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Design

A Summer Project – The Barn Turned “Kids Summer Clubhouse”???

As many of you know, we have a lot of outbuildings on the property – each of which are competing for “most falling down” – most of them “tying for biggest winner”. We are equal parts grateful and daunted by the forever projects on this property (“neverending” is the word we use, sometimes with a positive inflection, sometimes less so). Each one is a mini-renovation. In fact, I got the quote back for the garages that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago and let’s just say the scope of that project has been cut down in 1/2 – AT LEAST. And yet each one is an opportunity to have some fun and increase the value of our property. This one, the barn, is by FAR the least amount of work and should be done in a matter of weeks. WAHOOOOOO!

The barn is back in the paddock, behind the “too-large sports court” (a different conversation for a different day), and has two sides – one for the animals and feed, the other side open for any possibility. We brought electricity over there when we redid EVERYTHING, but no plumbing.

It’s pretty darn cute and has potential, but no, it’s not in the best shape.

I had dreams of putting a colorful mural on the side of this barn (and still might on the front) but clearly, the beautiful paddock + animals are creating a lot of dirt and this will likely always be a magnet for mud in the rainy 6 months of the year. If you are wondering what those squares are on the ground, the last owners had a big skate ramp thing so I think they were part of the foundation for that.

What Will This Be Used For?

Crafts! Listening to music! Art, drawing, reading, utter unmonitored play. I have this dream that the kids just hang out here in the summer, don’t ask for screens, and have a revolving door of neighborhood kids to play with and develop perfect emotional social skills by solving their own problems and navigating each other’s emotions with maturity. Perhaps it will go Lord of the Flies or 3rd grade Mean Girls. So yes, they’ll solve their own problems, work through their own emotions, and make their own snacks. It writes itself!! (LOLOLOL-ING). But seriously, that is what I want – while we are working we might still have a high school babysitter to give them a tiny bit of structure or take them to the library or a big pool. But outside of a couple of camps and some time in Arrowhead, I want this to be where the kids feel free with their friends and keep their mess away from the house.

The Inside Of The Kids Summer Clubhouse

As you can see there is a lot of potential. Here is what we are planning:

  1. The Window: The big low window you see on the left is in really bad condition so we are going to replace that with a bigger one (standard size, vinyl since it’s the back of the barn, not visible from the house). It will slide open so they can pet or feed the animals if they want and have a breeze on warmer days. However, it will be high enough so that the dogs can’t jump into the pasture if they wanted to. The other two windows are fine so we’ll leave them.
  2. Insulation and Paneling: While I wanted to be cheap and just do drywall and orange peel spray, everyone agrees that for a few hundred more, shiplap will be way more appropriate for a barn. I’m not going to worry about the seams though – we’ll leave it pretty rustic (and may stain or paint, not sure). If I’d have to guess right now I’d love just simple pine boards…
  3. Basic Electrical: An overhead light fixture, a new sconce, and some outlets/switches. That’s it.
  4. No air conditioning, but small cadets or mini splits for the cooler months: The barn stays very very cool even on the hottest days (completely in the shade) so no AC is needed.
  5. We’ll keep the OG barn wood flooring: We’ll likely sand it to get rid of splinters and then stain/seal it all.

As you can see we put a ton of crafts out here last summer and the kids definitely went out there but we weren’t fully set up and without systems there is chaos. Brian booked them in more camps last summer than we plan on this year so now is the time to get this baby ready for kids.

Obviously, this space could turn into almost anything if my plan doesn’t work – office, workout space, kids projector TV den (I could see us having sleepovers out there this summer), or maybe a yoga/meditation space in the future. I don’t know one parent who doesn’t struggle with the amount of screen time their kids want and even more importantly, the question of what media they are allowed to watch/play?? It’s SO HARD. If they could have their way Charlie would play video games from sunrise to sunset and Elliot would watch 5-minute crafts on YouTube til her eyes bleed. So I guess my hope is that with a detached space like this (and some very firm boundaries around video games/YouTube) we won’t battle all summer long. Obviously, I’m going to involve them in the design of parts of it…So…I hope you all like purple and lime green!!!! (JK).

*Photos by Kaitlin Green

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Emilie
25 days ago

To me, it looks like a perfect kids’ space as is.

Jen A
24 days ago
Reply to  Emilie

Completely agree and also, if they haven’t already, the kids are going to age out of this type of play so fast it just isn’t worth sinking money into. If they were 4-6 it might be worth it but tweens and teens, no. And camp is fun! I’d whitewash the walls and sign them up for a few weeks of something fun or even overnight camp instead.

