Backyard Playhouse

We’ve been spending time outside in our playhouse lately, and I realized I’ve never posted pictures of it on this blog.  Some of you might have seen it in my Daddy Story on Bloesem Kids.  Last fall I decided to utilize the strip of cement behind our garage and fit a playhouse to that space.  I tried to keep the design as simple as possible and used all non toxic paint and varnish.  I’d never built anything this large before, but it was pretty fun and economical.

I painted one of the walls with chalkboard paint. Which has turned out to be one of the best features so far. The kids love drawing in there.

Above is one of my high tech blueprints.


  1. Golubka
    February 5, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    This is amazing! Love the chalkboard paint, planning on painting one of my walls with it.

  2. cheryl cambras
    February 5, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Wonderful! What a gift. My son would love this.

  3. Snejana Mihailova
    February 5, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Very nice!I want to do one like this for my children.I hope to be lovely as yours.

  4. Anonymous
    February 5, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    are the windows plexiglass?

  5. chelseybell.
    February 5, 2010 at 9:06 pm


  6. Susan Petersen
    February 5, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    wow, that is great! i bet your kids love it.

  7. Joel Henriques
    February 5, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Thanks everyone. And yes, the windows are plexiglass. I handmade some wood brackets/bevels so that they are just "floating" in the frame. That way I didn't have to try and drill through plexi, which can easily cause cracking. And it's very easy to replace a window if necessary.

    Also, the whole thing is modular, so it can be unassembled and moved, or added on to.

  8. Tina
    February 5, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Love it Joel!! Our girls love their chalkboard wall in their cubby too, so much that we actually painted a chalkboard panel in our kitchen so they can draw whilst I cook. Love your design and that it has a light - wow! Have a lovely day - Tina

  9. Joel Henriques
    February 5, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Ooh, chalkboard in the kitchen. That's a good idea! And yeah, since I wasn't going to get much light while in between the garage and the fence, I tried to make the end windows as large as possible. Worked pretty well. It gets a surprising amount of natural light. Then the little ikea hanging light helps too.

  10. Kylie
    February 5, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    That is so fabulous :) My dad made my sister and I a free-standing Cubby house (actually it was on wheels!) and we loved it so much. Chalkboard is really an inspired idea. K

  11. Adrienne Brown-David
    February 5, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    That's really awesome (and we love chalkboard paint here too)! I love that i stumbled upon your blog. It's so full of insipation.

  12. Maiasaura
    February 6, 2010 at 12:07 am

    fantastic playspace! well done.

  13. Madelynnnn
    February 6, 2010 at 12:50 am

    Ikea light and all! Very cute! Love the chalkboard wall, great idea!

  14. Robyn
    February 6, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    This is incredible! I love it.

  15. NoeKs blogt...
    February 7, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Wow, that house is beautiful! Wish we had a big garden, a house like that would definitely be great in it!!

  16. The Design Boards
    February 7, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I just found your blog, I love all the projects you do for your children. You are a true inspiration!

  17. Holly D. Gomez
    February 8, 2010 at 4:03 am

    Great Playhouse! I love the simple straight forward design.

  18. A+a
    February 8, 2010 at 7:08 am

    Wow! It's so lovely! Do you mind if one day I'll make similar to my child? :) You'r blog is so inspiring!

  19. Laura
    February 8, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Beautiful simple playhouse, I love it!

  20. Isa
    February 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm


  21. Joel Henriques
    February 8, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Thanks everybody, and yes, feel free to make one like this if you want.

  22. Lillabilly
    February 9, 2010 at 6:10 am

    This is lovely! The decorator in me says that you must frame your high tech blue print and hang it, with a couple of other funky prints and maybe a photo or two of your kids, on that awesome orange wall.

  23. Some1Lse
    February 9, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I want to live there. What materials did you use?

  24. Joel Henriques
    February 9, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Yes, I do need to hang some stuff on the walls in there. Good idea Lillabilly!

    And I used mostly 2X2's and plywood, and then metal roofing. I also found really good non-toxic varnish and paint. That's pretty much it.

  25. Jenny Hillman
    February 10, 2010 at 12:13 am

    This is a fantastic playhouse! Enlarge it a little, and it's a studio! We have been wanting to build something for our kids, too, and have them help with the process, so I am sure they will love this as inspiration. :)
    I would love to know more details about the construction; do you suppose you'll have an updated post with a few steps of the building outlined? I am actually most interested in learning about how you hung the light in there, and how it's wired (plugged in to an area directly outside? what about rainy weather? etc.).
    Once again, beautiful!

  26. Jen of Made By Girl
    February 10, 2010 at 5:37 am

    Hello Joel,
    What a cool little space for the kids...I adore that chalkboard wall..LUCKY KIDS! :))))
    They've got a fun & creative dad it seems.
    I wish the shed in my backyard looked something like that...I'd actually go in it. ha!

