so excited to finally share arlo’s outdoor playhouse with you guys! i wasn’t actually 100% set on having a playhouse, but i wanted to have something for him in the backyard now that we’ve removed the cactus and made it more toddler-friendly. whenever we are at the kids museum, he seems to enjoy the little houses most so i thought he would probably love a playhouse and gid rationalized that we can he do playground stuff at the playground.
i looked for any pre-fab houses that were attractive as they came, but all the best looking ones i could find were built custom and i just knew that wasn’t a realistic option for us. maybe if gid were a carpenter, but he’s not so i’d rather just spend less than $500 to buy one. i didn’t love the look of any as is, so i found one with the best “bones” and knew paint would transform it into an actual attractive element of the yard. i worked with ace hardware’s paint studio and i’m so happy with how it turned out.
while it’s easier to paint the house unassembled, i’m glad we assembled first because it would have been confusing to know what to paint etc (not to mention we’d have had to take off all the part stickers!)
ace sent me a clark+kensington swatch fan book which made it so much easier to obsess over what colors to choose, but i also used their color visualizer which really helped to compare colors and see them in action. it took me about a week to decide on the colors, i wanted a warm off-white for the house that wouldn’t feel bright or be too white, and also play off the color of our house– i went with bone white (CW-W2). for the roof and trim, i wanted a putty color because it felt a little more fun than a grey, so i went with playas de tulum (N-W17) and since we honeymooned in tulum, it felt meant to be haha. and for the door i wanted a fun accent color and was inspired by the adobes in new mexico (where we did our babymoon) — i chose toasted cashew (14A-3), which is a beautiful light terra-cotta color, but not too dark! i love it so much.
it probably took us about 5-6 hours to paint, gid did the the roof and outside while i sat inside and painted everything white. then we switched, i did the outside corners and he did the inside of the roof (we tried painting that white first too, but it looked better the same color as the roof). my advice if you want to attempt to paint this playhouse yourself :
— get a small chair for painting the inside, this was CRUCIAL to sit on in the house because i can’t even stand comfortably in there and i’m 5’1″
— we got a regular sized paint roller which was a mistake, because of all the teeny tiny corners and nooks and crannies, the smallest brushes were key and there weren’t actually a ton of areas we could even fit the roller on. so i suggest a small roller, a nice standard sized brush, a paint edger (this was my favorite tool because i was able to smooth so much with it!), and a few tiny brushes for all the little spots. i ended up going back to do little retouches at least 3 times with those.
— keep the accessories off as much as you can during assembly because they will be much easier to paint separately.
— for the amounts of paint to buy, get a gallon of the house color, a quart of the trim color and a sample size of the door color. (we have leftover white paint, but it didn’t seem like a quart would be enough– we did about two coats of the white but the paint had much more coverage than i expected! paint and primer in one is so key) we were really unsure about amounts but they were really helpful at the paint studio when i showed them photos of the playhouse. we bought all the supplies we needed, but with ace’s extra mile promise you can contact the store to purchase any items you forgot over the phone — and have them delivered for free!
— we got flat exterior clark+kensington paint+primer in one, it’s ultra stain resistant and super washable which is obviously crucial for an outdoor playhouse that is being abused daily by it’s miniature homeowner!
he is too cute. for the inside, i did my best to get cheap accessories — we had an old vintage school chair we bought years ago at a flea market and stuck it inside. i got a $3 cheapo rug, little buckets, cups and bowls and some $1 picture frames. i had gid paint two little watercolors of arlo’s two favorite creatures for them, elmo and our cat bodhi. he likes to take them off the wall and show them to everyone.
his three favorite things to eat are salmon, pickles and yogurt — so we had to put them on the menu. and the 27th is his birthday :)
i was planning on ditching the curtains altogether (it came with BRIGHT red ones), but then realized he might enjoy a little privacy or a game of peekaboo– so i got some fabric and had my sister in law sew them. so happy with how they turned out! also the little curtain rod is the only thing i left natural, i love the little pop of wood.
i’ve been having him care for the plant himself, referring to it as “his plant” so hopefully he can keep it alive!
having lived with the house prior to painting for over a week and seeing what an eyesore it was, i can honestly say i’m sooo thrilled with it now, post-painting. it blends seamlessly into our backyard and i think it looks so beautiful, and not just for a kids playhouse. i truly love it (and arlo does too of course)!
ps, we hadn’t redone the fence yet, we just moved it to the other side of the yard.
(we also got a tarp for when it rains, which i have link for above)
so excited to share arlo’s play kitchen!! i honestly don’t think i’ve ever been so passionate about a project. i planned to do this for his christmas present, but once it was done i decided to just let him start playing with it now because he is obsessed. just like me! there have been sooo many iterations of this ikea hack, but i’ve never really seen one before that was truly my arlo’s style before.
when i was a kid i was obsessed with my dollhouse. my mom used leftover wallpaper and carpet samples from our house so it matched (TEARS!). my dad worked in the mall business and at his office there was a model of the mall they did next door. every friday, my dad would pick me up from school and take me out to lunch at the mall and over to his office so i could stare at the model. forever. he would just hold me up and i would just take it all in lol — so i guess i really like miniature things. and a miniature kitchen is no different apparently. the day i finished the kitchen, i pretty much just sat nearby looking at it. so normal.
anyway, i hope that since it’s only early november, you’ll have time to do your own for your own kid (and more importantly, you)! let’s get into the details. there are A LOT. but quickly, in case you don’t know what the original ikea duktig kitchen looks like, here’s a before and after.
