It’s finally summer and Rowan finished her first year of school last week. It’s official…we have a first-grader! We vowed that this was the summer we made over our 15-year-old, hand-me-down playground. The project even made the short list of the five home improvement projects we wanted to tackle this year. Instead, we’re putting together shed playhouse plans and converting an old shed into a DIY playhouse.
There were such good intentions to have the playground project done and ready for play by the time school let out for the summer. A few weeks ago we sat down with Rowan and asked her what she wanted for playground improvements. She rattled off a list: “rooms, a place to read, a spot to have tea, monkey bars, but mostly rooms.” Emphasis on rooms.
We started to design the playground makeover but the wheels kept spinning about the rooms. My thought process kind of looked like this: Maybe we should consider an outdoor playhouse instead? She would love her own playhouse! Huh…there’s this old shed RIGHT behind the playground that’s going to fall down soon if we don’t do something about that. Maybe we could create a shed playhouse. Let’s convert the old shed into a playhouse!!!
Meet Our Storage Shed
Our property was an old sheep farm that hadn’t been operational for many years. When one buys an old sheep farm, one also has copious amounts of outbuildings. On closing day, there were 12 outbuildings in various stages of disrepair. Many we’ve torn down, several we’ve worked on, and a few we just don’t know what to do with. Like this shed, right behind the kids’ playground.
It’s in a pretty sorry state of disrepair. Seven years ago, Colby raised the roof on it so we could use it to store things for the garden and other miscellaneous stuff. Like leftover construction materials for our old house. Needless to say, most of the contents of the shed could get tossed.
Converting A Storage Shed To A Simple Playhouse
For us to convert this shed into a playhouse, it isn’t as simple as cleaning it out, adding some playhouse windows, throwing in a play kitchen, and painting it all pretty. I wish it was that easy. I would LOVE to skip to the decorating part! Rotten roof…psshhh!
Our shed is in ROUGH shape. I’m talking about a falling down, old dilapidated shed. I’m very aware of how much easier it would be to just tear it down and build a new playhouse from scratch. After all, it’s easy to find an amazing free playhouse plan. Have you seen some of the free plans from Ana White?! If that’s your jam, I’m sure you can find the right playhouse plan for you.
But for us, we like to salvage as much as possible. We build and DIY on a tight budget so if we can reuse materials or put in extra time to work with what we have, we will. So for us, tearing down the shed was not an option. The walls are good, it just needs a new roof, structural reinforcements, and a playhouse floor.
I’ll share more detailed instructions after we tackle the project, but today is all about the project plan.
Wooden Playhouse Construction Steps
Here are the step-by-step instructions we’re currently working through to save this old shed and construct a DIY wooden playhouse:
- Step 1: Clean Out The Shed
- Step 2: Tear Down The Old Roof
- Step 3: Add More Structural Support
- Step 4: Add A Gable Roof
- Step 5: New Floor
- Step 6: Build A Loft
- Step 7: Add Siding
- Step 8: Doors And Windows
- Step 9: Build A Deck Or Front Porch
- Step 10: Paint
- Step 11: Decorate
We’re currently in the step 3/step 4 stages of this project. During a day off from work, Colby was able to clean out the shed and take down the old roof (armed with a Sawzall…although I thought I heard rumblings of a chainsaw…don’t tell OSHA). He also worked on the structural support for the playhouse frame, added roof supports and a roof frame, and started putting up the roof sheathing.
Not too shabby for one day’s work. I’ll share much more about the deconstruction/construction process as we go along, but today let’s focus on the playhouse plans.
Playhouse Design Plans
I sat down with Rowan and my trusty partner Pinterest to come up with a really unique design for the play house. Be sure to check out my kids outdoor play board on Pinterest (shameless plug) which is full of DIY playhouse ideas.
I really wanted to design the space in tandem with Rowan. She’s six and starting to have some serious ideas on what she wants. We poured over many finished play house designs and she picked out her favorite features.
The features we landed on:
- Various play areas or zones inside the playhouse
- Moving her play kitchen to the outdoor playhouse
- Building a loft and creating a cozy rest space
- Operational windows to “serve ice cream”
- A hanging chair for reading
- Table and chairs for tea
- Front porch
- Replicating a “little house”
- Lots of fairy lights
I loved how into picking the design features she was! Some of the comments were hilarious. How she didn’t like one playhouse because it was too bright (as in sunny). Or that “my friends don’t really like the color dusty rose so maybe not that.” Or my favorite, “I like this one but where does the dog sleep?” Which reminds me. Another requested feature: places for her stuffed dogs to take a nap.
So let’s dive into the details of the shed playhouse plans.
Playhouse Floor Plan
Here’s the floor plan we landed on for the shed playhouse plans.
Taking measurements of each item we wanted to put in the playhouse and sketching up the floor plan to scale was super helpful in determining structural elements, like door and window placement.
