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  • Credit: @thealcroftgirls/Instagram

    Part 1 – Painting a Playhouse

    Depending on which children’s playhouse you’ve bought, it’ll either be made of plastic or timber.

    A plastic playhouse is, by design, a lot harder to decorate or customise. You won’t really be able to paint it, and it’ll be hard to furnish it with things like shelves without breaking it. So for a plastic kid’s playhouse, you might want to skip ahead to our interior decorating ideas.

    Because most kid’s playhouses are wooden, we’ll assume you’re looking at buying a wooden playhouse.

    And painting or even wood staining a wooden playhouse can help to both improve its visual appeal and weather-treat it.

    Let’s explain. 

    Painting or staining a wooden playhouse

    Before you decide to paint or treat your wooden playhouse, you need to know how the timber has been treated.

    It’ll either have been:

    DIP-TREATEDDipped in a water-based treatment and allowed to soak and then dry to form a base coat. This protects against rot and insects for a time.
    PRESSURE-TREATEDMore effective than dip treatment. Treatment is applied under pressure to penetrate the timber’s surface. This offers enhanced protection from damage caused by moisture and UV rays for up to a few years.

    Whether your wooden playhouse has been dip- or pressure-treated, you’ll still need to apply a final wood treatment (at some stage). This will prolong your playhouse’s life and can be your first step in decorating it. 

    What treatment?

    If your wooden playhouse is made from pressure-treated timber, there should be no need to apply treatment upon purchase. (You might consider doing it a year or so down the line).

    Start by treating or ‘priming’ wood and cleaning off any dirt and/or grease. Check for splinters, cracks etc. (there shouldn’t be any, but it’s worth a look just in case). If there are, sand them down and clean with white spirit.

    Then, you can either go about choosing from:

    WOOD STAINWood primers and stains seal and protect wood from the elements. They can be used underneath paint.
    WATER-BASED TREATMENTWIll require annual re-application. Quick and straightforward to apply. Make sure to purchase a treatment suitable for smooth, planed playhouse timber. A water-based treatment would be best for your playhouse interior.
    SPIRIT-BASED TREATMENTFor the exterior. Longer-lasting than water-based equivalents. Comes in clear or coloured treatments. If you’re planning to paint your playhouse, consider using a clear treatment.

    Once you’ve primed and treated your children’s playhouse, you can get on to the fun part of decorating – painting!

    Painting your playhouse

    Painting your playhouse can help to bring it to life. It can also be a fun project to undertake with your children.

    Before you start, think about what paint, colour, and themes you want for your kid’s playhouse.

    For example:

    COLOURPick a manageable colour scheme! (I.e. ‘rainbow’ might end up costing a lot in money and sanity). We recommend bold block colours that contrast. Think classic blue or pink with white trim and window frames.
    THEMEWhat does your colour scheme say about your playhouse? If you’re going for a classic Wendy house look, go for block colours. Or, try lighter tones if you want a beach-themed playhouse.
    INTERIORAre you going to paint the interior? Will you have feature walls?
    GET CREATIVECan you incorporate things like glitter paint for a splash of colour?

    By getting your children involved in the playhouse decorating process, they can start to make it truly their own.

    Let them advise you (within reason) on the colours they want the inside and outside to be painted. Could you use stencils and let them paint a feature wall on the inside?

    playhouse windows with planter box, gnome and bunny in the window
    Credit: @leanne_and_her_littles/Instagram

    Part 2 – Decorating a Playhouse

    Once you’ve painted your wooden playhouse (outside and/or inside), you can move on to decorating it.

    Below, we’ve broken down into sections a bunch of ideas for decorating a children’s playhouse and why they’re so important.

    And just to give you a quick overview:

    What should I put in my playhouse?

    1. A painted featurette wall or stencil designs
    2. Home-made curtains
    3. Shelves and storage
    4. Kid’s furniture
    5. Blankets, cushions, throws
    6. Bunting
    7. Fairy lights
    8. A blackboard
    9. Board games
    10.  Bean bags or a bed for sleepovers!

