We decided to use the empty space in our yard for good – an area for Ella to play and tend to (something she loves doing)
When we moved in, we had an area of the yard that was once dedicated to chickens. It was all fenced off with a cute little picket fence, soft fertilised soil and a mulberry tree. Perfect for something but we could not figure out what.
So four years later and one child later – we realised that we needed to create the perfect space for Ella.
It has taken about 6-9 months in planning to decide exactly what, hunt down the elusive cubby (when we decided we wanted to do a cubby, Kmart had not yet released the new version of the cubby and the old ones were going for about $500 online – untouched in a box as if straight from the store)
Once we realised we wanted to create a little house and yard for Ella, we knew that Christmas was the perfect time to do this. On every occasion (Birthdays & Christmas) we pick one big item (Her birthday was a swing set) and we ask that instead of small, impractical gifts. That everyone pops what they can afford (even if it is only $5) towards one big gift. This stops fights between grandparents, aunties and uncles etc. So it seems practical for us (but everyones families are different)
We had to figure out a way to bring the cubby up off the floor, as this was previously soft soil that occasionally got wet from our reticulation. We didn’t want to wood to Rot away after a few weeks in winter so we had to prepare for this.
My dad and Ellas dad both work in or close to home demolitions, so we were able to get a heap of wood and floorboards from this (and bonus is it was saved from landfill and is 100% structurally sound and no damage)
We had to build a frame and cement it in to make sure it was able to bear weight and be slightly off the floor (so it Is level and prevents rot)
Below are some photos, we also took the fence down and re put it up during this build as the fence was not secure after years of neglect (oops) – I will be repainting the fence now that it is fixeded
Please excuse the dirty BBQ – we had just cooked dinner on it when I took the photo (im not good at staging a photo haha)
Cubby House Prep and Paint
*This is just what we used, your needs may be different and you do not have to use the exact products*
If you have a good spray paint gun (unlike our cheap one that didn’t work) I suggest using that for the front as it is a fair amount of work for brushes)
What we used
- Kmart Cubby ($199)
- 4 L Walpamur Low Sheen Blockout UV Paint (White)
- 4 L Walpamur Low Sheen Blockout UV Paint ( Dulux Colour: Endless Dusk )
- Cheap Roller & Tray (For Inside)
- 3 Pack of Cheap Paint Brushes
- Small Brush (I substituted for an unused concealer brush as it was 11pm when I realised I needed this)
- Painters Tape
- Seashell Door Handle (Bunnings)
Once we went and got all of this, I thought that 8L of paint seemed a bit reckless – but this cubby house EATS paint! I have maybe 1/8th of my grey tin and 1/2 of my white tin left.
The Actual Painting
I learnt this the hard way, paint the inside of the cubby house first and remove the door handle if you are replacing it! It has small cracks in the wood that leak paint through to the front. This can be avoided with painting the inside first and then a light quick sand IF any leaked (the ones I painted inside first didn’t have any leaks but the one I painted outside first had a large drip leak under the window)
I didn’t believe it but four coats later I was finally achieving the look of the paint I wanted (and I could no longer see the wood though the paint – it was a flat even coverage at four coats)
So four coats later and I was ready to turn it all over. I chose to paint the cubby as a whole in the grey (minus the roof) as I planned to do the trimming and roof in white later. This was easy to do with the brush, as the tight areas and dips in the wood meant I had to get right into all the cracks and crevices.
Keep in mind the windows and roof window are all plastic, so if you get paint on them this is where the turps and a rag comes in handy as it just wipes off – making that part so easy.
Once it was all grey, I then taped up ready for the trim (get a good quality tape and double tape that – first one push into all the crevices and the second one line up again the trim to protect the bits I wanted grey (at this point I had maybe done 25 hours of painting) The taping is something I wish I could redo as I didn’t follow my own advice up there!
*Hot tip – if you are painting the trim. Leave all the smaller planks of wood and just paint them the trim colour from the start to avoid double handling like me.
Paint away at the trim with a medium (well the smallest one in the cheap 3 pack but not your super small brush as thats for any minor touch ups) make sure you get the outside and inside (about 2 coats maybe three depending on your colour – as I chose white three was needed)
Let the paint dry and peel the tape off a few hours later and sit there all satisfied (such a good feeling)
Now you will be able to see if the paint needs any touch ups – so pull out that mini brush and touch up until your life content. But keep it clean and dry as you may find areas you missed on the build!
Add your door handle (we totally forgot about that soooooooooooo I had to hack the door handle off with a screw driver as the paint made it stick like glue!)
Clean, Build and Decorate
So now the fun bits!
Clean up those windows as personally I found it so satisfying! I could have sat there all night wiping away paint (maybe that was the turps high talking)
Once you have it all clean, you are ready to build. So go get that power drill (if you haven’t got one that is okay. It is super easy to build. Ours was up within 10 mins with a drill)
The instructions were a little overwhelming at first but once I got into the groove it was so easy (and quick!)
We got a fake vine from Bunnings so Ella didn’t have to look at “fence” which we will be getting a second to go down to floor level. We strung up lights above the cubby and on the fence. Added some cheap potted colour to her garden beds. One thing we have not done yet is add flowers to the planter boxes – but that is coming.