DIY, Holidays

Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse™ Holiday Makeover: Ellison Made Edition

Brittany Norman of Ellison Made is sharing her do-it-yourself renovation of the Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse™, holiday edition. Check out what she did (and how you can do it too) right here on!

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What do you get when you combine creative play, crafting for charity, and a little healthy competition? The Little Tikes Playhouse Makeover Challenge. Three DIY bloggers were invited by 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?

Little Tikes playhouse cottage

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.

Little Tikes playhouse cottage

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.

Little Tikes playhouse cottage

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.

Little Tikes playhouse cottage

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.

Little Tikes playhouse cottage

All in all, this project has been an absolute JOY for the entire family! Thank you, 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!



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ellison made brittany norman
Brittany Norman
Owner of Ellison Made | See more posts by this author

Brittany Norman is the owner of Ellison Made: a home goods shop & decorating blog. As a mom to three girls and former preschool teacher, she loves designing whimsical play spaces and creating a home that’s both aesthetically pleasing and fully functional for a family with kids. When she’s not working on her handmade products, you can find her fixing up her home one DIY project at a time. To see more behind-the-scenes, you can find Brittany on social media @ellisonmade.

69 Replies to Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse™ Holiday Makeover: Ellison Made Edition

  1. Linda bryan

    #3 Ellison made is just beautifully done with all of the lovely details! It gets my vote!


  2. #3, So inspiring. Simply remarkable. I am very impressed. I sincerely hope that some little one enjoys the house. Ellison gets my vote.

  3. I love the clean classic look of this house!! It is also full of fun with the bubbles and light, and tree. So fun!

  4. I love cottage number 1 from Thrift Diving. The red and black checked design is timeless and classic holiday. Very creative!

  5. LOVE #3!!! Absolutely the cutest one I have ever seen! I totally wish I had this for my little girl. ❤ @Brittany Normal

  6. Ellison Made (C) ! Absolutely adorable! Incredible detail, perfect colors, so tasteful. You can tell a lot of thought went into every aspect of this project.

  7. Ellison Made made the playhouse I would want for my little ones. Less is more. It’s classic and beautiful with just the right holiday touches. What I like most is it can easily be changed up for any holiday and everyday play.

  8. I vote C for Ellen because there is so much for the kids to do such as the wooden envelopes, bubbles & chalk board. What wowed me was she didn’t forget about the inside! After seeing the outside, the kids would be excited to go inside. In this house, Ellen created a warm chalk board fireplace that the kids can play for hours. All that’s missing is a rocking chair! Go Ellen!

  9. I vote C for Ellen because there is so much for the kids to do such as the wooden envelopes, bubbles & chalk board fireplace. Go Ellison Made!

  10. C- is definitely something my little would find enchanting! The bubble chimney is super innovative and the mail slot shows that attention to detail is truly important?

  11. I love entry C, by Ellison Made, because it has more interactive features and is the most able entry to grow with the child as interests and maturity of the child evolves. It’s a clear winner.

  12. I vote for C by Ellison Made. It speaks to me in a way the others don’t. I love the interactive features. I’m completely drawn to the color pallet. To be honest, I was coming here to vote for another candidate but when I saw the house by Ellison Made I just had to change my vote. C is the clear winner for me.

  13. I vote for ELlison made! I love the traditional charm of her house with the “working” fireplace, working doorbell & outdoor lights. It is totally kid friendly & will withstand the elements.

  14. Each of the little houses are creative, beautiful and offer such vivid imaginations. But, I must express with sincerity and not loyalty………the 3rd house would be my favorite. So that is where my vote goes.

  15. My vote is for C…my gosh if I could fit in there I would grab myself a coffee and good book and disappear for hours! Stunning ??????

  16. I would have to vote for Ellison Made. I love it! I am sure my grandchildren would love the chalkboard fireplace and bubble chimney. Such awesome work by all three talented ladies!

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