Minn. — Leo Kuhl sat on the edge of a yellow tube.
Then he disappeared.
6-year-old twisted and turned down the curved, enclosed
slide, then landed in the basement below.
fun," said Leo. "But a little scary when it
is kind of fast," admitted his dad, Steve Kuhl of
his in-home slide creation, "but I didn’t want
the kids to be bored with it by the time they’re
26-foot-long tube slide is among the quirky,
one-of-a-kind play spaces inside the Kuhls’ Hopkins
also has carved out secret rooms under staircases,
tunnels inside closets, suspended bunk beds and built a
timber framed loft for his two children, Leo and
Charlie, and their friends.
can play a role in sparking kids’ imaginations, said
Kuhl. "In this age when we’re more virtual, these
spaces can encourage kids to interact with their
kids are lucky that their dad has construction know-how
and resources; he and business partner Dan Murphy own
Kuhl Design and Build in Hopkins.
recently added a ladder above the slide so the kids can
climb through a door opening to the second floor. He
revealed it to Leo for his sixth birthday. "He was
whooping and hollering ‘This is awesome!’?"
long slide travels one story, from the mudroom to the
basement. To assemble it, Kuhl used 3-D rendering
computer software to model how it would fit in the
ordered the tubes from a playground equipment company
and installed them in sections. Lastly, he added LED
blinking lights for a carnival funhouse feel.
take spins down the slide, too. "We’ve had to
wipe off spilled cocktails inside," he said.
slides are spendy — the tubing alone cost $5,000 —
secret rooms are more attainable for homeowners, said
Kuhl. "Cut a hole in Sheetrock, and put in an
the stairs is a popular — and smart — spot to carve
out kid-friendly hideaways.
look at under staircases, an often unused storage space,
as opportunities to create something unique for
kids," said Matt Schmidt, co-owner of AMEK Custom
Builders of Bloomington, Minn.
reading nook outfitted with bookshelves and a cushioned
bench, and a curved secret room, are two of AMEK’s
and Bob Worrell tucked a fanciful playhouse for their
grandchildren inside a storage area beneath the stairs
of their basement, which was remodeled by Plekkenpol
Builders in Bloomington.
installed cedar shakes and blue painted siding to match
the exterior of their French Country home.
grandchildren decorated the interior with
need to duck to get through the child-sized door, but
"the kids love it and sleep in there," said
lofts, which feel like funky forts, are a hot commodity
among kids and teens.
DiaGicomo designed a loft above her daughter’s bedroom
inside an addition on her Minnetonka home. She scrambles
up a ladder at the foot of the bed to a cozy carpeted
retreat to read, study or watch TV under a skylight.
was designed to grow with her from 5 years old to a
teenager," said DiGiacomo, interior designer for
DiGiacomo Homes and Renovation in Minnetonka, Minn.
Levin, principal at Revolution Design+Build, chose an
industrial grunge theme for the bedroom of a teenager
who participates in extreme sports.
loft, which was carved from attic space, is surrounded
by a galvanized corrugated metal wall, "like
something you’d see at a skateboard park," said
Levin. The teen watches TV, works on his laptop and has
buddies sleep over up there.
more high-end, elaborate Disneyesque space is an
"Alice in Wonderland"-themed tunnel and
playroom inside an Edina, Minn., home by Schrader &
Companies of Eden Prairie.
Andy Schrader fashioned the child-sized playland under a
basement staircase and porch.
white rabbit painted on the wall guides you through an
8-foot passageway to an arched opening "that gets
smaller as you walk in," said Schrader.
9,000-square-foot home also features a hidden tunnel
connecting two of the kids’ bedrooms.
fun features can even help make the sale.
not just selling the house to mom and dad," said
Schrader. "We want the kids to get excited about
having their own place."