Family builds incredible 'Lockdown Lodge' playhouse for £250

When George Emberson asked his parents Hannah and Darryl to build a treehouse, they had to be creative.

Nine-year-old George has autism and once he has an idea, his mind is set, but the family didn’t have enough wood or a tree big enough to build what he wanted.

In a bid to make something to fulfil George’s dream, Hannah, 35, posted on a village Facebook group asking for spare wood.

The family, from Wiltshire, were overwhelmed with what they received and they ended up creating an amazing pastel playhouse for a total of £250 – with similar structures made by professionals costing thousands.

Hannah, her husband Darryl, 40, and their four kids aged five, nine, 10 and 13 pulled together to build the ‘Lockdown Lodge’.

Hannah told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk: ‘The idea for our tree house project came about whilst making a fruit and veg planter as a family project.  
‘Our nine-year-old son asked whether we could build him a tree house.   

‘We live in the village of Winterslow in Wiltshire and have a wonderfully supportive community. During the pandemic, everyone has come together to support one another; we have only lived in the village a year, but it truly feels like home.

‘Fortunately our pleas were answered and we were offered much more than we could have imagined!’

One local family had spent two years developing their property and they had lots of cladding off cuts, old barn doors, decking, bannister spindles and more.

Hannah added: ‘Everything was arranged so we could make a safe contactless collection.

‘Our initial plan was to make a raised structure using a couple of pallets – nothing fancy! But with the unexpected resources, we decided to start building and plan as we went along to make the most of what we had.  

‘We began with the base and moved on to the back and far side, making a frame and using the wood to clad it out. 

‘We extended the frame to make the opposite side and when we ran out of the cladding, we used two old barn style doors for the front, cutting out windows and fitting some perspex we already had, leftover from a previous project.  

‘The roof was made using two more doors, secured together with end timbers and covered in roofing felt. We upcycled as much possible; making the barn-style door from all the offcuts, carefully securing them together and sanding to a nice finish before painting.  

‘With some adjustments, we used an old section of decking, carefully cutting it in around the tree… it’s as close to a treehouse as we could manage! Finally, we added the bannister, rope, steps and window boxes.’

Hannah had some leftover Frenchic Funiture paint she’d used to upcycle a desk just before lockdown and she decided to pick up some more from a local stockist to stencil the playhouse.

Once stores started to reopen, they were able to go to Ikea for some decoration and pillows to make it really comfy inside.

Hannah said: ‘We spent around £250 in total. For extra bits we couldn’t source for free such as fixings, rope, door and window trims, felt for the roof and extra decking boards, we used B&Q’s click and collect system.’

Hannah and her family feel that building Lockdown Lodge provided the perfect distraction from the stresses of the outside world during the pandemic, and even helped them feel closer to their community. 

‘When we first began the project, I hoped it would give our children a safe space to enjoy outdoors and make the most of an unused, overgrown part of the garden,’ she added. 

‘We hadn’t planned for it to be anything fancy, but the generosity of others and access to wonderful paint made it what it is.  

‘With my husband furloughed and myself staying home due to my asthma, it gave us the opportunity to enjoy time together during lockdown.  

‘We are both quite handy with DIY projects so we were equally able to work together throughout. It also provided a welcome downtime from trying to homeschool four children.

‘The kids helped with removing nails from pallets, sanding, painting, some drilling and screwing, and painting – although I did the more detailed bits. They also helped us to decide with design ideas – particularly with the decking around the tree.’

Hannah wants to take up more upcycling projects and recommends that other people reach out to their local community to find resources.

She said: ‘It saves money and landfills if items can be reused and whilst it takes a little more effort and extra creativity, it is certainly more rewarding in the long-term.

‘Being able to connect with people locally, albeit virtually, has helped us develop a sense of belonging within our community and reduce feelings of isolation.  

‘We named the playhouse ‘Lockdown Lodge’ as it seemed fitting to have it as a memory of this time and shows that despite the challenges faced, there have been some positives to come out of this pandemic.  

‘When we look at what has been achieved, we have a huge sense of accomplishment and gratitude.’

The children love spending time in the Lockdown Lodge, reading, drawing and writing stories together.

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