How I Transformed a Used Playhouse

A story of how one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

My daughter was playing at a friends house who had an outdoor playhouse. I had never seen my daughter have so much fun. They were playing chef, house, and making up games together. I decided I would go home and order one online. When I started researching them, I soon realized how expensive they were. Being a military family on one income, we couldn’t afford to drop $300-800 on a plastic playhouse. At first I was bummed… I wanted my daughter to experience that same joy again!! I was determined to figure it out. I checked good will and lawn sales but had no luck. Then I saw a free playhouse on a curb. It was in rough shape. It had many missing pieces, needed a deep clean, it was faded and chipped. It was ugly but it stood up fine!! I had an idea to fix it up some how for her.

This photo was after I had cleaned this kitchen piece. The burner stickers were scratched up and stuck on in the wrong place. I carefully & slowly peeled them off and glued them back on in the right place. Using a sharpie I filled in the scratched parts. As you can see, the faucet was broken off as well.

I was so excited and felt blessed to have found a FREE ugly little playhouse on someone’s curb on trash pickup day!!! Beaming ear to ear, I knocked on the door of the house to make sure it was free. The man said he would help me put it in my SUV. You will find out that this journey was a rollercoaster of emotions…

IT WOULD NOT FIT IN MY CAR! My heart sunk!! I told him thank you for trying. My daughter was in the back seat and asked what happened. I told her, not today and it just wasn’t meant to be. That we would find her one eventually. The man overheard our conversation and asked where we lived. I told him, and he said he drove by that street on his way to work and would be happy to drop it off at our house for free. It turns out, he was also in the military and worked near my husband. After saying thank you a million times, we drove away. Later that day he dropped off the playhouse and I immediately brought the pieces inside. They were very dirty but it was too cold to clean them outside. I lost count of how many spiders crawled out of that thing while I was cleaning it…. yikes. But I was still feeling thankful for this moment.

This is a photo of AFTER I cleaned them up! You can see how the sun faded the parts more that aren’t covered by the roof. I did my best to clean it up, but there was some wet grass and dirt that got inside the walls through drain holes in the bottom. Luckily my paint job masked it fairly well.

My first step was to clean all surfaces and rough them up with a scouring pad so that my paint would stick. The paint I used was a spray paint made specifically for outdoor plastic, and this step was in the instructions on the paint can. This step was BY FAR the hardest part and also took the longest. I scrubbed it with dish soap and water, a scouring pad and a magic eraser sponge.

Once it was cleaned I set the pieces out to dry. I examined all the parts that were missing, and then hunted online for them. It was going to be too expensive to order the correct parts… but I had come this far and I wasn’t going to let this stop me. I ordered a couple different things from amazon(a real landline phone was cheaper than a toy one, go figure!) and got to work. After the pieces were dry, I taped around the parts I didn’t plan to paint. I liked the look of the faded pink door and faded green shutters. The sun had done a number on them, but they almost looked pastel to me and I thought I could make that work.

I used a combination of trash bags, disposable grocery bags and wrapping paper to cover up the shutters and the door.

After I had the pieces taped, I set them outside and spray painted one side of them with grey paint. You’ll have to follow the instructions on the paint you use, and mine said to let each coat dry 10-24 hours between coats. I ended up spraying each side of the house with three coats, and used a total of 6 cans of grey paint.

Once the sides of the house were painted, I did the same process with the roof of the house. I used a blue paint that was very close in color to the original. The original roof had scratches and chips and parts that were more faded than others, so I wanted to paint it. I didn’t want to have to do many coats so that is why I chose such a similar color.

Yay!!! You can see just how cute it looks when it was cleaned, painted and put together. Now.. I am not a professional so it was not perfect. But I was really happy with how it came out. Next, I added the inside touches. I had ordered a play faucet replacement to a whole different toy, and just glued it on with my hot glue gun. Then I used velcro to attach her new phone to the inside wall. I added a small chalkboard and a DIY pom-pom decoration to make it feel cozy. I also ordered a small box of play food and a couple small pots and pans to put in the kitchen. MY MASTER PIECE WAS COMPLETE!!!

To make this DIY pom-pom decoration: I used a medium sized pom-pom maker, a hot glue gun, yarn, and a card board box. I made pom-poms in all different colors, cut out a letter C from the card board and glued them on. DONE! I actually ended up bringing this inside after a few days so it wouldn’t get ruined… it hangs in her room now.

My daughter was so happy with the big reveal. I had kept it a secret that I was going to be painting it. Every time she asked where it was, I told her it was getting fixed! It’s been nearly a year and she still loves her playhouse. I am so glad I didn’t let a price tag stop me.

In the end, I spent a total of $60 on this project (paint, tape, phone, sink faucet, play food). Have you ever done a project like this? Let me know in the comments!

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