Exterior & Garden The Victorian House

The Clubhouse

The back of our house has a two-story porch. Beneath the bottom one is a short space that was filled with gardening stuff left for us by the previous owners: plant stakes, watering cans, bags of potting soil, and the like. We were straightening up out back and then it started to rain, so pardon the lack of a zoomed-out photo here, but I wanted to at least snap quick photo so you could get an idea of the space.

Back Porch

Brandon took the kids to IKEA yesterday to pick up a play table and chairs, to turn the storage space into a clubhouse. He chose the MAMMUT series even though he wasn’t nuts about the look of it because it was plastic (to hopefully stand up to the elements) and it looked like it would be fairly stable on uneven ground. I would have researched this to death, so sometimes it’s nice to have someone who just goes and gets something done. He came home, cleared out the space, and set things up.

Kids' Seating in the Clubhouse

It looks a little rough, but it’s safe. No nails sticking out, exposed wires or insulation or anything, and the kids can stand up with a little headroom to spare.

My inclination is to really do it up in there (paint! curtains! string lights!), but of course Eleanor and August love it as it is. Their first rule? “Leave it messy. No cleaning up allowed.” They also made it clear that both food and books can be brought in. Oh, and then there’s the matter of the sign out front.

No Boys Allowed

Eleanor and her friend are both big sisters to sometimes-annoying little brothers, so that’s where that came from. Eleanor later conceded that August can still come in though. And her daddy. And her friend’s little brother. So that leaves out… who, exactly?

The Clubhouse

Have you made a little club/tree/playhouse for your kids? How involved in setting it up did you get? Tell me I’m not the only one that gets the urge to sew little gingham curtains for the inside that would likely not be appreciated.

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  • Julie
    June 10, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    This is awesome! Kudos on resisting the urge to prettify it. As kids we had a “clubhouse” inside a dense stand of pine trees, where the lowest branches were about the height of your porch space. We liked it more than the actual playhouse our grandparents bought us. Other than a kid-size table and chairs, we decorated it with our imaginations! Unfortunately our table was wood and it disintegrated when we forgot to bring it inside one snowy winter.

  • Leah, agirlandaboy (@agirlandaboy)
    June 10, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    My husband brought home a huge crate from work and we turned it into a backyard clubhouse for my boys. I was allowed to weigh in on the paint (fire engine red outside, white inside, but I was given the side-eye when I started talking about “decorations.” We painted the ceiling blue with stars and put a rectangle of astroturf on the floor and then let the boys just do whatever they wanted with it. It’s currently full of “treasures” (aka junk from the yard) and they couldn’t love it more.

  • cathyv
    June 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    As a mother of 3 grown children I say go without any decorations. Your children and their friends will quickly “decorate” it using their imagination and assorted treasures. What a wonderful place for them to have in the yard.
    Just love the idea.

  • Katharine
    June 10, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    My dad had a U-shaped model train setup in our basement, the underside of which was perfect for a secret “clubhouse” space with multiple zones. I remember hanging my mom’s old scarves as dividers and wallpapering with pages from my coloring books. It was the best!

  • Kathryn
    June 10, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I gave mine access to fabric scraps, tape, cardboard,etc and they decorated themselves. They were super proud of it and change it frequently (sometimes with some arguing if one takes down something another has put up).

    • Geneviève
      June 10, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      I vote for that too! We did this when we were kids : it was a “adults free” space and we really had fun making it our own.

      We loved it so much, despite our particular decorating taste. We planted some tree branches, which soon dryed out, attached some neons ribbons on them… and those were the most exquisite decorations ever to us! It wasn’t for the look of them, but because we were proud to have created something all by ourselves.

  • Celeste
    June 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Oh man! this reminds me of my playhouse growing up. It was a 10-year project of my dad’s that didn’t get finished until I was way too old to use it (he is a contractor that does restorations, so he had high hopes for it). But! I loved it in every stage. As a platform, four walls, an unfinished room… I loved bringing my treasures and tools in, where mom had no say in anything. She never came in there, ever. We used milk crates for our chairs and tables for years! It was great.

  • RTBoyce
    June 10, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    my friends down the street had a super-cute decorated playhouse and it was NOT good: full of spiders. sometimes plainer and simpler is better.

  • judy
    June 10, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    You are such a wonderful artist with your water colors-I wonder if you could hang a paint cloth or something paintable and let them create a window or a pirate boat or maybe you could use chalkboard paint on one of the surfaces and they could draw and leave secret messages for each other. They are so smart they’ll come up with wonderful ideas or think its a totally dumb idea. Kids never do what we expect and that’s what makes being a parent so much fun and frustration.

  • Space Sculpt
    June 10, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    This is such a cute space! No wonder your kids love it! It’s always fun to have a clubhouse area. I hope you post pictures when it’s all finished! Thanks for sharing!

  • Lisa
    June 11, 2014 at 8:03 am

    I kinda agree with Eleanor & August (and some of the other commenters) leave it messy! Let it truly be x”their space”, with all the little things that they scavenge, all of their found objects. Although I could see casually leaving things around like string lights and seeing if they pick them up or leave them be for a more “rustic” interpretation.

    While some of the newer designer tree houses are amazing, it’ll be sweet to see what kind of “decorations” they come up with all on their own. Plus…don’t you have, like, forty other rooms to decorate, a trip coming up, oh, and a baby due? LOL!