inspiration image for TOH Reader Remodel Yard Winner 2012
Photo: Roger Fletcher/Alamy
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Best Yard Redo: Inspiration Abroad

Who: David Trepp
Where: Newport News, Virginia

I fondly remember my brother and I lording over our side yard from the safety of our fort, an elevated structure on 4-foot posts that my dad had built for us. I wanted my daughters to have a place of their own to enjoy, so I built Devon, 13, and Lauren, 11, a one-and-a-half-story playhouse last year.

I didn't really have a project in mind 21 years ago when my wife, Elizabeth, and I bought a pair of carved entry doors, complete with an iron lockset, from an antiques dealer in Germany. We carted them along as we moved from Germany back to the U.S., and then they sat in the garage until I realized that I could build a playhouse around them. I designed the structure on free 3-D design software to lay out the joists, rafters, walls, and dormer, and sited it near a tree so that I could rig up a hoist to lift the plywood to the roof. All the materials came from the home center. I had to special order the 4×6 door-frame pieces and the 4×8 ridge beam, but all the other decorative beams are standard sizes of pressure-treated lumber. The first floor has two windows and a ladder up to the loft.

Shown: The medieval German timber-frame-and-stucco inspiration.
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