An Amazing Kids’ Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed

Posted by: on August 1st, 2014 | 34 Comments
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An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed

An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed


Here’s a story about a kids’ playhouse that’s a lot like the Hans Christian Andersen classic The Ugly Duckling. You know the story– a homely little duckling matures into a beautiful swan. In this case a rather unattractive old tool shed is transformed into an absolutely magical playhouse that would be the dream of any little girl.

This is the vision of Joni Lay (along with ideas and labor by her husband and her father). Joni is the designer, creator and mom behind the blog Lay Baby Lay. This remarkable playhouse project is her contribution to our ongoing Outdoor Games Style Challenge series here on the Home Depot Blog.

What better place for backyard games than a playhouse, eh?

Seriously. This is the playhouse you wish you had had when you were a kid.

I had a fun playhouse growing up that my dad built especially for my sister and me. We loved it, and spent countless long hours in it, imagining the afternoons away. I’ve been dreaming for quite awhile about building something really fun for our girls to enjoy in the same way, but couldn’t really get a plan in my head that I was truly satisfied with until one day my husband Chip came up with a brilliant suggestion.

There was a tin roofed shed in our backyard that has sat virtually untouched since we moved into our house six years ago. It had fallen into a sad state of disrepair, but it was the kind of thing that you just didn’t know what to do with because it would be quite the effort to disassemble and throw away. We didn’t really use it, so we didn’t care to fix it up, either.

But my husband Chip had the idea to turn it into a playhouse, and that was all we needed to get going.


An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed



Above you see the shed in the initial stages of the renovation. Daughter Vivi could already envision herself dancing away on the stage that was part of the new playhouse design.


The Playhouse Plans

My dad is a pro at the technical details of getting these kinds of project done. Whenever we start a project, I draw up some plans and send them to him to get his initial feedback and work through how it will actually happen.

Just for fun, below is the drawing I sent him to show what we had in mind.


Playhouse Plans

I was envisioning sort of a storefront look because I wanted to have a lot of window space for air ventilation (it gets really hot down here in Georgia!). Plus, Vivi has turned into such a little performer who loves dancing and singing, I wanted a little space for her to put on her performances. Take a look at my playhouse inspiration board for this project on my blog.

We decided to just re-work the front and left side of the shed, adding a little deck around those two sides, while leaving the other two existing sides in tact.

Clean Up, Framing, Laying the Deck

An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed


First, Chip worked really hard to get the shed cleaned out, and he removed the paneling from the front and left sides. He and my dad worked on framing and laying the deck, which is made of these awesome Veranda composite deck boards. This composite decking is extra great for little bare feet because they won’t get splinters!

Chip also trimmed the extra length from the tin roof, which made it look much more polished. Then we cut out the existing studs to make room for the new design.


An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed

Next, we installed new studs according to the design and then we added SmartSide siding to the front and left sides.

My dad cut out the spaces for the windows and the doors with a circular saw, and he also had the great suggestion of using screen mesh for the windows. It is super inexpensive and provides lots of ventilation. It also goes really well with the tin roof. Originally, I was thinking of using plexiglass or Lexan and making the windows so they could be propped open, but the screen was much simpler and better!

We stapled the screen around the window spaces and then added 1″ x 4″ pine trim to dress it up a little and secure the screen.

Painting the Playhouse

After all this (which took about two full days!), Chip and I worked really hard to get everything primed and painted. I don’t think I have ever spent so much time painting!

It was actually pretty fun, though. We hooked up the baby monitor, set up lights and music, applied generous amounts of bug spray, and painted after dark. Seriously, when else would you want to do exterior painting in Georgia during the month of July? We had no distractions, and it made for some really great conversation.

We primed and painted the exterior, and did two coats (three coats in some places) of white on the interior.

Stage Curtain Rod and Doors

An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed


Then my dad joined us for one more day of detail work.

We added a few pieces of trim, hung the stage curtain rod (which is 1″ EMT metallic tube conduit that he bent and welded supports to) and finally, hung the doors.

Aren’t they the cutest playhouse doors you have ever seen? They are made from edge glued boards and trim with adorable brass and glass doorknobs, and the window is hardware cloth. We made sure to prime them well and add two coats of paint and we’ll be sure to make sure they stay well sealed to protect them from the elements.

