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Redo Big Blue: Our Little Norwegian Playset Reveal

"So when my sister messaged me and said, 'Okay, a cute Norway mustard would be so fun!', I just truly couldn't shake it....I knew I would regret it forever if I didn't give it a go."


At the end of August, we jumped into one of my favorite projects yet: our playset renovation!

This playset has been such a thrilling design challenge. When we started I had no idea just what direction it would take, but I am so glad I went with the flow. I swear the flow always ends up getting me to places better than I could not have planned out on my own. We definitely had our ups and downs with this project, but I am over the moon happy with how it turned out!

Back in August, we were offered a really incredible playset by some family members who were ready to get it out of their backyard. They told us it would definitely need some TLC, but we agreed that it was worth it for our girls. They would be so thrilled! As we started talking about what we would need to do to fix it up, me being the way that I am also started scheming up how we could go beyond just fixing it structurally and give it a proper makeover.

Sadly, that playset ended up tipping over in a big windstorm, and the circular tube slide cracked. We researched all sorts of ways we could try and fix it, but that wasn't looking very promising and purchasing a replacement for it would all of a sudden make our fairly inexpensive project not so inexpensive after all. We had been dreaming up all these fun ideas for our girls and at this point and we just couldn't get the playset idea out of our heads.

So, Riley did one of the things that he does best and kept a vigilant eye on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Within just a few days, he had found not 1, but 2 brand new listings for free playsets that popped up at the same time. They were both great options, but the one with the extra cute and feminine details felt like the obvious choice. We put all of our efforts into making sure that one came to us. Riley was able to quickly borrow a truck and trailer from work and he and his dad went to load it up. In just a few hours it was sitting in our backyard!

We noticed that it was fairly wobbly, so one of the first things we started on was tightening and shoring it up as much as possible. It still sways just the slightest bit when the girls get swinging pretty hard, but it is SO much better than it was.

Next, Riley pulled out the little pressure washer I got him for Christmas a few years ago and sprayed the whole thing down. Why is pressure washing just so satisfying? We ended up stripping the majority of the previous stain off of the whole thing and got everything nice and clean, ready for paint!

Oh, but before we get to the paint, we can't forget about the additional counter space we added to the bottom. We knew our girls would be most interested in using this area as a little play kitchen, especially since the set has a darling little bench area perfect for serving customers. So we picked up a few inexpensive fence posts from Home Depot, cut them down, and nailed them in to give them a place to prepare their pretend food.

We are of the belief that if we are going to invest a bunch of our time and resources into a project, we really want it to last. This feels especially true when working with paint so we try our best not to cut any corners. We really prefer to avoid dealing with oil-based primer as much as possible, but after some research we found that this would be the best way to prepare the surface. We definitely don't regret that decision however, we do regret starting to spray it on right before sundown thinking we could just bust through it really quick. Long story short...we didn't bust through it quickly and our patience was tried very thoroughly. HA! But we did finish it by midnight with the help of a few headlamps and a flood light and we were so grateful to be done.

Then came the choice of paint color! Here is where the nod to Norway started. Originally I was thinking of ways to make the playset really just feel like an extension of our house. Pulling the colors for the whole exterior of the playset from colors we had already used on the exterior of our house, and then bringing in a fun, playful color to the inside areas and front door. I still think all of this would have looked really great, but good golly am I glad my sister messaged me with a much more exciting idea.

But first, I really must give you some context or the brilliance of the idea just doesn't quite land the same way.

Earlier this year my sister and I were able to travel with our mom, 80-year-old grandma, and my 6-month-old baby (4 generations) to Norway. My great, great grandpa came to America from Norway back in the early 1900s at the age of 19, leaving behind his parents, and sister. He never stepped foot there again and only saw his mother one more time. He had a son, and that son had a daughter, my grandma. By the time she was 6 years old, she lost both of them. She has spent her whole life searching for ways to learn more about her father's ancestral line and has always dreamed of tracing her grandpa's steps back to Norway, knowing that he left his family there. Well, we were able to connect with those family members this year and they welcomed us in with arms wide open. We spent 2 weeks there getting to know them and it really left a lasting imprint on my heart. I truly cherish the memories made there so very much.

While driving all over the Norwegian countryside, we noticed a very specific color scheme that we were obsessed with. The whole country is dotted with homes, cabins, and cottages in 4 different colors.

