DIY Tutorials · Built That

DIY under the stairs play nook

My list of house projects and dreamy ideas runs lonnnnnng. Occasionally the list is shaken up with a spontaneous ‘I didn’t know I needed this but I MUST DO IT RIGHT THIS INSTANT’ project. Thats exactly what happened with our under the stairs play nook that we have dubbed the HofE Clubhouse.

In our home we had this area that sits in a nook at the base of our stairs that we were using as a catch all, landing zone for bags and coats and things. The door to the left is the entry to the large narrow closet space that spans the entire run of the staircase.

That space is where random junk and holiday decor lived. One day I decided this space would be much more useful as a fun play area for our son! And I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so we upped the priority on this surprise project and got to planning.

My plan was to work on this alcove space for phase 1 of the “exterior” of the clubhouse. The inside was clean, carpeted, and a blank slate so it will be a breeze to organize in phase 2.

Initial design ideas had me wanting a simple all black vertical lath look. It looked good on paper so we went for it. We cut out the new tiny door way in between studs and framed it out before moving forward with getting the lath boards on the walls. It was looking good at first.

Then, I realized I wasn’t in love with the look.  But I was going to give it a chance and see where it went.  Projects typically have an ugly duckling phase before they get pretty!

I went ahead with primer and paint, giving the design the benefit of the doubt.

I hated it.

The lath looked messy once it was painted.  It was not the refined look I was going for.  This would have been a great rustic look for an outdoor playhouse, just wasn’t what I wanted here.

The boy didn’t care, he loved his new play space.

Back to the drawing board I went, and demo happened again.

At this point we were well into the summer, past our 2 weekend deadline, and going to go over our $100 budget.  And that was ok with me!  If something doesn’t feel right, why live with it?  I knew if I talked myself into keeping the clubhouse the way it was, I was going to hate seeing it everyday coming down those stairs.  Yes we spent a lot of time and energy up until that point but nothing is ever a waste.  It gave me something to learn from.  We made the decision to start over in order to achieve what we really wanted out of this project.

Back to Home Depot we went!

With our walls being heavily textured we knew in order to get the walls super smooth we were going to need to add that layer. This ultra thin layer of plywood was inexpensive and just what we needed.

We cut the ply to fit all the way around the alcove and started trimming it out with 1″x2″ boards.

Things were already looking much much better!

We got the doorway back in and baseboards 

Caulking and nail hole filling can be a tedious part projects but they are worth all the time spent.

We used some leftover shiplap boards for the pitched roof line and topped it all the way around with more 1″x2″ boards to create a ledge.  

Clubhouse 2.0 was turning out exactly like I had hoped!

Time to prime.

A very important step in prepping any project for paint.  Use a good primer!

I knew I wanted a green palette this time for the walls. 

 With a little help from my Instagram pals I was able to narrow down the perfect shade of olive green.

Behr’s Black Bamboo was the clear winner.

And it was good!

I ended up doing 3 coats of paint to get the coverage I wanted.

I went with black for the ledges up top and also the baseboards. 

Now, we did not run any new electrical here.  But we put a sconce light up!  How you ask?  Using a simple puck light hack from Nesting With Grace, I used a batter powered puck light glued to the inside of the sconce light.  No wiring needed!  

Perfectly safe for little hands and even fun for my son to be able to turn the light on himself.

Not only is the porch light intended for kids, but the decorative porch plant is faux so that no child or plant can be harmed in anyway.  I added some thrifted vintage brass house numbers to the top.  It was the perfect detail. I was happy that I had the courage to step back and say no, this isn’t bringing me joy, lets do it again.  It gave us this amazing finished project that I am even more proud of now.  Don’t be afraid to make hard decisions.  

Here is the time-lapse video from ugly start of 1.0 to the amazing finish with our 2.0 do over. 

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