Outdoor Lighting, Carpet and Shelves

Once that was done, Chip and I finished all the interior details.

We hung a little shelf for a kitchen, put down some carpet and hung the sign on the front.

The solar LED barn light was great little solution for lighting; we wanted some light there, but didn’t want to run electricity all the way to the playhouse. I painted the fixture gold, and it’s the perfect accent.

The Finished Playhouse Exterior

An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed


The paint color is Behr Aqua Smoke. So fun, right?


An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed

The “stage” side has a curtain made from two extra long shower curtains trimmed with yellow pom pom trim.

We made a chalkboard with plywood and chalkboard paint so the girls can eventually write out the name of their performance, or a menu, should this turn into a restaurant, or who knows what else!

An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed

An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed


We added that railing to the side to keep any over-enthusiastic thespians from falling over the edge.

The Finished Playhouse Interior

An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed


I love the all-white inside. It really makes everything feel fresh, clean and new!

The carpet is really soft under the girls’ feet, and makes the space feel inviting. It’s indoor/outdoor carpet, so it should hold up well. It’s really inexpensive and easy to replace should we need to.

That huge window was already there, which makes the space extra bright, but we added that lattice as a barrier to prevent any mishaps since it’s a glass window.

The Pretend Kitchen


An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed



Chip made the simple little kitchen with edge-glued board, a stainless steel mixing bowl and a bar faucet (similar to this). The pegboard backsplash is a nice touch, too.

I think I may do a playhouse 2.0 and add a few more storage details and kitchen amenities, but it’s perfect for now!

Decorations and the Hanging Chair

An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed

An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed


I created that little pig ballerina print just for the playhouse, and we added a hook by the door for costume storage.


An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed

Vivi loves to read, so I thought that sweet little hanging chair would be a dreamy spot for reading. It’s big enough for baby sister Brigette, too.

The playhouse is super cozy when it’s raining– that tin roof makes the rain sound like magic! Seriously, I might use it as a little retreat for myself sometimes, especially when the fall weather arrives.


An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed


Kid-Sized Doors


An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed

An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed


And naturally, the screen doors are a huge hit with the set who can’t open regular doors yet!

The playhouse is also just next to the pergola and patio we built earlier this spring. It’s such a fun space to hang out now, as Vivi and Brigette have a fun place to play, and so do I!


Backyard Pergola Next to a Kids' Playhouse

An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed



An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed


Thanks so much to the Home Depot for letting us partner on this project! It took a lot of time and sweat, but it’s one of my favorite projects to date, and I’m excited for all the memories my babies will make in here! It’s really precious that Chip and I (and Grandpa!) got to spend so many hours working to make this special space for them. We’ll never be able to move, ha!

And, just for fun, a little before-and-after before I sign off…


An Amazing Kids' Playhouse Built from an Old Backyard Shed



Joni shows more photos of  this spectacularly cute playhouse and a darling set of photos of Joni’s little girls enjoying the playhouse on her blog.

Joni Lay offers decor ideas and inspiration, along with posts about raising her babies on her blog Lay Baby Lay. It’s packed with style boards, photos and even some of her own prints for sale. 

Don’t miss the continuation of Joni’s backyard makeover here on The Home Depot Blog, with the added playset and beautiful mulch landscaping.

See other Outdoor Games Style Challenge articles here on The Home Depot Blog, and follow our Style Challenge pinboard on Pinterest. 

Our Building Supplies Department carries just about anything you’d need to build a kids’ playhouse like this, or to make improvements on your grown-up house, too. We also carry pre-made children’s playhouses and build-it-yourself playhouse kits online. Outdoor storage can be installed for a variety of different purposes. If you’d like a professional to help you build a shed like the one featured in this blog post, learn more about our installation services.

Joni received a Home Depot gift card to complete her kids’ playhouse project. The ideas and opinions she expressed are her own.

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Leave a Comment

  1. Kourtney says:

    This is very nice!

