Gann Playhouse

The playhouse Brandess Gann ordered, painted and decorated for her backyard is far more than just a way to keep her daughters entertained. It maintains a crucial link to Gann’s beloved grandmother and the time she spent at her grandparents’ home in while growing up.
“When I was younger, my grandmother was an interior decorator in Manassas, Virginia,” Gann said. “She built an elaborate playhouse that was once a garden shed, with gutters, wallpaper, wood floors, and electricity.
“She put her heart and soul into that playhouse. It was a replica of their house; she made comforter sets to match the wallpaper. I have childhood memories of going up there three times a year. I’m a lot like my grandmother in the things that I do, and the project reminded me of her. I knew my girls would have fun with it like I did.”
Gann, who has two daughters (Briley, 13, and Anniston, 19 months), began an extensive internet search for someone who could construct what she had in mind and found Joshua Bartlett, whose company, Imagine That! Playhouses and More is based in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.
“I had started sketching designs because I wanted to build my kids a playhouse and playset for our backyard,” said Bartlett, who launched his business in 2010. “I have an extensive building background and can build pretty much anything. We had so many ideas I told my wife, โ€˜Why don’t we start a playhouse company and offer all these options so people can just pick and choose what they want to add to their playhouses?'”
Bartlett delivers and installs all over the country, so the 300-mile trip to Starkville was what he considered a “close delivery.” Gann ordered a model that was eight by eight feet (and ten feet tall) with a partially covered front porch. The finished playhouse has porch rails, window flower boxes, shutters, a small door, sliding windows made of Plexiglass and a ladder leading to the loft area.
“It took Joshua about four and a half hours to assemble it in my backyard,” Gann said. “I picked out one that looked like a little house and got an unfinished version with natural wood, and I bought the paint and painted myself. It was pre-assembled with wood screws and will be easier to transport if we ever want to move.”
The interior includes Farmhouse country kitchen appliances, wooden, sliceable play food and family pictures โ€“ Gann hung a wooden plaque inscribed with her grandfather’s favorite song, “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” She and her great aunt made the curtains inside, and Gann covered the chairs that go with the table to match the playhouse. There’s even wood laminate flooring and carpet in the loft area.
“Anniston loves it. She’s already pretending how to play cook,” Gann said. “Briley uses the loft as her reading nook. We finished it by the end of March to be ready for summer. We plan to have a bunch of play dates and tea parties for the girls and their friends.
“It was a fun experience that was a lot of work, but the smiles on their faces each time they play is worth it. It brings back my childhood memories and kind of feels like a piece of my grandmother is still with us.”