Although we loved many things about our Handmade Home from the start, our backyard wasn’t one of them. It’s long but very narrow, so a jungle gym or swing-set just wouldn’t look right.
Shortly after we moved in, I noticed that one of our neighbours had a slide coming off their back deck, so I promptly copied them. It was such a great idea!
We bought an eight-foot yellow “wave slide” from the home improvement store, bolted it to the edge of our deck, and turned the railing into a gate with a latch.
At the time, our kids were very little, and we wanted to keep them from zooming off the deck if we weren’t on the grass to supervise them.
It was a simple project, but we’ve gotten so many compliments on it — sometimes just strangers who are walking past our house! It’s used year-round, too. The kids slide it, run it, walk it, turn it into a waterslide, and even slip down it when it’s covered with snow and ice.
But after a couple of summers of enjoying the slide, I was sick of staring at the overhang of the deck. I decided we could do something fun with that part of the deck, too. After all, it wasn’t doing anything more than serving as a patch of gravel to store our ladder. It could be … a clubhouse!
The kids loved the idea, so we all trekked out to buy wood. We used 2x4s to build a simple frame, and screwed on sheets of plywood to make the walls. We looked into several kinds of wood, including cool panels that would have made it look like a log cabin, but ended up going with the cheapest option ($25 per sheet).
I grabbed a ruler and a pencil to sketch out two windows and a doorway, and Michael drilled a couple of holes in the corners so he could get the jigsaw in place. Once the door and windows were cut out, he trimmed them with some scrap wood to make everything look more finished.
After the kids went to bed that night, I slipped outside for the paint job: two coats of stain for the walls (“Autumn Brown” in Sico’s semi-transparent exterior stain) and three coats of untinted white semi-gloss for the trim.
It was a beautiful evening without any bugs, but I did learn the difficult lesson that if you go out in grungiest painting clothes and no makeup — even if it’s almost totally dark outside — all of your neighbours will wander over to chat.
The finishing touch was letting the kids decorate the interior walls with squeezable bottles of neon poster paint. It took days for all of the drips and splatters to dry, but they were psyched to have a chance to go crazy and paint their “house” any way they liked.
The kids have been so happy with the newest addition to our back deck, and love zooming down the slide and running straight into the clubhouse to hide.
Sometimes it’s a secret fort, other times it’s a castle or a dungeon, and it’s become their favourite they’ll-never-find-us-here spot during Hide and Seek.
Hmmm. Now maybe it’s time to build myself a cozy little “She Shed.”