Downstairs Dreamland | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Downstairs Dreamland 

click to enlarge MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen

Back in 2009, Jamie Polli moved into a South Burlington condo with a barren basement. He wondered how he might create a unique play space for his daughter Celia — then 4 years old — to help ease the challenge of his recent separation from the girl's mom. "I wanted it to be really super fun," he recalls.

His solution? A magical, kid-size basement wonderland. Polli built a wooden tunnel suspended from the ceiling and installed a yellow slide that ends in an inflatable pool full of cylindrical, purple-foam "squishies." A winding "ball labyrinth" shoots colorful plastic balls across the room, and kids can spin a "Wheel of Fortune"-like Cookie Wheel left over from Polli's day job as the marketing director of the University Mall.

The space is continually evolving as Celia gets older and her play style changes. "The other day we were down here doing homework in the tunnel," Polli says with a grin.

Parent: Jamie Polli

Kid: Celia Polli, 7

  • Old cardboard carpet spools connected with PVC plumbing elbows form the ball labyrinth, which is suspended from the ceiling by plastic straps and an old pair of crutches.
  • Foam pads formerly used by a South Hero apple orchard have been turned into "squishies."
  • Interlocking rubber mats prevent injury on the hard concrete floor.
  • Tube lights add color and whimsy.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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About The Author

Ana Ruesink

About the Artist

Matthew Thorsen

Matthew Thorsen

Bio:
Matthew Thorsen was a photographer for Seven Days 1995-2018. Read all about his life and work here.

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