Hayden Regina – creator of the Hobbit Houses at Fernwood Botanical Gardens in Niles, Michigan – is joining us today to share how he created a set of charming little houses in the gardens from simple materials that cost around $250 each. Who doesn’t want to live like Frodo and Bilbo? Or at least pretend for a little while….- R
Place yourself in the mind of a five year old. The imagination and creativity of a child is something too often lost, as people grow older. Many still call me a child at the ripe old age of 18, and maybe the truth in that sentiment is why I was drawn to the idea of designing a Nature Adventure Garden at Fernwood. A garden in which to entertain the thought of children being drawn back outside and away from the television and video games – what is not to like?
After a series of serendipitous events, I found myself as the final designer of the newest addition to the Fernwood Gardens. Although many ideas where formulated, the one that stuck through every rendition of my design were the hobbit houses as they have been deemed by the staff and visitors. For around $250.00 each and a total build time of about 8 hours a building, I had designed three blank canvases to feed a child’s imagination.
For reason of time, I wanted to keep the houses as simple as possible to create. The base is an extra large doghouse. What more could you ask for than a prefab, cedar house that only required a drill?
Click through for full instructions and materials.
- 1 Large doghouse (we used The Stable Wood Pet House by Merry Pet, Large is recommended)
- 1 Sheet of plywood
- 1 Box of decking screws
- 1 Spray can of foam sealant
- 1 Heavy-duty tarp or plastic
- 1 Staple Gun
- Spray paint of choice
- Light fixture of choice
- Hand saw
Put the four walls together and cut a groove out of the back peak to run an extension cord for a light fixture. Once the cord is in place, the roof may be put on. In about twenty minutes a beautiful new doghouse for a child was built! Yes, a doghouse for a child.
Measure out the exact size of the front of the house, door, and roofline onto the plywood. Now is where having the mindset of being a five year old comes in handy. Play with different free forms or geometric patterns until you decide how you want your hobbit house to look. Use a jigsaw to cut out your pattern. Attach your newly designed hobbit facade to the front of the doghouse using the decking screws up the corners, doorframe, and roofline of the house. Fill in gaps with spray foam sealant.
It is time to paint! I wanted to stick with a natural weathered look, so it took around 5 colors of spray paint in different applications to achieve the color of each house. The color and technique is really up to you.
Place the newly build hobbit house in its final location. Make sure it is on level ground. At this point, take the tarp or heavy plastic and wrap the back three walls and bottom. Use the staple gun to secure it to the house. Styrofoam may be used to build a foe mound so less dirt is needed. Once that is done, back filling around the house may begin. Cover until the top of the house is under about six or eight inches of dirt. Plant the front of the house so dirt does not fall over the peak – I used Sporobolus heterolepis for the grassy look.
Now that it is installed, the last step is to personalize. Secure the lights to the top of the ceiling and decorate away.
And to anyone who thinks the doghouses are small — They fit full size adults.
For questions or a more detailed explanation, you can contact me here.