Saturday, June 20, 2009

magic playhouse

You might suppose that I'm mighty pleased with myself over this one.
And you'd be right.
No matter that the stitching is atrocious (around here, we call that Charm) and it won't get me into Architectural Digest.
It's okay by me.

It's a pvc pipe playhouse.

I wanted a playhouse for Maddie for her birthday -at any park or playground the playhouse is her favorite- and I looked online at a few different houses.
Most were for 1-3 year olds, and I knew I couldn’t do that.
I wanted a beautiful wood one, of course… but I can’t spend $1,000, and don’t have saws, and the tools alone would have cost me a few hundred bucks.
What to do?
Make one up.

I went to Home Depot and worked out with the joints in front of me (available) how I could create such a thing.

I chose 3/4 inch pvc pipe. I figured 1/2 inch might be too scrawny, and 1 inch might be too bendy. I used seven 10 foot pieces of pipe.
The fittings are: 10 converter pieces – 3/4 to 1/2, four t’s, 4 45degree elbows, and 10 3-way connectors (one end goes to 1/2 inch, which is why we have 10 converter pieces).

I bought a pvc pipe cutter, as I knew that using a hacksaw (my usual way) to cut them would irritate me. Best $13 I’ve ever spent.Ah. Frame’s up.

I wanted pink. It’s Maddie’s favorite color.
And it should look like a girl’s playhouse.

sidenote: When Trev asked me the-day-before-yesterday what on earth we were going to do for Maddie’s birthday present, I told him I was thinking of making a playhouse.
“Great idea!” said he, “She’ll love it! Mom…. will Maddie’s playhouse be big enough for me, too?”

“Oh, yes.” said his Mama. “Definitely.”

And so it is.

It’s 6 feet deep by 4 feet wide and a little over 6 feet tall. Big enough.
I was worried that it might be too big, might not seem like a cozy place for a Little Gril… but it seems that it’s just fine for her. She nixed the “make it smaller” idea.

For the linens?
Sheets, of course. Where else are you going to find relatively inexpensive material that is 80 something inches wide?

I started with the sides, and sewed two full-size flat sheets together.

I pinned then sewed ribbons to the underside of the sheet, so that I could tie the material to the top of the frame.

Then I pinned another sheet to the two sewn together for the back of the house.
I left a split on one side for an emergency exit out the back door.You never know.
A giant bumblebee.
A wicked trick played.
A secret escape route is always a good idea.

After that was sewn together… …I tackled the front, and made tie backs for holding the front doors open.

I also made ties to connect the fabric to the frame.

Then I cut out the window, and made curtains… I asked Madeleine if she wanted the curtains on the inside or the outside, and she chose in.

views from inside

The whole project (including the $13 bucks for My New Favorite Tool) cost about $100– including about $55 for three sets of full-size sheets. You could certainly do it for less with fabrics on-hand, and skipping the tool. It took me only half a day to make from start to finish.
I also get four pillow cases out of the deal, and two fitted sheets for a full-sized bed.
You know. Should she ever decide to sleep by herself.

From the frame on the inside can be hung things… light pictures or pieces of art.

The pillow cases will be used for cozies in her house, of course.

I’ll probably sew a pocket under the window on the outside… a place for her to stick silk flowers if she chooses.

And it’s possible that another small window or two will live on this side of the house.Not today, however… it’s raining and sogging and very, very wet.
Except in the Magic Playhouse, of course.
All is well there.


  1. Oh.My.Gosh! That is so amazing and yet so doable :)

  2. Stephanie, there's nothing quite like a special place of your own when you're little (or big, for that matter).

    I'll bet she loves it. Can it come inside when it rains? Or is it just for outside?

  3. Jenell- I chose not to cement the pipes, so that we could take it down when we need to.
    We can bring it indoors over the winter, or just dissemble it.
    The problem will be finding someplace to fit it inside. :) Might have to make one half that size for that.

  4. That is amazing! Well done. I'd love to make something like that (was thinking teepee with pvc) but I don't know if I could pull it together. She must just love that!!!

  5. I would have lost my mind in sheer joy if I had been given such a gift as a child!!

  6. Mama should be quite proud of herself, that is quite awesome. :)

  7. Brilliant! I'm sure she won't be looking at your stitching. It's wonderful. and so versatile. You are so clever

  8. That's is such a wonderful gift. I wouldn't mind moving in there.

  9. You're a clever Momma- and ambitious too !! The playhouse is magnificent.

    Owen could really go for something like this - a proper "clubhouse" for hatching his plans :0)

  10. Very impressive!
    Little spaces are so precious.
    My special little space when I was young was inside the branches of an evergreen tree. It was the perfect hide out, but I always had sap all over me.

  11. What a fantastic idea Stephanie!! Time to add play house to my list of must do's!

  12. OH my stars! that is just so awesome. I think i oohed loud enough and then Marlin came over and wanted to know if you had an etsy shop.... Not yet said I. Not yet.
    It's like a cottage from Candy land!

  13. That turned out fantastic! What an absolutely lovely gift.

  14. Fabulous Little Gril fantasy! Awesome mama!

    Happy Birthday, Maddie!

  15. Very Very Very cool. It is probably the Most Perfect Gift Ever, and she will remember it for always. Way to go...even my boys are drooling at it!

  16. Steph,
    That is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I am thinking about completely copying it for little Mina's birthday.
    You go mama.

  17. Well done, mama!Your little miss must be thrilled.

  18. It looks so cool! Waht a great gift.

  19. Wowzers! It is spectacular! great idea, great execution--it is adorable! Happy b-day to Maddie too!

  20. Now I have yet another thing to add to my list of things to make someday! That is amazing!!!

  21. Just awesome! You did a great job!

  22. Lovely, lovely playhouse--I just adore the colors!! What a lucky little girly to have such a wonderful, homemade playhouse!

  23. Um... holy cow Stephanie, Best present ever!
    ... picking my jaw up from off the floor now...
    I think your littles need an apron to wear in their new fort, check out my mama and child vintage apron giveaway ; )

  24. This is simply splendid! We're really wanting some type of playhouse for the kids right now. They would LOVE this!

  25. Ah awesome playhouse! and so pretty! Nicely done.... my girl would LOVE this.

  26. I may have to branch out and try this. It looks way too cool! I know my kids would LOVE it!

  27. you are so imaginative! what a good example for the little ones.

  28. Brilliant! Brilliant! PVC pipes! I shall put this on my project list. I think we might have saws. But maybe if I smile nicely at the home depot people, they might cut all the pipes for me. Now to try and do this
    (i) before Christmas
    (ii) without the kids finding out, so they won't bug me 458 times a day.

    Thank you for the very cool idea!

  29. Hello, i referred your creations on my blog. You can see them on Playhouse ovvero le casette gioco .
    I hope you like it.
    Hello, Linda

  30. I love it! We are thinking about making PVC pipe play place. thanks for the inpsiration!


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