Step-by-Step Cardboard Playhouse

My mom recently called me with one purpose: to tell me that she got a new IKEA couch. She had saved the enormous box specifically for me, knowing she could count on me to turn it into something fun for her grandkids. She knows me almost too well – so does my husband. That’s why when we went to family dinner the following Sunday, he wasn’t too surprised to find himself rearranging the minivan and shoving a ten foot box into the back of it. We had to fold it and break it down a bit, but eventually we got it all home.

I considered creating a castle or a boat, but after much scrolling and pinning I decided to create a little cardboard village. I narrowed in on an eclectic little home, a modern large library with a bookshelf inside, and a little grocery market. I know I can’t knock this all out at the same time, but I plan to build on it over time since I have the cardboard for it! Here are a couple of the cardboard playhouses that inspired this project:

We have a split-level home with a long, narrow downstairs space that needs a lot of beautifying work. It has been a wonderful sensory play space for the kids. I am working on cleaning out some furniture down there that doesn’t get enough use for the space it’s taking up. Besides, where will the cardboard village reside if silly couches are in the way? Until I have enough space for it all, I decided to start with the little house.

I did half of this project outside in the shade while the kids played in the plastic pool and sandbox. I finished the rest of it one evening after they went to bed. I think it took me a total of 3-4 hours. Below, I’ve given you a materials list and then broken it down for you in steps.

MATERIALS:

  • Large pieces of cardboard

  • Duct tape

  • Measuring tape

  • Box cutter and blades

  • Spray adhesive

  • Fabric (large enough pieces to cover the sides of your playhouse)

  • Hot glue and sticks

  • Other embellishments such as a cabinet knob, paint, or fake flowers

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Lay your large pieces of cardboard out, and cut two rectangles of the same width and height. Mine happened to be 25″x34″, but you can work with whatever size cardboard you have.

  2. Cut out two more rectangular pieces with a triangle on top that are the same size (this should look like a pentagon or sides of a house). The height of all four pieces need to be the same, but these two can be narrower or wider than the previously cut rectangles, depending on how wide or narrow you want your house. I used the measuring tape to be sure the triangle was centered. My pieces measured 34″x34″, and my triangle was 14″ high from the top of the rectangle.
  3. Cut out your windows and door using the box cutter.

  4. Cover each side of the house with fabric. I used spray adhesive to do this, and it worked well. I used different colors of fabric for each side, only because I didn’t have enough fabric in my scrap bin to do it all the same. You could also use paint, wallpaper, or just let your kids color it!

  5. Duct tape all four walls together. I had to crawl inside and have my husband hold each wall for me to tape the seams shut. In some areas I used hot glue to reinforce the seams.

  6. Cut a rectangle for the roof, fold it, and hot glue it on. Add shingles if you would like. This was the most time consuming part, but they turned out so cute. I just cut out rectangles and used hot glue to attach them.

  7. Add embellishments. I added painted window frames, curtains, a cabinet knob for a door knob, and window flower boxes with fake flowers.

In one week this little house has been a flower shop, a puppet stage, and a market. Every stuffed animal in the house has been inside and it has been played with way more hours than it took creating it. I call that a win! I will update this post once the rest of the village is created.

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