Perfect backyard playhouses

These amazingly inventive backyard playhouses are inspiring to the young (and the young at heart).

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    Come On In

    A pretty paved walk leads to this classic playhouse, made all the more endearing with sweet details such as turned porch railings, matching window boxes, and gabled dormers.

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    Hello, Sunshine

    Windows built into small-sized play spaces keep corners from feeling dark and unwelcoming. In this dainty structure, a window seat and an octagonal cutout in the roofline flood the interior with light.

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    Captivating Cottage

    A deft combination of colors and materials create an unusually realistic playhouse. Part of the appeal? The fence and arbor, details picked up from the designs found in full-size cottage gardens.

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    Historical Charm

    Children's need for play hasn't changed all that much from the past century, as the winning design of this playhouse, circa 1929, proves.

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    Fairy-Tale Retreat

    Lacy trim, a miniature Dutch door, and a pseudo chimney and shutters supply plenty of kid-friendly charm. To help small structures fit into their surroundings, outfit playhouses with colors and details drawn from nearby buildings.

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    Play Time

    Playhouses can employ as much, or as little, creativity as the builder desires. This pint-sized version plays it fairly straightforward -- a small covered porch, a Dutch door -- but a few extras, like a curved archway and mini shutters, give it flair.

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    Over the Bridge

    Most structures like this playhouse employ shutters, window boxes, porch railings, and windows, or some combination of the four; this one has it all, dressed up with a pretty pastel-inspired paint scheme.

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    Up and Away

    To eliminate the need for a separate floor surface, this quirky playhouse was sited on a wooden "bridge" between two raised beds.

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    Oh, The Places You'll Go!

    Part playhouse, part children's book fantasy, a treehouse gets dressed up with whimsical details. In place of a standard stairs or ladder, the design integrates an old tree trunk as a "first floor."

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    Carbon Copy

    Relying on detail and material can help playhouses resemble small-scale replicas of larger homes. This petite version showcases standout accents, including stucco and stonework on the corners and chimney.

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    Pretty in Purple and Pink

    Landscaping and ornamentation should be integral design elements in a playhouse. A stone edging outlines the approach to this pretty purple structure, and a profusion of pink blooms picks up on the color scheme.

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    Pretty as a Picture

    An off-the-shelf playhouse design gets a customized touch with some painted flourishes. Vines and flowers dress up the roofline, and make-believe clouds flit through the door panels.

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    Slope Solutions

    Clever design strategies can help solve potential site problems for a playhouse. This setup has the structure's front door at the top of a small rise in the yard; the house was then elevated, with a slide out the back.

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    A Simple Square

    This square playhouse was built with straightforward 2x4 framing pieces and vinyl siding, but clever details dress it up. A weather vane caps a faux chimney, a vent maintains air circulation, and accents including a dinner bell, mailbox, and address numbers, offer real-life extras.

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    Little House on the Farm

    Complete with its own fenced-in mini yard, a playhouse re-uses forms, materials, and colors from classically designed barns. Inside, soaring ceilings give way to a loft, and a rope out front calls playmates to "dinner."

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    Step Right In

    Use no-fuss materials, such as a tin roof, and simple construction methods and a playhouse leaves children's imaginations room to run wild. Skip the troublesome electrical wiring in favor of a solar- or battery-powered light, and install a mailbox for special deliveries.

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    Afternoon Dreams

    Plucked seemingly from the pages of a children's book, this pretty playhouse invites play with pops of color. Integrate a structure like this into a garden for even more outdoor impact; here, a vigorous climbing rose rambles over the roof.

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    Style on the Sly

    A delicately detailed playhouse sits on what could be a difficult slope in a backyard corner. A painted trellis covers the incline, and workable shutters shield the windows during inclement weather.

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    Ready for a Welcome

    This playhouse ditched a front door in favor of a large porch overhang. Its simple interior includes open shelves for big-kid storage, as well as hooks well within kid height.

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    Plant Where You Grow

    A quirky playhouse dresses up what could have been a boring backyard corner. Using color only at the roofline and for window framing keeps the focus on the simple design. To encourage pint-size gardeners, include extras such as a small potting shelf and a few plants and containers.

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    Play Time, Not Work Time

    A few shrubs soften the landscape outside this traditionally styled playhouse. The simpler the materials and finishes, the easier the upkeep; here, a layer of mulch around the bushes and building eliminates the need for mowing.

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