Evelyn and Lucia's Tea House Playhouse

My Great Outdoors

Names: Jill, Brynan, Evelyn (3) and Lucia (1)
Location: Minneapolis, MN

I set out to design an open ended playhouse for our daughters. I also wanted a play space outside of the structure with multiple different types of play areas. The playhouse is inspired by a Japanese tea house.

Some of these elements include a wandering path, a small entrance that one has to crawl in to enter, a circle window, lattice, and long horizontal window looking over a rock garden. Most of these elements from a Japanese tea house were used because of their playful attributes and not for traditional meanings. The front of the play house extends a bit like a porch to sit on, particularly for grown ups to sit without needing to duck. The circle window is also a sundial. This is one of my favorite parts of the design as the show is centered on the house at noon. This is nice for me to know what time is it to coordinate lunchtime when we are outside playing. I know I could wear a watch but this is much more fun for me!

The rock garden consists of small pea pebbles and instead of larger rocks I used tree stumps. The pea pebbles offer a play medium and the stumps offer a surface to play on. There is also a sandbox offering another textural element for play. There is a path leading from the rock area to underneath the hedge canopy for a secluded play area. We needed to build a small wall to level the rock area and beyond that we have rocks and mulch with plantings that can be played around, on and within. I intended the front floor structure to be off the ground plane a bit more but I didn't realize how much our yard sloped.

We do have tea in this house and one day I would like to teach my daughters a traditional tea ceremony (which I enjoyed while traveling in Japan). We also like to go out there to sing songs and play together. The girls like climbing in and out of it. They love to sweep the floor and bring all of their doll items out to the house and sit and play for along time. The rocks and sand occupy them as well. I foresee this as a great stage someday. I think the playhouse will support creative play as the children grow older. I'm glad we spent the time and money on this as we were just going to buy a playhouse from Costco.

Thanks Jill - what a wonderful, inspiring project!

(Re-edited from a post originally published 10.18.10 - NM)

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As Apartment Therapy's Family Editor, Carrie covers design and modern homelife with children. A lapsed librarian, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two kids and is in contention to break the record for most hours spent at the playground.