Finleyville play home company to be featured in documentary
When his daughter Alyssa was just 2, she asked her father, Stephen Chernicky, for a playhouse.
“When we first looked for a playhouse for my daughter, we could not find anything but log houses or Lego houses,” Chernicky said.
“We built her a Victorian mansion with stain glass window and Mansard roof.
“I built one for her and one for her nephews and people liked them so I kept going.”
After the family moved about five years later, Chernicky built his daughter a bigger Victorian playhouse.
“That one is still in our backyard and has many memories, many campouts and cookouts,” Chernicky said. “It is filled with teen beanbag chairs and 'N Sync posters.”
Chernicky founded Lilliput Play Homes in 1989, building homes on a part-time basis. But by 1995, it was a full-time business venture.
The company is based out of Finleyville, where the “high end children's playhouses” are made. There is a store in McMurray.
The playhouses vary in size, from basic houses 6-feet deep and 9- to 10-feet high to custom-made houses that can be the size of a small house – 20 to 30 feet wide by 10 to 15 feet deep.
Lilliput Play Houses are known for their style, more historic and ornate, the company president said.
While they keep it “basic and simple,” some playhouses have air conditioning added, especially because they are shipped all over the world.
Some houses have lighting, door bells and skylights as well as hardwood flooring.
“Our forte seems to be theme oriented; we build for the back yard,” Chernicky said. “We also do replicas, creating playhouses which are more like a character of a full-size house.”
The company also creates commercial playhouses, designed like a village for hotels, family entertainment centers, daycares or small amusement parks, for example. Those villages incorporate such features as a firehouse and grocery store so kids can role play, Chernicky said.
Chernicky said the company's clientele include celebrities and sports figures, such as Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Kobe Bryant, and Chris O'Donnell, usually ordering one of the company's higher end standard Victorian playhouses.
“Over the years, we've have had generational customers where the children that played in our playhouses are taking their children to grandma's house to play in our houses,” Chernicky said. “It's so heartwarming.”
The playhouses provide what electronic toys lack – a chance for children to use their imaginations, he said.
“The development of social skills and creative skills are important,” Chernicky said. “You don't see as much of that today.”
A 1997 feature on The Oprah Winfrey Show helped kickstart the company's national profile.
Now the company will be featured on a new web-based documentary series, “Good Home.”
According to Multiview's website, “Good Company is a web documentary about “the entrepreneurial spirit of American entrepreneurship. The series will explore some of the country's unique entrepreneurs.”
According to Multiview spokeswoman Callie Cady, featured companies range from brewmasters to bird diaper fabricators. A filming crew was in Finleyville for two days earlier this month.
The 10 shows will begin airing online beginning in early January 2014.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or [email protected].