‘Tis the season of luuuuv and have I got a sweetly spontaneous recycled art project for you today!
These little recycled cardboard love shacks are an artful way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and don’t require more than a few ordinary household supplies. As part of our 100 Little Homes project, they’re meant to create an opportunity for kids to try simple construction and encourage unconstrained exploration of media.
And here’s the real beauty of this architectural kids craft…from artists Elina Climent and Beverly Buchanan to Eric Cremers, this project offers an introduction to the processes and purposes of artistic greats you may not be as familiar with!
To make your own cardboard love shacks you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- A cardboard box or cardboard scraps
- Acrylic or tempera paint and paintbrush
- A hot glue gun or craft glue
- Chalk pastels
- Craft dowels or balsa wood rods
- Masking tape
- Other decorative craft items
DIY Recycled Cardboard Love Shack Instructions:
- Cut a long rectangle from a piece of cardboard
We cut out an 10-inch tall by 24-inch wide piece of cardboard from a large box we had broken down.
- Cut the top of your rectangle to create an angle
Optional: Using scissors or a utility knife, cut a strip off the top of your cardboard rectangle at an angle so one side is longer than the other. This will allow the roof of your shack to sit at an angle like a lean-to.
- Fold to make the simple 3-sided base structure
Crease and fold your rectangle into 3 equal sides to create the main base of your love shack.
- Cut out a simple cardboard rectangle for the roof
Cut another square or rectangular piece of cardboard for your roof. You want to make sure it’s a bit longer on every side so there’s a nice overhang.
- Affix the roof onto the structure
Using a glue gun or similar, glue the roof to the top of your cardboard love shack base.
- Add color and texture with paint and other mediums
Use acrylic or tempera paint (or similar) to paint any way you choose! You can paint the walls a flat color, or create patchworks of painted + chalked areas as we did.
Add texture with ripped pieces of paper or cardboard that have been torn to show the corrugation.
- Add details and decoration (like our swinging door and flag)
Make your mini love shack your own signature work of art by adding a few personal details.
We cut a square out of cardboard, used masking tape to attach it to the front opening, and glued on a painted cardboard heart for a sweet swinging entry.
For a festive flag like ours, cut a basic triangle out of cardboard, paint, add a painted or sticker heart, then glue to a balsa or craft wood dowel.
There are so many ways these cardboard lean-to structures can be integrated into larger lessons for kids – from architecture to local historical research – even color theory!
You can make a whole set of these for a love shack neighborhood (wouldn’t they look great on a beachy setup with sand?). It would make a wonderful class project, with collections that could be displayed at end-of-year shows and fairs.
If these cardboard houses set your heart a-flutter, you might also like our Burga-inspired cardboard building block castles, fill-in-the-window cardboard city neighborhood project, upcycled toadstool gnome home, or recycled pet play tank (a great way to use up a cardboard box!). Be sure to check out our 100 Little Homes STEAM-Building Challange as well!
*A note about Amazon affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!
With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help families discover their creative potential and be inspired to make the world a better place through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community.
When not playing with ideas, designs and projects for barley & birch, Amanda enjoys working as a modern art curator and managing her own small design business.