Playhouse Shopping Guide: High & Low

Playhouse Shopping Guide: High & Low

Sarah Coffey
Jun 7, 2010

Kids love to have a place they can call their own, and it's even better if it's a freestanding structure in the backyard. Here are 10 child-sized playhouses: 5 high-end versions and 5 more affordable options.

Playhouses Over $1,000

Permanent playhouses generally cost more than tents and pop-up structures, and the more involved the design, the higher the price.

38d655111049e69196d99a9a0e88b7d1372a95bf. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Modern Cabana
Based out of San Francisco, Modern Cabana makes prefab backyard sheds, including a $1,500 version for children known as the Kiddo Cabana. It's mod and green, made with tree oil stains, non-VOC finishes and glues, and FSC-certified wood.

d80fa8a5d5b5152aa605852b562c2512ccc00da3. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Community Playthings
This catalog store specializes in products for Montessori schools and childcare centers, so they sell a lot of collaborative play gyms and lofts for children ranging from toddlers to 7-year-olds. This is the $1,680 Nursery Gym (for children 9 months to 2 years).

db9ed1e87f66ebfd223868c3fc4cb446db36511e. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop MetroShed
David Ballinger, founder of MetroShed, sells a high-end modular playhouse for kids known as the MetroPlay. Prices range from $5,850 for the basic modern box to $6,850 for all the bells and whistles, including an add-on slide and swing.

3fb5c6260bd43d485736d5af744ee8694e0604ec. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Barbara Butler
San Francisco artist Barbara Butler builds and paints playhouses, so that each design is one of a kind. These custom playhouses don't come cheap—this Magical Bridge Playhouse sells for $12,180.

3e62f774c31f1d69900f656d150211acf0beebf5. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Home Depot
This megastore carries a number of backyard playhouses, from traditional log cabin styles to Victorian sheds. This Handyhome French Chalet Playhouse is our favorite of the bunch, and it sells for $1,550.

Playhouses Under $500

If you're on a budget, consider a DIY playhouse, a tent, or a tipi. The nice thing about tents and tipis is that they're collapsible, so you can store them inside when the weather's bad.

2c51ec0e6010a880c1ff41b35bda5135c88699c8. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Imagine Childhood
This online store specializes in imaginative outdoor play for children. They carry a bunch of games and kits, including this Children's Backyard Tipi for $211.

3d8f034e93c51351eb6d43408fdb381d349f1f7d. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop StudioMama
UK-based StudioMama is a high-end design and architecture studio, but they keep things affordable by selling DIY blueprints. You can find instructions for building this modern kids' playhouse on their site for £50.

bf64c8c99c681876b70eca86b8d34b43709e9414. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Zac and Zoe
This online store offers free shipping on orders, and they carry a nice line of Modern Play Tents for $300. The tents can be used indoors or outside, and they come in 9 different fabric patterns.

8f5cec7f0563d869575f5845b5bc6111e7d2ed16. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop
For comparison shopping, check out, where they have a bunch of traditional backyard playhouses made of wood and plastic. This is the $420 KidCraft Outdoor Cottage.

43912c6dc48fe0c26db41520d10123d973561144. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Etsy
For handmade playhouses, Etsy is a good bet. We found some very cute fabric playhouses from this seller for $150 to $200. Designed to fit over a card table, they're decorated with hand-sewn details.

Photo: Kiddo Cabana from Modern Cabana

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