(diy tutorial) cardboard box barn

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I love that I have a friend who sees a giant cardboard box on the side of the road and thinks, “I’ll stuff it in my car for Vanessa!” Those kind of craft-enabler friends are keepers. This is what I made out of said box.

I was inspired by Living Locurto’s cardboard box barn that she made for her son’s birthday. Logan is quite obsessed with animals at the moment and I knew a barn would be the perfect playhouse for him. I was right. He played in it for 3 hours straight when I first showed it to him, which in toddlerland is like a really long time. It’s now his favorite hide and seek spot.

Dezigns with a Z was kind enough to send over their awesome farm animal chalkboard decals that I attached to the barn, and Logan has been having a blast doodling all over them. I plan on cutting a piece of our leftover carpet to place inside the box, to make it a little comfier. I also want to line the door with felt and cutout felt animals for Logan to use as a felt board. It’s still a work in progress, but I couldn’t wait to show you how I made this fun barn!


Large Cardboard Box (I used a large wardrobe box)
Masking Tape
Hot Glue
Knife or Razor Blade
Gray Primer Paint
Red Paint (I bought the cheapest latex based paint I could find at Lowes, I used around a quart)
Painters Tape
Paint Brush
White Acrylic Paint
Black Stiffened Felt (I used 5 extra large sheets)
Farm Animal Chalkboard Decals (from Dezign with a Z)
Miniature Wooden White Picket Fences (from Hobby Lobby)
Large Wooden Chicken Plaque (from Michaels in the clearance section, you can make your own out of scrapbook paper)
Faux Sunflowers


Step 1: Cut approximately 24 inch slits in all 4 corners on the top of the cardboard box. Fold 2 of the top flaps into a barn shape and use masking tape to secure in place.

Step 2: Hold the 2 remaining top flaps up and trace the barn shape onto the flaps. Cut the shape out, leaving a small flap at the top. Use hot glue and masking tape to secure the flaps to the folded flaps, tucking the tab inside.

Step 3: Using a knife or razor blade, carefully cut a door and a window as shown in the picture below.

Step 4: Prime the cardboard box. I used a gray primer spray paint. No need to spray the sides of the roof.

Step 5: Once the primer is dry, paint the barn with 2-3 coats of red paint. No need to paint the sides of the roof.

Step 6: Lightly draw on X on the door with a pencil and tape off the area using painters tape. You can also tape off a boarder around the the roof and window. Use white acrylic paint to paint inside of the taped off areas. I recommend doing 2-3 coats of white. Wait until dry before pealing off the tape.

Step 7: Cut black stiffened felt sheets into “shingles” and hot glue to the roof, layering as shown in the photo.

Step 8: I used farm animal chalkboard decals from Dezign with a Z to decorate Logan’s barn. I then hot glued miniature wooden white picket fences around the barn and added sunflowers to the windows and corners. I also found a large wooden chicken in the Michaels clearance section (for 75 cents!), painted it white and added it to the front of the barn. Use your creativity to decorate your barn, this is the fun part!

Step 9: Dress your child up in a ridiculously cute cow costume and bribe him with a lollipop to sit still for a photo. Be prepared to sing Old MacDonald 50 million times after building this barn.

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Hi, I'm Vanessa!

Welcome to See Vanessa Craft! I’m Vanessa, an MSSW and mom of two in Arizona, and I’m happy you’re here to get inspired with me. It’s my mission in life to spread creativity through crafts, recipes, travel and more in order to live a life well lived.