Introduction: The Princess Playhouse

Picture of The Princess Playhouse

A Princess Playhouse for my two girls.

It features:

  • An Interactive Magic Mirror (See Separate DIY Magic Mirror Instructable)
  • Vintage Light Fixtures
  • Stained Glass Windows
  • A Built-in Bookshelf
  • Recessed TV
  • Sound System
  • In-Ceiling Speakers
  • Network
  • Phone
  • Faux Fireplace
  • Doorbell
  • Picture Rail Molding
  • Ceiling Vent
  • Gutters
  • Laminate Flooring & Baseboard

I should also add that I'm an electronics tinkerer/computer geek, this was my first construction project. I had great help from my Dad and lots of good advice from friends and the Internet. It took me 8 months. So if I can do it, so can you with the right help.

Yes I know, it's a little over the top, but if you're going to spoil your girls you might as well do it right :-)

Rough breakdown of the costs:

8x8 concrete slab - $200
wood and internal trim - $200
electrical wiring and panel - $100
speaker wire and in wall speakers - $100
roof shingles and flashing - $150
drywall - I paid someone to hang and mud the drywall $400
tv mount and tv - $150
vintage light scounces- $80
foam panel insulation - $80
pergo floor - $120
custom sized windows - $200
see for parts and costs for the magic mirror

Step 1: Plans and Framing

Picture of Plans and Framing

After some Googling for playhouse plans, this one fit the bill, The dimensions are 8x8x8 feet.

My Dad framed it in Oregon, took it apart, and then drove it down to my place in California where we assembled it together.

Step 2: Roofing

Picture of Roofing

Next up was the roof. Roofing pretty much sucks. I'd probably pay someone if I had to do it again.

After the roof was on, the playhouse became really hot inside. I added a roof vent to let the hot air out which cooled things down nicely.

Step 3: Electrical and Audio/Video Wiring

Picture of Electrical and Audio/Video Wiring

The electrical was fun although digging the trench was a back breaker. The playhouse has two AC circuits and a breaker panel attached to the back.

I also pulled in structured wiring combo cable (one cable sheath with 2 CAT 5e, 2 COAX, and 2 Fibers), speaker wire, and a whole lot of wires (using thermostat wire) for the sensors for the Magic Mirror.

Step 4: The Magic Mirror

Picture of The Magic Mirror
The Magic Mirror is the center piece of the playhouse. Its interactive and responds to various sensors (proximity, touch, and reed switches) that are embedded within the playhouse.

The full Instructable on the Magic Mirror is here . I also recently finished a software product version of the Magic Mirror at

Step 5: TV and Sound System

Picture of TV and Sound System

The TV is recessed in the wall and attached with a flush LCD mount.

I had a Nuvo Grand Concerto whole house audio system already in the main house and had an extra zone so I just needed to run speaker and Cat 5 to wire the Playhouse for sound. The Nuvo Grand Conerto is very nice, they run $3,500 & up retail but you can pick one up off eBay for $2K.

I picked up the in-wall ceiling speakers from that weren't too expensive ($80) and sound pretty good. The speaker grills are paintable to blend in with the ceiling.

Step 6: Insulation and Drywall

Picture of Insulation and Drywall

Since the walls are only 3.5" deep, I did some research to find the most efficient insulation by thickness which turned out to be the rigid foam type from R-Max. The thickest one I could find at Home Depot was 2". Its not cheap as far as insulation goes and runs $20 per 4x8 panel. It's very easy to work with though, just cut it to size and screw it in. Make sure to use a washer on top of the screw for more holding area.

The drywall was the one thing I had someone else do which I'm glad I did. I found a local guy who did it for $300.

Step 7: Lighting, Windows, and Door

Picture of Lighting, Windows, and Door

My wife is quite good at finding vintage light fixtures on eBay. She then takes them to a local lighting guy in town who re-wires them.

Sylvania now makes a dimmable compact fluorescent bulb which you can see in the pictures, they work great.

