If you ask our girls what they miss the most about NYC, our old playhouse in Brooklyn will most definitely get a mention. It's been discussed MANY times in the past two years since we've moved - also the fact that we promised to build the girls a new one and hadn't yet followed through on that. (Whoops!) They had done what we asked them to do and earned their part of the playhouse with extra chores all summer long, so Michael and I decided to tackle building it this month so they could enjoy it a little bit before school starts.
There are Amish playhouse kits that you can buy sort of piece meal depending on how customized you want your playhouse to be. We bought a bare bones version both for aesthetics and to help save on costs. We had to pick up a lot of our own materials this way, but I liked getting to choose the finishes!
We started by building the base out of 2x4s and 4x4s in a graveled area in our backyard. It had always been this strange little spot that we didn't ever use or really know what to do with. I think maybe the previous owners parked an extra vehicle here or something since it's not that far away from an RV gate? Not sure. But it worked perfectly as a spot for our playhouse since it's close to the swing set, but away from the sprinklers.
Once the base of the playhouse was built, we made floors out of 1/4" plywood cut down to 8" strips (a thinner version of just what I did to make floors in the studio).
The walls of the house went up quickly (this is the bulk of what comes in the "kit"). The trusses and the roof took a little more work to get right. (I really wish we would have thought to pull out that rosemary bush in front of the big door beforehand! It was a pain to work around!)
Once we put on the felt paper for the roof, things started to feel real and exciting and the momentum really picked up! Pretty sure the girls were squealing at this point. :)
I didn't want to just do asphalt shingles and actually went to a roofing supplier looking for a metal roof option so I could get that modern farmhouse style. But the price and convenience and look of the cedar shingles won me over in the end!
So now we're going for a cape-meets-farmhouse-in-the-desert look. ;)
I put on the cedar shingles over the course of two mornings (with a big thanks to Heather for holding the ladder while I hung the top few rows!) using our pneumatic staple gun. It wasn't too bad installing each shingle individually, just a little slow-going. I think it was totally worth it in the end. We paid a little more for the cedar shake shingles than asphalt, but it wasn't as expensive as the original metal roof idea was. And I think, while I love metal roofs on houses, the metal would have made the playhouse look like a shed. Not good!
As you can see, the playhouse gets a good amount of hot Arizona sun during the day, so I wanted to make sure to use a good exterior paint on the outside of the playhouse. I've been working with BEHR on their interior paints (a big how to paint interior rooms post here, in case you missed it!), and I was excited to get to try their Marquee line for this project. It's a great paint with great coverage, in the prettiest colors. I knew I wanted to go with a warm white on the main part of the house, but I thought about doing an accent color on the door and trim. There were a few incredible navy options that were really tempting me!
Colors from top left, going clockwise: Naturalism, Opera Glasses, Limousine Leather, Compass Blue, Curio, Statuesque, White Lie, Looking Glass (side note: aren't those great color names!?)
I decided to go with 'White Lie' (MQ3-55) for the body of the house. True to BEHR's promise, the Marquee exterior paint covered the old bad tan in just one coat!
I loved the all-white look so much, that I decided to hold off on an accent color for the doors and trim. I think it looks a little more modern this way, though it's easy to go pick up a quart of paint in an accent color if we decide to ever go that route!
While the paint dried, I went to Home Depot and picked up some cinder blocks and pavers to make little stone steps and to curb out the new mulch we laid down after raking out the gravel.
I used cement glue to attach the pavers to the cinder block.
And then we added two trellises and white bougainvilleas to the side.
Bougainvillea in any color will always be a favorite of mine! The big blooms are so happy and the plants do so well in the heat here.
I think they're so pretty against the clean white paint color!
The inside of the playhouse is small, but still bigger than our last one - perfect for our growing girls.
My designer-mommy heart has been bursting with pride, watching them draw up floor plans and pick paint samples and fabric for little cafe curtains. Though I'm not so sure I'll be giving them sign-off on horse wallpaper and pink floors. :)
I'd like to just paint everything in here white (same color and paint as the Marquee on the outside), so that it looks brighter inside. We'll see if I can convince the girls to be satisfied with some horse art and maybe a painted-on pink rug or something. :)
I am SO glad we decided to build this playhouse! Before we started, I was really intimidated by the idea of doing this without professional help, and initially I wanted to hire a handy man, but Michael told me he thought we could handle it and that he really wanted the girls to see us building it for them, so I got over it. Some of my favorite childhood memories were spent in the tree house and the playhouses my dad and mom built for me and my brothers and sisters at the different places we lived growing up. I remember my parents working hard for us and feeling like it was SO cool that they could do tough things.
I feel like this was such a success and I've been giving us major pats on the back all week. It WAS hard, but we did it! And we had fun doing it. And I know we'll be loving and using this playhouse for so many years to come. :)
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