Rowan has a play kitchen that we intend to move up to the shed playhouse. She also has my childhood table and chairs that can move up there too to create the “little house” she was looking for. She doesn’t play with either one much in the house now so maybe those items will become more special in the play space.
The hanging chair is a new item we’re looking to add. The loft is a great place to hang a chair from. I’m leaning toward ordering this macrame hanging chair for kids from Amazon.
The biggest addition is adding a loft, inspired by this finished playhouse on the Dear Lillie Studio blog, which will sit above the hanging chair and table.
Knowing the placement of these items also helped determine the front door and window placement. With the loft, we wanted the ladder in the middle since that’s the spot with the most headroom. I also liked the idea of lining up the door opening with the ladder. This helped determine the size and placement of the front windows.
Shed Playhouse Plans: Elevation Sketches
I really wanted to nail down the right playhouse plan before we got too far in renovating the old shed. To do this, I created some shed plan elevation sketches in Photoshop and scaled them to help determine the size and placement of structural elements.
Front Wall Sketch
Currently, the door opening to the shed is on the back wall of these sketches. We decided to move the door so it faces the garden and is right next to the playground.
I have big hopes that this playhouse will be so exceptionally awesome that our children will play away on their own, requiring minimal parent involvement while I toil away in the garden on lazy summer days. Ahhhh…isn’t that a beautiful image?! I hear you parents, laughing at me over there in the back.
I thought if the door was garden adjacent it would be easier to keep track of the girls while they play and I garden. Maybe I can squeeze in four minutes of weeding before Beatrix (our toddler) chases after a chicken.
We’re also thinking about putting a front porch (like this simple deck) on this side along with a garden for the kids and some window boxes for flowers (love these flower boxes). Again, we’re going after Rowan’s “little house” idea.
Back Wall Sketch
On the back wall, the wall where the door currently is will be where the loft will go. We’re making the loft about 32″ deep and 60″ (5′) tall. We like that it’s not too high and that we can see the kids in the loft without having to climb up.
We did put a window in the loft. We’re still both really undecided if this is a good idea or not. It would be nice to have natural light from the window, which is South facing, but I don’t want kids falling from it. Maybe a picture window?
Height-wise in the loft, it is a little short on the ends at only 16″. The total height at the peak is 10′, floor to ceiling. So there will be roughly 5′ of height in the middle of the loft.
Left Wall Sketch
The left wall is the wall that faces the playground. On this wall, we’re building an outswing window above a play shelf. Here’s the Pinterest inspiration for the windows.
I hated that we couldn’t center the window on this wall because it doesn’t quite fit with the loft. So to balance out the window, we’re building a big shelf underneath it. Think ice cream serving window. Then balance it out with either a chalkboard or a sign on the outside.
Per the windows, we do intend to build them ourselves. We still haven’t decided if we’re making glass windows or plexiglass windows. I lean towards glass because it’s authentic but we’ve also had a baseball through-the-window situation in our home so maybe plexi glass it is!
Right Wall Sketch
The right wall is the wall that’s not terribly accessible or visible from the outside right now. Hence it’s just going to be a simple outswing window. Our compost pile is right beside this wall right now, along with a bigger garden shed. We do intend to move the compost but we currently have some volunteer potato plants in it that we don’t want to disturb. Oh, the life of a gardener!
Playhouse Paint Colors
I couldn’t leave this post without briefly talking about the paint colors we are going with. I feel like I’m walking this fine line of letting Rowan choose vs. I don’t want an obnoxious colored structure in my yard.
Our house is white, Benjamin Moore’s White Dove to be exact. It feels like we’re perpetually painting our house exterior and we always seem to have copious amounts of white paint around. I like the idea of using what we have and not buying several gallons of paint. We told Rowan we’re going with white inside and out but she could choose ANY color she wanted for the ceiling.
I handed her my Benjamin Moore paint decks, told her to choose one, and her eyes bugged out of her head. SO many possibilities! She’s like her mother and also appreciates paint color names. Did you know that Pink Eraser is legit the color of a pencil eraser? We know. We tested!!
Any guesses as to what color she chose? Spoiler alert, it’s NOT neutral by any means. Bueller? Bueller?
She chose Benjamin Moore’s Fuchsine, a deep red with violet undertones. I really thought she would go red (her current favorite color) or pink (her old favorite color). But no. I searched out some color combos with fuchsia on Pinterest and found a few I liked so I’m slowly getting behind her choice.
Shed Playhouse Plans: Next Steps
Now that we’re armed with our shed playhouse plans, you’ll find us installing the floor frame, building floor joists, creating a loft, and going through the other step-by-step instructions.
Rowan seems to think she’ll be playing in here by Thursday (four days from now). Oh, Rowan! She’s so anxious to have a tiny house to call her own! I’m also anxious to finish the project as I’m anticipating both kids having so much fun in this space.
Stay tuned as I’ll be sharing all of the progress on how we’re converting a shed into a playhouse. I’ll be breaking down the post into bite-sized components as we go. Just writing out this shed playhouse plans post was a little overwhelming. Baby steps.