The Playhouse Project

We moved to a new house a year ago and not a week goes by that the kids don’t say they miss having the play set in the back yard. Finding myself recently unemployed, I decided building a playhouse would be a great project to take on. I admit it, I like power tools and was excited about the challenge.

My first step in the project was to search online. I started on Pinterest and found several playhouses that looked simple enough. You can find my playhouse project board on Pinterest. I took characteristics from a number of websites, but by far, the house I was most inspired by was the Modern Playhouse created by designers in San Francisco. I found a lot of pictures of different designs and even a few how to websites but never found any detailed plans that I wanted to build. It was clear I was going to have to design something myself.

Photo Apr 25, 7 11 59 PM
Modern Playhouse Design by designers in San Francisco


I started off thinking that I could use recycled materials, wood scraps, and remnants from construction projects. I wanted to save money as well as reduce waste (of course). After grabbing the first load of wood through my local Buy Nothing group, I realized this was going to be challenging. I consulted my contractor friend who agreed that piecing together remnants was going to take much longer and impose limitations on my design. I decided I would try to use some of the wood I collected but also acknowledged I needed to buy some (or most) of the materials.

My first step was to determine where the playhouse was going to be sited in the yard and then I drew up design plans based on some key considerations including size limitations and maximizing light. When planning dimensions, I was limited to something 50 inches wide because of the location and I wanted something tall enough for my eight and five year olds to enjoy for years to come. Because the playhouse was going to be in a shady corner of the yard, I wanted to fill the playhouse with as much natural light as possible. I used the holes element from the Modern Playhouse design and changed the roof to clear polycarbonate to allow the light in from above. Another design component was incorporating a counter/window. One of my kids favorite things to do in our neighborhood is to play in the playhouse at our local nursery, Swansons, and pretend to sell coffee and lattes from the window (that’s Seattle Kids for you).

Photo Apr 25, 1 20 27 PM
Playhouse design under development

I spent approximately three weeks building the playhouse while the kids were at school. I had help from my local lumber store cutting the plywood to size. My local hardware store helped with troubleshooting issues with saw blades, stripped screws and more. I have published detailed plans, a materials lists, and step by step instructions that can be purchased from my Etsy site. I also had a little help from my husband and my kids, but primarily I was able to construct this on my own (hurray for moms who build)!

I will be adding more details to my website eventually, but for now I was just so excited to share the results. The finishing touches are some of my favorite as parts of the project. The kids wanted the playhouse to be blue. We compromised with a blue door.

Photo May 12, 3 06 50 PM
The Playhouse Project by GarbageTruckLove

My kids liked the bench and pillow elements of the Modern Playhouse design so we incorporated those as well. I used leftover stain from the garage and an old bench cushion.

Photo May 21, 2 40 52 PM
Floating bench makes for a great hiding spot as well as place for storage.

My husband requested a chalkboard inside. He and his friends enjoy decorating the garage walls with their own chalk musings and drawings. Using chalk board paint on the walls, I created a designated spot where the kids can create their own images and document their musings.

Photo May 13, 9 22 13 AM
Chalk Boards in the Playhouse


We are all excited to have this new addition to our home. The kids ate dinner in there last night and were quick to get to playing! I added a few final touches to the landscape including a round stepping stone at the entrance. I also surrounded the structure with rocks to help with drainage on those wet Seattle days.

Photo May 21, 2 39 48 PM
Rocks, a round stepping stone, and stoppable plants were added to the landscape.

Wrapping up the playhouse project, I couldn’t help but feel emotional and think of my dad who passed away in November. He taught me everything I know about tools and building things. He was ninety and still working at the hardware store before he passed away and will always be an inspiration. I know he would have been so proud of my creation.

Photo May 21, 4 21 33 PM


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