I am SO excited to share all the details for our DIY wooden playhouse makeover! This playhouse has been a labor of love for a few weeks now, and it’s finally complete. It turned out so whimsical and lovely and functional, and is a dream to give to our girls to play in. This project was so much fun to take on! My husband and I both put our hard work and love into every detail to make it happen, and agree that we need to do DIY projects together more often 🙂
In this post I will be sharing all of our tips, hacks, decor ideas, issues we ran into, and helpful things we learned along the way. I also have a super informative highlight bubble saved on Instagram of our entire DIY process, and those stories are where I went into more detail about the steps in constructing the playhouse.
Keep reading for how we hacked a basic wooden playhouse and turned it into a whimsical, colorful, garden-inspired bungalow!
How to choose the best playhouse for your space and needs
If you want to invest in a playhouse, I would suggest first setting a budget (including costs for making it over!). Then, figuring out where you’d want it to go in your home (or outside!). Lastly, deciding on a theme/paint colors! We knew we wanted a minimal playhouse that let in lots of light, was made of wood (not plastic), and one that was on the smaller side.
My hubby was fully invested in the playhouse project, and he made the executive decision on playhouse colors 🙂 We went with white for the house, sage green accents, and a slate matte roof. I wanted to have peach/mustard/floral accents, and drew inspiration from Izzy’s favorite show Wellie Wishers by American Girl for the accessories. The garden that they play in and their playhouse in the show are what little girl dreams are made of, and Izzy is always talking about how she wishes she could play in their playhouse! Here are the mini vision boards I made for our color inspiration:
We ended up choosing to buy this playhouse, because of the simplicity of it and the limited space we have to house it. It also was a very good price, considering how expensive wooden playhouses can be! It’s about 4ft square and 5ft in height, and fits perfectly into a little nook we have on our back patio.
When we were researching playhouses, we were looking mainly based on our budget which narrowed them down quite a bit in cost and in scale. We also did not want one with a kitchen in it, since we already have a larger play kitchen in the girl’s bedroom. I wanted to DIY a lot of the interior and accessories so I also looked for one that didn’t come with a lot of extras.
We decided to invest in some astro turf earlier in the spring so that we can enjoy our back patio even more so – which was a great idea in hindsight since now, it also acts as the playhouse floor.
assembling the playhouse
My husband and I assembled it mostly together, but did the smaller parts on our own. First, we set up the walls, took off the windows, and then painted the interior and exterior. After we put the windows back on, we painted the door and trim, then assembled those. Lastly, I spray painted the roof and put it on last. After the playhouse was all assembled, I added in the DIY curtain rod and curtains, and mounted the storage boxes.
A playhouse like this is much easier to paint and assemble with two people. So that it would be finished faster, I assembled a lot of the roof on my own while my husband worked, but it was a bit of a challenge to do it solo!
things to keep in mind when choosing a playhouse
1. If it’s going outside, face it in a direction where it won’t be in the hot sun all day. If you don’t have shade, you can DIY some curtains or shutters to give more shade inside. You can also face the windows/door away from the sun, which is what we did with ours (the playhouse door and the large window face south and north).
2. Make sure you have the right tools on hand to make the project quick and easy. We used a Ryobi power drill, made sure we had the right size drill bits, and the right shape of drill drivers (the screws that came with the playhouse all had square heads!).
3. Research the wood so you know how to best work with the material. Ours is made of 100% cedar, which is prone to splitting at the grain. Knowing that, we were prepared to hand-screw in the screws at certain points to protect the structural integrity.
4. Really pay attention to the directions. This might sound like a “duh” step, but really! I thought I was paying super close attention to every single step, and ended up using two whole bags of the wrong screws, in two different big areas 🙂 ha! Luckily there wasn’t much size difference in them, and it ended up working out just fine. My husband also drilled more holes into the roof than needed, and we joked that these bloopers only happened because we were doing it solo/while the other was at work. Note to self: have two people working on it together throughout the entire process! Makes it go by faster, and you can make sure you’re both doing all the steps the right way.
5. If you’re going to paint it, make sure you use the right type of paint/stain! More on this below:
the best way to paint a wooden playhouse: stain it!
The main makeover was painting it, so we wanted to make super sure we did it right! We researched the best method to paint cedar, and discovered that using a waterproof stain and sealer was the smartest approach. Stain looks like and applies just like regular paint, but lasts much longer and adheres better to the wood. Plus it’s waterproof! Perfect for an outdoor playhouse. Our back patio gets all the afternoon sun, and faces west. I’m confident that after using this stain this playhouse will last us years before it needs a touch up!
