This story originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of inRegister.
Despite storm clouds forming overhead, a half-dozen children are spending yet another Sunday afternoon outside of the Hundred Oaks Park home of Ashley and Mike Fontenot, anxiously awaiting a pizza delivery.
“We always have Sunday dinner together,” says Rose Marie Fife, the grandmother of the energetic brood, as she looks on from the back patio. “It’s a family tradition and it’s never fancy—just fun.”
As the kids run laps around the increasingly muddy yard, a crisp white playhouse adorned with a tiny blue door, window boxes and a miniature pink rocking chair stands in stark contrast to the dark sky and damp grass.
“It was a present from my parents to Rosie for her third birthday,” says Ashley. “I always wanted a playhouse like this when I was young but I never got one. Needless to say, I was going to make sure Rosie got one.”
Ashley’s father, Johnny Fife, isn’t the kind of guy who would just pick something up from the store, however. As the president of Arkel Constructors, he knows a thing or two about buildings. And while this house is considerably smaller than the hospitals and restaurants he is accustomed to creating, he says the process of bringing it from the ground up is strikingly similar.
“I had someone at Arkel draw up the plans,” explains Johnny, noting the alterations made to accommodate Rosie’s brother Bowen, who wanted an area for himself with a slide and swings. “The only difference is working in and on such a small space. Things like the tiny doors and windows had to be special ordered.”
Starting with a basic house design, Johnny says his daughter took to transforming the space, going “over the top as usual.” Anchoring the space with white walls and floors, Ashley incorporated art created by her and Rosie’s oldest cousin Ella, as well as bright pieces from Target, Ikea, HomeGoods and Overstock to create a space that is as sophisticated as it is whimsical.
“There is no cellphone reception out here, so some days I will just come sit in here and decompress,” says Ashley with a laugh. “I told my dad, this one is so great, the next one he builds is going to have to have an elevator!”
See more pictures of this playhouse in our gallery below: