How to Build a Cobblestone Fairy House
Accessorize your fairy garden with a handmade house adorned with natural stones.
Conjure your own backyard magic by building a fairy garden in a secret nook in the woods, the garden or amongst the plants of your landscape. It’s a surefire way to attract fairies after all, and it's a fun and creative architectural project for kids of all ages. Designing a fairy house typically involves using as many all-natural components as possible so that it blends in with nature, and I channeled that when I designed and built a miniature stone-covered cottage for our secret garden fairies.
- 2x4 x 3' board
- miter saw
- 2-1/2” wood screws
- 3/8” cement board
- measuring tape
- 1/2” zinc-plated screws
- mixing bowl and stir stick
- assorted pebbles
- assorted roofing materials
- wooden branch (1-2” diameter suitable for cross-cuts)
- small brad nails
- wood-burning tool
Step 1: Build Base
Build a base for your fairy house. To do this, cut the 2x4 board into three pieces all equal length, and then used a miter saw to cut a roofline for the house. Stack the three pieces and then use long wood screws to connect them together to create a solid block.
Step 2: Measure and Cut Cement Board
Measure and cut pieces of cement board to serve as the underlayer for the for all four walls and the extended roof with an overhang. The cement board is a critical part of the construction because the mortar you use to adhere the stones will attach well to the board. Plus, cement board won’t bow and flex with moisture, which is why it is commonly used for tiling showers and floors. For your fairy house, cement board will help it last longer and be more weather-resistant than if you were attaching the stones directly to the wood.
Most pieces of cement board are sold as 4’ x 4’ or 4’ x 8’ pieces, but understandably you won’t need that much for this small fairy-sized cottage. When you go to your home improvement store, ask if they have small scrap pieces they can sell to you.
Use a handsaw to cut individual pieces for each side of the house. Wear a respirator and cut in a well-ventilated space to avoid contact with the concrete dust that is produced during cutting.
Step 3: Attach Cement Board
Use zinc-plated screws to attach the cement board directly to the wooden frame.
Step 4: Add Roofing
The roof itself need not be complicated; in fact, I cut the two sides from scrap pieces of 1/2” flagstone to create two large shingles that overlap at the top of the roof. You could also use tiles, bigger pebbles or slate stones, or even lengths of tree bark. Depending on what you use, the saw you employ may vary. Use a hand saw for anything delicate like wood and a tile saw for tiles and large stones (you can see how I used a tile saw to cut pieces of shale in a previous project). For this project, I used a heavy duty cut-off saw with a diamond blade (essentially a big tile saw) to cut the two flagstone pieces.
Mix and spread the mortar 1/4” thick on the cement board panels on the roof and then press the clean flagstone pieces firmly into the mortar. Let them dry for at least an hour (it could take a full day for it to dry 100%, but the flagstone will be embedded solidly after a shorter period of time).
Step 5: Attach Windows + Doors
Trim out the windows and a door. For both, creativity is yours. I cut wood slices from a branch using the chop saw, and then cut one in half to design a half-moon transom window to go over the fairy door. For the door, I used a piece of scrap oak flooring. I matched the door's width to the diameter of the crescent-shaped transom. You can connect the wood pieces directly to the cement board with a brad nail. Mortar alone won't be enough to hold a piece of wood to cement board.
Step 6: Attach Siding
Cobblestones are next! Harvest a collection of stones from your yard, the beach, or even purchase a small pouch at the craft store. I needed enough to cover nearly 100 square inches.
Mix and spread more mortar until it’s a peanut butter consistency. Spread it 1/4" thick across a small section of a wall. Push the stones into the mortar one at a time, organizing the shape as best as possible so that the pieces fit close together. Push the stones into the bed of mortar so the excess squeezes through the spaces and is visible between the stones. Work from the bottom of each wall up to the roofline so that the stones stack on top of one another. Once you’ve reached the top, move on to the next wall.
Allow the mortar to dry for 4-5 hours and then follow back over the stones with a damp sponge to wipe off any excess mortar that stuck to the surface of the stones. Allow the fairy house cobblestones to cure overnight.
Step 7: Embellish
Adding detail to the wooden accents can be done using a wood burning tool. Sketch your design lightly in pencil onto the windows and door and then use the burning tool to detail your fairy house.
Once it’s done, position it outside in the perfect fairy garden spot, and enjoy its appeal.