Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kids Backyard Play Space

With a hint of spring in the air, images like these make me want to get the kids outside and play!  Jill sent me these amazing shots of the outdoor play space she designed and built for her girls.  Here's what she has to say about it:

I set out to design an open ended playhouse for our daughters. I also wanted a space outside of the structure with multiple different types of play areas. The playhouse is inspired by a Japanese tea house.  Some of these elements include a wandering path, a small entrance that one has to crawl in to enter, a circle window, lattice (for climbing a bit), and long horizontal window with views to a rock garden. Most of these elements from a Japanese tea house were used because of their playful attributes and not for traditional meanings. The front of the play house extends a bit like a porch to sit on, particularly for grown ups to sit without needing to duck. The circle window is also a sundial. This is one of my favorite parts of the design.  The sun casts a circle of light that is centered on the house at noon. This is nice for me to know what time is it to coordinate lunchtime when we are outside playing. I know I could wear a watch but this is much more fun for me!
The rock garden consists of small pea pebbles and instead of larger rocks (from traditional Japanese gardens) I used tree stumps. The pea pebbles offer a play medium and the stumps offer a surface to play on. There is also a sandbox offering another textural element for play. There is a path leading from the rock area to underneath the hedge canopy for a secluded space. We needed to build a small wall to level the rock area and beyond that we have rocks and mulch with plantings that can be played around, on and within. I intended the front floor structure to be off the ground plane a bit more but I didn't realize how much our yard sloped.
We do have tea in this house and one day I would like to teach my daughters a traditional tea ceremony (which I enjoyed while traveling in Japan). The girls like climbing in and out of it. They love to sweep the floor and bring toys out there and sit and play for along time. The rocks and sand occupy their time as well. I foresee this as a great stage someday. I think the playhouse will support creative play as the children grow older. I'm glad we spent the time and money on this.

Job well done!


  1. My husband and I would like to create an unobtrusive outdoor play space in our very small yard and have been searching online for weeks for ideas. Finally, this is a design that both of us like ... a lot! Did Jill follow any particular instructions to make this? Any tips?

  2. So gorgeous. I'm truly inspired by this one.