We've had a small wooden playhouse in our back garden for the last three years. It was built by John and my Dad when Angus was about one year old and painted by John (under my strict instructions) with white paint and pale green trim. It started out well and was full of children every summer and much of the winter too. But as our collection of bikes, trikes, trolleys and scooters grew the playhouse shrank until it was no longer used for playing, just for storing toys. It looked like this:
So, inspired by a conversation with my friend Hannah (who has created an enviable playhouse for her four girls) and by this playhouse at Kate's blog Kate's Creative Space I set to work and it now looks like this:
I set myself a rule: spend as little money as possible. Everything (nearly) must be recycled or already owned. Oh, I do love a challenge! So on the outside the kids and I washed all the paint work and windows and gave it all a really good scrub. I mended the two broken perspex window frames and we planted the window box with geraniums. I made bunting by cutting up two old oilcloth tablecloths with pinking shears and stapling the triangles to fabric tape, then staple gunning the tape to the overhang above the door and window. It's not going to win any sewing awards but the effect is still pretty.
Inside, I gave the walls two coats of white paint and made curtains for the door and window from a large piece of pink checked fabric I bought in Ikea a few years ago. Curtain rails were made simply from cup hooks and lengths of wooden dowel.
And then the fun bit - furnishing it. We laid cheap vinyl floor tiles and I hung some union flag bunting left over from the jubilee celebrations last year.
The cooker is a wooden box we had in the loft. I used foam crafting sheets to make a hob and borrowed some enamel bits and pieces from the kitchen. The lid lifts up so it's handy storage too, should Bella and Angus feel the urge to tidy up.
There is just room for a table and a couple of chairs.
I covered up the horrid plastic table with a tablecloth. The use of lace trim is more to avoid the need to hem a circular piece of fabric than for any design purposes. Little cushions match the curtains (I really stretched that £6 metre of fabric there!) and ribbon scraps make curtain tie backs.
The curtains are absolutely my favourite thing about the house. The minute I hung them and added the tie backs my heart skipped a beat and I thought "It looks so pretty!" and "I want to live there!" I cannot resist the allure of gingham curtains, especially when they are miniature versions for a cute miniature house.
We celebrated the opening with strawberry milkshake and chocolate biscuits.
It's a big success, which make me so happy. When I asked the children what their favourite part was they both said the curtains, straight away. They really, really like going in there and shutting the curtains. They've put this box of books in there...
...completely their own idea, and they sit in there and read books. Sometimes I find them in there first thing in the morning while they are still wearing their pyjamas. It's quite sweet. The other thing they like to do is take all the ribbons off the curtains and make ribbon stew in the saucepan on the stove top.
I knew when I picked a posy of flowers from the garden and put them in an old, broken mug and placed them on the little table that is was time to step away from the charm of the playhouse and go back to the big house, the real house, and do the washing up.
I took the flowers with me.
I can't find my scrap of paper where I jotted down costs, but it's safe to say that altogether we spent about £25 on the floor tiles, film for the window, foam sheets, wooden dowel, cup hooks and geraniums.
The white paint, oilcloth, jubilee bunting, cooker, cushion pads, fabric for curtains and cushions and tablecloth, and the table and chairs were already knocking around the house or garage. Bearing in mind that the playhouse is not especially watertight, I will be emptying it of anything fabric in the autumn and bringing it all inside to be washed and stored away ready for next spring. Then it will be extra nice to bring it all out again ready for another summer of play.
Thank you for indulging me and letting me show you this project. It brought me, and the children, a lot of pleasure.