    Jen Ramos

  27. Lara
    February 10, 2010 at 6:03 am

    OMG! A man craft blog!! Awesome. Severely lacking around here. Awesome work and the cubby house is extra cool.

  28. PottyMouthMama
    February 11, 2010 at 3:38 am

    I love this. You are so clever and creative. What kid wouldn't love this?!

  29. AmberLee
    February 11, 2010 at 7:59 am

    what a treat to find your blog. and what a great space of a playhouse. can't wait to share with my husband. i think he'll be inspired instead of exhausted.

  30. chelsea
    February 11, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    am dying.

    am going to put my husband on a job like this asap.

    thanks for the inspiration!

    February 12, 2010 at 9:35 pm


  32. Christine
    February 17, 2010 at 7:50 am

    oh, i would like to have the same! your blog is amazing!

  33. Diacritique
    February 22, 2010 at 11:38 am


    I'd like to paint one of the walls of my kids'room with chalkboard paint but so far, I didn't find any non toxic chalkboard paint. May I ask what you used for your wall?
    Thank you in advance. It's a great job! (and your blog is really incredible! Thank you for sharing!)

  34. Joel Henriques
    February 23, 2010 at 5:24 am

    I can't remember which brand I used, but I do know that Plaid FolkArt Chalkboard Paint is non-toxic. I used something similar to that.

  35. Anonymous
    February 26, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Hi Joel,
    Wondering how you ran electricity in there for the hanging lamp. Very lovely and inspiring design and execution too!...

  36. Joel Henriques
    February 27, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I installed an outdoor socket on the side of the garage, right next to the playhouse, then ran a small outdoor rated extension cord up the garage wall and right under the roof of the playhouse. then added a switch to it. the cord is all tucked away, so it's nice and neat. We also plug in a little heater sometimes in the winter.

  37. Anonymous
    March 19, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    I so totally love this! I'm attempting to become more handy with wood/nails/hammer and you've given me something to aspire to build! Thanks for posting this!!

  38. heela
    April 24, 2010 at 9:18 am

    OMG! I accidentally came across this blog after being up late studying (yes on a friday night people...this is what happens when you have kids. You just find the time whenever you can)...anywho, now I CANNOT stop reading! I am super-crazy-jealous of this playhouse. I am going to make my husband build me one!! ha...j/k. I meant I will make him build one for my daughter.

    I really like the ikea light + the orange walls. Such a fun and bright interior, I probably wouldn't change ANYTHING about it, you did an awesome job!

  39. Joel Henriques
    April 25, 2010 at 4:18 am
  40. Lauren
    June 15, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Hi Joel,

    Have you thought about making a tutorial to show people how you did this exactly and selling it on etsy or some other crafty venue? If you do, I would love to buy it :)


  41. Joel Henriques
    June 16, 2010 at 4:14 am

    Lauren - Thanks. I had some basic "blueprints" that I made in photoshop, but ended up changing things a bit as I went. If I ever had the time to make a step by step tutorial, I'll post it online so people can have it. It probably wouldn't be precise enough to sell. If you have any basic questions though, I'd be happy to answer them.

  42. Lori
    August 22, 2010 at 11:43 am

    this is great - love your blog! :^)

  43. Katie
    January 8, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Such a wonderful playhouse. Makes me want one. And makes me miss Portland. :)

  44. Josh
    March 11, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Very cool! Can anyone post up blueprints??

  45. May 21, 2011 at 11:32 am

    [...] D’autres belles utilisations de mur tableau ici et ici. [...]

  46. June 18, 2011 at 8:42 am

    [...] and spending a lot of time playing in the backyard. Planting sticks, I mean trees, playing in the playhouse I made two years ago, and drawing a lot of chalk [...]

  47. Mary
    April 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Great playhouse! Is the footprint 4 x 8? How tall is it?

    1. May 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm

      Thanks. Yeah, it's built on a 4x8 sheet of plywood. I think it's a little over 6 feet tall.

  48. kay
    March 11, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    hello! love the playhouse idea, what are the dimensions of the playhouse? are the kiddos still enjoying it? Thanks!

    1. March 13, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Thanks. Yes, the kids still play in it! And it's built on a 4x8 sheet of plywood (for the floor). I think it's a little over 6 feet tall.

  49. April 2, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Hello Joel, I loved your project! I wanted to email you to find out if you didn't mind if I shared your cute playhouse in a post in my blog, but I could't find your email address. If you want to take a look at it it's here: Just let me know if you are ok with me posting this, or if you want me to make any changes. Thank you! Carlota

    1. April 2, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      Hey Carlota. Yes, post whatever you like! Thanks!!

  50. June 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    […] … and I gasped! And I clicked around a bit, which led me to various blogs and websites, and I found this on Made by Joel… […]

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