What do you get when you combine creative play, crafting for charity, and a little healthy competition? The Homes.com Little Tikes Playhouse Makeover Challenge. Three DIY bloggers were invited by Homes.com to transform a builder basic playhouse into a custom home with a holiday theme. Then, readers vote on their favorite “flipped” playhouse and the winning blogger gets to donate $750 to their charity of choice and, this is amazing, one lucky voter wins $250 for themselves. How cool is that?
When I was asked to participate in this challenge, I’m pretty sure I reacted the same way “Buddy the Elf” did when he heard Santa was coming to town! I had a few ideas floating around, but ultimately decided on a classic, wintry Christmas cottage that could transition through the different seasons.
The playhouse is designed for kids ages two and up, and with my girls being four, five and eight years old, I wanted to make it as engaging as possible so that even my oldest daughter could have fun playing in it. To accomplish this, I added interactive accessories like outdoor lights, a battery-operated doorbell, wooden envelopes for the mailbox, a bubble blowing chimney, a chalkboard fireplace, and even a Bluetooth speaker to blast those Michael Bublé holiday tunes.
I kept the color scheme traditional & went with creamy white for the exterior walls, a dark brown for the roof, gray for the shutters, light blue for the doors and a metallic gold for the exterior light, doorbell, door handle and mailbox.
It’s been so much fun watching my girls use their imaginations in this space. Here’s how you can transform your own playhouse:
First, unbox the playhouse. I opted to paint my pieces separately before assembly because I didn’t want to tape everything off to spray paint. There are 12 major pieces: four walls, two roof sections, two doors and four shutters with multiple clips and screws to hold it all together. To begin, lay your pieces on a tarp or drop cloth. Make sure you’re using the right type of spray paint – it needs to say it’s made for use on plastic and it should include a primer, too. Be careful not to spray too heavy-handed or else it’ll drip. A few light coats are better than one heavy coat.
When you’re finished painting, let everything dry for at least 24-48 hours before attempting to assemble. Even if it feels dry to the touch, the paint needs to cure fully; trust me, your patience will be rewarded. The mailbox protrudes a bit from the house, so I shaped paper towels around mine instead of using painter’s tape. Even though it was dry, I didn’t want to risk pulling up any paint. The door is a bit slicker l than the rest of the house and scratches more easily so if I did this again, I would’ve used a primer underneath my first coat of paint. Instead, I just made sure to seal my doors well with a matte spray top coat. The playhouse also comes with cute sticker accessories but the only ones I salvaged were the window stickers which I spray painted black, then splattered white paint on top to mimic the look of snowflakes.
Once everything is dry, you can assemble your house and get to the fun part– accessorizing! This is what takes your home from builder basic to completely custom! For the outdoor light, I spray painted a bronze fixture gold and attached a battery-operated puck light to the inside. It is a push on/off light, so the kids love to play with it. I attached the entire fixture to the playhouse with screws and scrap wood on the inside for added stability.
Instead of using the flag holder that came with the playhouse, I opted for a doorbell instead. I painted it gold and attached it to the house with double sided foam mounting tape. The receiver that makes the ding-dong noise is mounted inside. We built the chimney to sit angled on the roof line. It’s a wood box that I covered in faux brick paneling. Inside the chimney is a brace that holds a bubble machine that’s sure to induce lots of squeals & giggles with the kids.
The envelopes get a ton of use. To make them, I cut 4” x 6” rectangles out of ¼” medium density fiberboard, spray painted them white, added the text details with permanent marker and vinyl, then sealed the heck out of them. We also built a floating deck to provide a level area for the house out of a few 2x6s for the frame and 1x6s for the top slats.
To style the home, I opted for velvet red bows, a DIY doormat, small Christmas tree and light post, then sprayed the garland on the light post with fake snow as well as the children’s boots to give some winter wonderland vibes.
All in all, this project has been an absolute JOY for the entire family! Thank you, Homes.com for inviting me in on this challenge and allowing me to “flip” my first home.
Here’s one last look of the before and after!