Guest Blogger #793, Entry #1881, November 29, 2012
Children have a wonderful sense of imagination that allows them to sew together the fabric of an entirely made-up world to drape over reality. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can stick them in a barren backyard and expect them to amuse themselves all day. Kids are keen to take in everything the world has to offer, soaking up the sights, sounds, smells and information that will teach them how to act and interact with their environment and the people in it. And to some degree they can definitely use what they already know to extrapolate pretend scenarios. But the more sensory stimuli you feed them, the more they can develop.
Image via: Keith Willig Landscape
Choose ideal landscaping and toys to play with
So aside from setting up a backyard play space that is beautifully landscaped with flora and fauna that blooms in a riot of color throughout the year and attracts all kinds of insects and wildlife, you may want to add some toys that are specifically geared towards creating an environment that encourages your kids to play. And if a playhouse is on your list, here are a few design tips to help you make it perfect for your growing children.
Plan an area by the size and age of your children
The first thing to consider is the size of your kids. It’s not as though you’re going to build a full-size house for them in the backyard, and you don’t need to. A one-room structure is probably sufficient and since your kids are small you can create an environment that suits their stature. They’ll no doubt be delighted if you include chairs, tables, and other surfaces that they can easily reach for a change (as opposed to the adult-sized world they’re subjected to in the house). Of course, you may want to allow for a bit of growth so that they can use it for many years to come, but you don’t necessarily need to lay out a floor plan that will last them through their teen years, for example.
Image via: Rudger Landscapes
How will the play structure be used
The next thing you should consider is how the structure is going to be used. Is it merely a playhouse for warm, summer days, or do you want it to be a functional space for kids to play throughout the year? Do you want your children to be able to camp out with friends? Will they use it for projects other than imaginative play, such as arts and crafts? The uses you have in mind for this play space could have a marked impact on how far you take the design process. If you want it to remain functional year-round you might have to include insulation and heating options. And if you’d like to let kids camp out you might consider adding a sleeping area (cots or mattresses). As for setting up an area for arts and crafts, you’ll want to think about including storage space and other amenities.
You might be surprised at how pricy average wooden playhouses can be, but when you consider what some of them offer it’s really not that shocking. Just because the one you had as a kid was cobbled together from bits of spare wood your dad had in the garage doesn’t mean your children have to get the same treatment. The wooden playhouse you design for your kids can be as simple or complex as you choose; some even feature running water and electricity. The sky is the limit, so don’t restrict your imagination. Your kids certainly won’t when they play there.
For more playhouse ideas on Stagetecture, click here.