I found this refrigerator box on the sidewalk and knew I wanted to make it into a house (inspired by Maisy the Mouse’s house). As I painted it in the basement, our fellow condo owner complained that my painting was making too much noise (yes, the loud sound of a paintbrush swishing across cardboard). Oh, the joys of condo living! So I hurried through and didn’t ‘finish’ it perfectly, but the kids didn’t care. I glued on fake flowers and doorknobs from A.C. Moore, and used an exacto knife to cut the shapes out. I used simple craft paint for the colors. There is nothing fancy about this box and materials cost less than $10, but it was a huge hit. And it was the start of something amazing for me – because I saw how much my kids (and any other kid that visited) loved playing in it. I started experimenting with all kinds of creative textures, paints, furniture construction – and pretty soon, I was designing rooms for other families and a business was born!
So back to the boxes…These large boxes are becoming increasingly hard to find, but these are so useful it’s worth the effort. I had to call around to a lot of appliance stores in our area to find one that still had boxes. I like to keep several folded-up (unpainted) in the garage. If we have a group of kids over, it’s fun to drag these out and let them create. I let them draw the lines for doors and windows and I do the cutting. The kids like to use duct tape to connect several houses together and markers to color their creations. We built a spectacular wooden playhouse with a loft in the backyard, and the plain boxes often get more use!
Speaking of cardboard boxes, have you heard what one little boy in California did with his? If you have ten minutes, watch this video about Caine’s Arcade. It’s fantastic.