Maddy Kaminski doesn’t really bother herself with square footage and detailed architectural plans. Or permits or invoices or subcontractors she doesn’t regularly exchange small talk with over a bowl of cereal.
She knew she needed her own space, for her and her dogs. She knew she wanted that space in her backyard. She knew she wanted to be able to hang family photos along the staircase wall. And, she knew she wanted someone who sees her in her pajamas every night to build it.
Good thing her parents knew what they were doing. Or, at least learned what they didn’t along the way.
Maddy, a sweet 6-year-old living in a 1929 Tudor in the Cheery Lynn Historic District in Phoenix, recently “moved in” to a replica of the house in which she sleeps. Technically, she moved her stuff into the home, her toys and stuffed animals and a cozy bean bag for the loft.
To be sure, mindful thought was given to every last detail of that quaint, 118-square foot tiny Tudor that sits beneath a welcome canopy of pine trees, right down to the crystal doorknobs, the crown molding and the address plate out front.
She likes the couch the best, which clearly has nothing to do with the actual construction of the house, but found new life after being rescued from a nearby antique shop and was then refinished with a slate gray paint by her mom.
“This neighborhood is older, and there aren’t many kids, so we wanted a place for her,” Tysen Kaminski, 35, said of the impressive playhouse. “Her friends loved it. They didn’t want to go home.”
Seemingly not one aesthetic detail was forgotten. But, a few logistical details may have been overlooked in the beginning, when Alex Kaminski got going on the project. But, by sheer luck and serendipity, those overlooked details fell right into place.
The square footage of the house fell just short of what would require a permit. The 15-foot peak of the roof measured to the inch to local requirements, even though it was taller than Alex had thought it would be. And the steep ladder that allowed for access to the second floor swapped out easily for a set of petite stairs.
“I built it for her because I kind of always wanted one when I was little,” Alex, 33, said of the house he began building in November of last year and finished just before the neighborhood’s home tour in March. “I actually got into it. I loved doing it.”
That love shows.
Maddy’s visitors are greeted by a turquoise front door, adorned with a seasonal wreath and adjacent to a flower-box accented front window.
Once inside, the vaulted ceiling in the entryway towers 15 feet, with a delicate, and very ladylike, chandelier dangling from the highest point. A large wish, made of whitewashed wood and vinyl cutouts, hangs on the wall directly across from the entrance.
Alex admits that the piece was bitterly painful to complete, but worth it in the end.
“That was the final touch,” he said of the piece, revealing that caulking the seams and adding crown molding also brought the entire place together in a different way.
The entryway leads in one direction to a play kitchen and the other way to what would be a family room in “normal” sized homes. That room holds an electric fireplace that works and a tower of wire baskets filled with stuffed dogs, for when Maddy lives out her fantasy of becoming a veterinarian.
The medical charts for the dogs sit just off to the side.
“She just loves dogs,” Tysen said of her daughter, who placed two, hand-painted ceramic dogs out front of the house, not far from the address tile.
Yes. The playhouse has an address. And it includes a fraction, obviously.
In lieu of true flooring, Tysen found inspiration one day and transformed the house’s plywood base into a multi-colored, one-of-a-kind flooring that added a finish and dimension without adding cost. A dash of glitter helped, too.
The look carries up the stairs to the second floor, collages of family photos guiding visitors up the stairs just as Maddy had hoped.
The second floor, which feels very much like a loft, has a door that leads to an outdoor deck that wraps around to the front of the house. It’s where Maddy hopes to one day affix a zipline for a quick escape, Home Alone-style.
“I want one from here to the door,” Maddy said of her hopeful amenity, which would connect her, aerially, to the 910-square foot, two-bedroom main house.
It’s from the deck that Maddy’s guests gets an up close view of the house’s wooden shingles, which mirror the main home’s roof. Alex corralled wood fencing, like the fencing that bordered their yard, painstakingly cut the fencing into shingles and laid them one by one on the roof.
For him, it was all about the look.
“I wanted it to match our house,” he said.
And that it does. To a T.