Doors Windows and Other Openings
Until you see it, it’s hard to imagine how much fun kids have playing with doors and shutters! I think it’s the sense of control over the playhouse that thrills them so much. When the kids are young, they are fascinated with opening and closing doors and shutters. Kids like to play the game of controlling who’s on the inside and who’s on the outside. You wouldn’t believe how often I hear the kids say, "it’s my house, you can’t come in!" and then ten seconds later, "please come in!" Doors and windows give kids all kinds of play-acting opportunities.
Solid Door with sliding "who-goes-there"
The Solid Door with sliding "who-goes-there" is a standard feature on all my playhouses and play structures. The "who-goes-there" slides in a track so kids can view their guests before letting them in. It’s also known in the real world as a "speakeasy" or a "judas" but I prefer the apt "who-goes-there" because that’s what almost always gets said.
Kids are fascinated with how a Dutch Door works and they can’t resist playing with it first thing. I like how much light it lets into the playhouse when the top is door is open, yet you can still feel snug with the lower door closed. It also comes with the sliding "who-goes-there".
We make our Shutters super strong to withstand years of use. Note the ½" gap all around the shutters and between them: this keeps little kids fingers from getting pinched. Every shutter and door is hung with heavy-duty 6" powder-coated hinges. We use stainless steel magnets to keep the shutters from banging in the wind.
The Jailbar Window is a great favorite of boys and girls alike. Kids love taking turns being in jail, escaping from jail, throwing Mom and Dad in jail... I like to combine the jailbar window with the rock climbing wall: the bars help the climber and a shutter would just get in the way.
Secret Escape Door
Almost every play structure comes with a Secret Escape Door. I like to tuck them under benches or hide them in the wall framing so that even the kids who play on the structure every day sometimes forget the secret escape is there. Since the secret escapes tend to be small, they are perfect for escaping from older siblings and parents who are less likely to crawl through the small opening…
Super Secret Escape Door
Every now and then someone asks for a Super Secret Escape Door and we’ve done a variety of them. One of my favorites is the Connecticut Castle. In the jail, there’s a sign on the wall warning prisoners not to try to escape. But it is really a secret escape door. The sign is on a hidden track and when you slide it, the secret escape slide is revealed!
Firepole Safety Gate
At the top of the firepole, I like to add a Firepole Safety Gate to keep kids from accidentally falling off the second level if they start scuffling around up there. The gate is hung with light spring hinges so it always closes. The gate has the ½" gap all around like my other doors and windows to keep little fingers from getting pinched.
Curved-Top Solid Door
The Curved-Top Solid Door is great for the front door that faces the main house. I try to set up a great view of the front of the structure for the adults or kids so that just a look at the castle transports you to another time…
Curved-Top Dutch Door
There’s also the Curved-Top Dutch Door which is possibly too cute! I love adding some playful carving around the "who-goes-there". The knobs are grinded, stained, varnished, screwed and glued to the doors and shutters to stand up to years of use.
The Curved-Top Shutters give a playhouse a more old-fashioned, nostalgic look. The real world doesn’t have enough fun features like this! Making the openings and the shutters curved-top takes more time and effort, but the end result is something beautiful to behold.
The Ticket Window adds another element of fun to the play structure. Kids have a great time selling tickets, denying you tickets, refunding your tickets – there’s a lot of games to be played around the exchange of goods and services! The Train Station is also a fun place to add a ticket window.
Gable Roof Windows
The Gable Roof Windows can come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the style of the playhouse or structure. I look for any opportunity to let more natural light into the play structure. The gable end could have a Round Window an Square Window, a Diamond Window, or an Arched Window.
Decorative Window Grates
Decorative Window Grates are a beautiful way to make upper playhouse windows safe. We weld the grates in our own metal shop to exactly fit your window opening and have them professionally powder-coated.
Real Doors and Windows
Real Doors and Windows are an option for special playhouses where the client wants the interior of the playhouse finished off like a regular house. For the Napa Valley Chalet, I designed all the doors and windows to be about ¾ scale to normal doors and windows to keep the scale consistent with the buildings. The doors and windows were custom fabricated at a professional door and window shop. The wood is a stain-grade doug fir, the glass is all tempered and dual-glazed. The cost is steep but the result is incredible!
I like to add Gates for lots of different reasons. At the top of stairs they keep the young ones from accidentally falling down the stairs. At the end of a bridge, it slows running kids down so they can concentrate on the climbing feature in front of them. At the entrance to a deck on ground level, it gives kids something to swing on.
I like Cut-Outs everywhere! Cut-outs add whimsy and charm to a blank wall and they let in the breeze and light. From the inside of the playhouse, the sunlight makes great patterns coming through the cut-outs, and kids like to spy out of them. We carve and stain a border around the cut-outs to add an extra splash of color. Some of my favorite cut-outs are hearts, diamonds, archery slots, star, moon, planet.