Lisa
24 days ago
Reply to  Jen A

I like the whitewash walls idea! And I agree, this space won’t be used for too long by them, unfortunately.

Jenn
24 days ago
Reply to  Jen A

I disagree a bit about aging out of it. Teenagers love having a space away from parents’ earshot and interruptions to hang out with their friends.

Sara
24 days ago
Reply to  Jenn

For sure—the equivalent of dingy basement and garage couches the world over!

Jen A
24 days ago
Reply to  Jenn

Eventual teen hangout sure, but that’s exactly the point. Just don’t think they need to sink a ton of money into shiplap and toy/art storage. Clean it up with paint, area rug, old furniture and a table. No need to dedicate tons of resources making it an art center or summer camp stand-in.

Lauren
25 days ago

If you decide to go with the mural, check out Rachael Jackson’s work. She’s on IG @banyanbridges and isn’t far from you. She creates art that is joyful and gorgeous and to see your minds in collaboration would be pretty sweet!

Michelle
24 days ago
Reply to  Lauren

JInx!

Tammy
24 days ago
Reply to  Lauren

Just checked out Rachael Jackson’s work… she’s incredible!!! Love her vibrant aesthetic.

Paula
24 days ago
Reply to  Lauren

Wow, those really bring me back to 70s Super Graphics!

Tarynkay
25 days ago

Oh my, the screen struggle! The hardest part of this is that while we can restrict what our kids watch/do and how much time they spend on screens, we have zero control when they are with friends. Our kids do not have their own devices other than the school-required Chromebook for my older son. Even that, we have made clear is actually our Chromebook which means he has no expectation of privacy on it (the school also monitors his use of this) But most kids do have their own phones, switches, etc. My 12 year old watched Deadpool on the bus on the way to a field trip. He came home horrified. “Oh, that’s why you don’t let us watch R rated movies!” My 8 year old had a friend come over to play the other day. It was a beautiful day so we sent them outside to play. I looked out and his friend was hunched over his Switch. I’ve taken them to the park before and found a group of kids huddled around someone’s phone, completely ignoring the sunshine and playground. Since we realized that no matter how locked down we keep our devices, they will spend more… Read more »

Sara
25 days ago

If it doesn’t need insulation etc, I vote leave the walls as-is and just whitewash or paint it all! Our playhouse was like this, and not only does it keep a great indoor-outdoor rustic vibe to encourage getting outside, the nooks between the studs were perfect for kid aided DiYs, like shelves to gather nature finds or display projects. Free and functional 🙂

Jen A
24 days ago
Reply to  Sara

agree! it has a really cool vibe now already. clean it up, put in some big tables and shelving. a cozy old chair you don’t care about getting ruined. too fancy = not a clubhouse

Kat Selah
24 days ago
Reply to  Jen A

1000% agree. I think it’s tempting to make everything so comfortable for kids, but for kids (especially ones with high privilege, as many of ours are) to have access to unfinished spaces is so important for creativity, ingenuity, and grit. Imagine having a space for them to decorate with found objects, light with torches and lanterns at night, etc. Your kids are still young enough that this has an element of magic and joy, think the Boxcar Children or any of those classic English novels in which kids live in the woods. You can always finish it down the line, but for a kid’s clubhouse, less finish = more creativity.

Nora
24 days ago
Reply to  Sara

There was a shed attached to our house that looked just like this… and when I was about 10 I turned it into a clubhouse called The Shed. My neighbor and I hung funny old curtains with giraffes on them, brought in a piece of scrap carpet, hung magazine cutouts with pushpins. I had sleepovers in it all the time, would escape there to do homework or read, and just be AWAY from the house. I loveloveloved it. I hope your kids enjoy making the barn their own, too! A bit of autonomy is so precious when growing up.

SARAH
25 days ago

Hey maybe do fiberglass instead of vinyl! Vinyl is carcinogenic and highly recommend reading about vinyl products and forced labor camps in China. Sounds crazy but this is for real. Both an awful environmental and horrendous human rights issue.

D
24 days ago
Reply to  SARAH

Yes!! I read about the dangers of vinyl especially around babies and kids years ago and won’t purchase anything vinyl since then- no matter how cute it is!

Jane
25 days ago

This brings back the BEST memories for me! I grew up in a rural area… I’m a barn girl through and through. My grandparents lived on a smaller property nearby with a barn that had been “converted” to a space for cars on the ground level, and had a big open space upstairs. One summer, my Gramma surprised the grandkids with a clubhouse in that space. Old rugs on the floor, comfy old sofa and chairs, a table for games and crafts. So much fun was had! And yes, we did have cousin sleepovers in the clubhouse! Your kids will LOVE having this space.

