Building a Playhouse – How to Design a Playhouse for Your Kids

Before you can build a playhouse for your kids, you obviously need a plan. Without a plan you’ll stumble along, making random cuts and wasting your time and money on wrongly cut lumber. But how and where do you get a design and a plan?

Let’s face it, most of us are just regular guys or gals without a degree in architecture, right? So how do we design and build a playhouse?

One way to get your creative juices flowing is to study other playhouses. Whether online or in person, look at and study as many playhouse designs as you can. If you are lucky enough to see some in person, take a measuring tape with you and physically measure the height and widths. Get a feel for how big a playhouse should be and how big you want yours to be.

As a good rule of thumb, an average sized playhouse should be about 50-100 square feet in floor area. The walls need not be over 6′ tall, as most children are about 4 to 4-1/2 feet tall.

If you’re a novice woodworker, keep the design simple. A square or simple rectangle is the safest bet. Don’t try to get all fancy with an overly elaborate design. You may get bogged down halfway through and give up. Better to keep it simple and complete it.

Design your playhouse with a gable roof. A gable roof is the easiest to build and still looks good on a simple structure. The pitch or angle of the roof should be 1 to 2. In other words for every 12″ the rise should be 6″. This makes it easier to figure the ridge height.

For siding, use T-111 plywood turned horizontally. This gives the impression of lap siding, but is quicker and cheaper. When using this method, keep your wall lengths 8′ or less, as plywood siding comes in that length standard.

Build a front door out of either thicker plywood or 1×6 boards. You can get some basic strap hinges from a hardware store to allow it to swing. If you design the walls 6′ tall, make the door 5′ or 5′-6″ tall.

Don’t try to use a regular door knob for the playhouse door. They’re made for a standard door which is thicker than the door you’ll be building. Just use a hasp or slide bolt. Or you could opt for no knob at all!

Finally, design your playhouse with a few windows. Make them about 18″ square as this will look better as far as the proportion to the rest of the playhouse.

So you need to check out other playhouses, and take notes. Sketch your ideas on some blank paper. I like to use graph paper with 1/4″ squares. Spend some time tweaking and perfecting your design. Once you get it the way you want it, you’re ready to start building!