After researching several other playhouse makeovers I found on Pinterest, we went with THIS stain from Home Depot, in the color White. For the trim and front door accent color, we used the same stain brand and type but in the color Laurel Tree.
Helpful tip when buying paint: buy less than what you think you need. You can always go back for more! We got a gallon of white, and only used half for the entire house. We got a sample size and a quart of Laurel Tree for the door and trim, and only used the sample! This is after doing 3 coats of both colors.
Helpful tip for painting: make sure each coat is light and even, and goes WITH the grain. We used two different types of brushes – a small angled one, and a larger wide one. I talk more about which ones we chose and why in my Playhouse highlight bubble on Instagram.
For the roof, I used Rustoleum spray paint for the roof in the color Matte slate. It’s plastic, not metal, but the color spray paint makes you think otherwise! It took two cans to do 2 coats on both roof pieces.
It was such a treat to be doing this as a project with my man! There were many nights where we turned it into a wine and paint date night in: We would put the girls to bed then hangout on the patio for a couple hours talking and laughing in the glow of the string lights, watching the sunset, as we painted the playhouse.
I highly recommend partnering with your guy when it comes to house projects, decor, and things for your kids – it makes him feel involved and like he’s doing special dad things for his kids, and brings you closer together as you work on the projects!
the best part: Decorating the playhouse!
This is where I had THE most fun! For the decor, I used a mix of things I already had with some Hobby Lobby and Target dollar spot finds. I kept the decor minimal, and made the curtains the statement piece. I wanted there to be room to play, create, imagine, sprawl out, and inspire. Here are the sources for what you’ll see inside:
white small crates that are mounted | Hobby Lobby
door wreath and pink faux filler flowers | Hobby Lobby
potted succulents | Home Depot (had already)
curtains and curtain rod | made myself with materials from Hobby Lobby
cactus decor | Hobby Lobby
blanket and basket | Hobby Lobby
toddler wellies | Target (had already)
finger pupper mini theater | Target dollar spot (had already)
felt animal/nature busy book | Target dollar spot
land of make believe banner | Target dollar spot
felt pretend food | Target dollar spot
ladybug house | Target dollar spot
felt campfire + s’mores | Target dollar spot
fresh flowers felt bag | Target dollar spot (had already)
faux flower garland | Michael’s (had already)
pink metal cup to hold s’mores | Michael’s (had already)
pretend coffee maker set | Amazon
‘have courage and be kind’ sign | Ink & Oak Design Co.
wooden color block clip holding sign | Target dollar spot
I wanted to make a banner, but found this “land of make believe” at the dollar spot at Target and decided to paint it instead! The letters were originally white, and the banner had two rainbows on the ends. I took off the rainbows and made glitter star hangings with ribbon and glitter paper, and painted the letters to match the curtain colors.
I grabbed this adorable fabric and fringe from Hobby Lobby, and used a no sew iron on adhesive to finish the edges. If you look closely, the fabric pattern has unicorns and swans – two of Izzy’s favorite animals! I also found this cute little cactus decor on sale for just over a dollar at Hobby Lobby, and then painted it. The way it was at the store was all scuffed and dull, and looked blah. And look what a little paint can do!
how to decide on playhouse decor
Decorating was my most favorite part!! I definitely designed with function and intention in mind. I wanted the decor and accessories to be bright, colorful, whimsical, fun, and eluding to the magic of make-believe. I wanted there to be space inside where my girls could have a variety of things to do and play with. I kept decor minimal, but the pieces I did include will allow them to use their imaginations to pretend, dream, and play.
When we have the space for the playhouse to be used on all sides, we plan to add on a wider shelf on the back of the large window to be used for a pretend cafe, or farmer’s market shop!
This play coffee maker set was actually an early father’s day “present” from Izzy to John, because she loves helping us make our morning coffee. We have it every day, and it’s a ritual he does before he leaves for work – so I grabbed it to remind her of him when he’s not at home ❤ She has played with it ALL day since I revealed it with the playhouse. Mama sneaked her own coffee cup in to show Izzy that the latte setting really does work 😉
is it worth it to makeover a playhouse?
In a short answer: YES! I hope this post inspires and motivates you to dream up a little magic for your little ones, and that anything can be turned into a lovely DIY with a little sweat, love, and pixie dust. We would do this all over again in a heartbeat, and cannot wait to see all the memories and fun our girls make with their new playhouse.