A (Play)Room of One’s Own

New York City apartments are notoriously limited in size. Children come with a notoriously large amount of stuff. Most families I know are raising a child or two in less than 1,000 square feet. This space is usually divided into one or two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a living area. I don’t personally know any apartment-dwelling family that has an actual room devoted to child’s play. Blocks, dolls, trucks, tents, and puzzles are most likely stashed in your child’s sleep space, behind your sofa, and quite possibly in your fridge.

When my family of three (including an almost one year old at the time) began apartment shopping, we knew that proximity to a nearby park was priceless. The option of getting out is mandatory. We were also aware that the park wouldn’t be a viable option in the northeast 365 days a year. Weather would occasionally trap us and require all toddler energy to be expended within the walls of our home.

We viewed upwards of fifty apartments in our search. While we were weighing bedroom sizes, doormen, and updated appliances, we uncovered a hidden gem. Two buildings offered an amenity we weren’t even aware we were looking for: an in-building community playroom.

The first that we saw appeared to be a converted janitor’s closet. It was grey, had a small window, and offered space for two or three kids and a handful of toys. We were still flabbergasted at the idea of a fun place to take our daughter without having to brave any outdoor elements.

The second was our dream come true. Painted a sunny yellow with bright animal themed murals, the space was ample enough for ten kids and their respective caregivers. There were tiny tables and chairs for puzzles and drawing. There were benches for adults. Shelves contained books and games. There were play kitchens and kiddie pianos and a cabin that would have taken up entirely too much valuable square footage to ever be viable in our own apartment. Bins were filled with a variety of toys rivaling the collections of any five kids combined.

It helped that we loved the apartment, the location, and the other ammenities of the building, but the playroom truly sold us.

It has proven to be a godsend. In the winter months it is an almost daily stop in our schedule. You know that witching hour after nap and snacks but before dinner when you’re torn between throwing your kid in the closet or just giving in to endless Nick Jr? We head down to the playroom. It’s a sixty second commute and there’s almost always a playmate to join. It’s a place for us to go in summer when a rainy days thwarts plans to head to the zoo or the pool. When I’ve gotten our apartment back into tip-top shape during a nap, I can whisk my three foot hurricane downstairs to wreck a space other than our own. (We always clean up!)

It’s also a fantastic venue for hosting a playgroup. Have you had three, four, or five toddlers loose in your home? Not pretty. Bookshelves become ladders, every cabinet is a mystery to be explored, and someone’s personal toys are plundered by the lot. We have the option of inviting our friends to bounce off the walls of our playroom and our own place is spared… to this Mama’s delight.

Our playroom is the feature of our home that receives the most shock and awe from our city friends with kids. If you are a parent with kids of a preschool age or a parent-to-be, I would highly recommend considering an on-property space for children to be a priority in your home search!

Katy Osborne-Chiu is a non-native New Yorker who married into the Queens life. She and her preschooler sidekick, The Nut, spend their days dodging taxis, feasting on bagels and generally loving the city life. She also writes about the tales of a Southern girl with Chinese in-laws at Dim Sum Debutante.

Want to make your little ones happy, and cut down clutter in your apartment? These RealDirect listings are all located in buildings which offer a play room as an amenity.

255 West 108th Street #9DE

10 West End Ave. #8D

100 Jay Street #5C


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2 Responses to “A (Play)Room of One’s Own”

  1. […] check out my guest post at RealDirect today to find […]

  2. […] If the biggest space-hog in your apartment is toys, consider buying in a building that offers a play room. This will give your children a space to meet friends in the building and a room full of toys that […]