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The Best Books About Building Playhouses, Treehouses and Sheds

DIY Playhouse and Treehouse Books to Help You Plan Your Project

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Looking through the pages of a book on playhouse, treehouse or shed designs is bound to give you ideas on what you -- and most importantly -- your child wants in this important backyard play structure. Whether you decide on a plain box shape with a couple of windows and a door, or a detailed architectural mini-masterpiece, these books can help kickoff your outdoor project. Some of the projects in the following books are for beginners, while others are going to be more difficult and take more time. After reading one of these books, you'll know which project is the right one for you.

Black & Decker: The Complete Guide to Contemporary Sheds by Philip Schmidt

Black and Decker - The Complete Guide to Contemporary Sheds
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The Complete Guide to Contemporary Sheds: Complete Plans for 12 Sheds, Including Garden Outbuilding, Storage Lean-to, Playhouse, Woodland Cottage, Hobby Studio, Lawn Tractor Barn.
Publisher: Creative Publishing International; January 2008
Judging from the table of contents, this book looks pretty thorough. Besides covering basics like framing, roofing, siding, doors and windows, it has plans for sheds, many of which can be built into playhouses. How about the "Gothic Playhouse?" The book includes detailed photos, illustrations and plan views for a clear understanding of the scope of each project and the skill level involved. Something to consider: when it's no longer used as a playhouse, it could be converted into a hobby studio or shed.
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Black & Decker: The Complete Guide: Build Your Kids a Treehouse by Charlie Self

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Publisher: Creative Publishing International; February 2007
So you want to build a treehouse? This book from Black & Decker offers several designs from which to choose, from simple to more elaborate plans. Included are lots of photos, detailed illustrations and other how-to information that seems to cover it all.

What's required from you? Several weekends, patience, the willingness to learn skills, renting and learning how to use a few power tools, and an eager young helper or two.

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Housebuilding for Children by Lester Walker

Housebuilding for Children
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Housebuilding for Children: Step-by-Step Guides for Houses Children Can Build Themselves
By Lester Walker
Publisher: Overlook TP; Second Edition; July 2007
This book was originally written in the 1970s, and many parents with a DIY history may remember the first edition from their own childhoods. Detailed instructions for simple, hands-on construction of six different playhouses that children can build with their parents. What's great is that the book covers basic carpentry skills and has the kids try out a few practice projects first before tackling the playhouse.

Step-by-step instructions for houses include: a glass house, post-and-beam house, factory-built house, junkyard house, treehouse and an A-frame house.

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Kids' Places to Play by Jeanne Huber

Sunset Books Kids' Places to Play
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Publisher: Sunset Books; November 2003
This book, from the publishers of the popular Sunset magazine, features 24 do-it-yourself projects that include ways to involve children in the planning and building process. The projects take the overall landscape into consideration as they cover design challenges and ideas that help you integrate your play structure and area into the complete landscape design. It also includes a section on child-friendly gardens. Easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions include photography and art to show how each structure is built. A great extra includes how to use props, fun additions, and projects related to your playhouse.
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Playhouses You Can Build: Indoor and Backyard Designs by David & Jeanie Stiles

Playhouses You Can Build by Stiles
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Publisher: Firefly Books; March 1999
Treehouse experts David and Jeanie Stiles get a little more grounded here with this book in the "You Can Build" series. Projects include: a cardboard-box playhouse, a gingerbread playhouse, a fiberglass whale, a barn bed playhouse, a spook playhouse, a UFO playhouse, a treeouse, a log playhouse, a garden trellis playhouse, a three-legged fort and a complete selection of playhouse accessories.
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Sheds: The Do-It-Yourself Guide for Backyard Builders by David & Jeanie Stiles

Sheds by David and Jeanie Stiles
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Publisher: Firefly Books; Third Edition; January 2007
It would be great to see what the Stiles' own backyard looks like, since they're the prolific authors of several books on building playhouses, treehouses, sheds, etc. As far as I can decipher, the difference between a shed and playhouse is that an adult can comfortable stand up in a shed, which is not always the case with a playhouse.
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Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways by Debra Prinzing

Book - Stylish Sheds
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Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways: Big Ideas for Small Backyard Destinations
Photography by William Wright
Publisher: Clarkson Potter; April 2008
Author Prinzing and photographer Wright traveled the United States to find several of the country's most interesting backyard sheds. Far from the stereotypical battered aluminum structures for storing junk, these sheds are transformed into artists' studios, offices, yoga rooms or children's playrooms. And the junk? It's been replaced with lace curtains, antiques, cedar shingles and window boxes. Besides enjoying the photos, Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways just might be the thing to motivate you into building that cottage retreat you always dreamed about.
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The Treehouse Book By Peter Nelson, Judy Nelson and David Larkin

The Treehouse Book
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Publisher: Universe; July 2000
While it would do just fine as a lovely coffee table book with lots of fascinating and colorful photos, The Treehouse Book includes how-to details, plans, drawings, and carpentry tips. The book covers the important task of selecting the right tree and features to look for, along with pictures of some amazing treehouses, including multi-level marvels perched among the branches of some tall trees.
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Treehouses & Playhouses You Can Build By David and Jeanie Stiles

Treehouses and Playhouses You Can Build by David and Jeanie Stiles
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Publisher: Gibbs Smith: August 2006
The Stiles show how you can build a child-sized house in a tree or on the ground. Either way, it will be a second home for them, and a place with many memories attached to it. Great photos and ideas will intrigue you and your child -- the problem will be in deciding which project you want to tackle. These people are experts and really know their stuff; you're in good hands.
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