i originally wanted the kitchen to match our kitchen (ala my dollhouse), but i couldn’t come up with a way that didn’t involve contact paper, and i didn’t want to have it look crappy so soon, so we decided to do beige on bottom and white on top as sort of a nod to our kitchen. (sure why not.) painting was definitely the most trying and time consuming part of this project. first i took all the pieces out of the box and then tried to figure out what was the top and what was the bottom. once you familiarize yourself with it, it starts making sense, just keep referencing the photos of the kitchen.
i taped off all the plastic parts on the cabinets and the stovetop. i trusted that blue protective film on the stove even though it looked not that perfect up close, i added a few pieces of tape but i wish it was a little more perfect. i used a white paint pen to fix little blemishes on the stove after the fact and now that it’s on there i don’t notice any imperfections though. i also really made a goof and taped/painted the wrong sides of the microwave and stove. (i didn’t even realize until i was done and everything was inside so i had to go and paint some more) maybe try not to do that.
i sealed everything at least twice, but with all of the plastic pieces (the sink, the stove and the faucet), i was really paranoid about the paint chipping, so i sealed them like literally a dozen times. btw, i cannot believe how many moms reached out to me on instagram saying theirs chipped and i asked if they sealed theirs and they said no. SO HOPEFULLY mine won’t. i’m sure they will a bit, but the sealing for sure helps more than nothing. you guys need to seal! spray paint on plastic is just always sort of an inevitable chipping disaster. i had already clocked so much time with spraying everything outside that i just kept going until i got reaaaally over it.
even though the faucet was already silver, i got nuts and decided i wanted it to be satin nickel like our kitchen sink. so happy i did because the color is much lighter than the original and feels like it blends better with the kitchen now. i left the rod and hooks as is because those seemed like they would just chip immediately.
a lot of pieces already come white, but i wanted to paint them all so they’d match and lose the grain that was on only some of them.
there are a few pieces that will confuse you when it’s unassembled. like i only realized at the last minute that the piece that goes between the stove and cabinet i wanted to paint beige, but i wanted the sides to stay white. so i taped off everything but the edge to paint. you might get tripped up a couple of times so don’t rush into painting before you really get a feel of what everything is.
once we assembled the kitchen, i got a really thick piece of poster board from the craft store and measured it on the back. i then cut it out and tiled it using these subway tile stickers. the backsplash was basically the last element we added and it made such a big impact. it really felt like it took it to another level!
as you can see below if you look closely, i messed up on the tiling quite a few times and i was getting really mad at myself, but once it went up you really don’t notice any of that. i added some wood glue along the edges of the kitchen, stuck the backsplash on there and then used painters tape to secure it for a day while drying.
as i said, i wanted to have the bottom be wood to match our kitchen but couldn’t figure out how to do it the right way, so instead decided to do all wood hardware as like, a nod to our kitchen. i considered buying wood knobs but struggled to find anything that would look right/fit/not cost a ton. so we decided to make them! and while that sounds complicated, it couldn’t be more simple.
our original plan was to use the square dowels and actually make them into pulls, but once we were about to cut everything i was scared they would protrude out too far and be dangerous/annoying. so instead, we just cut the square dowel rods (they’re 3/4″) and glued them onto the cabinets directly. i would have liked to have a pull to hang a little dish towel from but i am so happy with how these turned out. i worried arlo wouldn’t be able to grab them as well as an actual pull, but he hasn’t struggled with it at all.
and for the adorable little wood oven knobs, i got a bag of wood rounds from the craft store and gid cut a few of them down the center, and glued the halves on! could they be cuter?!?!! we were worried that he would pull them off and break them immediately but so far so good. he barely messes with them since they don’t actually function so they’re basically just for me.
arlo loves to pretend everything is a phone, he holds up the remote and the thermometers and his shoes to his head and says “YA?!” so i knew we had to include a phone on here. plus one more place he can press buttons. (we’re planning to get a shorter, safer cord for him but haven’t found one that fits yet, right now he’s not playing with the kitchen unattended don’t worry.)
that photo is so me, a sink full of dishes but i’m too busy talking on the phone to do them.
you might have seen arlo knows how to work our nespresso like a grownup barista, so when i saw this little wood espresso machine i knew he needed it. and i just noticed from the website that i did not properly put it together and the part i thought was a spoon actually goes on there, so oops lol. i also want to get this toaster and this mixer HELP MEEEE.
i got this little toothbrush cup for his utensil crock (i love that it looks sort of ceramic), the mini whisk we already had from ikea, and the wooden spoons were ones from our kitchen we cut down to fit. the pot and pan set come with a bunch of pieces and they work so perfectly with the kitchen, but right now it sadly says they’re unavailable (omg this happens so much on amazon!!). i didn’t include in the photos, but we also bought arlo a SECOND set of pots and pans and i blame gid for that because he rationalized and now we have two sets of cookware. it’s really absurd. anyway they are gorgeous.
i got the play food from here, again they come in a big set! so cute. i also added a le labo soap for photos because how could i not? but i’ll be taking that back now.
i’ve seen a lot of people replacing their stovetop with a cuter alternative, which i agree, looks so much better, but the fact that the stove that comes with the kitchen lights up and has buttons — i knew arlo would love it too much to skip it, so i kept it as is.
i think that’s it! let me know if you have any questions and i would love to see if you try it out yourself!!!