Step 8: Floor, Picture Rail Molding, and Baseboard

Picture of Floor, Picture Rail Molding, and Baseboard

I installed laminate flooring. There are plenty of good tutorials out there for installing laminate. Do be sure to leave a 1/4" at the edges to allow for expansion.

Picture rail molding has a small gap behind it that lets you hang a hook and picture frame. You can't really see it in the photos but using a high sheen oil based paint makes the molding really pop in contrast to the flat water based paint on the walls.

Be sure also to sand the baseboard & give the top a nice rounded edge.

One big lesson learned on molding & baseboard: Spend the $10 on an angle finder toolangle finder tool. I didn't figure this out until the last few cuts unfortunately. Many corners aren't exactly 90 degrees so this will allow you to cut the exact angles needed with your miter saw.

Step 9: Built-in Bookshelf

Picture of Built-in Bookshelf

The built in bookshelf has bead board on the back and sides. The shelves are stained & lacquered Redwood which are glued on the shelves notches with Liquid Nails construction adhesive.


tim.stephenson.395 (author)2015-12-20

Great stuff - love the line about spoiling your girls proper.

Your plans link contains the period. Remove the period to get to the plans page.

good catch, link fixed

odonnghaille (author)2016-08-17

Nearly completed - still need to put in some hexagon windows and fix the soffit!
Is there any regrets you have or improvements you can recommend in hinds sight, before i finish it off? Particularly ideas about power in it.
For anyone planning this project save your money and avoid buying the plans. Sit down with a pen and some paper and work it out.

alinke (author)odonnghaille2016-08-18

very nice! thanks for sharing. the only thing I wish I would have done different is making the front door a bit taller (which looks like you did?). What electronics and sensors are you putting on the inside?

CrLz (author)2012-09-03

Simply amazing! What an awesome gift!

alinke (author)CrLz2016-08-18


hamidu2 (author)2013-04-05


AussieAnglerGal (author)2012-09-03

wow that is an awesome playhouse, my little sister would LOVE that

bajablue (author)2012-09-03

Beautiful work! What lucky little princesses!!!

tlanning (author)2011-07-23

This is Awesome! I wonder if I can do this?

alinke (author)tlanning2012-07-01

This was my first construction project ever. So if I can do it, you can too. What I learned is that construction is not actually that hard, it just takes time. The nice thing about doing it yourself is there is no rush, just take your sweet time and you'll be fine.

devilclarke (author)2010-07-12

hi this is wicked i just woundered do you have any schematics of the protosheil as i would like to make one of these for my young sister

alinke (author)devilclarke2012-06-08

here's the plans for the structure the playhouse plans were $35, here's the link

bgarrett (author)2010-11-30

Very Nice, except the TV.
Doesnt that defeat the purpose of a playhouse which is to encourage the imagination?

alinke (author)bgarrett2012-06-08

i suppose so, the TV actually is more for me when I'm in there :-)

David McWhite (author)2011-11-16

Sweet playhouse. As soon as I get an extra $1800 I'm gonna build one.

peace, love, art (author)2010-11-29

This is unbelievable, great job! You love your children so much, what a lucky pair of princesses!

KuRoKun (author)2010-01-02

OMG they have a better house then mine!!! hahahahahha

mary candy (author)KuRoKun2010-10-16

hahahaha then mine too!

DragonX777 (author)2010-05-17

That is very artistic, and decorative.

Pinky212 (author)2010-02-24

What a wonder playhouse!  I love the bookshelves using the space between the studs.  Did you choose the interiror decorating yourself?

I hope those two beautiful little girls know how special their Daddy is!!!

I didn't read every step (sorry -- no time) so maybe you said about the cost of the plans.  I didn't see that cost reflected in your "rough breakdown".

