Wood Toys

Modern Playhouse

Each year for Christmas I like to do a special project for my son. At almost 3 years old, these projects are mostly for my own gratification. I thoroughly enjoy creating carefully crafted and personalized gifts for my little guy and this year’s project was a labor of love.

My son loves animals and he engages in a lot of imaginative play. I wanted to give him a toy that allowed him to have a “home” for his animals as well as dinosaurs, people, cars, and whatever else he may be interested in down the road. After looking at several similar products on Etsy, I couldn’t quite settle on one that I loved and I had the thought that always gets me into these projects—”I can make that!”


I drew inspiration from several other modular playhouses online and once I finalized the file, I found a local company, Indy Laser Designs, to cut the pieces. I used Sketchup which is a free online software (though I have purchased the professional version for my architecture work) that allowed me to not only create the 2D cut lines, but also allowed me to extrude each piece and fit them together in three dimensions to make sure they were going to work—super helpful!


The best thing about cutting with a laser is that there is virtually no waste. You can see above how I was able to use the pieces cut from the center of the door openings and reattach them with hinges to create the double doors. This took a little bit of planning up front to make sure I divided the center piece in half to create the two doors and to make sure the pieces weren’t discarded as waste.


I decided to go ahead and glue some of the pieces together. For a toddler, it seemed to be overkill to have to assemble the stairs and fences. The fact that the rest of the pieces are interchangeable and can be reconfigured in an endless number of solutions is my favorite part. Not only does the playhouse allow for imaginative play, it allows for him to enjoy the building aspect as well, similar to Legos or building blocks.


One aspect I didn’t think about was the uneven burning on the edges of the plywood. I knew all along I wanted to preserve the natural look of the Baltic Birch, but the darkened edges irritated me. I decided to paint the edges fun colors which takes the final project up a huge notch for me. I decided on the color scheme prior to seeing what colors were actually available in craft paint. I came up really disappointed after my first stop, but before deciding to purchase wall paint samples from Lowe’s, I stopped by Michael’s to see if they had a better selection. These Martha Stewart paint colors were a lifesaver! They were exactly what I was looking for and I plan to use the same color scheme for his birthday party (STAY TUNED)! I finished off each piece with a coat of matte polycrylic spray.


I think presentation is important too, so I wanted to be sure Maslow was set up on Christmas morning with some accessories for his new toy. I found these adorable bendy dolls from Haba and bought some additional Terra farm animals to go with our collection of Terra and Schleich wild animals.


I had so much fun with this project and the best part is seeing Maslow play with it. I hope this project has many many years of play in its future!