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I have fond memories of countless hours of my childhood spent playing outdoors. Riding bikes all over the neighborhood. Scrambling through the brush and the weeds exploring and imagining. Making mud pies in the front yard. It wasn’t often that you’d find my sister and I indoors watching TV.
Unfortunately for my girls, our house isn’t isn’t really situated for the “go outside and ride your bike until it’s dark” kind of play that my sister and I were privy to. But . . . what we do have is a giant backyard. Over the last few years, it’s been filled with toddler slides and tricycles, water tables and scooters, sidewalk chalk and bubbles. Lots of wonderful things to make a toddler want to run outside. But in the back of my mind there’s always been a plan for something more. Something the girls can grow into. Something bigger! Like a clubhouse!
The idea first took hold when I saw the Handmade Hideaway that Jamin and Ashley built their kids.
Not only did they build it themselves, but they included all the plans and supply lists to go along with it. So I used their plans as the “base” for my own Operation Clubhouse.
Anyone who knows me in real life, knows I like to put my own spin on things. So, of course, I had to add things to the clubhouse to make it something more than just, well . . . a clubhouse. To start, I planned to extend the base to make room for a bigger clubhouse while still having plenty of room for a open deck space. I also knew that I wanted to add small walls to the front of the clubhouse, which would create a more dedicated doorway as well as giving me the space I needed to install a couple “porch lights.”
While Ashley and Jamin’s hideaway included a slide on one side of their house, I also wanted to create something fun on the opposite side of the deck. I decided on a rock wall. Then there was the bottom of the clubhouse, down by the support pillars. Never one to waste space, I opted to create an outdoor chalkboard on one side and a little “store front” on the other. Perfect for imaginative play!
This was not a quick project. I’m sure if you had more dedicated time and help and money, it could be done quicker. But I bought wood and supplies as my paychecks allowed. And I worked on it when I could squeeze in time between my full-time job and taking care of my kids (one of whom was still a newborn when I started this project . . . while I was on maternity leave). I did most of the work myself, while Hubby stayed inside to watch the kiddos. But whenever I needed a second set of hands, my dad was quick to run over and help me out.
For the siding, I used cheap, plain fence boards. I cut off the angled tops, then hung them up, staggering the seems. I did paint them before I put them up, because I knew trying to paint them all from the inside, around the 2×4 framing would be a pain, so I just painted them first, and touched things up as needed after they were hung.
Ashley and Jamin’s plans called for an X-shaped railing, but I decided to keep it simple with straight lines. I also knew that while their plans didn’t have a stair railing, I was going to need one. Their kids were a bit older when they built their hideaway. Charlie, however, was still an infant and I could just see her falling off the side into the gravel. The straight lines from the deck railing was easy enough to carry over into the stair railing for a cohesive look.
Instead of a tin roof like the plans called for, we opted for corrugated plastic roofing panels. I chose them in the color Sedona Brick to match the color of our house’s tiled roof. Now the clubhouse looks like a mini version of the big house!
It took a while, but I finally finished her. And She. Is. AWESOME!
The “store front” is perfect for all kinds of make believe play! It can be a store, a restaurant, or (Emma’s personal favorite) a lemonade stand!
The awning is just the tops of the same fence posts I used for the siding, painted (pink and purple, as requested by Emma) and nailed on.
The other side of the stairs has the chalkboard. We have so much sidewalk chalk, and this is just another place to use it and create a master piece!
I knew I wanted a slide, and while the original plans had one, it was a straight one and that wasn’t going to work here. I wanted my slide to end up on the grass, for a softer landing, so I needed one that twisted. I found this one on Amazon. The reviews are correct in that the holes don’t always line up correctly, but we drilled a couple new holes and got it together. The girls love it!
I didn’t have building plans for the rock wall, I just kind of winged it! I opted not to do a completely vertical wall and instead angled it out a bit. Like the slide, when I needed the rock-shaped grips, I turned to Amazon and found these.
And, of course, pink safety handles for my pink loving girl.
Inside the clubhouse, I went with a bright aqua color. It adds just the right pop of color while keeping things nice and bright inside.
Here, I deviated from Ashley and Jamin’s plans on the placement of the windows. Instead of two smaller side windows, I axed the one on the right (that would look out directly onto a palm tree) and opted for a bigger window on the back wall. From the ground, it looks like the window just looks out onto our brick wall, but from inside the clubhouse, it’s the prefect spot to watch the fireworks that get shot off from that direction during graduation season and the 4th of July.
I painted a bunch of 2×4 pieces in a bunch of fun colors and installed them randomly throughout the clubhouse as “shelving.” Perfect for little nick-nacks like flashlights and hair brushes.
(This sweet little mirror was a dollar store find)
On one side of the doorway, I included special shelves to hold the girls’ garden tools and Emma’s ever growing rock collection.
The other side of the doorway has plenty of hooks for outdoor exploration items (or a flyswatter, because someone is terrified of bugs), and a shelf specifically for some fun bubble wands!
The table and chairs came from Target (I can’t find them online, but check in store). They’re lightweight, easy to clean, and the colors are so fun for a kid’s clubhouse! Plenty of tea parties have happened here already.
The rug is also from Target. It’s from the Opalhouse line. It’s gorgeous and colorful and has a beautiful flower print that my girly girl loves!
To make it look more like a real house, I added a couple sweet little solar sconces. As for the mailbox, I had trouble finding one narrow enough to fit on this wall. Then I finally found something that worked. You’ll never guess what it actually is!
Operation Clubhouse was a lot of work, but I’m so happy with how it turned out! The girls are out there all the time. And I know that even when they outgrow tea parties and lemonade stands, it’ll still be a place where they can go relax and hang out with their friends.
What do you think? Wanna go play outside?