The Outdoor House

30 Jun

Not to be confused with the outhouse. Obviously.  Oh, that’s right baby. It’s done.  Just in time for Summer. It only took 3 months, but the outdoor play space is done, well, at least for now 🙂 Construction was halted due to unusual amounts of rain and an infestation, but we’ve got that under control now.

poison ivy

That pine tree really needs to come down and some more grass really needs to come in, but in the meantime, I decided to limb it up to free up some more yard space.  The great thing is that now Matty has a space that is pretty shady, so we can stay outside all day, even in 90 degree weather.

I can’t find a picture of how much space the tree limbs took up, but you can see where the grass ends in the picture above.  That’s where the limbs came out to.SO MUCH MORE SPACE!  Limbing it up did cause some privacy issues, but we’re working on it…think The Great Fence In Part IV…

The House

wood playhouse kidkraft

We considered building a play house from scratch, but we honestly couldn’t figure out how to do the roof. So we considered following Ana White’s plans, but once we factored in lumber costs with overall time (and number of other projects we’re doing), it made sense to just buy one.  I’ve had my eye on a Kid Kraft playhouse for awhile, and when I found this one with free 2 day Prime shipping on Amazon, I was sold.  This house had a red roof, which wasn’t our thing, so before assembling, we used Rustoleum spray paint for plastic to make it a more neutral brown.

Eric built the porch for the house, and it was his own design. We used two leftover 4×4’s from when we disassembled the fence planter that was here when we moved in.  We also had the 1×2’s for the little fence railing leftover from our own fence project, so that worked out great. The rest of the lumber we bought–which was then hauled in a Buick Rendezvous.  For anyone considering it, 8ft. is the longest you can get, and that’s if you put it up to the dashboard through the center console. 🙂  I found stain and sealer in one at Menards that matched the color of the house almost perfectly.

playhouse work

The steps were built from bricks that were here when we moved in.  And the little pathway was made from leftover rocks, much, and flowers. Matty loves watering them each day.


Last year, we built Matty these toddler busy boards, or activity boards, but he’s outgrown a few of the activities…

toddler activity boards

So we added them to the house.

playhouse activities

playhouse activities

playhouse activities

So I stained a few squares of leftover wood, attached some of his favorite little doodads, then used industrial strength velcro to attach them to the house walls. I didn’t want to drill into the house, and this should come off with a little bit of Goo Gone should we decide to add different activities.

I also found these chalkboards at a garage sale for $.25, so I added a bucket of chalk to round out the fun.

playhouse activities

Of course, his little chair is the star of the show.  He picked it out (and carried it himself). 🙂

The Rock Box

rock box

I love, love, love the idea of a rock box for numerous reasons.

1. A lot less messy than sand.
2. Most play sand is very harmful to your health.
3.  Cats won’t use it as a litter box. And we have enough of those around the neighborhood…
4. What kid doesn’t love rocks?!

We were actually able to use the ends of the 4×4’s from our fence posts (they were too tall, so we lopped them off) at the top.  Then we hauled some more lumber home and put this together really quickly.

rock box

I think it ended up being 5′ x 5′ which is a perfect size for him (and another kid could easily play).

Plastic lining went down first just ensure he didn’t start digging up a bunch of mud and dirt.  We did rinse the rocks before putting them in (a very arduous process, let me tell ya), and we ended up using about 12 bags.  The price was only about $3/bag, so it wasn’t too bad.

Natural Elements

logs in playspace

Have you jumped on the natural playspace bandwagon? Love it!  I knew I wanted to incorporate as many natural elements as possible, and I’ve been looking for logs for months.  We finally found some this past week, and was able to call this space complete. And yes, we hauled them in a Buick Rendezvous.  I don’t think we ever got up to speed on the highway. 🙂 Poor transmission.

I also put pots with our painted rocks, some pinecones, and sticks for open-ended play.

rocks rock painting loose parts

loose parts outdoor play space


swingset for toddler

We bought this last year thinking it would last awhile.  Pretty sure he’s about outgrown the slide already.  I did add these rings and bars to add a new element of fun, but Eric’s itching to build him a rock climbing wall extravaganza of a playset, so we’ll see where we end up…I’d love something that blends in a little more naturally, but that is definitely a project for next year!  The swingset used to be on the other side, but Matty kept complaining that the slide was hot, so I moved it under the tree and it was a perfect fit.

Overall, we love it. And by “we”, I mean all. of. us. Including the neighbor’s kids who invite themselves over–usually when they see us eating popsicles. 🙂  Now that the yard is fenced in, I’m able to let Matty roam while I work around the yard or in the kitchen (it overlooks the yard) or even *gasp* sit in the sunroom and read a magazine.  Yes, it keeps him entertained that long.

8 Responses to “The Outdoor House”

  1. Pam & Todd July 1, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    You guys are amazing! What a lucky kid! Bricks scare me though. Don’t want him to trip and hit his head 😦 But I’m old now and worry about nearly Everything 🙂 Kudos and Blessings to all of you!

    • Ashley Niehaus July 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

      Good point, but he’s way beyond the stumbling phase. He’s more in the leaping off the the porch and bounding through the yard phase. So if he hits his head, trust me, it won’t be from the bricks! 🙂

  2. ahealthyhappyhome July 1, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    Wow! He is one lucky guy to get such a wonderful outdoor play area! So fun!

    • Ashley Niehaus July 1, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

      Thanks! I’m not sure who loves it more, him or us!

  3. Megan Sloan July 9, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    Hi! I came over from iHeart Organizing and love the little space. My dad, husband and I built my daughter a swing set for her 2nd birthday and added on to it for her 3rd birthday last year to build a “castle” and we bought her a giant, enclosed curvy slide. She loves it! But it’s looking a little blah (ok, a lot!) so I keep trying to think of things to add some “curb appeal” to it. I love everything you did to your set up. I may have to steal some ideas! The underneath of her castle has enough head room for an adult and I want to box it in to a do a rock box. We also want to enclose the whole area with some wood of some sort and fence it in too to keep mulch in and our dogs out. Maybe then I can plant some flowers/plants and create a little mini garden for her. Thanks for the ideas! I definitely love the wood/natural elements.

    • Ashley Niehaus July 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Megan. That castle sounds fantastic! Good luck with your rock box–my little guy really loves it and I’m sure your daughter will, too.

  4. Our Learning July 9, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Wow! You’ve shared so many creative ideas. I especially like the addition of the “busy board” activities into the play house. Thanks for sharing!

    • Ashley Niehaus July 9, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words! Those activities really help him to stay engaged in the space for longer periods of time.

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