DIY: How (Not) to Build A Playhouse

| Bliss, DIYs, Mommy Life

So I’m finally getting around to posting about “the playhouse”. It’s infamous now (at least with my husband). This project is the result of overconfidence in my DIY skills.




Not to disappoint, but here’s the disclaimer: There aren’t complete detailed instructions here…there IS however a rambling account of how I totally made the whole thing up as I went, a couple of plans and a few helpful hints in case you’re overconfident in your DIY skills too.

It all started with this:

20140210_111214 A simple cardboard box “store”. I made it for Evan last winter. He loved it. He & Noah played it it a lot, then it started to fall apart and would collapse on them…then they would cry. So it was pretty much the perfect toy since it provided hours of fun for cheap and also taught the boys about the importance of solid structural engineering.

Unfortunately my husband didn’t love it as much as they did – mostly because it was an eyesore and it took up a lot of space. So I finally decided to throw it away around the end of October this year. But Evan saw me hauling it to the trash and asked why I was throwing away his store. So I explained, that OF COURSE I was going to make him a bigger, better store.

And then I had to deliver, because much like elephants…three-year-olds never forget.

One day while Evan was in school Noah and I took a trip to the hardware store. Intitially I thought I’d just get some more insulation foam and build him a more sturdy version of the original. But THEN I realized that that one would probably eventually fall apart too. So I thought, PLYWOOD! Because, hey, I took Shop Class, I had built things (of course the “things” was a single clock and it was about 19 years ago). So I knew I could TOTALLY build a simple playhouse.

…and this is where the madness began.

Attempting to remember everything I learned in shop class...unfortunately I made a clock

Look at that pretty green saw!

Now for those of you not familiar with plywood…it comes in 4 ft. x 8 ft sheets, which in NO WAY fits into a mid size SUV (especially with two carseats in the middle row). So I had them cut it into thirds for me (since a 4ft x 4ft section wouldn’t fit either)…and THAT is how I determined how big it would be (again, totally making this up as I went). So I ended up with three 32″ x 48″ sections…so obviously, my “house” would be one wall short. I grabbed a 1×8 and had them cut that in half so I could make 4th wall (and avoid having to make a door by just leaving it open in the middle). At that point I realized I needed some sort of saw since I changed my materials. So I decided on a jigsaw since I figured it would be the most versatile (and also because it was a pretty lime green color).

After packing up all my materials I came home and created a plan…because you should always shop first and plan later.

This is what it looked like:

DIY Playhouse plans

I decided each side could be a different “place”…so we did a Post Office, a General Store and a Restaurant (more detailed plans at the end of this post). It got a little elaborate but I just kept thinking “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” paying no mind at all to my actual construction abilities.

I googled how to do an interior cut with a jig saw (because the internet is the source of all credible knowledge). Then donned my safety goggles and set to work. I cut the tops and the windows out first. I saved ALL my scraps since I wanted to use some of them later = cost efficient. I sanded, then primed, then sanded, then primed, then painted everything. I used spraypaint to get an even glossy finish (1 can per side).

Helpful hint: Use your kid to measure. I had Evan stand by the openings once I cut them to decide if I needed to make them and taller or wider.

Initially I was working in our garage but my husband requested I move to our basement after I got saw dust on his golf bag. His actual quote was something to the effect of “Next time you decide to go rouge on one of your craft projects, maybe you should consider just buying it…I think I could get over the $300 to avoid the mess”. He’s so funny…like I would ever buy something that I can so clearly MAKE MYSELF! What is up with these practical thinkers? :) I worked on each side individually since I had to move it to storage every time someone came to work on the basement (and it was too heavy for me to move as one piece).

wpid-photogrid_1421075471171.jpg Making progress

The Restaurant


For the Restaurant I was inspired by this craft table.



So I made the table out of the scrap piece from the window. I painted the interior with chalkboard paint then I attached the legs with hinges to the table edge. I attached the other side with hinges to a piece the same width as my legs (since when they folded under I needed to make a space for them to fit into).


