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REVOLUTIONIZING PLAYROOM DESIGN: EDUCATOR TO FOUNDER KARRI BOWEN-POOLE'S MISSION

Karri shares how her intentional and groundbreaking business model has landed her in the homes of A-list celebrities and families who are looking to change the way their kids learn and play at home!

EVERY HOME HAS A STORY

How do you bring warmth and joy into a modern townhome in NYC? Interior Designer, Jennifer Morris will quite literally have you jumping off the walls with joy in this house. With a stunning not-so-formal living room, an artsy and open kitchen, and a playroom like you have never seen before. With unique art and an added element of nature, this home is the perfect balance between peace and joy in the big city.

WHILE EVERYONE ELSE TURNED THEIR GARAGES INTO GUEST ROOMS, THIS MOM PUT MONKEY BARS IN HERS

When Los Angeles–based designer Erin Fetherston found out she was having her first child, she joked with her husband that they would need a padded room. Fast-forward six years and two more kids, and they actually have one. While everyone else seemed to transform their garages into guest rooms or offices during the pandemic, Fetherston decided to turn the detached one at her family’s new house in L.A.’s Hancock Park neighborhood into a full-on play gym.

I'M A MOM AND A PLAYROOM EXPERT: HERE'S HOW I GAVE MY KIDS THE ULTIMATE PLAY AREA

I feel so incredibly grateful to have been able to pivot my expertise in child development and teaching to start creating educational playrooms. I literally woke up in the middle of the night with the idea to transform children's playrooms by designing and organizing them just like a classroom.

THIS HUMBLE LIGHTBULB TRANSFORMS YOUR HOME INTO A MAKE-BELIEVE WONDERLAND

I feel so incredibly grateful to have been able to pivot my expertise in child development and teaching to start creating educational playrooms. I literally woke up in the middle of the night with the idea to transform children's playrooms by designing and organizing them just like a classroom.

IN THESE “SMART” PLAYROOMS, FORM FOLLOWS FUN

The word “smart” in a design context often signals digital features like seamless internet access and Wi-Fi– connected utilities and appliances, but Smart Playrooms are less “Alexa” and more “Maria”—as in Maria Montessori, the legendary children’s educator. Akin to Montessori’s emphasis on physical play and art-making, Smart Playrooms engage children’s five senses through a variety of design features.

SPACE OF THE WEEK: THIS MULTIPURPOSE GARAGE IS A HOME GYM AND HANGOUT SPACE

A former teacher and the owner of Smart Playrooms, a design service in Rye, N.Y., Karri Bowen-Poole transformed her underused detached garage into a family-friendly gym and play space. Her three kids range in age from 12 to 25, so the area had to be flexible enough to suit everyone's need—and still leave room for the car on the few occasions that called for parking out of the elements. Here's how she turned this blank slate of a space into a multipurpose hangout zone for the entire family.

SPACE OF THE WEEK: THIS MULTIPURPOSE GARAGE IS A HOME GYM AND HANGOUT SPACE

“When building a playroom for a child with special needs, such as autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, developmental delays, or sensory processing disorder, each design choice should accommodate learning, therapy, comfort and play. Karri Bowen-Poole is a mom, educator, and interior designer who specializes in creating playrooms… by selecting furnishings, materials, and equipment that are developmentally appropriate, functional , and beautiful….

PROTECT YOUR HOME AGAINST THE ONSLAUGHT

A former teacher and the owner of Smart Playrooms, a design service in Rye, N.Y., Karri Bowen-Poole transformed her underused detached garage into a family-friendly gym and play space. Her three kids range in age from 12 to 25, so the area had to be flexible enough to suit everyone's need—and still leave room for the car on the few occasions that called for parking out of the elements. Here's how she turned this blank slate of a space into a multipurpose hangout zone for the entire family.

TURNING YOUR BACKYARD INTO A VACATION SPOT

With summer camps shut down and beach vacations seeming risky, homeowners are investing in ways to create a summer retreat at home…Karri Bowen-Poole, the founder of Smart Playrooms, a Rye, N.Y., play space designer. Many are diverting money that might have been spent on camps or vacations to purchases they hope will keep restless children occupied. “If you have kids who are whining and unhappy, parents are like, ‘I have to solve this problem.’”

BEFORE AND AFTER: A HEAVY, WOOD-PANELED FAMILY ROOM BECOMES AN AIRY PLAYROOM FOR KIDS

“Bowen-Poole has created playrooms for many well-known New Yorkers, including Dylan Lauren, founder of Dylan’s Candy Bar, and Nicky Hilton. While many of Bowen-Poole’s clients have big budgets and space to spare, the philosophy behind Smart Playrooms’ designs can be applied to any place where kids play.”

