Saturday, March 30, 2019

Add a punch of color to your playhouse windows with this easy DIY paint can planter.  It's details like these that can add big character to your tiny house.  Don't forget to get the kids involved with this project.  Start making memories!

 STEP 1:  Round up all the supplies.
  1.  Paint cans - The number may vary depending on how wide your window is.  Old used paint cans work great too, and are a good way to teach your children about recycling. 
  2.  Small can of paint that matches your window trim.
  3.  Board to attach all of the paint cans to.  I used a 1x4 cut to 17 1/2" long.
  4.  2 small D-Ring hangers (3 if your using more than 3 paint cans).
  5.  2 large (1 1/2" long min) wood screws to hang the planter on.
  6.  6 small (3/4" long) wood screws to attach the paint cans to the board.
  7.  1 nail for making holes in the bottom of the paint cans for water drainage.
  8.  Hammer 
  9.  Tape measure
  10.  Paint brush
  11.  Drill
Cut your board to the right length.  I cut my board to 17 1/2," but the length may vary a bit depending on what size your paint cans are.  (For a small window you could use quarts instead of gallons).  Line the cans up side by side.  Make sure the board goes an inch or two past the center of each of the end cans.  This isn't an exact science.  The goal it to get the board long enough to attach all three cans to, but not so long that you'll see it once it's mounted to the window.

Paint all sides of the board to match your window trim.  It can dry while your working on the rest of the project. This is a great part to let your child do.

Using a hammer and nail, punch several holes in the bottoms of the paint cans so water will drain out.  If your children are old enough, this is a good job for them.  Always keep safety in mind.

STEP 5:  
Attach the D-Ring hangers about 3" from each end.  After attaching them, hold the board up to your window (make sure it's centered), and mark where the D-Rings are.  Screw a wood screw into the window trim at the marked points for the planter to hang on.  This will allow you to take the whole planter assembly off the window, making it easier to plant flowers in the future.

This is the tricky part, but totally doable. Attach the center can first to the center of the board.  In order to do this you'll need to pre-drill holes in the paint cans, before you try screwing them to the board.  You could also use a hammer and nail to punch a hole in the can.  I used two screws for each can, and drilled them in at an angle.  This part is easiest if you have someone to help hold the cans while you drill.  Try to get all three cans at the same level.

Now for the fun part!  Plant your flowers.  I did this before I hung it on the window.  It's a little less messy that way.  My son really enjoyed helping put the gravel in the bottom of the cans and filling them with dirt.  He also went along with me to help pick out the flowers.

Don't forget to water!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Tiny House Fundraiser

Modification of the Flutter-By Plans
Eighteen young adults have been working together for four years studying “The Way of the Bard.” They have practiced performance skills, storytelling and acting, music and dance. They have hiked mountains and slept in hammocks and prepared meals for each other.
Their four-year journey will culminate in June 2017 with a three-week tour of Ireland. They will meet real Bards and historians and practice their performance skills as they walk from village to village sharing stories and music along the way.
To help fund the trip, the students build this tiny house and are selling raffle ticket on their site, treewild.
Check out the fold-down twin bed!
I spy bamboo floors.

I truly admire the hard work and dedication this group has!  Some very lucky winner is going to get an amazing tiny house.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Microshelters by Derek Diedricksen

I'm a little late with this post!  What can I say, it's been crazy busy around here, and apparently that's our new normal.  If you haven't checked out Microshelters by Derek Diedricksen, you should.  It's packed full of tiny house inspiration as well as tips and ideas for building your own tiny house.  Tree houses, cabins, tiny's all covered.  Be warned, you may become obsessed spending endless hours daydreaming, researching and planning your own tiny house life.

I was beyond excited when Deek asked me to create a set of plans for the book. Now, if I could just save up and build it!  That's the tough part about designing tiny structures, you want them all. I had a blast working on the Micro Dogtrot Cabin.  My favorite part about this particular design is it's flexibility.  You can leave the center open and enjoy the breezeway or enclose it if more interior space is needed.  Did I mention it has a loft?  The Micro Dogtrot Cabin is just one of six plans included in the book, so chances are you'll find a plan that you can customize to fit your needs.  

Going to my local bookstore, Lemuria and seeing Microshelters on the shelf was cool!

