Our Own Hotel California: Playhouse for Big Kids

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Right now we are all about building forts in our house-under tables, between chairs, in corners, behind the couch-anywhere that you can drape a blanket is ripe for a flimsy, architectural hideaway. Some of our constructions look like teepees, some look like caves, some just look like big messes of pillows, blankets and tutus. My girls love hanging out in these makeshift palaces-they are great places for reading books, playing music, eating snacks, and pretending to sleep. (Note: While actual sleep is not fun at all, pretending to sleep is, for whatever reason, a total gas.)


Because my oldest daughter, who is almost three, is so into building forts, my husband decided she needed a playhouse. We don't have a huge backyard, so he opted to go subterranean and make use of the space under our deck-transforming a dark dirt pile into what is essentially a baby bunker.


Our super talented friend Josh drew up some plans and built it for us-mostly from found objects and salvaged wood. The result is pretty much the most awesome DIY space for a 36-inch person ever: a split-level clubhouse with a tiny screen door you can slam shut, real windows that open and close, a reading nook, flower boxes and a mail slot. The mail slot alone is good for hours of fun. Though, not so fun, is cleaning mango out of the mail slot. (Turns out my daughter and her pals have already mastered the concept of food delivery.)

All the kids love the new playhouse, which is expected-after all, it's a place built just for them (although it is certainly not anything Little Tikes would sell). But what surprises me is how much adults are into it; it seems every time my husband's friends come over, I find them hunched over, hanging out in the playhouse. These men sprawl their lanky frames out on the playhouse floor, dawdling and daydreaming over a few beers, edging the toddlers out. It just goes to show that no matter how old you are, you still need a hideout, a secret headquarters for you and your pals. (Apparently, the house above the playhouse doesn't cut it.

The almost-three-year-olds are all talk about spending the night in the playhouse this summer, but I think some of the grownups might actually do it. And I hope so, since our Hotel California is way more "Peaceful, Easy Feeling" than most five-star accommodations.

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