Adults Allowed: A Poolside Playhouse Makes Room for All
Among interior designer Arlene Lord’s treasured projects that she has worked on isn’t a big, fancy house with luxury furnishings. It’s a 70-square-foot playhouse for four grandkids in a suburb south of Portland, Oregon.
But this is not your average child-friendly space. Knotty pine interiors, HardiePlank siding, lively accessories, a front porch and professional landscaping make this the envy of adults also. In fact, Lord had older kids and grown-ups in head when she redesigned the distance, which makes it adaptable for growing children.
An extra-tall door nearly eliminates ducking. Whitewashed walls produce a neutral background for fun splashes of color. And cushions and bedding can be swapped out for more adult-leaning styles in the future. The approach needs to have worked. While the kids use the space frequently — they all slept there last Christmas Eve — among the homeowners often gathers inside the playhouse with her girlfriends for a glass of wine.
The playhouse sat awkwardly in the backyard and was in the way of a future addition to the main house. The customers — she is retired; he’s an accountant — were searching only to give the exterior a brand new paint job, but when Lord said that it was difficult to duck down into the playhouse, the idea of doing a complete remodel was first born.
“It was originally kind of dowdy,” says Lord. “It was adorable — normal cedar shingles, HardiePlank siding — but nothing special. It wasn’t employed for the longest period.”
AFTER: They jumped the playhouse to the rear of the property at the end of a lap pool, which makes it feel like its own little universe. (The speech numbers match those of the main home, with the addition of”1/2.”)
A taller doorway makes the space more accessible, larger windows bring more light and views in, and also a brand new porch adds outside living space that expands the size of the playhouse.
Exterior paint: Shark Fin, Benjamin Moore; trim: Icing, Rodda
The deck is a composite material that runs into the home to make up the new floors; the rail is a fiberglass vinyl that’s practically maintenance free.
Lord picked out the massive rock for the initial step leading to the porch. The front door is actually two side lights from a regular-size house door.
“The approach was we needed it to be more lively but not too far removed from the rear patio by the pool,” Lord says. “We needed a subdued house color and let the doors inside color pop”
Door: Rejuvenation; deck: Timbertech, color: Walnut Grove; light: Lamps Plus
The spouse had a set of crystal doorknobs in a drawer just waiting to be used. When she showed them to Lord, the designer thought they were totally excellent for the playhouse.
Door paint: Childhood Crush, Miller Paint
The interior was all knotty pine, which Lord maintained. She removed the banister to provide easier access to the loft and replaced all of the windows and floor.
AFTER: To maintain the character but lighten the distance, Lord brought in Lorie Wolff of One Horse Studio to whitewash the interior.
There are three beds; a classic down cot mat folds out for a fourth bed. The beds are antiques that were once in an orphanage; they were retrofitted as extra-long twin-size beds with custom mats covered in durable fabric.
Bedding: Filling Spaces; owls: Alberta Street Owls; upholstered mattresses: The Workroom; light: Lamps Plus; head- and footboards: Justin and Burks
AFTER: A brand new casement window opens for ventilation. Due to space limitations, one twin mattress has two headboards and the other has two footboards.
Window therapy: The Workroom; light: Lamps Plus
Lord and her customers wanted the distance decorated but maintaining a lively spirit. “The homeowner basically stores for a pastime, so that there was a whole lot to pull from,” Lord says.
Tchotchkes: Anthropologie; torso: Stars Antiques
Lord tends to the new flower bed.
Chairs: Terrain; cushions: custom made with Kravit fabric, The Workroom
Minor electrical upgrades were added to accommodate interior lamps and landscape lighting round the playhouse.
Lord says exactly the same fundamentals of her work on full-size houses applied to the playhouse. “However, this was just a lot more fun, since the entire thing was about whimsy,” she says. “We headed with whimsy, then thought about sensible. It’s often the other way round. It was really enjoyable to be able to play with that juxtaposition of incorporating color and texture and playfulness, all of the while understanding four small kids are using it.”
On the team: BC Custom Homes
Landscape layout: Mario Navarro, Distinctive Landscaping & Design