Friday, January 2, 2015

House of Ella

Some time last summer I had a wild idea to change the odd storage space under our stairs into a sweet playhouse for the little lady. It measures about 6 feet long, 4 feet wide and only 4 feet tall. The only thing stored in there was a scrap of carpet the builder left behind for repairs. The useless dead space in the back of the coat closet was about to have a new lease on life.


Of course there were a few logistical issues with the space. While it was full carpeted and painted, it had no power source and no lighting other than the single bulb near the front of the coat closet. Because the ceiling is so low, a normal light would be dangerously hot. After much research, battery powered LED motion detector lights solved the light and electricity issue. Now onto the fun stuff...outfitting this tiny space as a dream playhouse.

The heart of any home is the kitchen. I shopped around for something not too tall, not too wide, and made of wood, but came up with options $200 and over. Then the crazy level in my brain hit a new high! Build my own, I thought! It will be easy, I thought! Ha! I had a ton of scrap wood left over from other projects cluttering up the garage. I sketched out some plans on a piece of paper, using Ana White's plans as a starting point, but customizing it to fit the space and the wood I had on hand. I have to admit, building this was fun. I got to use my power tools, imagination, and clean out my garage at the same time! Here's a couple pics of the process.

And the after...

While I didn't spend any money on the wood, I did have to buy the accessories, which totaled about $60. Those included oven knobs, hinges, stove top burners (painted wooden disks), oven handle, oven racks (cookie cooling racks!), sink bowl, facet, plexiglass, paint and fabric. The "tile" back splash is just scrapbook paper mod-podged onto to a wooden panel. A lot goes into a tiny kitchen! I love the result and it fits so much better than any prefab one would have. 

Now the rest of the house. 

Disclaimer: The wide angle lens make objects appear larger than they really are. No wonder real estate agents use them to photograph houses! But it was the only way I could get the whole room in the frame. Please also excuse the lighting. Its challenging to photograph such a small space with no natural light and only 6 bright white LED's!

Storage is at a premium in a tiny house, so I decided that I could use the dead space under the first section of stairs to build a recessed shelf. It's 8 inches deep and gives her somewhere to put baskets full of felt food (yes, I made that too!). I wish I could have reclaimed that space as part of the room, but the distance between the studs was to small for comfortable access. The shelf was a perfect solution, although it kills me to know there's almost 10 square feet of space back there! 

The table and chairs are the ever popular LATT set from Ikea ($20!). Of course I painted them red and added a chevron cushion to the seats. A matching pillow was covered for the existing red chair (the color inspiration for the whole room) that used to reside in her bedroom.  The bookshelf was an internet score. I got two of these brand new 4 foot long Pottery Barn shelves for only $25. I think they retail for something like $60 each! I still have one for future use. 

You may be wondering about the wall that separates the closet from the playroom. I thought about this for quite some time, waffling between a fabric wall, or an actual framed wood wall with a sliding barn door. I'm so glad I settled on the fabric because it made access for adult-sized people a lot easier! It also took away the permanence of the playhouse for the future homeowners. 

It's made from durable duck cloth, clear vinyl shower curtain, and hung with a tension rod. There were a few nights of cutting, sewing and wrestling the tough duck cloth, but it was still easier than building a wall. The awning is also duck cloth painted with white stripes and hung with a couple 1x2's.

The view from the closet door reveals a secret hideaway.

The project was started in mid-August and finally finished Christmas Eve, mostly because I procrastinated on the little finishing details and made boat loads of felt food! The end result was a "Wow, so pretty", on Christmas morning from a very happy 2 year old.