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10 of the best outdoor playhouses

Looking for a way to keep kids entertained in the garden? Here’s our pick of the best children’s outdoor playhouses, no matter your budget or garden size

best outdoor playhouses

Gardens have become our havens over the last 12 months more than ever. A chance to escape the confines of our homes and enjoy a few hours of playtime in the outdoors (come rain, shine, and snow in my case!). We decided to invest in some outdoor toys that all 3 of our little ones could enjoy. And at the top of the list was an outdoor playhouse.

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These staples of childhood come in all shapes and sizes, and all price points. And not only do they look adorable, but they provide hours of imaginative and active playtime. Who can resist being invited in for “tea” 27 times a day?

With so many great options available, you might be finding it a little overwhelming to find the perfect playhouse for your situation. Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you! We’ve been playing our way through the plethora of playhouses, so you can ensure you choose the very best one for your brood.

What to consider when buying a playhouse

Space – Garden space is there to be enjoyed by the whole family, so you need to decide how much of that space can be dedicated to a playhouse. Measure out an area in your garden (remember, it should ideally be a flat surface, somewhere where there is sun and shade, and in a spot that you can keep an eye on), and keep those dimensions to hand when choosing your playhouse.

Budget – Children’s outdoor playhouses are available for most budgets from cheap and cheerful to premium. Consider how much you want to invest while keeping in mind the features you want it to have, the longevity, and play value.

Durability – This one is important if you want your playhouse to last a long time. Think about what material the playhouse is made from. If plastic, will it fade in the sun? If wood, can you protect it to make sure it lasts for as long as possible? Or does it come ready treated?

Assembly – Although this might not be everyone’s first question, it was definitely one of mine! We’re not the best at assembling fiddly toys, so an easy to assemble model is important to us. Most playhouses are easy enough to set up with straightforward instructions, although the majority come flat-packed. Plastic models are normally easier to build, while wooden versions might need a bit more skill.

Extra features – From basic playhouses to those featuring every bell and whistle you can think of, it is important to think about what features you want your playhouse to include. Slide? Swing? Playground structure? More than one level? You can choose stable doors, saloon doors, windows that open, doorbells, letterboxes and so much more. Remember to match the features and play space with your children’s age to ensure it is the most suitable. You want to maximise your play value.

Here’s our pick of the best children’s outdoor playhouses:

1. Smoby Chef House, £299.99

– Best for imaginative play

Age: 2+ | Main material: Plastic | Size: H135.7cm x W132cm x L124.5cm

Role-playing restaurants is fun and easy with Smoby’s Chef House. Not only is the design of the house adorable, with quaint features such as gables and porthole windows, but it also doubles up as a cafe complete with an open hatch window for serving pretend teas and coffees.

The market counter allows kids to serve their customers and it comes with a bevy of cute play functions such as a cash register and toy card reader. Inside you’ll also find a fridge, an oven, a pretend gas stove with flames and a sink and tap, helping to bring their pretend restaurant to life. And your mini chef can even write the day’s specials on the removable slates!

We love that the playhouse includes food accessories and utensils too, making it great value for money as there is no need to buy additional accessories.

It is made from a solid, durable plastic and has been treated so the colour will retain its vibrancy over the years. Keep in mind that some customers reported it can be a little fiddly to put together, but once assembled the playhouse is sturdy and strong.

Available from: Amazon, Smyths Toys, Wayfair

2. Kid-Eco Cardboard Igloo Playhouse Kit, £39.99

– Best for temporary use

Age: 3+ | Main material: Cardboard | Size: H117cm x W140cm x L240cm

If you don’t want to commit to a permanent playhouse, but want to give your kids a fun activity for a few days, then this eco playhouse is an excellent option. With an affordable price tag, this cardboard structure comes in white or brown, is biodegradable, and made from 80% recycled material.

Ideal for small budgets, or for something to keep them entertained over the weekend, the igloo playhouse is quick and easy to assemble (2 pairs of hands helps though). It’s a blank canvas for painting, drawing, or anything else your kids might want to decorate with, providing hours of arty fun.