5 FUN PLAYROOM DESIGNS TO INSPIRE YOU

The picture-perfect kids' playroom is the one in which your children will play independently for hours on end. Giving them all the exercise, stimulation, and fun possible is the number one goal. Yet, what is the perfect kids' playroom in reality? What features, toys and designs will achieve the goal? We’ve put together five fun kids' playroom ideas to help get you inspired to create your own

SMART PLAYROOMS: PUTTING PASSION BACK INTO PLAY

We’re so excited to have Karri Bowen-Poole of Smart Playrooms with us today to answer a few questions about her INCREDIBLE, on-site design services. In addition to on-site design services in and around NYC and CT, they also offer 3 tiers of E-Design services for families that live outside of the area. They also sell their favorite playroom products in their shop @projectplayrooms Lastly, they promise that WE WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOUR KIDS PLAY!

THE ULTIMATE PLAY SPACE

Bowen-Poole designs her rooms primarily drawing on her expertise as an educator. Her company, Smart Playrooms, creates educational and child-centered spaces that combine interior design principles and functional organizational systems with a complete understanding of child development.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR PLAYROOM THE ULTIMATE FUN AND EDUCATIONAL SPACE, ACCORDING TO EXPERTS

Bowen-Poole, who was a teacher for 12 years, has learned that kids really benefit from unstructured play and less time in front of screens. "Kids aren't being independent, and they're not problem solving. They're not creatively taking charge of their ideas, but we're beginning to understand that we can shape what kids do and how they play just by how we set up the environment," she told POPSUGAR.

CHILD’S PLAY

Longtime educator Karri Bowen-Poole was teaching at a local preschool when it occurred to her — “What if I took the systems we use in the classroom and incorporated them into people’s homes?”

INTERVIEW WITH KARRI BOWEN-POOLE OF SMART PLAYROOMS

When Karri Bowen-Poole is at work, all she thinks about is play. It goes with the territory though Bowen-Poole designs one-of-a-kind children’s playrooms for a living.

INTERVIEW WITH KARRI BOWEN-POOLE OF SMART PLAYROOMS

“Karri took an idea and after a newspaper ad, her idea took flight! I find her story absolutely inspiring. Not only is she doing something amazing for kids and their families, but her dream came true. Should inspire anyone to follow their heart!”

MAKE THE PLAYROOM OF YOUR DREAMS A REALITY

“What does your dream playroom look like? Does it have a rock wall, monkey bars, or a special crafting zone? I am going to let you in on a little secret, Smart Playrooms can help make that dream a reality. They specialize in creating epic playrooms that are perfect for both play and learning. We had the chance to chat with the founder of Smart Playrooms, Karri Bowen-Poole, to learn a little bit more about how these special spaces are created.”

SMART PLAYROOMS ON INSIDE EDITION

Take a tour inside Karri’s garage with Inside Edition. Karri explains to Inside Edition how she converted her garage into a space where the kids could be physical and workout while her entire family was home during quarantine.

MEET DESIGNER KARRI BOWEN-POOLE OF SMART PLAYROOMS

“Longtime schoolteacher and mother of three Karri Bowen-Poole has started Smart Playrooms, a firm that helps children develop and learn by applying school-design principles to family playrooms. Here, she explains how layout and organization influence children’s behavior, independence and creativity.”

CAN YOUR PLAYROOM AFFECT YOUR CHILDS BRAIN?

Playrooms must be well organized with learning centers where everything is in place so that when kids want to create, build or pretend, they have everything they need right at their fingertips. The Smart Playrooms team, Karri Bowen-Poole and Chris Simpson, share these four reasons why a playroom encourages success in school…

THESE NYC TOTS HAVE PLAYROOMS THAT RIVAL SOME APARTMENTS

“Karri Bowen-Poole, a professional playroom designer who founder her business, Smart Playrooms, in 2012, started off mostly as an organizer who sorted and labeled toys, but in the past few years, she’s been working with clients who ask her to create permanent, indoor playgrounds for their kids, with outrageous features such as monkey bars, trapeze rings and rock - climbing walls.”

TOO CUSTOMIZED TO SELL?

“In addition to a 20-foot-wide rock-climbing wall, monkey bars and a mini basketball court, the new playroom has an arts-and-crafts area with a walk-mounted chalkboard, a media lounge with hanging-pod swing chairs and an under-the-stairs reading nook with string lights and a beanbag chair. There is also a hanging trapeze, as well as a built-in ladder, a climbing rope, swings and plenty of brightly colored floor mats for worry-free frolicking.”

SOMETHING FROM NOTHING: IDEAS FOR KIDS’ PLAY AREAS IN SMALL NYC APARTMENTS

“As kids get older, physical play replaces floor play. It’s the physical play that requires more space,” says Bowen-Poole. She recommends a basketball hoop over a door, with soft sponge balls to throw. Another space saver is wall ladders. “They take up no space at all, older kids can do pull-ups. You can also attach things to it, like basketball hoops or trapeze bars.”

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