Growing up, there was always the one house we went to much more than the others – as I’m sure is the case for most people. It wasn’t ever a matter of which kid on the block was the most popular, but, instead, a matter of which kid had the coolest place to play. I mean if Billy just had your standard basement with four walls and a ceiling and Johnny had a basement with ping pong and air hockey and a closet that led us to Narnia, you can bet that Billy was going to get stood up after school (no offense, Billy).
Seriously, though – I can vividly remember my parents getting an air hockey table in 6th grade and for a solid two weeks I thought, “YES, this is it! Everybody has realized I’m not weird and awkward, I’m actually the coolest.” Then of course Allison down the street got a pool installed and my bubble of popularity was burst just in time for my awkward teenage years. Thanks for nothing, non-pool buying parents!!!
Needless to say, reminiscing about my own growing pains and lack of coolness made me wonder: what cool play spaces are available today? Lucky for me (and for us all), the design world always has something up its sleeve. As it turns out, playhouses have gotten even cooler (at least in my adult opinion) than air hockey tables. You can now get backyard playhouses inspired by famous architects such as Le Corbusier, Toyo Ito and Mies van der Rohe.
The fresh take on playhouses comes from David Lamolla Kristiansen, a Barcelona-based architect. Speaking candidly with FastCo Design, Kristiansen says that he was first inspired to build playhouses after his daughter was born. He wanted to find something to put in their garden, a space she could call her own for play, but was disappointed with the existing options. Specifically he says, “all of the options in the market were just very old-fashioned.”
Kristiansen’s designs are certainly a standout from the traditional, but aside from the aesthetics, the designer is most proud of their practicality. They are “waterproof, elevated from the ground, and feature special security features, such as cushioning around the door jams to prevent children from pinching their fingers.” Kristiansen speaks to the design, saying:
“I don’t think our playhouses are better designed, they’re just different from other options. They are resistant, secure, and made with passion.”
But truthfully, Kristiansen is totally underselling. His playhouses have carpeting, designer curtains and track lighting.
The playhouses, made of birch plywood, require some assembly – but they do come with insulates roofs, water drainage pipes, and a layer of gravel over the top that can be turned into a rooftop garden. His playhouses (some of which are two stories) are sold from his Etsy shop and online via his store name, SmartPlayhouse.
As if we all weren’t already filled with playhouse-envy, SmartPlayhouse’s website summarizes why SmartPlayhouse is special:
“At SmartPlayhouse children happiness always comes first. Conscious of the pedagogic potential playhouses have always had, we wanted to create a fresh playhouse concept that was inspiration for kids and, at the same time, stylish enough and easy to assemble for parents. Furthermore, we set our minds in building the safest playhouses in the market with the finest materials.”
Perhaps the best part of this playhouse is that they are not limited by other play areas – the durable design means that kids can play there rain or shine. The more complex, two-story version might even be suitable for older children, as it has an interior stairwell and plenty of space.
At the end of the day, the point is simple – these are not your average playhouses. These are propel-you-to-popularity-until-the-end-of-childhood playhouses. These are playhouses that (given a kitchen and bathroom could be thrown in), I could happily reside in as an adult. They are places that, if had been available to me “back in the day,” would have given me the opportunity to be all “take that Allison.” The popularity boost might cost children any help they were going to receive with college tuition, though. Read: modern, exquisitely designed playhouses aren’t cheap. On the SmartPlayhouse page, they run from a little over $3,000 to as much as $10,500.
As I compare my childhood play area – which was my parent’s basement with an air hockey table that we weren’t always allowed to play with because sometimes my mom had “had it up to here,” I’m pretty okay with it. I think bare bones and a childhood full of facing my ACTUAL popularity level prepared me for life pretty darn well. But, to those kids of the world who will have a sophisticated playhouse in the middle of their parent’s garden, I have one thing to say: good for you.