At the beginning of summer, I decided that I really wanted to build a playhouse for Don. First of all, there isn’t much for him to do in our yard (besides a sand pit). Also, one thing I really value is encouraging Don on his passions. He loves paleontology and I thought the playhouse could be the hub where we celebrate that interest. Here’s the playhouse reveal!
In July, we started with a simple foundation on the ground. Can you believe this playhouse didn’t even exist a few months ago?!
The frame went up. We planned on two stories with the bottom being tall enough for adults to stand up in.
By mid July, most of the exterior siding had gone up. One of our goals was to use as much supplies we had on hand or second hand items from Habitat from Humanity. The frame was expensive because we had to mostly use new materials. The windows are used though that we got from Habitat.
As you can see in the earlier pictures, the neighbor’s yard was visible from this part of our yard and it was FULL of weeds. We were over that view so we installed a rainbow fence (their side is plain wood). The funny thing is we have new neighbors now who cleaned up that mess and planted grass! Still, it’s nice for a little privacy.
After finishing up the exterior, the interior was next on the list. On the main floor, we added a ladder so the loft was accessible.
A big part of the playhouse project is that we electrified the playhouse so it could have lights and electrical outlets. You can get a sneak peek of the lights here. I’ll share more about them in a minute.
I talked to Don about what he wanted in the playhouse and he had specific ideas- he wanted three rooms. 1- A school room to teach kids about dinosaurs. 2- Next, a lab where he could study his bones. 3- And last, a museum to showcase his bones. We started on the school room first in the loft.
I love that this slat wall was made from leftover wood from building the exterior. I think it’s a fun detail!
After- main floor rainbow wall
Paint colors from top to bottom- Shy Smile, Ballet Rose, Coral Fountain, Frittata, Corn Stalk, Farmhouse Green, Green Aqua, Mirador, Tinted Ice, and Early September. Pendant Light / Reptile Science Art / Butterfly Science Art / bench
On the main floor, I painted one of the shiplap walls with rainbow colors. What can I say? I love a rainbow moment! One thing that I think really makes a HUGE difference in this space is the millwork. We had a bunch on hand after redoing our house. So the shiplap, baseboards, crown molding, and other trim were all leftovers we pulled from our shed.
We hung a pendant light here centered over the window. I think it’s such a cute moment with the little bench. My sister found the ceiling medallion and the decorative wood trim on the wall thrifting. Between her and I, we spent months thrifting for items for in here.
The art was found on Etsy and I hung it with vintage pant hangers I found on eBay. They’re hung over a vintage table I painted with a skull, books, and microscope.
Don and I picked out the art for in here together. This whole space is a good combination of what we both love. The bench is nice to have in here as it’s a soft place to sit. Plus it opens with storage for random kid stuff.
The trim on the windows and the ladder treads are both originally from the house. They’re old and thick and imperfect. I love the history they add to the playhouse!
The shelf is centered under the Pim sconce (which Don picked out because it looks like a pumpkin).
If you’re wondering where Don gets his bones (they’re all real), he finds them camping. My in-laws have property where Don loves to camp. His favorite part is finding bones. In school, science was my least favorite subject. But I LOVE that Don is so interested in it! I am happy to encourage him to learn more and enjoy it.
I found a vintage horse ribbon at an antique store that I LOVE! Don is really into Harry Potter these days, so I made a little vinyl decal for the center so this could be a Quidditch champion ribbon (this was all Don’s idea- I love it though).
I think this wall is so charming with all the vintage finds and the beautiful white shiplap walls. Can you even get over that there’s crown molding in here?! It frames the wallpaper nicely. To continue the theme of using what we had on hand, we put down some vinyl flooring leftover from the play room and deck carped from the school room.
After- the Lab
We are very excited (lol) to show you the lab portion of the playhouse! Side note, while adding all of Don’s bones, he told me “this doesn’t look good in here- it looks awesome.” That 100% made my day!
For the lab area, I brought down a table and chairs from the play room. They weren’t getting much use in there so instead of buying something new, they’re getting re-used down here. I like how the wood from the wishbone chairs warms up the white walls and green accents.
Isn’t this corner so charming?! Under the sconce over here, I hung a $2 thrifted shelf I also painted green. The table has a microscope, magnifying glass, a box for kid treasures, and an hour glass. All kind of vintage, but work in a lab.
I hung more scientific posters down here that I found on Etsy and printed out and hung in vintage pant hangers. On the shelf I put a few busts out. They’re a nod to the Haunted Mansion (Don’s favorite ride at Disney World). Plus I think they work with the throw back vibe in here. I hung a paint brush because I figured that’d be a good paleontologist tool that wouldn’t hurt him.
Don’s been spending many hours in here. It truly makes me happy. I got the following message while I was in the midst of building this for him and it really encompasses everything I was trying to do-
I have to say that I am in love with our playhouse idea for Don. As a former teacher, and current wildlife biologist, I admire how you are taking what he loves in full stride! He may not end up becoming a paleontologist when he grows up but I’m a firm believer that if you dream enough you can make those dreams a reality. Science is scary and many kids (and adults!) are afraid they won’t succeed doing anything within the field. This paleontologist playhouse will help pave the way to making those dreams seem easy to achieve, which will result in him believing that he can do it if he chooses. It’s not just about academia, it’s about imagination and this focuses on both.”
For this space, I really focused on the mix of high and low items. The millwork, wallpaper, and lights really give the room a strong foundation. Then I mixed in all thrifted and pre-loved items. It’s this combination that I think created an interesting and unique space.
Even on the outside we added brass lanterns to the front that finished it off nicely. These match the rest of the lighting on the exterior of my house. Plus they work and glow so pretty at night! All the lights in the playhouse are from my favorite light source- Kichler.
When designing, I like to use a modern light because it keeps everything looking updated. These are the Pim Wall Sconce and match the chandelier I have in the Florida house. They’d look absolutely beautiful in a bathroom on either side of a mirror!
The gold on the sconces is a really warm color (called Fox Gold). With all the cool colors in the playhouse, it warms things up and balances everything out.
The Zailey light in brass is really fun in this area. A secret is that we have a green light bulb in it so at night, when the lights are on, it’s extra spooky in here.
I love that this light is affordable, modernizes the space, and is all metal (so hard to break). On the list of things worth splurging and saving on, lighting is high on my list to splurge on. Bad lighting dates a room fast and good lighting can be like jewelry for the room.
Did you miss out on any of the playhouse blog posts? The posts on the exterior and frame include measurements and how much that portion cost.
Thank you guys for following with the playhouse build! It’s taken most of the summer and has been a labor of love. I’m so proud with how it turned out! It’s pretty while really being a home to Don’s passions. What’s your favorite part? Do you have questions about anything?
If you love it, pin it!