Inside the Strange World of Toy House Renovations

It's resourceful, and it just might be good for the environment

"Toy House"
Did Nicholas Acampora's "Toy House" anticipate a trend in actual toy houses? Perhaps!
Index of American Design
By Tobias Carroll / February 2, 2020 7:14 am

As a nation, there are moments when we can seem to be obsessed with all things home renovation-related. There are whole slates of television shows dedicated to redecorating houses and apartments, and still others that focus on bold renovations and substantial rebuilding efforts. And it’s affected how countless Americans view the process of buying a home.

A new article by Amelia Tait at Curbed spotlights what could be seen as the next logical step for this trend. Here’s a hint: the title of the article is “Playhouse flippers.”

Yes — instead of first-time homebuyers or veteran flippers, the target audience for this renovation process skews a little young. As in, preschool age. Here’s Tait on how one such toy house was spruced up, to the delight of its three-year-old owner:

Martin spent $75 and one week renovating the playhouse. Her mother had purchased the playhouse from a Facebook swap page five years before, and the brown plastic original served her two sons well in their early years. When it was Harper’s turn to use the toy, Martin decided it needed a makeover.

The end result involved a completely new paint job and color scheme with an impressive attention to detail. To wit: Martin’s work included using sandpaper on the house’s exterior to more closely emulate the texture of stone.

As Tait writes, Martin is far from alone in sprucing up garden-variety toys; there have been playhouse renovations shared online since 2011, for one thing. But Tait has also noticed an increase in the number of parents undertaking such projects and documenting them on social media.

And while this could seem problematic in some ways, one of the interviewees makes the point that renovating playhouses also means re-using and repurposing older toys — which creates less waste overall and is a lot friendlier to the environment. In the end, renovating playhouses might be a much savvier decision than anyone first believed.

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