Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cardboard Playhouse

I've been wanting to make Abe a playhouse for awhile now, so after sizing up the competition finding some inspiration on Pinterest (see a few of my favorites here, here, and here) I got to work on my project for...


Home Depot is generally the last place I'd think to look for children's toys, but it's the first place we always go when we're working on the house. This time I was working on a house for Abe, and I knew that, except for a few supplies I already had at home, they would have everything I needed. 


Our cardboard playhouse is made from: 3 large packing boxes, ½ roll of clear masking tape, and 1 roll of black duct tape. Other supplies I had on hand, but also available at Home Depot: glass cabinet hardware (for doorknob), chalkboard paint, plastic hooks, battery operated light, and a utility knife. (Find the building instructions here.)


I used one glass knob left over from refinishing my old dresser, along with one of the original knobs that I had taken off that dresser, to make the doorknob. 


Abe has been very interested in locks and keys lately, so I added a keyhole - custom made for his colorful set of keys.


Abe helped decorate the house as I was putting it together. At one point, he decided to lay down while he worked. Apparently even babies get tired of "painting" walls. 


Of course every house needs some numbers! I made these laminated number magnets and stuck them to an old metal lid. The lid was a little too small to fit all my numbers, but they go up to 12 so it could be used as a clock too!


Abe noticed me building the window box, and after telling me it was a "chair" he decided to sit down and try it out. Not the most well-designed chair but it works well as a window box!


I made some hand-painted flowers from lightweight cardboard to fill the window box. They don't smell like much but they sure are pretty! (Tutorial coming soon!)


The mailbox is made from a small box that I attached to the house with zip ties. I added a cardboard flag and ribbon pull-tab for easy access. 


He couldn't wait to check for mail...


...so I had to make sure there was something to find! I filled the box with these laminated postcards, leftover valentines, and holiday cards from family and friends.


I used another small  box to make a doghouse for his puppy. Every morning he walks his puppy into the kitchen and asks me for a "cookie". I know he's going to offer his puppy a few bites before eating it, so I usually give them an animal cracker or vanilla wafer to share. Darn boy and his dog trick...gets me EVERY time!


On the other side of the house I made a wall for him to work with his tools. I used a real screw driver to poke some holes in the box, and then pushed the plastic nails and screws through to make the holes bigger. 


I cut the hole with the blue ball in it big enough to fit an empty paper towel roll to use as a spy glass. He didn't quite understand the concept of looking through it, but he did figure out that the hole was big enough for his plastic balls.


Now I just have to teach him how to use a hammer.


Here's a view from the other side. I hung a battery operated lamp on the back wall (so he can still play in there after dark), and threw down a small blanket for a rug and his Boppy to use as a chair. Eventually I want to build a little kitchen and some other cardboard furniture, but he seems content with it for now.


I built the house in such a way that I ended up with a convienient little shelf at the front and back of the house.  The back shelf was big enough for some light toys and stuffed animals...


...and the front shelf had just enough room to stash a few board books.


By the door, I hung a little safety mirror with duct tape and a small plastic hook for his keys. I left the other walls empty for Abe to decorate on his own. So far his favorite color to use has been brown. I think it may have something to do with the chocolate scented marker he's been using...


Since I wanted to be able to use the front window as an impromptu puppet theater, I made curtains to help hide the puppeteer (usually me). The adorable 5 Little Ducks stick puppets are a free download available at Picklebums.


I didn't cut any windows in the back of the house because I wanted a nice big area to make a chalkboard. I simply taped off a large rectangle with painter's tape and covered the area with a couple coats of chalkboard paint (leftover from this project). 


Of course the chalk use wasn't limited to the chalkboard. Does this picture remind anyone else of Harold and the Purple Crayon


To keep art supplies handy, I added another hook next to the chalkboard to hold a small bucket of chalk.


Abe enjoyed drawing on the chalkboard, but he loved rearranging the pom-pom garland I had hung above it. I know I shouldn't be surprised because he's been bringing me dust bunnies cradled in the palm of his hand - like tiny little pets - since before he could walk, so it makes sense that he'd love grasping the fuzzy pom-poms. 


Originally I strung the pom-poms on a length of nylon yarn, which stretched out a lot when he started playing with them. I replaced the yarn with cotton twine and that seems to be holding up much better.


We generally keep the chalkboard side turned to the wall, although it's easy to slide out or spin the whole house around when he wants to color. Unfortunately he doesn't understand the difference between cardboard walls and real walls as the walls in our sunroom are now covered with chalk. Oh well, that's why we buy the washable stuff, right?


So there you have it...Abe's cardboard playhouse. Oh, and the total cost of essential supplies (boxes, tape, and duct tape)...just over $12!

27 comments:

  1. This is so cute! We built some temporary cardboard forts for my little guy's birthday party last month using Make-Do cardboard connectors. Your permanent version has almost convinced me to set a smaller one up in my living room!

    Nice job, Mama. All the details really make it special.

