Special Nonexistent Furniture

by Dana Miller

Dana is the author of the blog, House*Tweaking, where she shares the never-ending journey of transforming her underdog house into a stylish and livable home. Recently, she quit her reputable job as a pharmacist to be a stay-at-home mom and pursue a career in design. Her handy hubby is her sidekick and they have three young kiddos who keep things interesting—and LOUD.

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  • Photo: Dana Miller
  • I recently had the opportunity to fix up the old clubhouse from my childhood days for my kids and their cousins. After 20 years, the structure is still in good condition, but it needed some general cleanup and a few furnishings to make it a desirable spot to play.
  • Photo: Dana Miller
  • I removed dry rotted swings and replaced them with a pair of hammock chair swings. They're so comfortable! I hung them from springs so the kids can bounce or swing. They're the perfect spot to spend an afternoon listening to sounds of nature or reading a book.
  • Photo: Dana Miller
  • After some thorough cleaning, I painted the interior a green-gray hue. It's perfect for camouflaging dirt in an outdoor kids' playhouse. I really wanted the view to take center stage, so I kept furnishings to a minimum. A pair of metal folding cots give the kids a soft place to dream—day or night. When not in use, they're easily stashed in a corner away from the elements. (The bedding is stored safe from the elements in a plastic tote.)

    ​In the future, I'd like to install actual windows but, until then, net canopies minimize bug bites during sleepovers. I didn't want the space to feel overly decorated, so I displayed rocks and wildflowers that the kids gathered on one of our many nature walks.
  • Photo: Dana Miller
  • To keep the floor open for play, I installed a shelf (salvaged from the renovation of our own home) below the window. It holds books, nature journals, and solar-powered lamps.
  • Photo: Dana Miller
  • I made a grid with washi tape and laid some small wooden letters (both found at the craft store) on the shelf for impromptu games of tic-tac-toe.
  • Photo: Dana Miller
  • I created the DIY red cross art using an old canvas I had on hand. It previously displayed a leaf motif and hung in the nursery of our previous home, but I hadn't found a use for it since moving—until now! I simply gave it a few coats of white paint then drew up the plus sign and painted it bright red. It gives the clubhouse an army bunk vibe, and I love how it pops off the green-gray walls.
  • Photo: Dana Miller
  • I painted a sliver of wall between two studs with chalkboard paint to give the kids an interactive drawing surface. Chalk is stashed in a small tin bucket on the floor. A soft cooler bag hangs from a hook and is great for quick snacks and bottles of water.
  • Photo: Dana Miller
    My husband rigged up a bucket dumbwaiter and it's the kids' favorite feature. It's pretty convenient, too. I used it to lift the cots up into the clubhouse since they wouldn't fit through the trap door entrance.

    ​Before, the forgotten clubhouse was rarely used. Now, my kids are begging for weekly sleepovers. If this keeps up, I might be tempted to give the exterior more attention!

    See more of Dana's home projects:

    5 Tips for a Functional Workspace
    How to Organize Kids' Bookshelves
    Modern Entryway Makeover
    How to Create a Cozy Bedroom

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