Drôle House Blog

Postcard 4

{Postcard 4}- "How can I build flexible, multi-use play blocks in my backyard" Submitted by Karine

{Postcard 4}- "How can I build flexible, multi-use play blocks in my backyard" Submitted by Karine

Karine's challenge includes:

  • designing multi function, durable exterior stools for sitting and playing on
  • that can also be used to define an area of the backyard
  • be moveable and stackable by children

The idea here is to make a multi-functional garden box stool that could be a more useful and durable alternative to the traditional crate. Material choices such as light weight half inch recycled plastic panels, marine plywood or engineered wood are definitely more durable and stronger than pine. The panels can be cut to five equal sixteen inch squares and attached into a cube with L brackets screwed to the inside. Offsetting all the edges, though limiting the strength of the box, does allow for easy grasping and stacking for kids, better drying for durability, and has the bonus feature of more easily being turned into a lantern. The garden boxes can be any colour, used as stools or stepping stones, made into walls and forts, be stacked as high as bar tables for outdoor parties, and by adding a battery or solar powered light fixture inside each, can glow from within.

~Deborah

Handrail Surprise

Flights of stairs make parents nervous. We worry about falls, kids tripping up or down the steps, we scramble to block the landings with chairs to bar explorative crawlers, or install cumbersome gates that need to be pried open with one-hand-whilst-balancing-a-baby-on-the-hip. Even though I installed gates above and below each flight of stairs in our home, each of my three kids still managed to have some sort of fall at one time or another. There are a few years of young childhood when flights of stairs are just plain iffy and need close supervision as kids practice using them safely.

What if we could redesign common house stairs to make them safer for children? Even the most narrow stairway has at least enough width to accommodate a child’s height handrail. Functional? Yes. Is there a hidden opportunity for play here? Oh yeah. 

160530_felix_walking_stairs.jpg

Enter the handrail surprise. It's a useable child’s handrail that folds down to become a stair slide. Tadaaa! For the more...adventurous families. This idea has been buzzing in my mind for years. During cold, snow-sparse winters like we can get here in Toronto, we inevitably spend a lot of time indoors. It’s hard to play at the park before it gets dark. We are tired, someone needs to pee, the baby’s heavy, ‘my hands are freeeezing’. Like most families, we hunker down and wrack our brains for physical indoor activities to do.  Balled-up sock fights, mattress ramps and couch forts happen in rotation. Even still, I’m always on the lookout for active and exciting things to do indoors that will expend kids’ energy. 

It's awfully fun. This handrail surprise prototype was built using only materials available at a regular hardware store. It’s designed to be divided into three sections for scaling the length of the slide to the age and capability of a child. 

Please share this post and comment below to let me know you want to learn more about how to accomplish this on your own stairs! If you'd like to get a heads up about new projects, manuals and home renovation resources, remember to subscribe here!

~Deborah

Welcome to Drôle House!

Welcome to Drôle House: Collaborative Design For Families. The business and website are up and running!

My name is Deborah Mesher. I have my Masters of Architecture, three energetic kids, and a passion for making old homes more functional, fun, and adaptive to modern families. Drôle House can help you with additions, renovations, playscapes and furniture from schematic design to permit and construction drawings.

I will be at the Wychwood Barns in Toronto on Sunday May 15th, 2016, woman-ing my booth at The Bump To Baby Show. It's free, so bring the family, come find me, see some inspiring projects, and get free design advice about your home.

Subscribe to my blog to know more and be one of the first to receive my FREE idea book about freeing up space in your home called The Extra Room.

Playfully yours,

Deborah