Wonderful details!  Come and build one for my granddaughter?  I'll do the interior decorating.  LOL

alinke (author)Pinky2122010-02-24

Hi, thanks, my wife did all the interior decorating, was a fun project for her, she bought some of the fixtures and other items on eBay

the playhouse plans were $35, here's the link

yes the girls like it, its also quite popular with the neighborhood kids

njdjs (author)2009-12-06

WOW my grandbaby would love that. She would really love that mirror but WOW couldn't afford the hardware or software. It is very cool and ya did a wonderful job on it. Those are two lucky girls you have there.

alinke (author)2009-11-13

yes, if I re-call, I used 3 inch deck screws, the ones with the coating on them so they go in nice and easy, also had the star heads as opposed to the traditional philips

Coleman1977 (author)2009-11-13

Are the walls secured to the wooden base of the concrete pad?

dianakcollins (author)2009-09-05

I would like to do something like this. What should my estimated budget be?

alinke (author)dianakcollins2009-09-05

I didn't track the costs but here's a rough breakdown:

8x8 concrete slab - $200
wood and internal trim - $200
electrical wiring and panel - $100
speaker wire and in wall speakers - $100
roof shingles and flashing - $150
drywall - I paid someone to hang and mud the drywall $400
tv mount and tv - $150
vintage light scounces- $80
foam panel insulation - $80
pergo floor - $120
custom sized windows - $200
see for parts and costs for the magic mirror

Hope that helps

Allowance10 (author)2009-08-26

when can I move In? LOL

azntrooper93 (author)2009-07-31

shes getting tall should ahve made it a lil bigger then when they grow to old u can hide in it

atombomb1945 (author)2009-01-05

Awesome design. You will be lucky to get the kids out of there for anything. Or, was that the idea in the first place?

how rich are U LOL magic mirror LOL if u actually made that and u are loaded

Crucio (author)2009-07-06

Fantastic project. It's great that your dad was so involved.

I particularly like the stained glass he made--an instructable coming for that? Please? ;)

GymMama (author)2009-05-27

I think the inside is nicer than my own house! Great job!

horsefreakella (author)2009-05-27

AMAZING MAN! love it :)

prolixia (author)2009-01-08

i don't know -- it's gorgeous, but isn't it a little.... much? i think of a playhouse as a place for filling in the gaps with imagination, not the consumption of all mod cons. it is lovely, but it seems to set the bar for "gimmee" awfully high.

horsefreakella (author)prolixia2009-05-27

Ahh shut up! ITS awesome :)

Rock Soldier (author)2009-05-22

You must really love your children. Can you make me one? But bigger, and more manly?

hcold (author)2009-05-02


aeray (author)2009-04-28

Impressive project. About the baseboard: never try to miter an inside corner. Always butt or cope an inside joint.

christyw (author)2009-04-16

This is awesome. When I was a kid, I always wanted a house like this! great work!!!!

saarenbobaaren (author)2009-03-16

this is incredible!! very well done : )

CherreAnn (author)2009-02-20

Absolutely Gorgeous!!! I want to have kids just so I can build it! =D Or maybe I will just build it for me!!! ; D
Thanks for the step by step info on it! AWESOME! :D

cutekitten (author)2009-02-12

omg that is to awesome i want one myself

amando96 (author)2009-02-09

thats better than my house... lol i should make one of these for my Lab/bike-mechanicisms... would be cool

mariaclemente2000 (author)2009-02-07

The house is beautiful. I was wondering, why not send it to HGTV to have it featured on television.

kccismee (author)2009-02-03

Oh my - it's amazing! The best part is that they can use it for a very long time later it will be a great girls "hang-out" even sleep overs! Not like the crappy plastic things that might hold their attention for 1 summer. Is it heated? Oh how I wish my hubby were handy! It looks like it could be a nice hide-away for Mommy too -

kriskross (author)2009-01-30

yo, this crib is tricked out!!! love it. those are some very lucky girls to have such a cool dad!

the_eradicator (author)2009-01-22

Dude, you are one cool, now I have to go and make one for my grand daughters.. Cheers

Callum Snowden (author)2009-01-21

Make it into your workshop and add a second floor for your

How2BRandy (author)2009-01-19

Its wonderful and beautiful. Hopefully it will be a keepsake so when your daughters grow up, they can pass it along to their children :) Wait... no potty room???

About This Instructable




Bio: Al is a wearable tech entrepreneur and creator of a line of smart phone controlled LED handbags With 22 years of experience ... More »
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