DIY: Cardboard Playhouse


My sister in Texas has this toy playhouse that her kids have outgrown. It would be perfect for my kids right now but the cost to ship it up here would have been way too much. After she mentioned it again during one of our phone conversations, it got me thinking about making a playhouse for my kids. It just so happened that I had a large box from an elliptical machine in the basement. I never got around to tearing it down to recycle and good thing I didn’t!

And so my creative juices immediately started flowing. I turned into “architect” and started the blueprint for the house: roof (if you look carefully you’ll see  a “skylight” – compliments of the box manufacturer), windows, garage and door.


Using a box cutter, I trimmed the side flaps of the box and taped them together to form the roof. I then outlined where the door and windows would be and cut them out. TIP: Use your tallest child to measure the height! Next, I used leftover paint from my son’s room and painted the house outside to minimize the mess and to allow for proper ventilation. It didn’t take too long for the paint to dry before I started “laying brick”. Here, I just cut design paper into brick sizes and adhered them to the house using spray adhesive. I also used spray adhesive to glue on fabric for the roof.


After the brick laying/spraying, the really creative projects began! I used fabric strips to line the edges of the doors and windows so that it wouldn’t be too rough for the kids. I used two large Lego pieces (with my son’s permission) for the door knobs. For the garage door, instead of making it function like a traditional door where it would open from the bottom, I decided to make it open and close from the top. That way I wouldn’t have to figure out a way to keep the large flap open and also avoid the chance that it could fall down suddenly altogether. I actually thought my son would take issue with the inaccuracy of it, but he seemed just fine. The flap being at the bottom actually allows for another area for them to spread out and play. I also “planted” some flowers, hung a paper wreath and added the U.S. flag in front for some curb appeal!


For some final touches, I hotglued buttons to the corners of the windows (I was going for that craftsman window trim look), framed some of the kids’ pictures and glued it to the interior for some added decoration. I decided to keep the walls blank so that the kids could draw on it…finally some walls they’re allowed to draw on 🙂

There are quite a few more ideas that I haven’t gotten around to yet like making a ceiling fan (made from cardboard – my kids LOVE fans), adding a carpet piece inside and hanging window curtains. One addition my son requested were electrical outlets so that he could “plug” in his vacuum (talk about creative!). So I drew it right on the house and poked a hole in the cardboard with a pencil. It worked out marvelously!

All and all, I was very pleased with the way it turned out. My son saw the initial frame but didn’t see it again until I was finished. Seeing the look on his and my daughter’s face when I revealed it was priceless and made the project totally worth it. The best thing was that I only spent $15 on the entire project. The only items I purchased were spray adhesive, the fake flowers and a paintbrush.

As with any house, be prepared for some home improvements. My little girl is quite a destroyer but I found that kids stickers are great for patch up work! So, it may not be the state-of-the-art playhouse with all the bells and whistles, but it is one-of-a-kind and certainly has more character than I’d ever be able to buy off the shelf.

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5 thoughts on “DIY: Cardboard Playhouse

  1. Love this doing it soon for my lo thanks!



    Mary Reply:

    Have fun with it – with the wear and tear that it will surely endure, I would suggest reinforcing the edges with duct tape. The fabric around the window is a nice touch, but it can be a little cumbersome to cut and glue and it has now started to peel off a little. I will be doing some reinforcements myself!


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