Give the Kids a Mid-Century Modern Home of Their Own

The best ideas are the ones you can’t believe didn’t already exist. That’s how I felt when I clicked over to Retro Renovation yesterday to find a photo feature on someone’s very cool mid-century modern children’s play house, designed and built from scratch by the owner. Why didn’t anyone think of this before?

Of course, someone did think of it before. A number of modernist designers work with children in mind, as we’ve explored previously. And the mid-century modern look is popular enough that there are several such playhouses available commercially, for those without the tools, time, or know-how to design and build one from scratch.

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The best collection comes from a company called Smart Playhouse, which features four designs. I’m partial to the Illinois model, above, with its classic lines, big windows, and porch. I also like the wood-paneled Hobikken, at left, with its sleek, black-framed windows and cool doorway. The avant-garde Kyoto and leaf-printed Casaforum are more design-forward, but also cool.

The main drawback to the Smart Playhouse designs is that none include play equipment. For that, a company called Metro Shed offers models with swings and slides, still with that straight, clean, glass-walled aesthetic, below.

Another company, Modern Cabana, sold a clear-ceilinged model with chalkboard walls that looked like a lot of fun, but a visit to their site reveals they’ve been bought by the prefab manufacturer Blu Homes, where a rep told me they weren't selling Modern Cabana stuff, though they hoped to do so by the end of the year.

With the kids home for summer vacation, this might be just the time to think about a second home for them in the backyard. And it’s not that hard to make it stylish.