This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy here
This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.
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?
October 3, 2019 at 12:01 AM
Hi Jenny! I absolutely love this little playhouse. My dad and I are trying to plan out one for my daughter. Do you by chance have a cost break down?
October 29, 2019 at 1:59 PM
Hi DeAnn! I wish I did, but I completely forgot about keeping track of the expenses until we were about 1/2 way through. I built it over several months (about 9), just running to HD and grabbing whatever supplies I could out of each paycheck.
I changed my clubhouse a little from the original inspiration, but I found the basic plans here (https://www.thehandmadehome.net/a-handmade-hideaway/) and they included a cost breakdown with them. Hope that helps!
October 12, 2022 at 4:24 AM
Hey im loving how your same out! But do you still have the plans for the play house the link isn’t working🙃
April 2, 2020 at 6:27 PM
Hi! I love your playhouse…we are currently planning one for our daughter. Do you happen to have approximate measurements on yours? Height of lower level and max height? And overall footprint? Also curious if you know the name of the aqua color you used inside? Thanks! Great work!!!
April 12, 2020 at 9:50 AM
The little store front is perfection! And really the whole thing is amazing! I’m about to embark on my cubby house build and this has given me lots of great ideas. How is the paint on the exterior holding up? Any brand you would recommend?
April 21, 2020 at 6:59 PM
Do you have plans drawn up for this? Supplies needed and used? Anything like that, we would love to build something like this!
May 9, 2020 at 11:18 AM
I’m looking to build a playhouse for my daughter and we found and love your design! Are you able to tell me the overall dimensions? Also, I have to get the size approved by my HOA. Do you happen to any plans draw up or any other helpful resources, like a supply list? I would be very grateful. Thank you for the inspiration–it looks fabulous!
June 5, 2020 at 3:54 PM
I have the same clubhouse pinned for my boys! I love your changes. May I purchase your changed plan?
May 21, 2020 at 6:36 AM
I would absolutely LOVE to purchase these plans from you. I am really good at woodwork if I have plans to follow. I have not mastered the “eyeball and go” method so the original plans you went off of is the only thing I would end up with. My girls would love this so much especially since the world is shut down with the virus.
I hope you and your family are staying safe!
December 9, 2020 at 2:01 PM
Hi! What a wonderful gift to your kids! Just curious if you’re still happy with the plastic roof? Any issues with it baking in the sun or making the playhouse to warm? I love the look—just wondering about potential issues. We love how it will look like a beach shack in our yard! 🤗
December 21, 2020 at 7:28 PM
We love the roof! No fading or cracking or anything. I had been thinking about going with the clear version, but with the intensity of our summer sun, I decided to do a solid color for the shade it would provide, and that’s exactly what it does. Gives the girls a shaded area to play that’s cooler than the unshaded, rest of the yard. I wouldn’t change a thing!
January 26, 2021 at 8:14 PM
Omg, I love this. We are hoping to build something similar to this in the spring. We have a slant like yours, and so I was wondering, how did you do the posts? Did you put footers in?
March 5, 2021 at 3:42 PM
Hi! We are currently building our kids a playhouse based off the #handmadehideaway plans as well. I absolutely love this aqua color. Do you happen to remember the name? Thanks so much!
April 1, 2023 at 4:49 AM
Is the size of the “house” part the same as the hideaway plans and you just added an extended deck and the other features?
April 2, 2023 at 1:48 PM
The house is about 2 feet deeper than the Hideaway plans. I originally built it to the same specifications, and once the side walls were up, I decided I wanted it to be a little bigger, so I added 2 foot long walls on both sides.