The Essential Guide to Designing the Perfect Outdoor Play Cubby

By 06/11/2020 No Comments

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to build an outdoor play cubby. Now comes the fun part: design.

Modern outdoor play cubbies come in all shapes and sizes, meaning you’ll be presented with a lot of options. The flexibility is great, but it can be intimidating.

Little Chief simplifies the design of your play cubby with our modular approach, meaning you can mix and match elements to build a custom play cubby that’s perfectly suited to your space and for your kids.

Little Chief makes it easier to build the right play cubby. But what exactly should you be taking into consideration when it comes to design? Here’s your essential guide to designing the perfect play cubby:

1) Remember the purpose of a play cubby

Play cubbies can be an important catalyst for your children’s development. They have the potential to:

  • Foster independence and responsibility
  • Encourage imagination and creativity
  • Provide more opportunities for family interaction and connection
  • Support physical development.

The above-listed potential benefits of play cubbies should inform the design process. For example, if you want to maximize the potential for building independence and responsibility, you’ll want to ensure the play cubby incorporates at least some element of privacy. By providing a place where your kids know they aren’t being watched, you’re encouraging them to take more responsibility for their actions.

For a closer look at the benefits a play cubby can bring, read our article “Why Play Cubbies are Important for Child Development.”

Lemonade from our cubby

2) Think long-term (your play cubby can evolve over time)

Outdoor play cubbies can be an important part of children’s life from when they are toddlers all the way up to their pre-teenage years. Unfortunately, the type of play cubby that best suits each age group is likely to be different. This is why you need to think long-term.

For example, you may want to start off with an open design that allows you to keep an eye on your toddlers at all times. Then, as your kids grow up, you may want to fill in the walls or perhaps add a fully-enclosed play cubby as an extension. Doing so will give your kids that “independence-building” privacy.

Little Chief’s “Fort” is a popular classic play cubby with an open design:

Australian Fort Cubby by LittleChief

Little Chief’s, “The Crate,” by contrast, provides a private space that kids can “take ownership” of:


Australian Cubby our door play watering plants

Also consider that, as your kids get bigger and stronger, you may want to add elements that give them opportunities to be more physical.

Little Chief offers a wide variety of such elements –  from monkey bars, to slides, fireman’s poles, and scramble nets – and our modular design makes it easy to integrate them in any configuration you want. For example, here you see two cubbies connected by a bridge to form an adventure playground the integrates two slides, a climbing wall, and a fireman’s pole:

Cubby Bridge by Little Chief

The point is, the play cubby you initially build does not have to be the final version. Having a rough vision for how your play cubby might evolve over the years, however, will make it easier to plan out your starting position and give you more flexibility going forward.

Little Chief’s play cubbies use high-quality materials and will last many years. Additionally, our cubbies have also been designed for easy dismantling and relocating. This means that Little Chief’s play cubbies can easily adapt to your changing family needs.

3) Maximize the potential for creativity

Play cubbies can be a paradise for the imagination. However, it’s important that the design allows for as much creative potential as possible. The goal should be for your kids to use their imagination to turn their play cubby into anything from a pirate’s ship to a café storefront.

One easy way to increase the creative potential of your play cubby is by adding accessories. For example, adding a servery window or a shop front to one or more walls of your play cubby gives your young kids the option to set up shop, serving imaginary food or providing imaginary services. As they get older, imaginary foods turn into real foods or services, putting your kids on a path towards entrepreneurship, with all the benefits it brings.


As another example, adding planter boxes is a good way to give your kids the responsibility of taking care of living things and the associated joy of watching the plants grow thanks to the care and attention your kids provide.

Browse our accessories shop for a closer look at the wide array of customisation options we provide.

4) Think practically

You may be able to put your play cubby to use as a storage space for your kids’ toys. For example, with a “garage” play cubby, your kids will have a place to stow their bikes, electric toy-cars, etc. Note that this not only protects your kids toys from the elements, it also provides an opportunity for your children to take responsibility for their toys. The fact that this space is “their space” instils a greater sense of ownership. This makes your kids more likely to want to do the tidying up, rather than looking at it like a chore that has been imposed upon them.

5) Involve your kids in the design process

As the parents, you’ll of course want to maintain control over the practical design elements of the play cubby. However, providing your kids with some element of decision-making power in the design is important for achieving emotional “buy-in.” This is likely to increase your children’s loyalty to the space, making them more likely to want to use the play cubby over the long-term.

6) Aesthetic considerations

Considering that your play cubby is likely to sit prominently in your yard for many years to come, you’ll want to think about how it blends into your property. Do you want to match some design elements to your home? You can always go with a painting scheme that complements the other buildings on your property. Additionally, Little Chief’s play cubbies come in a variety of styles and provide you with the flexibility to choose the roof colour.

Best Kids AustralianCubbies with Cars and Accessories

The experts at SteelChief (our parent company) are standing by to help. With 40 years’ experience designing and building outdoor lifestyle products it’s our joy to advise on choosing the right play cubby for your unique space. 

Little Chief’s cubbies are Australian-made and guaranteed to last a lifetime. You can choose one of our premade models or work with our experts to design a tailor-made solution. Either way, you’ll get professional installation of an important and long-lasting structure on your property and focal point for your kids’ development.