Jennipher
25 days ago

Ok this may be a silly question, but doesn’t it SMELL being right there by the animals? I would not want to hang out near farm animals like that, but that’s just me. Maybe kids feel differently?

Roberta Davis
24 days ago
Reply to  Jennipher

exactly my reaction!

Deb
24 days ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

I was a child who grew up with ponies,cows and goats. Smells never even crossed my mind. I doubt it will bother these kids either. Now if Emily had thousands of chickens like we did…that would be another story.

Kat Selah
24 days ago
Reply to  Jennipher

Outdoor farm animals who are well cared for don’t have a terrible smell. Much of their excrement is spread out (and it sounds like these animals are cleaned up after) so the smell is quite mild and mostly smells like earth!

Stacia
24 days ago
Reply to  Jennipher

And some of adults don’t mind it either 😁

Michelle
24 days ago

Please consider Rachael Jackson for your mural – her work is just beautiful and the brightness of you two collaborating might make everyone’s heads explode (in a good way!) https://banyanbridges.com/

Roberta Davis
24 days ago

So lucky to have a space like this! I would be afraid it would smell strongly of the animals and not be a place anyone wanted to be for long?

Kat Selah
24 days ago

I love this idea! If you’re looking for a local Muralist, check out Miche McCausey (@mccauseyartstudio). Their bright floral and botanical murals are ideal, they are super adaptable, they are easy to work with, a hard and responsible worker, and wildly creative, and best of all, they are a queer, non-binary single mom, so it’s supporting someone from historically marginalized communities.

Paula
24 days ago
Reply to  Kat Selah

Oh, I prefer his work. Much more appealing to me.

Jules
24 days ago

I would love a post that discusses screen time and kids candidly. Like how much time in a day what kinds of games do they play specifically or as a parent should I be more aware of. It’s so hard to navigate as a parent of young kids and I don’t even know all the devices to watch out for At this point

lisa
24 days ago

You’re kids have a lot of “kids spaces” already. I would use this as an office space. Quiet, serene, away from the hustle and bustle of the house. I see potential clients coming for meetings here instead of brining them into your home.

Linda
24 days ago

How will you deal with mud? (Portland will endure a week+ of rain starting 100% tomorrow.) Then excessive heatwaves this summer? And the smell from the animals? This doesn’t seem to be a sustainable scenario for a building that’s 24/7. Seems more like a quick happy ‘let’s let the kids play!’ one that’ll be 2-3 months total. Please install sustainable long-lasting/flexible resources abc solutions into this space. And others.

Lia
24 days ago

I had so much fun as a kid building forts in the woods – and one summer a neighbour towed in an old wooden tear drop trailer and let us kids have it as a “clubhouse”. We had so much fun making it ours. What about just telling your kids it’s their space to do with as they like? That feeling of agency is a powerful developmental nutrient for kids.

Tarynkay
24 days ago
Reply to  Lia

Yes! What if you left it entirely up to them? Just said, hey guys, this is your barn. Do you you want out here, including sleepovers. Read Swallows and Amazons and Surprise Island (Boxcar Children) for some fun examples guaranteed to get all of us modern moms clutching our pearls.

ASL
24 days ago

I had a backyard “Play house” as a kid, and while my sister and I would get it all spruced up for a summer, it was inevitably neglected for most of the year. And we aged out of that thing FAST. Mostly I think we climbed on its roof. I’m sort of with everyone who’s saying use it for something you really NEED.

Alexa
24 days ago

If you go the mural route, there’s an incredible PNW painter named Katy K who does murals and live event paintings. Her work just feels cool. https://katykstudio.com/

Samantha
24 days ago

This seems like an excellent opportunity to try out Arlyn’s Warm Modern Beach Bungalow aesthetic! Wood everywhere, natural light, add a funky bright red sconce and bookshelves/built in benches and you’ve nailed it. It can still be very rustic. Also PLEEEEEASE add an indoor swing!!! I keep envisioning the magical swing into the hay in the barn in Charlotte’s Web…

Molly
24 days ago

I am totally on the “do nothing now” train so they can create their own space using what is there. You will blink and be turning it into a teen clubhouse with sectionals and a more design look.

I also wanted to suggest that, if you don’t want them on screens out there, make sure the WiFi isn’t set up out there. Ours occasionally just “goes down” (i.e. gets unplugged by mama) and then my poor kids have to find other entertainment (insert sad face) until it’s “fixed.”

Charlie
24 days ago

Yeah echoing what others have said re longevity for a craft space but come tween and teens, pool table and dart board make the perfect teen pub.