at charlotte's house charlotte smith diy dog makeover

Doggy Dream Home Makeover: Charlotte Smith’s Pet Palace

Charlotte Smith of At Charlotte’s House is showing us how she DIY’d her heart out to create the dream doggy palace for her pups. And now, you can too! Just follow along with her right here on’s blog.

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What dog wouldn’t want to sit above a custom painted dog house and look out across their yard? Squeaky toy in paw, living their best dog life… I am thrilled to be back decorating my third playhouse for Turns out flipping plastic playhouses is amazingly fun and entertaining if you’re a DIY blogger! Last spring, my English cottage took home the crown and I was able to donate $750 to an amazing charity and I’m hoping to reclaim my title with this colorful pet palace!

dog house do it yourself rainbow wooden loft
dog house do it yourself

I planned this wooden loft to fit over a plastic house with front legs far enough apart to allow the plastic house to slide right underneath once everything was assembled. I also designed the loft to come apart easily since I knew I couldn’t move it in one piece. Confession: I sat down and planned the dimensions for this loft based on the playhouse dimensions, but there was definitely some winging it– particularly when it came to the angle of the stairs… and how to build the stairs… and how to attach the stairs. Truth be told, a lot of the stairs were built on the fly.

dog house wooden diy

The main structure is made of 2x4s using pocket holes to hold it together. For the balcony around the loft, I used 1x2s also attached with pocket holes. Note: these railings as shown would *not* be strong enough for children. The skinny lumber would be easy to break if too much pressure is put on the middle.

wooden beams building the dog house

The sides and the back have cross beams to stabilize the structure so I decided to add a floating water bowl to the right side. It’s essentially a floating shelf  with a hole in the top for the water bowl to sit down inside of.

dogs enjoying newly built dog house

The front and right side of the house are fairly straight forward, but the back and the left side are slightly different to accommodate the stairs. 

I needed to make the back wider than the front to allow for the width of the stairs, and the left side has an opening in the railing where the stairs come in. Note that planning around the stairs was the easy part. As I mentioned earlier, making the stairs was a total leap of faith. There are stair calculators you can use to figure out the rise and the run, but because this is being used for dogs, I wasn’t as concerned with standard stair dimensions. I’m using a 1×6 for the treads, so they’re only 5-inches deep but again… for dogs. They’re agile. In order to have enough rise in my set of stairs, I needed to make each riser about 6” high. To save money, I used 1×10 rough cut pine for the stringers. I clamped them in place and then traced the angles at the top and bottom before cutting with my miter saw. The treads are supported by 1x2s screwed into the stringers.

exterior of diy dog house

Once the structure of the loft was assembled, it was time to paint! If you can’t have fun with a pet palace where can you? Colorful stripes all around. I’ve painted a couple other children’s houses and spray paint is much easier so I wanted to choose spray paint colors that would best match my latex paint sample pots. 

I started by lining up the stripes with the obvious parts of the playhouse. I taped off the wooden loft and painted these stripes first. So pretty!

painting the doghouse

For the playhouse, I started with a coat of spray primer. Painting shiny plastic is tricky… if you can lightly sand the surface to rough it up first, that will help. Definitely make sure to clean the surface thoroughly before painting. Allowing time for the spray paint to cure between coats will also help. I left the primer sit for a day or two and then went back to tape off the top and bottom for spray paint. I ended up using the same latex paint for the middle so I could paint both colors on the same day and not wait for spray paint to set up.

diy dog house

Once everything was painted, it was time to assemble! The four sides and the stairs are all separate so I could easily move them into place and reassemble with 2 1/2 -inch exterior Kreg screws. With the loft all put together, I needed to add the floor. I happened to have some plywood in my garage so I added a 2×4 support beam with pocket holes along the middle of the loft and then cut the plywood to size and screwed it into these joists using finished screws. To make this lofted perch a little cozier, I stapled some artificial turf on top: doggy wall to wall carpet.

doghouse with turf on roof

We had a few parameters for our pet house makeovers: to incorporate some sort of bone, a hydrant and to build something to store toys or treats. My bone is the front doormat. I cut it into a bone shape and spray painted it to match the house.

doghouse diy

I LOVE the toy bin. To create it, I used a white metal bucket with handles and bolted it into the home. To attach it to the underside of the staircase, I used a screw eye into the wood and then a threaded link to hold the bucket in place. Drill a hole in the bottom of the bucket if you’re worried about drainage.

toy bin for dogs

My hydrant is a squeaky toy which isn’t ideal, but after the stairs, I was tired y’all. Other finishing touches? I spray painted a hook for the front to hold their leashes and added an all weather bed to the ‘open concept’ living room downstairs.


The million dollar question is whether they use the loft? Our small dog, Pacey, can get up and down the stairs. He doesn’t use it much but if bribed he’ll go up. Frank is older and a little more cautious with the smaller stairs. But I can tell they’re both really impressed with it.

diy doghouse

If I win, my charity for this playhouse makeover is the North Shore Animal League, the largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization in the world. I rescued my first dog in college and, over the years, I have welcomed three more rescues into my family since then. Our home may be filled with lots of noise and kids and Cheetos, but it’s also filled with lots of love and organizations like the North Shore Animal League make all this possible.


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charlotte smith at charlotte's house
Charlotte Smith
Creator of At Charlotte's House Blog | See more posts by this author

Charlotte Smith shares her chaotic and color-loving adventures in DIY and design on her blog, At Charlotte’s House. Charlotte writes about moving and adjusting into a new rental, her five small children, and bringing personality and style into a family home. Her aesthetic is fun, creative, and… sturdy!  Charlotte has appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, HGTV Magazine, Rachael Ray, Flea Market Flip, and the Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family show. She is a Baked Cheetos taste tester, a Dawson’s Creek lover and a top-knot expert.

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