  2. Hello, my name is Jennifer Gilbert. I am writing an article for a website called on the topic of “Making a DYI playhouse.” I am reaching out to you for your expertise in DYI projects and was wondering if you would be willing to answer a couple brief questions. If you are interested, could you please comment on “Why should parents build a playhouse themselves over buying a kit?” For example, are they less expensive? Easier to build? Are there more building options?
    Also, could you provide a few tips for parents who may be building their first playhouse. Any special tools that are required? How long should they expect the project to take? Any other advice?
    Thanks so much for your time. I really appreciate your help! I know you are very busy, but if you could please respond at your earliest convenience I would really appreciate it. I will provide a link to your blog or any publication you would like me to promote.
    -Jennifer Gilbert

  3. Bruce Costa says:

    That has got to be the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. We went with a treehouse rather than a shed-to-playhouse concept, but if I’d seen this first, I may have chosen differently. SO well done!

  4. Vanessa T says:

    I am dying to replicate this for my daughter..or at least some version of it. Can you advise as to the dimensions of the foundation vs. the dimensions of the house? I have found several sites with bases that only have extra porch space in the front or on the side but not both. Any advice or info would be awesome! Thank you!!

  5. As a Grammie who devoted myself to creatively caring for babes since I was ten, it’s delightful to see the fun playhouse your family designed for your little ones. The adults even have their own relaxing space nearby! What a Win, Win!!! :)

  6. SmokinJoeJT says:

    Great Job!!! I get a kick out of the little redhead……Looks just like my 16 year old when she was that age!!!!

  7. Yva says:

    Hi Joni! Lovely playhouse! Very jealous of your little ones, ha! Can you give me the source for the gold paint you used for the LED barn light please? I think it’s the perfect shade! Thank you!

  8. Don says:

    Very nice! You should add gutters to divert water away from it and protect the structure.

  9. Carol Fair says:

    I love what you did with the shed! Bravo! Great job! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Jerry says:

    Great idea. Most impressive is the love you’ve exhibited for your youngsters. Way to go Mom!

  11. Anne says:

    Please explain: Why do some of the finished photos show narrow width plank decking around the front and side of the playhouse and stage area, while other photos show finished (what appears to be) wider concrete patio type decking around the front and side of the finished playhouse? You’ve got me confused here… Also, as darling as it is, (AND it is!) I think you need a lot more built-in shelving space for books, toys, games, tea set and the like; also small childs table and chairs inside, or perhaps a built in table with attached benches. Just my thoughts…..

    • Joni Lay says:

      Hi Anne! Thanks for your comment – I’m not sure why the photos appear that way, but we used treated lumber for the deck supports underneath the deck boards, and we used these composite deck boards on top, which have been awesome because they don’t splinter or split. Perhaps it’s the angle of some of the photos that make it appear different? It is all showing the same thing. As for the storage – I have plans to add more, although we have spent quite a bit of time out there, and the girls don’t seem bothered by it at all. They have had a great time playing school, putting on shows, washing dishes (we do have some dishes out there, usually), and they love to “clean” the playhouse with their little broom and such. The little green table and yellow chairs on the deck normally stays inside to keep out of the rain, so they do have more seating inside.

  12. J. Lynch says:

    Love the playhouse. What a great use for an old shed. Made us look around & see if there’s anything that can be revamped around our yard! Thanks for the ideas.

  13. patsy says:

    i like your style.

  14. Great place childhood memory at it best.

  15. WOW!!! This is beautiful! Lucky gals…

  16. Glenn Cobb says:

    So lovely and inspiring. So like something I might see in “Southern Living” :) . I like the way you took it step by step so others can follow or add their own touches. Those children are very lucky to have such loving & industrious parents !

  17. Donna M. Gawlas says:

    What a great place to while away the halcyon days of childhood! Beautiful.

  18. Brittney says:

    Just gorgeous! You have such a talent for turning unloved spaces and items into beautiful retreats. The girls look thrilled, you all should be proud of your hard work!

  19. Jamie says:

    Love! I’m a long-time follower of your blog and this is just magical! I think it’s your best project yet!

  20. Megan @ meandwee says:

    Wow! This is truly inspirational! Such beautiful work and effort, you should be proud. Now, to just play in it!

  21. What a beautiful little playhouse! This would have been a dream come true when I was a kid!

  22. Kitty says:

    Fabulous! I want to come play :-) .

  23. Holy moly! This looks AMAZING! I am so jealous of your sweet girls — I want to hang out back there!

  24. Just amazing, Joni! What lucky girls you have!