I may eventually add some more details to it (like some hooks for pots and pans or some baskets for utensils and plates). 2014-12-25 14.14.03


The Farmer’s Market


I wanted to create a “store” of some sort since Evan always loves playing in the kitchen at school. The shelf was again made from scrap wood from the window opening. The awning was wood scrap on the ends with foam core creating the structure. The fabric was left over from some pillow covers I made.

2015-01-05 12.00.28

The “shelves” were a created by cutting 2 wooden crates in half.

The Post Office


I know my kids love putting “things” in “things” and Evan is obsessed with getting the mail, so the package box and mail box go all the way thru. The package box was again made out of scrap.



The mail box I actually made out of scrap as well and it took a little bit of math to create a curve out of straight pieces.

2014-11-24 18.28.42

Hint: To make an arch set your miter to 15 degrees – you’ll need six pieces (6 pieces x 2 sides each = 12 angles x 15 degrees = 180 degrees…YEA! MATH). The length will depend on the size of your box. Then wood fill and sand.


The mail is just images of vintage postcards on foam core and leftover envelopes with foam core inside and fake stamps.

The Roof

2015-01-05 12.02.08

I could have cut two sides shorter and only had the front and back be pointed but I liked each side with a pointed roof so I had to figure out how everything intersected. I don’t have any measurements on this since I basically held and marked each piece in place then cut it. I used 3 pieces of 2ft x 4ft underlayment. It was just attached with wood glue. I actually didn’t glue down the side pieces so I can open the top and peek in on them.

Finishing Details

I predrilled all my holes so I could countersink my screws. The corners are connected to 2x2s on the interior. Once I’d attached everything to each side (and our basement was finished) I could just screw all the sides together. I also trimmed out all the windows with a couple pieces of pine lattice, partially because it made it look more finished but mostly because it’s hard cut perfectly straight with a jigsaw.


I created all the graphics for the exterior out of vinyl with my Silhouette Cameo. For the interior I just searched for free vector images of a grocery store, recipe infographics, and a US Map, printed them out large, then laminated them.

General Plans and Supply List

Like I said I made this up as I went but here were my original plans…some of the sizes may have changed along the way. Happy Building!

DIY Post Office Plans

DIY Restaurant Plans DIY General Store Market Plans

You may also enjoy:

Creating a Digital Photo Archive

| Bliss

Since it’s currently a whole 10 degrees here, I will be spending any free time on my couch with a blanket trying to conserve heat while my boys run around in circles to keep warm.

One of my cold weather projects is to catelog all our photos/videos from the past year. I take 95% of my photos and video with my phone and have them set to automatically upload to Dropbox. If you don’t already have it the account is free plus it’s great for me to have an instant backup since I “allegedly” have a reputation for breaking phones. Plus I can send the images by just sharing a link.

Every month I pull them off Dropbox onto my computer and sort them into monthly folders. Last year I started to creating DVD archive as well.


I know most people don’t use DVDs much anymore but I like having them as a little digital archive on my shelf (safe from Sony-level hackers and other internet mischief-makers), plus we have a ton of them just taking up space so I figured I might as well put them to use.

I love watching old videos when I visit my parents. My dad did a great job of labeling everything so we can find “Christy Jr. High Band Recital” at a moment’s notice and promptly “lose” it from the archives. I’m hoping that maybe I’m doing the same for my boys now.


I like to use slimline DVD cases (since a single year has 12+ DVDs). I could probably just put them all in a binder but I since I’m a visual person (and a sucker for good packaging) I like to separate them.

Each has a cover featuring a black and white image from the disk and a text box with the year and the month or event. The back contains a more detailed list.

So that’s it…another easy way to preserve our memories.

Quick Tip: If you have a huge archive and might have duplicates (which happens to me a lot) use a duplicate file finder to eliminate the extra files. I use Fast Duplicate File Finder (which is great because it works on more than just photos).

You may also enjoy:

The Trimmings

| Bliss, Decor, Design Love, DIYs, Parties

I shared our Christmas celebration but I here are some of my favorite pretty things from this past season. I realize this would have been more helpful if I’d posted it prior to the holiday but so much was done last minute thanks to all the major construction projects going on around here…so just bookmark this to come back and read early next December. :)

Our Tree

2014-12-23 18.59.28 copy

This is pretty much the same thing as last year. I still love my DIY kraft paper ornaments and surprisingly they survived being stored for a whole year.

