at once modern and kid-friendly. Thank you for sharing this- it gives me inspiration to work on my project. I’m redoing my office, and I can’t spend any money! That’s proving to be quite a challenge! Happy Monday!

  27. Looks fabulous! I was reminded how much I love that cornice you made for the playroom…do you mind me asking you a ballpark price on what it cost for all the materials to make/hang it? I might want to copy your genius. :)

  28. I love that play room. I wish we had the space for it, but we are actually planning on using our dining room. I have loads of drawings and things I could hang too. I will have to try that art gallery myself. So cute.

  29. I think it was kismet that I read your post this morning! Since the Christmas overflow of toys, we have been contemplating turning our formal dining room into a playroom as well. Since it is one of the first rooms you see when walking into our house, I’ve been a bit hesitant because I didn’t want to have toys strewn about as a meet and greet. But I am now convinced you can have a stylish playroom that doesn’t scream toy overflow. Thanks for the inspiration!

  30. This is absolutely a fabulous idea. I have a budding artist in our home, too, and while I don’t have a formal dining room, I could do something similar in her own room or in the play area we have upstairs. Love that you are so economical and resourceful… a girl after my own heart! Thanks for the great ideas!

  31. Amazing! The funny thing is that I JUST found that same map from National Geographic and am planning on using it in my newly constructed basement “billiard room/Library”. As avid travelers, we’re going to use little push pins to mark all the places that we’ve been. We figure it will be a nice way to remind ourselves where we’ve been and will be a good conversation starter with friends and family. Great minds think a like!

  32. You are seriously unbelievable. That map is fantatstic! I LOVE that you do all of these projects yourself! You are so inspiring! Great art area for your little artist too!

  33. Ack!!! Love!!!

    I am so impressed by your laminate-painting skills. I had a quick question about that which you may have answered elsewhere but I haven’t been able to to find. How do you feel about the Zinsser
    Cover-Stain Oil-Base Primer-Sealer SPRAY paint? Seems like it would be less messy (when done in an outdoor space) but I wasn’t sure if it would cover heavily enough to be effective on laminate.


  34. I love the art wall! AWESOME!

    My current project is making use of an old door that was part of a wall divider in our church. Years ago, they had these to shut off areas for Sunday School classes. It has raised panels on it and the top part has a frosted glass insert.

    I’ve had the door for years and just used it as a piece of art….it stood up against a wall. It’s still the original color (a pinkish-tan color)…of course it’s aged a ton! But it doesn’t go well with my new home, so I’m in the process of stripping the hold paint off it and staining it a chestnut color so it will look like it belongs.

    I’ll be sure to share before and after pics :)

  35. This is fabulous!!!! Love the colors you used too.
    I just framed a bunch of the kids art, they love it.
    Have a fun time on the trip :)XO

  36. This is just so flawlessly done. Such a perfect use of space, I love that your kids can play and create so close to the heart of the home!! I also love all the colors you chose, everything looks so divine!!


  37. Love how you repurposed the dining room for what fits your world! The art desk is precious– lots of great ideas all in one. What a lucky little girl!

  38. great versatile room, and you did a beautiful job with all of it!

    Could you tell me the paint color on the walls? I’m looking for a pretty green right now, and I believe the one you used could be it.

    Thanks! Kim

  39. Kate – I found an older post with the color of the walls – soft fern by Benjamin Moore is the closest color. I love reading the old posts, and am so glad you link them in your current posts. Kim

  40. I so have this in mind for my rumpus room downstairs… thanks for the inspiration! I also love the idea of painting the photo mats in the picture frames, and will now be doing this in my daughter’s bedroom. Keep up the great work.

  41. Kate- it’s amazing! I love the print on the top of the desk. I have tons of those same frames from Michaels that I did my gallery wall in (: It’s so bright and cheerful!

  42. This post made my heart happy!!! LOVE what you did with the artwork and the media center!!! The same National Geographic map is above my desk in my studio. ;-) I ordered mine at and had my local framer frame it.

  43. What a wonderful and colorful space for your daughter to create her masterpieces. She is quite the budding artist with all of her artwork. Good for her! The fabric on her desk is a fun touch, Kate. You did a great job with everything. Have fun at Blissdom. I would so love to go but I’m still in the “reader” phase of blogs. Soon I’ll start my blog and hopefully next year I can attend. It would be great to meet you.

  44. Is the staple gun pictured the same one you used for the map? I’m interested to know where the staples were placed as I’m interested in hanging that map very soon!

  45. Awwwwe! So much fun! I love it!

    We’re currently working in the kitchen. Longest project ever! lol Seeing your map reminds me that I have one curled up waiting to be framed. One of these days. So many projects, so little time. ;)

    Have a great week, Kate!

  46. Hand turkey!!!!!, I just love them. My children used to do them at playcentre. Im sure Ive got some tucked away. Mmmmmm…..

  47. I’m continually impressed by your projects. This is so practical & fun! I’m sure your girls love it… as do your readers!

  48. Adorable! I love that fabric on the desk- I’m actually using the same fabric in a quilt for my (grown) daughter.

  49. I love the kids’ framed work display. It’s so nicely displayed and looks so special. Great job on the table! I’m trying to convert an ugly bookcase into a beautiful piece of furniture, but I got a ways to go :)

  50. I love what you have done with the art gallery/homework area, and it is making me rack my brains about how I could find a bit of wall for my son, but sadly I don’t think we have any spare wall space. Still you have inspired me to make some changes in his room. :)

  51. I absolutely love how you brightened up a simple desk with a bit of fabric – genius! And the ribbon on the lamp was a small detail that made such a big difference! The whole set up is adorable!!

  52. I just purchased the map as well after debating for awhile. i found it on amazon for only $63.00!

  53. Such a pretty, happy room. I have a little “creating corner” for my toddlers with a laminate desk top. It’s pretty grubby with paint and crayon! I’m taking inspiration from the glass covered fabric desk, much prettier and it must be easy to keep clean too. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Visiting from the Gallery Wall Party, I’m # 117.

  54. I love this! I have never used spray paint for anything (I know!) so I love what you did with the mats in the frames. Adorable space!

  55. I love everything about your blog! Keep it coming! I have all the supplies to put up my National Geographic map on our office wall. Do you recommend cutting the chair rail and then painting? Also, I assume you nail the chair rail to the wall. How do you paint over filled nail holes with spray paint? It seems a bit scary to me. Thank you!

  56. So glad to hear I am not the only person to fore-go the formal dining room and make a TV/play area for my kids. I have had one for years – not as cute as your is though. Now my kids are older and have their own homework desks in their rooms and we’re currently making it into a room that they can hang out in, play Wii, play games, etc. I love having that room available to us. Thanks for all of your wonderful ideas.

  57. I love this! This is such a great idea! :) Right now we’re expecting our first baby, so our whole house is sort of one DIY project right now. Art work is still way off for us, but definitely storing this in my memory bank for when the time comes. Too cute!

  58. I Have only Just found your blog on Pintrest!! I LOVE IT!! Thank you for sharing!! Great Ideas!!

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