diy pop-up & fold-flat cardboard playhouse

by mari

Build your own DIY Cardboard Playhouse Kitchen for kids Tutorial How To

This little cardboard playhouse kept us occupied many many mornings last winter. It sat in the midst of our living room, providing the backdrop for taco service, faux naps, blanket rooftops, book-reading, tea parties, blocks, and general mayhem. It’s lasted through all of that with amazing aplomb. I think that’s thanks to it’s former life as a very large HDTV LCD TV Box = extra thick cardboard. Note the built-in handles across the top of the playhouse? Again, thank you HDTV. But the main reason it’s stuck around for so long: it packs flat, folding down to a mere 6″ thick. Which means it can be set up in any configuration to fit the space at hand.

It all began with Product Designer Liya Mairson’s My Space project. I want that thing (Liya, you can send it to me, if you’d like, no really). But I also was so dumbstruck by it’s simple innovation, that I was certain I had to make my own. I drew sketches (badly, on random scraps, or I’d swear I’d share them), I made a little paper model (with several innovations that didn’t make it to the final playhouse), and spent an entire afternoon (5 or 6 hours, give or take a few) crafting it. And yet in the end, it’s far simpler and a bit less bells-and-whistley cool. Why? Because cutting cardboard sucks, and my need for curves and circles was a little ambitious.

I digress. This cardboard playhouse is a favorite DIY project of mine. You don’t even need your own large cardboard LCD TV box, you could simply tape/glue together several smaller boxes (it would make your hinges even better than mine) or buy 4′ x 8′ sheets of fresh cardboard from an art store. The only things you have to include? A door. It’s Birdie’s favorite feature. The half-round window with the pop-down counter was also very important to her, for taco deliveries. My favorite features are the pop-out cabinet and the mini door with the blue awning, but she really doesn’t like those as much. Once again, it just proves that kids priorities are not the beauty, but the functional coolness. (that’s also why she’s wearing a random dress and not the perfectly styled option I had planned for) She’s always teaching me something important like that.

But I still want to design another one of these bad boys. The product designer in me has not been satisfied just yet.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rolaa September 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

This is fab! Have just done my own version of cardboard playhouse but am curious as to how you’ve done the pop-down counter – would really do something similar for ours.. If you don’t mind sharing tips & tricks that is ;-)



2 Miz Big September 13, 2011 at 2:42 pm

yay! So glad you’re making one too!
The counter needs two supports underneath, much like a shelf mounted to the wall. I made my brackets a little fancy, but basically there are 2 slots in the wall beneath the counter, and the brackets slide into those slots. The counter folds down and rests on the portion of the bracket that sticks out from the slots in the wall. I hope that helps!


3 Zzizka January 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm

This is fabulous! Thank you for sharing this. We are going to make this today. The kids are beyond thrilled!


4 Miz Big January 23, 2012 at 8:26 am

Thanks, and I’m thrilled to know your kids are thrilled! Tell us how it turns out!!


5 Anabel May 21, 2012 at 8:27 am

What a wonderful idea.


6 mari May 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Thanks – it was definitely worth the effort!


Leave a Comment

{ 5 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post:

Google+ Tag Code: