Looking to build the perfect home (not so far) away from home for your little ones to enjoy and make marvelous memories in? Here’s how to create a mini haven that inspires their creativity and adds style to your backyard.

Let there be light

The relatively small size of a cubbyhouse interior can make for a dark space. Providing large windows or doors — like this sliding barn door (left) — brings in natural light. You can also make the most of any sunlight using clear plastic sheeting to create a skylight on the roof.

Encourage creativity

Given play time is all about letting their imaginations run wild, painting an internal or external wall with chalkboard paint means children can draw on the walls to their hearts’ content (or perhaps play schools or create a pop-up café), then start afresh the next day.

Choose colours that won’t show up the dirt

Using a darker paint, such as the charcoal used on the above design by Melbourne-based , means less-frequent cleaning than a lighter shade that’ll show up any dirt. Add a fun pop of colour with a pink door, or create a lighter overall appearance by using white paint on windowsills or fencing.

Incorporate the great outdoors

Add planter boxes to the exterior of your cubbyhouse and plant fresh herbs, strawberries or vegetables to encourage kids to develop green thumbs (and an appetite for healthy snacks).

Choose your materials carefully

If building is not your bag, there are plenty of prefabricated cubbyhouses made from natural, chemical-free materials that you can put together with little fuss. If you prefer to DIY, ensure the materials are durable and chemical-free. Try recycled materials such as corrugated iron and timber.

Keep safety in mind

Take care to sand sharp edges and rough areas to prevent splinters (and check the cubby’s condition on a regular basis — this is also a good time to flush out any spiders). If you’ve decided to build
a fort-style cubby, to allow for a slide and sandpit underneath, ensure the structure and building materials are sturdy enough to support the house.

Maintain your neighbours’ privacy

Reduce the risk of complaints by keeping the roof of your cubby lower than your fence. If you are keen on a fort-style cubby that will peep over, talk to your neighbours first and ensure it complies with council regulations. Facing any windows, doors, decking or slides towards your own yard and home will mean no-one feels overlooked — and it will direct the inevitably loud noises that come with kid play towards your house instead. As a bonus, this will make it easier to supervise from your back door. 

Create extra playing space with decking and a mini verandah

Avoid overcrowding inside your cubbyhouse by creating a decked or paved undercover verandah. This design by Castle and Cubby shows how it doubles the weatherproof play space. Neither last nor least, include your children in the design process — while their ideas may be wild and wacky, a little creativity means they can feel a sense of ownership in their new abode before it’s even ready for its housewarming tea party!

Related: How to clean and maintain your deck

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