Inside, the playhouse is spacious and can fit 4 or 5 small children with some room to spare. Plenty of room for you too if you want to join them! The cardboard is strong and resilient and makes an excellent fort – indoors or outside (on a dry day).

You can easily turn the igloo into a den by adding your own decor inside too. We love adding fairy lights, cushions, and toys to make it a fun and cosy spot.

Get £10 off the Kid-Eco Cardboard Igloo Playhouse Kit with our exclusive MadeForMums discount

Available from: Not On The High Street and Amazon

3. Garden Market Place Children’s Outdoor Wooden Garden Wendy House, £349.99

– Best for quirky design

Age: 18 months + | Main material: Wood | Size: H155cm x W125cm x L99cm

We love the style of this crooked little house, which looks like it belongs in a fairy tale. Made from timber, the playhouse can be assembled in less than an hour, as the flatpack pieces just need to be slotted and screwed into place.

The ‘wonky’ playhouse comes ready treated in water-based wood preservative and paint, but the manufacturers recommend treating it once a year to keep it looking its best over the years.

Inside there is plenty of space for kids to decorate or play with their favourite toys. The windows and doors open too, allowing them to peek out and let the fresh air in.

It is worth noting that the wood is slightly soft, so try and be careful with knocks and bangs – we know, an impossible ask with small kids! And although it is weatherproof, the top window is open, meaning the inside could get wet if it rains. This is easily rectified by throwing over a cover or tarpaulin, should the heavens open.

Available from: Amazon, Garden Market Place

4. Little Tikes LOL Surprise Cottage Playhouse, £130

– Best for LOL Surprise fans

Age: 5+ | Main Material: Plastic | Size: H125cm x W109cm x L89cm

This is a simple yet stylish playhouse, that is ideal for LOL fans. And as long as you don’t mind the bright pink and glittery facade, then you will love it too.

The house comes with additional LOL stickers, so it gets added bonus points for providing extra decorating fun for the kids. Just make sure they are happy with where the stickers go before putting them on, as you will struggle to remove them once stuck.

It has a few sweet features such as windows that open and 2 little post slots, perfect for imaginative play.

The cottage is made from sturdy plastic and is easy to assemble with the instructions. It is also fairly lightweight, so can be moved around the garden, or brought inside, with ease. And with a more affordable price tag compared to other playhouses, this cute cottage provides great value for money.

Available from: Argos

5. Plum Wooden Boat House and Slide, £649.99

– Best wooden playhouse

Age: 3+ | Main Material: Wood | Size: H195cm x W165 cm x L136 cm

For those who love the look of a traditional playhouse or treehouse, then this wooden tower model will fit right into your dream garden goals.

Not only does this playhouse include the perfect size play area, but it also features a platform, steps, and a little slide so you get added play value for your kids.

We particularly love the rustic look of this playhouse, which is made even more striking with the teal paintwork and turquoise slide. Kiddies and their grownups can have fun looking out from the platform while building their den of dreams inside the playhouse. And when it’s time to go inside, they can scoot down the slide!

Available from: John Lewis, Wicken Toys, Plum Play

6. WICKEY Multiflyer Climbing Frame, Swing Set, Slide, Playhouse, and Sandpit, £529.95

– Best for active kids

Age: 3+ | Main material: Wood and Plastic | Size: H2.63m x W4.29m x L2.88m

When a playhouse just isn’t enough, go the extra mile and choose this playhouse with all the added bells and whistles of a playground.

There are so many great features that you’ll have trouble getting your little ones inside for bath time! As well as a little playhouse at the top, there are 2 swings, a climbing wall, a ladder, a slide, a racing steering wheel, a telescope, and even a sandpit.

The colourful features pop against the natural wooden frame, creating a fun and stylish finish. And each one is great for imaginative and active play. So be prepared for pirates, racing drivers, and treasure hunters!