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  2. OHMYGOSH. That is the best playhouse EVER. All of the details are amazing. I love the little doghouse. The whole project is amazing.
    I was a little worried that you were going to delete your pinterest account or something, because it looks like your pins are disappearing. You find some of the best things to repin!

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    1. No, my Pinterest account isn't going anywhere! I just have WAY too many pins. I try to go through a few boards every now and then and get rid of recipes/projects that I know I'll never use...since believe it or not, I mainly use Pinterest to bookmark things I want to remember!

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  3. Oh wow!! This is such a gorgeous playhouse! I love all the attention to detail :)

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  4. I love your playhouse! So clever, all the little details!I'm sure it will get lots of use!

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  5. Thanks everyone! We are loving it. :-)

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  6. I love your playhouse! So many kid projects I see are so pretty--which is cool, I appreciate pretty as much as anyone--but this one is full of real things that kids love. They don't care about pretty. They care about fun. And this looks like one fun house.

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  7. wow your playhouse totally kicks our playhouse's pants. here is ours...http://vegetariansalmon.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/images-of-blog-vactionland/

    fantastic job, it inspired me to decorate my little one's with her...

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    1. Aww...your's is so cute! I love the roof. Have fun decorating! :-)

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  8. This is absolutely precious! God, to be a kid again so we could spend our days just playing house instead of building one. :-)

    Great job, and thanks for linking up with the Winter Pinterest Challenge!

    Erin @ The Great Indoors

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  9. Building instructions posted here: http://rustsunshine.blogspot.com/2012/03/cardboard-blueprints.html

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  10. Psst... I featured you on my Pinterest Challenge round-up today! :-)

    http://tatumgreatindoors.blogspot.com/2012/03/wrapping-up-winter-pinterest-challenge.html

    Erin @ The Great Indoors

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  11. I wanted to say how brilliant I think this is. Many years ago I to built a house out of a refrigerator box for my children for Christmas. They loved it and it eventually got flipped to one side to create a space ship, at least that is what my boys called it. You said something about furniture. Well my grandmother used to make stools out of old coffee cans. She would take three or four of them and make a fabric cover use some soft padding on the tops and sides and there was a foot stool stool. Cover one and you have a small seat for inside your little house.

    When my son now 32 was a little guy he wanted a guitar. Our funds were very low so I made one out of card board. Painted it up with acrylic pants and added some twin strings or you can use large rubber bands. He loved that thing to death as did the box I panted to look like a car and they would push each other around the house in it. I really appreciated all the developmental add on's like the yarn balls, morrors and chalk board. I also taught preschool for a few years and it is important for children to have a quite spot to go and read books etc. You have really done a wonderful job.

    I was just looking at cardboard play houses on ebay and was going to order one for my granddaughter. You have inspried me to build one for her. Thanks so much for posting this. Blessings April

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  12. Building it is half the fun! I'm sure she will love it. :-)

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  13. such a sweet play house with so much detail! You mentioned he has been bringing you dust bunnies like they're pets, you should set up a "zoo" or "animal hospital" with stuffed animals when he gets a bit older. My mom used to set them up for me and my friends were littles so now that i'm in my teens I volunteer with animals. It's activities like cardboard play houses and zoos that really shape who we are.

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    1. I'm sure he would love that! Thanks for the suggestion. :-)

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  14. Oh that is so cute and he is...wow...cutie patootie!
    I just finished a similar project for my little girl. Ours is a bit different, but my Little Missy is 3 and is totally into her kitchen center stuff.

    I have to say making this was the most fun I have had in a while...as it started to take shape my brain just went crazy with ideas.

    I am already planning my next cardboard project! LOL I might be addicted to cardboard...or reverting to childhood?
    :)

    Thanks for sharing yours and if you'd like to see ours it can be found at: http://thecraftyrecycler.blogspot.com/

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    1. So cute. I agree, it's really addicting! Hard to know when to stop. ;-)

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  15. This is sooo clever and cute. I shared on my facebook page The Recycling Occupational Therapist :-)
    thanks,

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  16. THank you! I am stealing ALL your ideas! I just cheated and got the play house from a shop... but love all the details you added: brilliant and thanks again!
    caroline

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  17. So I decided today to build my children a cardboard playhouse and went to Pinterest to look for instructions (because I am not the best at assembly toys i.e. Lego without instructions!), and I saw this and fell in love. Also, I've been following your Pinterest boards for quite some time now and didn't even realize this was your blog until I saw your photo and your name! Hello! I wanted you to know that I blogged about my ongoing project and linked back to you for being the source of guidance and inspiration! Thank you :)

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    1. Cool! I can't wait to see how you decorate it. ;-)

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  18. It's perfect! Love all of the detail. Found your blog through "All for the Boys" and it's just lovely. Will have to attempt a cardboard playhouse for my little one someday. :)

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  19. This is so awesome! The details make it so much more real for the kiddos. How do you make the laminated magnet numbers?

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    1. That information and the free download is found here: http://rustsunshine.blogspot.com/2012/03/magnetic-numbers.html.

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