Another pleasant surprise was seeing my design illustrated by Phil Hackett.  Love the raccoons!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Little House at Shepherd University - 1928

Photograph by Walter Meayers Edwards 
Photographed August, 1948 

This adorable little stone house was built on the campus of Shepherd College during the summers of 1928 and 1929.  The origional purpose of the class project was to encourage children to attend summer school at the college where student teachers could then observe and work with the children.  The project quickly evolved into a miniature one acre farm including a barn and garden created and maintained by children.  The idea was for children to learn as they played - a concept I am fond of!

The entire farm was modeled after typical farms in the Shenandoah Valley.  The children were involved with the initial research to determine what the style the house should be and even what type of furniture should go in it.  They also determined what types of crops should be planted and where.

 Image via Shepherd University 

The "Little House" is a 10' high two-story, Dutch Colonial Revival style house. Constructed of native limestone with a gambrel style roof, the "Little House" has a living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms and a working fireplace. A copper box was placed in the cornerstone of the little house containing a "Statement of Purpose." The "Statement of Purpose" was a document stating the purpose of the miniature farm and was signed by all the workers of the project. 
- Shepherd University

 Image via Shepherd University
"Through the planning and construction of the miniature farm the twelve and thirteen-year old children learned mathematics, English, history, geography, art home economics, architecture and agriculture."
-Shepherd University

 Image via Shepherd University

The "Statement of Purpose" reads:
"In order that children may have a laboratory in which they may learn to work together, faithfully laying the foundation for useful lives, we have built this little house as a unifying center of a miniature farm."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring and storybook style at its finest!

The Monet Playhouse  at the Dallas Arboretum - 2012 
Image via: Boomer Brief
I ran across this gorgeous image and thought, Wow what a perfect example of a storybook style playhouse!  This tiny house fits seamlessly into its landscape as if it had always been there.  (The wow thought was immediately followed by the sinking feeling that my own yard is in dire need of a complete overhaul).  While we may not all be able to pull this off as well as the Dallas Arboretum (I mean hey they are landscape professionals), we could enjoy the beautiful weather and plant a few flowers with our children. 

We just bought sunflower seeds.  I cannot wait to see the look of wonder on my children's face when they see the 1 foot wide blooms!  Gardening is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy nature with your kids.  Playhouse fun doesn't have to stop with the house itself! 

I keep thinking about the little bridge in the photo many kids have walked over it and entered into another world.  How many imagined the troll under the bridge guarding the cottage beyond?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Can spring cleaning be fun?

Do you have an amazing playhouse that your kids just don't play in?  Maybe they loved it at first but lost interest?  There may be a very simple reason.  It may just need a good Spring cleaning.  No one wants to play in a dusty little room full of creepy crawleys, not even kids.  Cleaning the playhouse is often a project that is overlooked...with good reason.  Trust me, as a busy mom the last thing I want is one more thing to clean or maintain.  Don't think of this as a dreaded task to check off your list, but as a way to get the kids outside and taking ownership of their space.  It may even be easier to get your kids to help clean out the playhouse than it is to get them to clean their rooms.  I mean what kid wouldn't love to drag all of the furniture and toys out into the yard?  Sometimes you have to make a mess to clean up right?  So how do you go about tackling this project?  

It's really basic, but I broke it down into a few steps:
1.  Gather supplies:
     wasp/bug spray
     bucket of water & rags
     mild soap (kid safe)
    shop vac is handy if you have one
2.  Check for bugs such as wasp and spiders and remove them.  Don't forget to check under the roof eaves.
3.  Also check for mold or mildew, splinters and loose or protruding nails.
4.  Get the kids to help move everything (furniture & toys) out.
5.  Wipe down all of the furniture.  It's amazing how dusty everything can get!
6.  Use a broom to knock down cobwebs.
7.  Wipe down all surfaces - walls, windows & floors.
8.  Before you move everything back in, make sure you still need it all.  If your children have outgrown some of the toys/furniture don't put it back in.  The playhouse should not be a storage area for unused toys (unless your are just using it for storage).  Age appropriate furnishings will encourage your kids to use the space.
9.  This would be a good time to check out the local flea market for some new fun decorations or maybe frame the kids artwork and hang it on the walls.
10.  This step goes a bit beyond cleaning, buy you may also want to add a fresh coat of paint or repair any rotten wood.  Playhouses require the same maintenance as you home does, just on a smaller scale.  
11.  Oh, don't forget landscaping.  Something as simple as a potted plant by the front door can make the playhouse more inviting.  (Great opportunity to teach the kids about gardening).
*  If you have a play structure with a bridge or tower that the kids climb on, make sure the ground below is free of debris and properly padded with mulch.  More on safety here.

