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Customising a children’s playhouse

A playhouse is a great addition to the family garden providing you have enough room. It’s a fun outdoor activity for the kids and it gets them out of your home for a while! These days playhouses are available in all shapes and sizes but a nice sturdy wooden one offers a few huge advantages over plastic version.

•Looks sturdier and often comes in a larger selection of sizes
•Can easily be painted and customised.

The second point is what this article is really looking at. Children love a personal touch and this is the perfect opportunity for a fairly cheap but big present that will last for years.
Choosing the exact playhouse that you want is something I will leave up to you, especially since there are so many styles out there and you know your own child best. Try to choose something that will fit their style, for example a Wendy house or daisy den for girls and a tower playhouse or castle playhouse for boys. You should also thing about the practicality of room. A big playhouse may be nice but a quaint one may appeal more to your child and look better in your garden, especially if it has a special modification such as ladders up or crenellations. I would also recommend playhouse especially designed for children instead of modifying a more expensive adult summerhouse/log cabin. This is because children’s playhouses often have unique features such as special door/window hinges to protect your children from minor injuries. If your looking for a trusted brand I would recommend Walton’s, I have both a shed and playhouse from this company and can vouch for there quality and stability. If you have your own recommendations however don’t hesitate to follow them.
You want the playhouse to be strong and stable; it’s wise to erect it on a specially designed base, you can find advice on how to construct these on most DIY websites. You also want it to be safe, no point the ladder next to a window a wrought iron fence, kids will be kids and you need to minimise all possible risks. You should also consider the age of your children, ideally purchase this kind of item for 3-5 year old so they get plenty of years of use out of it before they ‘grow up’.
Now the fun part, there are three main ways to customise your playhouse; paint, furnishings and additional parts.

Paint

This is the easiest, most fun and most noticeable way to customise a playhouse. Children enjoy nicely paint thing better than ‘wood’ coloured surfaces so here is where their input comes in. Do they want an Action Man an action man camouflage print? A pretty pink Barbie den? A space station style outpost? All are easily accomplished ideas once you put a little bit of imagination and effort into it. Let’s tackle the Action Man idea since this is the example I will be illustrating with photos. When your playhouse arrives it will probably be in pieces, this is actually a good thing since it gives you time to decide on things. Contemplate what design you want and paint it before you put it together. This gives you a few advantages.

1.You can get to all sections parts evenly
2.You wont have to reach as badly for high parts
3.You can see how it looks on a small hidden piece before painting the main side
4.It will create a more uniform appearance once put together.

You should paint it with a timber paint (available from any local B&Q or DIY store) and remember that wood soaks moisture up, apply carefully and keep in mind you mainly want to paint the outside, not the inside. To create a ‘cammo’ effect use rough, overlapping triangles lines or diamonds of different shades of brown and green. Interlace them and remember you don’t need to cover it all, the wood colour underneath will look pretty good between your camouflage design. For other designs, i.e Barbie Pink you may want to consider only highlighting parts in pink and going mainly white, a solid pink house would be pretty shocking for anyone’s garden. Parts like ladders, windows, door frame and roof would look great with the remainder either painting a neutral colour (i.e. white) or left wood stained. Remember to add some protection or finish to your playhouse too, a clear protective substance would probably be most useful.

Additional Parts

This can really be the cherry on top. Adding nice accessories to the playhouse is a great way to make it look entertaining. Adding some netting across the banister of a ‘cammo’ theme or across its roof would be a nice addition or a flower box for the Barbie idea. For your space station you could add some silver painted plumbers tubing round the rails to make them look more like spaceship air pipes.
You may also want to consider adding major parts, such as a slide. While this can look great you must be careful with safety, also test this for weight and stability. Easiest way to do this is to find a slide with a similar height to the playhouse floor and put them close together, missing a piece of the balcony out of construction (please make sure this does not effect structural integrity, if in doubt contact the supplier, manufacturer or a qualified carpenter/joiner).

Furnishings

This is a fairly simple task to do; just choose some second hand/old/cheap chairs, tables, and pillow to give the room some comfort appeal. A few laminated posters and maybe even the children’s own drawings/paintings would look great inside and offers you a chance to go even further making this playhouse your own.


About the Author: David 'Garden Master' Parker is a professional landscaper from the Nottinghamshire area of England. He works freelance and is married and has one son.
Check out his gardening blog and recommended sheds site




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