Just a little side note, it is a little tricky to assemble, despite clear instructions, and can take some time to put together. As one Amazon reviewer said, “It is time-consuming to build as every pilot hole and marking needs to be done by yourself, however, instructions were very clear and easy to follow.”

Available from: Amazon, Wickey

7. The Playhouse Company, Hidey Hole, £2,120

– Best for a secret hideaway

Main Material: Wood | Size: H1.7m x W1.2m x L1.5m

Fans of all things hobbits, fairies, and goblins – this is the playhouse for you! The Playhouse Company is a family-run business, and every order is bespoke and made to order. And their playhouses are some of the prettiest and most exciting that you will ever see.

The Hidey Hole is one of our favourites. Thanks to its hobbit house design, it looks like it comes from an enchanted world, providing a safe and fun hiding spot for kids to let their imaginations run wild.

We particularly like the cosy feel, adorable stable door with peeping window, and mushroom feature. The playhouse is treated with a wooden finish creating a natural look, but there are a plethora of translucent colour options to choose from. And for an extra cost of £100, you can choose to have the door painted blue or pink.

Although this is one of the more expensive playhouses on our list, it will add a fun and quirky aesthetic to any garden.

Available from: The Playhouse Company

8. Smoby Neo Friends House and Kitchen, £349.99

– Best for different ages

Age: 3+ | Main Material: Plastic | Size: H172cm x W217cm x L155cm |

This sweet house comes with everything a mini homemaker could want including an outdoor kitchen and seating area for playing cafes and picnics. We love the attention to detail that can be seen in the electronic doorbell and letterbox too.

The playhouse also comes with kitchen and tableware accessories, so they can start cooking up a storm as soon as it is assembled.

What we particularly like about this playhouse is the size of it. It measures quite a bit taller than standard playhouses in its price category, making it more spacious inside for hours of happy playtime. This is handy when you have siblings playing together, as it can be enjoyed by toddlers and slightly older children.

Although it is fairly easy to assemble, it can take up to 2 hours to put it together fully so make sure to keep enough time aside.

Available from: Amazon, Freemans, Epic Play

9. Chad Valley Farm House, £115

– Best for a smaller budget

Age: 2+ | Main Material: Plastic | Size: H126cm x W193cm x L118cm

This adorable playhouse will brighten up any garden, thanks to its colourful and fun facade. It features all the classic elements of a playhouse that kids will love, but for a great value price at just over £100.

Another reason to add this house to your cart is that it can be folded away easily – perfect for if you want to store it in the winter.

Our favourite feature has to be the little picket fence enclosed garden space. It adds an extra element of fun to the house, with kids being able to play in their very own private ‘garden’. Although there are no added extras inside, there is a lot of space and it can easily fit 3 or 4 children.

Even though it is great value for money and guarantees hours of playtime, the plastic structure isn’t the strongest we have seen. As such, a couple of features (such as the door) can come away quite easily. But they can be put back into place easily too.

Available from: Argos

10. Magical Wooden Fairytale Cottage Playhouse, from £899.95

– Best traditional playhouse

Age: 3+ | Main Material: Wood | Size: H2.49m x W1.79m x L2.39m

If the traditional or classic looking playhouse is something you want to invest in, then look no further than this sweet wooden cottage playhouse.We particularly like the wood panel design, white gables, and Georgian-style windows.

You can’t help but smile when looking at this playhouse, and we love the optional features it comes with. For example you can add different coloured roof tiles, paint, and even little window boxes so you and your children can enjoy planting flowers to give the cottage even more charm.

The playhouse comes unpainted (although the wood has been treated) but you can choose to have it painted at an extra cost.

Available from: Gifts for Kids

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About the author

Claire is mum to Elijah, Teddy, and Lottie, and has worked as a content writer and copywriter for 10 years. She has written product reviews and articles for MadeForMums, since becoming a mum for the first time in 2013, as well as parenting articles and other content (from fashion to wellness to sustainability) for newspapers, websites, and blogs.

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