How to Build a Cardboard Playhouse

Every time I come in possession of a very large box, I can’t help but start thinking about different ways to hack it into something super exciting and fun for me the kids to play with.  Forgive me.  I used to be a package designer.  Ok, so maybe this isn’t an actual step-by-step tutorial, per se, since boxes come in all shapes and sizes.  However, it does give you an idea of how I built a cardboard McMansion out of the box that I had so that someday, you too can get creative with a box that you have.  And if you happen to buy the Erin Cute-as-A-Button Loveseat from WorldMarket, well then, you’re in luck!  This post was written especially for you!


Let’s Get Started!

Here is what you need:
  • One Large Kid-Sized Box
  • Box Cutter or Xacto Knife
  • Glue Gun
  • Metal Ruler
  • Pencil
  • You will also need about 8 hours of time to waste.  (And by 8 hours, I mean 3 hours of actual construction time and 5 hours spent getting distracted by kids fighting over who gets to play in the house first.)


Alright, so here we have a giant box, courtesy of the loveseat that I just bought.  It is a long horizontal box with flaps located at the top and bottom.  I turned the box on its side, so that it became a tall, vertical, kid-sized box.



Next, I cut out the roof line.  Be sure to cut it off in one piece and save the scrap, as it will come in handy later.



Build out the rest of the house:


  1. Kick out the side and bottom flaps of one side of the house to increase square footage and curb appeal.
  2. Extend the roofline by cutting the off the corners of the side flaps.
  3. Remember that piece you just saved?  Shove it back in as shown.  This is now the side of your house (and from the inside, it is also a table!)  Use the hot glue gun to attach it to the flaps.  (Note:  Hot glue is HOT.  Don’t give yourself a second degree burn like I did.)
  4. Usually, a box this size comes with lots of extra cardboard and packing material inside.  I used the spare cardboard to fashion a roof.  If your box didn’t come with extra cardboard, just go to your attic and steal the box that holds your Christmas decorations or something.
  5. Start marking out where you want the door and windows.


Add details to the house:

Trim Detail

If you want to keep it simple, just cut the door and windows out with the box cutter and be done with it.  If you are an overachiever like me, you can add trim to the windows and door.  Here’s how:
Previously, I mentioned how there was extra cardboard and packing material that came inside the box to protect the loveseat.  Some of the cardboard was super flimsy and not at all structural in nature, but it was easy to cut with scissors and perfect to use for detailing the house.  I used a salad plate to trace out a circular window, sketched in a grid and cut out the trim.  Then I glued the trim to the house and used it as a template to cut out the window holes with the box cutter.
You can also add other fun details like a chimney, mailbox or window box!  I used the smaller boxes that held the fasteners and feet to my loveseat to make these.  However, any small box will do the trick!



I don’t know what’s cuter – the house or the Cute-as-A-Button Loveseat!



Hopefully, I gave you a pretty good idea on how I made this.  If you have any questions, feel free to post it in the comments.
Have fun with it!  I know I did, despite the 2nd degree burn and the kids romping around in it as I was constructing it.
Oh, and don’t forget.  Build it where you intend to put it.  I intended to put ours in the playroom, but I built it in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it is too big to fit up the stairs, much less through any doorways, so in the kitchen it remains until the kids rough-house it to pieces.



Categories: Blog

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  1. Terri March 31, 2016 | Reply
    I love this!! I used your house as a model to make one for my granddaughters!!! Thanks for the inspiration!!!
  2. Loving it! January 12, 2017 | Reply
    I'm truly inspired! I want to make a gingerbread house using this shape. Thanks for sharing.

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