I added the lettered banner this year. I’ve loved this since last year and since I wasn’t making any new ornaments I had time to create these glitter letters from the backing of my 2014 wall calendar.

So much

So shiny and pretty…so much glitter…much to my husband’s dismay.

I found this black and gold paper at Michael’s early in the season and it kind of snowballed a whole black and gold color palette.


I used the FREE printable gift tags from Creative Index…so gorgeous and they matched my paper perfectly. I discovered her blog last year when looking for some printable tags so I’ve used them two years in a row. So it’s definitely one to bookmark.

Ready to wrap with the FREE gift tags from

A mix of this year’s and last year’s tags.

Christmas Cards

Our Christmas cards were SUPER last minute this year…and as a result they were done in a single day. I almost didn’t even do them but my husband loves having a picture of both of the boys and usually keeps a card for himself. So I changed the boys into their “Christmas” pajamas (I love that they weren’t covered in red and green and candy canes). Then I plopped them in front of the tree then just snapped like crazy hoping I’d get at least one useable image.


This one was pretty sweet of them.


And the back…chucking my ornaments across the room.

I designed the card and sent it to Staples then picked it up that same afternoon. I used my Silhouette cutter to add some gold foil stickers to the front. I wanted black envelopes so I ended up hand addressing them all in gold pen…luckily we didn’t have too many to send. 2014-12-17 14.23.01 copy

Maybe I should wait till the last minute every year.

Christmas Gallery

One of my last projects involved all these frames. My in-laws bought a new sofa so they gave us their old sectional since we’d been thinking about getting one for our living room. My artwork was horribly off-center (and if you follow me on instagram you know the whole story) so I replaced it with these frames I found on clearance at Michaels. I’ve been storing these for about a year waiting for the perfect spot to use them.

If you give a girl a new couch, she'll  notice her artwork is off center, and when she notices her artwork is off center she'll have to take it down, and when she takes down the old picture she'll decide she wants something different, and when she decides she wants something different she'll look for inspiration on , and when she looks for inspiration on Pinterest she'll lose 5 hours pinning non-related projects but she'll finally decide on a , and when she decides on a gallery wall she'll lose another 45 minutes arranging and rearranging frames, and as she spends 45 minutes rearranging frames someone will start to cry so she'll just stick things randomly on the wall. :) Just realized my life is the human equivalent of

I got them hung a couple weeks before Christmas but never got around to putting anything in them (or even removing the price stickers and cardboard corners). So ON CHRISTMAS DAY my little brother helped me throw together this seasonal gallery about 15 minutes before everyone arrived for dinner.

20141226_133404_1 copy

Some 8×10 prints from our Christmas Card photos, the Nativity is from the Silhouette store.


Yep, that’s framed wrapping paper. The words are from the Tinsel app. 20141226_133702_1

More wrapping paper…and simple text. I really like this one I think I might keep it. 20141226_133635_1 copy

Wrapping paper with some gold letters…just like our card. What can I say? I love a theme. 

Eventually I swap these out for something less Christmassy – but since they’re not red and green I think I have some time (knowing me I’ll be changing them out 15 minutes before Evan’s birthday party in June).

Christmas Dinner

Lastly we hosted my whole family for Christmas dinner. It was nice not having to travel and thankfully my parents handled all the cooking. I just contributed some desserts and set the table.

Christmas fake stuff looked pretty convincing :)

I had all our guests fooled that we’d put out the real stuff with these plates and silverware from Smarty Had A Party. The chargers were from Michael’s on super clearance ($0.59) after fall. I spray painted them to be more festive. I didn’t actually have napkins (because I forgot – whoops) these were left over from Evan’s birthday party (tree fold here).

So there it is my last minute Christmas decor…shared 2 minutes before New Years…Enjoy! :)

New Year’s Resolution: Plan Ahead More….hahahahaha! That’s cute.
Revised Resolution: Plan Ahead at least once this year.

You may also enjoy: