• Judy Sin

My Million Dollar Listing, Lamorinda: Converting a Children’s Playhouse into a Luxe DIY Chicken Coop


When Selling Lamorinda started and we finally took the leap and moved from New York to California, we couldn’t have known that COVID would hit a few months later and we’d find ourselves on an entirely new coast figuring things out. The first friends we made were ten chickens we ordered online and picked up during our first trip to the post office in Moraga. Our children fell in love with their baby chicks right away and we were, as they say, bitten by the homesteading bug.


My kids with their 10 baby chicks, their first friends in Lamorinda CA
My kids with their 10 baby chicks, their first friends in Lamorinda CA


Inspired by a trip to Napa, and with the outdoor space we have in Lamorinda, I really wanted a backyard homestead completed with raised beds, orchard (fruit basket I called it), string lights and, chickens. I wanted a design that would compliment our landscaping, but when I searched at places like the Home Depot and Tractor Supply, all of their coops were either too small, too flimsy, and downright primitive. There are fancy coop makers out there, for example Carolina Coops and Bay Area Coops, but the options were prohibitively expensive. So, I got creative.


After watching some YouTube videos, I decided that the best option is to DIY a one-of-a-kind chicken coop. Children’s outdoor playhouses are the right size for a backyard flock of ten, with lots of styles to choose from that I knew with some tweaks, it will be perfect for our chickens.


Brix in Napa, their beautiful garden is the inspiration of my backyard makeover in Lamorinda CA
Brix in Napa, their beautiful garden is the inspiration for my backyard makeover in Lamorinda CA


How I converted a children’s playhouse to a dream chicken coop


I bought the Kidkraft's Country Vista playhouse, it resembles our house and who doesn't want a chicken coops that is a mini-version of their own house?


To assemble the playhouse wasn't as easy though, when I started unpacking my new "chicken coop" I was overwhelmed by the million little screws and pieces that all needed assembling. The instructions were elaborate and complicated, but I was not about to get intimidated by them.


The original playhouse was cute, but it was a plain brown and boring, so I decided to spruce it up with the trending white house + black trim, a staple color combination for luxurious farmhouse in Lamorinda. After picking out the colors I wanted, I started piecing the coop together and painting the pieces as I went along. I even painted the inside of the coop because it would look better!


Slowly but surely, the coop started taking shape. With the help of my handy power drill and many trips to the hardware store (thanks to some faulty screwdrivers and pesky screws), walls started taking shape and I was able to secure the roof on top. It was starting to look like a real coop, and I was pumped. For a little bit of extra whimsy, I even ordered a tiny weathervane (with a chicken on it of course), painted it red and secured it to the top of the roof. It was looking good.





Next came the door, which I stained a deep, mahogany brown and then we started customizing the coop itself. The playhouse was far too open to keep our chickens safe, so we framed out and closed off the back into a separate space for our chickens to nest in. We even added a small door with a hinge to make gathering eggs a breeze. The children even helped with the painting; it was starting to be a family affair.


As chickens make tasty treats for backyard predators, we made sure to take our time with predator proofing the open windows and doors by screwing hardware cloth in place. The playhouse itself already had open spaces near the roof which made for great ventilation, but we added some hardware cloth there too for security. As an added touch, we attached a sturdy latch to the door before installing it. Nobody was going to snack on these chickens on my watch!


For some finishing touches, I spruced up the inside by adding some perches and a small ladder for my girls to roost on, as well as a basket or two for nesting. And, of course, what million dollar coop would be complete without an automated door? We cut a hole in the side of the coop, installed the door and – voila! – our chickens could put themselves away in the evening even if we weren’t at home.





The time was upon us: it was finally time to install the coop in place. It took 4 guys to lift the almost 300 lbs coop into place. There were a few more steps to do. We leveled the ground, drove four support posts in ground and topped them with a piece of plywood to serve as the base of the coop and also give our hens a bit of a “deck” to hang out on. Next, the coop was secured onto its platform, we added couple steps to make it easier for our girls to enter and exit their home and we attached a two outdoor dog kennels as their enclosed and protected run.





That last day was a rush to the finish, our hens were out passed their bedtime and we scrambled to get everything done. Worried about the coming night, our children even pressed, “Can we bring the chickens inside tonight?” I hoped it wouldn’t come to that! But at long last, and not a moment too soon, we placed the feeder and waterer inside, and we’d finally done it. We finished our coop. When our chickens tucked themselves into their new home that evening, we all let out a sigh of relief. My chickens and I finally had the coop of our dreams, the envy of all chickens from Lafayette to Moraga to Orinda.




Conclusion


Considering moving to Lamorinda? Intrigued to raise backyard chickens of your own? The Lamorinda area, which is East of Berkeley Hills and between Walnut Creek and Caldecott Tunnel, includes the cities of Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda, CA, offers a much bigger indoor/outdoor living space. These suburbs are all about half an hour by car from the more lively city of San Francisco, so they are close enough that you can still pop back for work or spend a more upbeat evening with your friends in the city, yet you can enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of these less populated cities.


Get in touch if you are considering relocating to these areas and want to have a local realtor help you with the buying process along the way. I’d be happy to assist your search for your dream family home!