I recently decorated a new home for a young family and they made the decision to use the formal dining room for now as a playroom for their children. This allowed them to have a place on the main floor for toys that could be seen from the kitchen but somewhat removed from the rest of the living space.
While they have an eating nook in the kitchen as well, as their children grow older this room can easily be turned back into a formal setting for elegant dinner parties. By keeping the fixed elements consistent with the rest of the home – wall colouring and flooring as well as the drapery hardware and blinds – this room can be easily changed up at will. The fun bits such as the wall decals and drapery side panels add in colour and whimsy to the room but can be updated as the child grows. And the colourful rubber play mats create a soft floor for play, are easy to clean and protect the beautiful hardwood floor.
Involve the children in the room as well – their son did a great job helping apply the wall decals and made some of his own art to hang in the space as well. Now he can play in the space with his little sister and take pride in their own special area of the house.