    Let’s have a look at how these playhouse decoration ideas can bring your garden building to life.

    Homemade curtains

    Putting curtains in your playhouse can give your children a sense of privacy and trust. It says, ‘we trust you to play on your own without mum and dad watching all the time’.

    On a more practical note, curtains in your playhouse are great for keeping it (and occupants) cool in summer. They can also block out the sun for nap times.

    To make your own homemade playhouse curtains:

    • Find a piece of material and cut it to a size that is slightly longer than the height of your playhouse window, and twice the width of the window
    • Cut small holes three inches apart along the width of the fabric at the top
    • You can use iron-on hemming tape to stop the holes from fraying
    • Find a piece of rope or thick string instead of a curtain pole
    • Screw or drill in hooks on either side and just above the window frame 
    • Hang your curtains

    Top Tip: Choosing a fabric is a fun activity to do with your kids. Make sure your little ones have as much input as possible in decorating their playhouse.

    And check out the video below for a quick guide to making curtains for your playhouse:

    board game with multi-coloured wooden character pieces

    Boardgames and puzzles

    Don’t forget – a playhouse is for play.

    All this talk of painting and decorating might start to seem like you’ve created a piece of installation art. Don’t forget what’s at the heart of your playhouse decorating mission!

    Invest in some fun board games and puzzles for the whole family. You can even scour the local charity shops. And why not add a blackboard feature to an interior wall? Give your children a chance to write and draw to their heart’s content. 

    See – the writing on the walls doesn’t have to be so bad!

    Decorate the outside: Plants and flowers 

    If you haven’t bought a playhouse with planters, think about adding some.

    Planters and flower boxes can give your kids another project to keep them busy. Plus, growing and caring for something can nurture a sense of responsibility and ownership.

    Who knows, if you play your cards right, they might even offer to take care of the rest of the garden!

    interior playhouse bunk with star shaped fairy lights
    Credit: @winsterhome2018/Instagram

    Fairy lights

    It’s pretty amazing what a bit of colour can do to any outdoor garden building. And fairy lights are nothing if not colourful.

    You can even build them into your playhouse theme or swap them out at different times of the year. Think:

    • Green and red for Christmas time or
    • White fairy lights for a winter grotto, or even
    • Red, white, and blue for the Platinum Jubilee (2022)

    Either way, battery- or solar-powered fairy lights are a great get-around. Using fairy lights means you won’t have to run a power lead out to your playhouse. This is good news as an exposed wire and power point around your kids could cause all kinds of problems.

    Plus, you won’t have to install any utilities to your playhouse. (If you’re sold on the idea, though, check out this guide to installing utilities in a garden building).

    Shop Playhouses

    FAQs

    Start before building it. For a children’s wooden playhouse, start by checking the timber and sanding where necessary. Depending on whether your playhouse uses dip- or pressure-treated timber, apply primer and wood treatment.

     

    Then apply paint in an undercoat and a glossy or satin topcoat in your chosen colour scheme.

     

    For the inside of your outdoor playhouse, use a water-based EN71 compliant treatment or paint or none at all. Instead, allow your children to decorate walls with things like stencils and glitter paint. Install a blackboard or create a feature wall.

    Finish with stackable plastic children’s furniture, toys, bunting, fairy lights, and soft furnishings like cushions and blankets.

    Adding shelves and storage to your playhouse can give children more usable space and keep your playhouse tidy. To brighten up the interior, consider hanging battery-powered fairy lights and bunting. For year-round use, lay down rugs or blankets and cushions. And don’t forget a healthy stock of board games and puzzles.

    For a plastic playhouse, you will need a specialist plastic primer and spray paint. For a wooden playhouse, use a water-based or  EN71 compliant paint suitable for timber exteriors.