Better Homes & Gardens June 2014 "I Did It"

table and chairs
A Better Homes and Gardens reader designed, built, and furnished this charming playhouse in his backyard.

Backyard Playhouse

Inspired by a photo in a magazine, BHG reader John Spann spent three years of weekends building this playhouse for his daughter, Delaney. To keep costs down, John shopped at Habit for Humanity’s ReStores, which sell discounted new and used building materials and furniture, as well as discount retail stores. Take a look at how he finished the inside of the playhouse.

Living Space

The front door of the playhouse leads to the living room, which has a 7-foot-high ceiling and hardwood flooring. The windows, door, and spindles for the stair railing were secondhand purchases. The playhouse features air-conditioning and electricity for use in any season and any time of day.

Right-Size Furniture

The living room is furnished with scaled-down pieces, including a love seat and an armchair (bought used for $15 total and reupholstered) and two new storage cubes that double as seating. An extra-special touch: John made the magazine rack (built into a space below the stairs) from pieces of the crib his daughter slept in.

All the Amenities

John took apart an electric fireplace unit, keeping only the firebox insert. He built and painted a new mantel that better fit the playhouse, then added a tile surround. Delaney's grandfather contributed a wall-mount TV to the project, which John set up with surround sound.

And an Upstairs, Too

The upstairs is cozy and just the right height for kids (no adults allowed!). One tall wall features painted stripes in two shades of pink with an Eiffel Tower decal pointing to the peak. There’s plenty of space for playing on the floor. It's also a popular spot for sleepovers.

What's Cooking

On the main floor, a kitchen is connected to the living room. It features a semicircular window, rescued cabinets, a scrap piece of marble that John was given for free (he just had to pay for the sink cutout and edge finishing), and a compact refrigerator-freezer. A round bath sink, a bar faucet (yes, there's running water!), and backsplash tile that matches the fireplace surround complete this space.

Tea Time

John picked up a $10 hutch for storing and displaying tea party dishes. On the panel inside, he repeated the painted stripes and decal used upstairs.

Bistro Dining

Spray-painted pink, a metal table and chairs bring in a bistro look. A glass top for the table makes the table even more practical for indoor use.

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