Ask A Carpenter: Tips For Building A Kids’ Play Area In Connecticut

April 19, 2013 9:00 AM

(Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Connecticut has many seasons and offers plenty of opportunities for play both indoors and out. Spruce up your kids’ play spaces and make the most of rain or shine. Whether you are a do-it-yourself type or need to call in a professional, the possibilities are limited only as far as your imagination will take you.

George Grillo
At Home Restorations & Improvements, LLC
63 Connecticut Blvd.
East Hartford, CT 06108
(860) 805-4514

George Grillo is a third generation builder and as such has been in the business for 25 years. His passion for the craft is lovingly reflected in the work he does. “It’s rewarding to see ideas become reality,” says Grillo, who would be pleased to be at your service to bring your kids’ play area to life. At Home Restorations & Improvements is licensed and insured and references are available upon request. Perhaps the best reference is the open invitation to prospective clients to visit his own home where his creativity is part of his family’s every day life. Here are some expert tips from Grillo for building your kids a safe and fun play area they’ll love to play in.

Tree House
A tree house can provide hours of fun as a play area or clubhouse. Grillo suggests selecting a sturdy, mature hardwood tree such as Oak or Maple and be sure it has healthy branches; pressure treated wood is your best medium. Use screws rather than nails for both building and anchoring for safety as well as durability. Access to your tree house should focus on safety and durability as well. A ladder of oak boards and nylon rope or boards screwed to the trunk of the tree should be easy for children to navigate. Leave the outside natural or go all the way and finish the outside with paint or siding and roofing.

For children (and parents) who like to keep their feet on the ground, a backyard playhouse is just the thing. Create a foundation of blocks or pavers to avoid the structure sitting on moist ground. Grillo cautions that excessive moisture will cause rotting and molding and create a damp environment inside the play area, so he suggests using pressure treated wood and let your imagination run wild. Add a window or two to allow sunlight in and keep the inside aired out. Check your local suppliers, recyclers etc. to obtain one of a kind adornments.

Play corner
Any corner of any room in your house can be transformed into a quick and easy space your children can claim as their own. According to Grillo, a simple wall and roof made of wood can be anchored to existing walls with screws, or for a more permanent structure, frame it and use sheetrock. Add shelving made from pine, a table and for your young artists, a roller with drawing paper for an endless supply of fun. Cut a hole for a “window,” paint the outside to taste and maybe even add a turret or spire facade that any young Lord or Lady of the house will be delighted with.

Related: Top Toy Stores In Connecticut

Rather than leaving toys all over the yard or having to haul them back in the house after each adventure, build an outside storage box sized to suit your needs using teak boards which will look great and wear well. Single or double doors on the front can be secured by a latch that is easy and safe for young hands to operate. Avoid a box with a top to prevent accidental injuries. Further upgrade and personalize any backyard play space easily by framing the area with 4×4 pressure treated wood and adding recycled tire chips as a durable, safe and insect repellent ground cover.

Mommy and me
Make a comfortable, neat and decorative space for moms and caregivers who accompany the children outside. Build a bench with or without storage, a table and add an umbrella for a space that is comfortable as well as practical. Match your materials to any other outside structure or create your own theme. Teak boards can be left unfinished or painted. Incorporate some flower boxes for mom to tend or for a joint gardening project with the kids, who will love to paint and decorate their own boxes.

Related: Top Spots for Summer Playdates In Connecticut


Theodora DeBarbieri is an animal advocate, columnist and local TV show host residing in Connecticut. She is owned by a number of dogs, cats and birds. Her work can be found at

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