Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Retro Playhouse

Mette Helena Rasmussen of Villa Retro has done a beautiful job transforming this back yard building into a great place to play. I love the custom table and chair, and the doll bed is adorable. You don't see as many of them around anymore. (I'll add doll bed round up to my list of things to do). She has a knack for turning old odds and ends into treasures. Using the vintage wallpaper is a great way to add character and color to the space. Now if I can just get my hands on that red chair!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Whimsical Furniture

The table and drawer are two pieces from Valentin Loellmann's Past Memories Collection.

I realize that these were not designed specifically for children, but they do look as though a child had a hand in their design (and I mean that as a compliment). For children, drifting off into wildly imaginative daydreams comes naturally, but as we grow older we need a little nudge, a reminder to free our imagination. I love the way Loellmann describes his work as,"Communicative objects that stimulate ones imagination, dreams, and intuition, and allow us to escape everyday life."

Modern Playhouse

This fun modern playhouse is from Cameron-designs. The company designs small buildings ranging from garden offices to playhouses. The design above appears to be an adult/child combo. I like the concept of having a space that grows with your child. Flexibility is always a plus when choosing a play space for your child.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pattern & Color!

I have had these images for a while (years), and unfortunately I don't remember exactly where I found them. I do know that this playhouse was designed for a Habitat for Humanity fundraiser. If anyone out there has info. or interior pictures, please send them my way.

I have begun to experiment with the idea of designing a house that has the level of detail we are accustom to seeing in Victorian houses, but with a modern graphic twist. You can imagine how thrilled I was when I came across this bold playhouse. The color and pattern is incredible!

(Edited) Stumbled upon the source: Blue Daisy


John Arndt and Wonhee Jeong of Studio Gorm design simple objects that are thoughtfully made. The Shed/Shelf was designed to serve a function, to keep things organized, but there is much more to it than that. The storage device is shaped like a home, and for someone who does not own a house it becomes a symbol...an object within their reach that can be possessed. Well, that's my take on it anyway. If you want to hear the designers thoughts, The Museum of Contemporary Craft has a great podcast.

I'm thinking modern dollhouse!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Cardboard Project

I am excited to announce the cardboard project! Over the next few months Fridays will be dedicated to exploring the possibilities of cardboard. I think everyone will agree, cardboard is an ideal material to use when designing for children. It's inexpensive (sometimes free), and can be recycled when your child outgrows it. Many artist and designers have done incredible work, pushing the material to its limits. While some have chosen to make their work functional, others have created thought provoking works of art. Both the functional pieces as well as the art will be examined in order to learn more about how the medium can be used to design imaginative spaces for children.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Shedworking (one of my favorite blogs) recently posted this pot-like structure by Dingley Dell. The giant pot is made of fibrostone and even comes with electricity. All though it is not designed specifically for children, I think the concept is great. It has a sort of genie in the bottle feel. For many more images check out the gallery.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A-Frame Playhouse

I was completely surprised when I found this a-frame playhouse from the Family Circle DO-IT-YOURSELF Encyclopedia Volume 15, 1974 on flickr. Cabins of this type were very popular, so why shouldn't there be a playhouse! It's easy to see where an a-frame structure get it's name. If you look closely at the front of the playhouse you can see how the structure resembles an A. This is a very practical straightforward way to build a play space...basically it's a roof on a platform. If you're looking for a weekend project try this (and send me pictures). For those of you who need plans, I'm working on it. I just love these old images.

Salvaged Shanty

Dan Pauly has perfected a craft that has been in his family for generations. He reclaims wood from old (really old) structures such as barns or warehouses to create these one of a kind structures. According to Dan, “This wood reflects our natural heritage,and has a much richer and more attractive patina and grain than modern wood.” I agree with Dan, old materials have a quality that can not be recreated. The combination of using old materials and time tested techniques results in what could not be mass produced in a factory.

The image above is an interior shot of one of Dan's structures. It beautifully contrasts the rustic exterior. To see many more of Dan's creations check out The Rustic Way.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sketch: Small Hut

It's been a while since I've posted anything from my sketch book, so I thought I share this one. It's from March of 2008.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Winterthur Garden

The children's garden at Winterthur is at the top of my list of places to go. The Tulip Tree House is like nothing I've seen before, and the Faerie Cottage looks like it came straight out of a storybook. According to the tale of the Enchanted Woods, the land has been "taken over by the woodland fairies who live here and is transformed into a place of enchantment, mystery, and discovery."

Here are two fun quotes from the Winterthur site:

Tulip Tree House
Climb over the Fallen Oak to reach the Tulip Tree House. The fairies have an elf friend names Quercus who is the guardian of the trees in Enchanted WoodsTM. Quercus lives high in the branches of an oak. He made the Tulip Tree House for you out of a giant tulip-poplar that lived for more than 100 years before it died of old age. If you carefully open the creaking door and go in, you'll be inside a tree. It's dark in there. Feel the walls with your hands. Is it smooth or rough, hard or soft? What do you hear? Peek behind the tree to spy the Pixie Fire Pit.