  1. White

  2. Black, with white window trim (very similar to our house!)

  3. Deep red

  4. Mustard yellow

So when my sister messaged me and said, "Okay, a cute Norway mustard would be so cute!", I just truly couldn't shake it. For one thing, I truly do love color, but being able to pull in a color that is not only one that brings me SO much joy, but also one that is now attached to some of my very most treasured memories. Truly, it was just too much. I knew I would regret it forever if I didn't give it a go!

The next day I was picking out paint colors. We knew we wanted to use the same product we used on the exterior of our house, Sherwin Williams Resilience Exterior Paint, because we have been so impressed by the quality. Luckily we also bought it during their Labor Day sale so it was 40% off! Of course, I picked the color that requires a special yellow base vs the typical white or dark bases most paint colors come in. Riley jokes that I always tend to pick the hardest things and he really isn't wrong. I had to drive to 3 different Sherwin Williams locations to round up 9 separate quarts because no one had it in gallons. But no regrets because this color is perfect! It is earthy enough to where it feels appropriate in the color story of our house, but because of the yellow base it is made with there is definitely an added vibrancy. It is exactly what I was hoping for!

We dumped all of the quarts into one larger bucket and Riley sprayed the whole thing using our Graco Paint Sprayer. It was so fast and efficient!

While the paint color was truly perfect, when I let the name of it really sink in it sent me on a terrible mental spiral that almost derailed the whole thing. Especially in comparison to the specific shade of green of the slide and hardware. The paint is called "Back to School" by Behr and all of a sudden the only thing I could see was a giant #2 pencil. It was truly causing me to absolutely hate the sight of it. I was trying to stay calm and just think through my options, but I was feeling pretty stressed. After a few phone calls and conversations with my mom, my brother, and my sister (my family design team!) I was able to work my way through and find the right solution.

It wasn't the yellow I needed to change, but the green slide and hardware. We originally wanted to steer away from painting our slide, but we both knew this was the route we needed to take. We made sure to find a backup option for purchase in case painting things went terribly wrong and we regretted it, but nope! We definitely made the right choice.

We decided to keep things green, but go with a much more muddy shade. I was nervous that we would never find the right one knowing that we needed to use spray paint and that only comes in so many colors. Thankfully Rust-O-Leum had the color Hunt Club Green and it is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! I love that our slide doesn't even look like we painted it. The color is very much in line with traditional playgrounds, but the small shift in the shade made the most monumental difference. It makes my heart sing! We painted all of the hardware as well, including the rocks for the climbing wall.

One other challenge I ran into with paint colors was what to do with the trim. I knew I wanted the roof to be dark. My original inspiration photo was of a cute cottage with mustard siding and a dark green, almost black window trim. However, I was also pulled in by the idea of doing white trim. It seemed a little more fresh and playful and because this is a kid's play set that was obviously enticing.

I was really struggling because at this point I still hadn't even solved the #2 pencil dilemma. So, I painted half of the trim Elmira White by Benjamin Moore, (the white color we have trimming the windows on our house) and the other half in Jasper by Sherwin Williams, a deep dark green. Ultimately the darker option just looked SO much better. Especially when I looked at it with our dark house in the background. It tied the two together in a really magical way!

The one place I did use the white is on what I call the interior of the playset. So the little covered areas on top and on the bottom. I painted it all by hand and just love how fresh it makes everything feel! It was absolutely the right choice.

Lastly, we touched it up with some fun details. I picked up some fun kitchen items from the thrift store and hung them with hooks we had in the garage already.

I snagged some self adhesive house numbers from Home Depot in the ages of all of our girls and spray-painted them black.

Target had some darling little wooden baskets in their value section that I painted to match the trim, and filled with some faux greenery and flowers (also from Target).

We found an old exterior light at a second hand building supply store for a few dollars and spray painted it black as well!

We had a bunch of rocks in our recently cleared-out junkyard area. I set a few to the side knowing they would look so darling as a little path leading up to the front door. The girls helped me lay them and I could just feel their excitement as they watched things really come together!

We also swapped out one of the swing attachments. Partially for aesthetic purposes, and partially because we wanted a swing for our baby to be able to sit in. I was so excited when I found this Playstar Bucket Swing, normally at least $125 for just $30 on Facebook Marketplace. Like, what a steal!

I do have a few more projects up my sleeve to add to the playset in the future, but for now we are so dang proud of this finished product! This playset feels tailormade to our family and I really value that. Our girls have already spent countless hours out there creating and laughing and playing together. Add on the way that it makes me feel just a little bit closer to my heritage, and some of my very favorite memories and people in Norway and truly, and truly it is as close to perfect as I think I can get.


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