The images above, both from Mari of SaimaaLife brought back childhood memories of cleaning our playhouse.  Fond memories...probably the only fond memories I have of cleaning. is a blog about natural wellbeing. Wellbeing that comes from simplicity and is inspired by nature. 


Thursday, March 20, 2014

8'x8' Playhouse with Loft Plans

Plans available at Playhouse Planner
Spring is in the air, and it's time to get outside and make something!  I just added another set of playhouse plans to my website.  The 8'x8' plan and straight forward design makes it the perfect DIY project.  Want to customize your playhouse?  Try downloading the free coloring sheet, and let your children help you with the color scheme.  The little upper loft window is anther place your could customize your house...maybe a salvaged stain glass window.  Have fun with the design process and get your kids involved.  The possibilities are endless!

Here's a bonus sneak peek at one of the sheets included in the set of plans:

This set is available at Playhouse Planner for $18.00.  After purchasing the plans, you will be redirected to an instant download.  You will also receive an email with the download link.  The plans can be printed on standard 8.5 x 11 paper.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Traditional Playhouse Plans

New playhouse plans just added to the Playhouse Planner website!  (Order plans and instantly download the pdf file to start building today).  I love this classic playhouse cottage!  It has a small 5' tall kids door at the front porch, and a standard adult size door on the side.  This feature makes it super easy to convert to a studio or garden shed once the kids are grown.  You'll get your money's worth out of a playhouse that can grow with your family.  Another cool feature is the back porch.  The ceiling of the back porch is higher than the front porch.  This allows adults to comfortably use it as a potting bench area.  Oh, did I mention it also has a storage room?  That's right!  You can store anything from garden tools to toys in it.

And what playhouse is complete without a loft?   Get ready for camp-outs, because this loft is large enough for a twin mattress!  The loft takes advantage of the space above the storage room.  The plans below show the location of the loft just above the front door.

This set of plans even comes with a couple options...check out the Playhouse Planner to learn more.  There's also a free downloadable coloring sheet available on the website - great way to get the kids involved.  Let me know in the comments how you would customize this playhouse to reflect your family's needs and style.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lucy's Queen Anne Style Playhouse

Lucy Haskell's playhouse was a gift to her for fifth birthday from her grandfather, John E. Hayner.  The Queen Anne style playhouse, built in 1885, was designed by architect Lucas Pfeiffenberger.  Detailing on the exterior of the house includes stained glass windows, gingerbread woodwork, fish scale shingles at the gable ends and ornamental iron work on the roof.  The playhouse has two porches, one on the front and a smaller one on the side.  Unfortunately I don't have any interior pictures to share, but the interior is made up of one large room, fourteen by sixteen feet.

Sadly, Lucy died at the age of nine of diphtheria.  The estate was given to the city of Alton, and is now a National Register Historical Landmark.  Currently the playhouse is available for parties.  What a perfect place to celebrate a birthday!

Haskell playhouse is in need of restoration.  More information on the restoration efforts can be found through Friends of Haskell Park.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lego Playhouse: Build Big!

Photos - Adrian Walton 

I'm reaching back with this one, but couldn't resist.  With the release of the new Lego Movie, my kids have been Lego crazy!  They constantly run through the house singing "Everything is Awesome!" 

A crew with Make-A-Wish Foundation spent five weekends constructing a playhouse made of legos for 6 year old, Alexander.  The 20 volunteers used 50 large gray plates (for siding) and an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 blocks to create the playhouse.  Would you have the patience to pull this off?

Thinking this would be a fun project...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Spooky Spider Web

Sometimes I like to leave a little surprise for my boys.   This morning is was a SPOOKY SPIDER WEB.  I know it's "their" playhouse, but why can't mom have a little fun too!  There's something  relaxing about drawing with chalk...maybe it's the no pressure, who cares if I make a mistake factor.  Happy Halloween!

If you decorated your playhouse for Halloween, send me pics!

  Add a punch of color to your playhouse windows with this easy DIY paint can planter.  It's details like these that can add big ch...