Faerie Cottage
When spelled this way, from Old French, the word faerie includes all the woodland spirits--fairies, pixies, elves, brownies, sprites, sylphs, and gnomes. Together, they all discovered a crumbling stone building with one wall falling down. They worked to repair it and make a playhouse for you. Look around. What do you think of the fairy way of building?

More images of the enchanted Woods can be found at flickr.

Playhouse Style: Gypsy Caravan

As I wrote the last post on Joseph Orr's Habitat Hideaway, I realized I had overlooked a popular playhouse style. In order to give a proper explanation of this style, I'm going to have to do extensive research (This is not something we covered in architectural history). I can't wait to see what I can find! For now we'll just go with the obvious...they have wheels. They are also typically covered with ornate detail and are brightly painted. It's an interesting concept, a home that is also a car. Ok, I'm going to stop rambling for now, and post again when I have done more research. I have a feeling an entire book could be written on this.

Raie Macdonnell and her husband Colin own and operate Rainmac Playhouses. They do everything from making the wheels to the custom paint job. Their caravans are fully mobile. Hey, those wheels arn't just for looks!

To see the list of playhouse styles click here.

Habitat Playhouse

I'm having a hard time pinpointing a specific style for this quirky playhouse. It seems to be a sort of toon like gypsy caravan minus the wheels. Nothing says whimsy like birdhouses on the roof! Joseph Orr Architects designed this playhouse for the 2007 Habitat Hideaways fundraiser. The level of craftsmanship on this one was unbelievable. I can't imagine how many hours went into the construction process.


Just thought I'd share this treehouse/doll house by Hammacher Schlemmer. Even the little people (I mean really little) need a treehouse!

Secret Trap Door

Kim Ludy (of Trampoline) must be the coolest mom ever! She and her husband added a trapdoor from her son's closet to an attic play space. This is not your average trapdoor. The crafty couple customized a dog door by adding a peephole. As a child I remember watching Webster and dreaming of the day when I could have secret rooms of my own...maybe that was my first motivation to become an architect. Now I just need to figure out how to work a trapdoor into our house.

Safety tips: Make sure the door is large enough to not get stuck in. It's also a good idea to have another access for adults. You don't want you children to get locked in their secret play space...that would not make for fond childhood memories.

Source: Nesting

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Petite Painted Lady

I was browsing through flickr, and found this beauty. I love the color! It really directs your attention to the details. While this playhouse is definitely on the larger side (a single person could probably live comfortably here) it is still scaled appropriately for children. What a great porch! I'm not sure I could resist the temptation to claim this one as my own studio space.


Here's another one of David Meddings designs. The table and chair set can also be purchased on his site. The design allows for the furniture to be disassembled and flat packed, making shipping easier. (The company is based in Norfolk). I'm thinking knight's round table...

Gypsy Stlye Playhouse

This is one of those playhouses that I just want to own...if only I could convince my husband that our son needs it. I mean, what two year old doesn't? I think this salvaged gypsy caravan is perfect for younger children, and would even add character to the garden once they've outgrown it. David Meddings of Reelfurniture designs and constructs these playhouses along with many other things out of recycled timber. The design was inspired by the construction of industrial cable reels. If I had just taken my college coffee table to the next level!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Petite Painted Lady

Carolyn Salinas has really captured the enchanting character of this petite painted lady. The card can be purchased at her etsy shop.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Last Tent...For Now

OK, This may be poor blogging form, but I'm going with it anyway. I couldn't resist sharing this image, even though it is from 2007 and doesn't appear to be available anymore. I love the simplicity and how well it works indoors.

Don't Forget the Boys!

 Win Green also has a great selection for the little guys. Having one of my own, I'm always on the look out for play spaces like these. At first glance it may seem that the market is saturated with pink and purple fairy tents (I'm as much of a fan of pink & purple as anyone), but there are just as many options for boys. What about gender neutral? I'll see what I can find...

Win Green Tents

Win Green's tents are all about the details. The British company not only designs and produces hand-woven cotton cottages, hanging tents, wigwams and pavilions but they also provide matching accessories. Their catalogue and web site is full of beautifully photographed tent like spaces that encourage children to explore through play.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Playhouse Furniture

Flights of Fantasy also does beautiful custom playhouse furniture. Love the hutch!

Storybook Playhouse

This is the perfect example of a storybook playhouse! Russell Bowlby, owner of Flights of Fantasy, designs children's playhouses and theme play equipment. The two storey, crooked timber framed Tudor Cottage shown above was the first of many designs the company has produced. Check out their site for more inspiring pictures.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Playhouse Sketch

It's always fun to see sketches that other architects have done. Holly & Smith Architects designed the playhouse above for CASA.