One of my favorite Christmases as a child was supposed to be a "poor" one. My dad was laid off from work and we didn't have money for gifts. My mom began making gifts for us kids before Thanksgiving. The gift I remember the most from that year and one of my favorite gifts of all-time was the handmade dollhouse she designed.
Gather Supplies for Your Handmade Dollhouse
Here are some tips for making a dollhouse that I learned from my mother, along with some other ideas that I've added.
- Use a large cardboard box. You can ask grocery stores to save a box from paper towels or some other paper product. These make sturdy boxes with plenty of room to create a house. To make it even stronger, add smaller boxes as separate rooms to place inside.
- Visit a wallpaper store and ask for the old book samples. You can use this to decorate the roof and walls of the dollhouse.
- Get a second box to cut out a piece for a roof.
- Collect other small boxes and bottles of various sizes to use as furniture.
- Find old clothing or other material to use as fabrics for making the dollhouse. You can also visit craft stores to find remnants.
Putting the Outside of the Dollhouse Together
Cut a piece of cardboard out of the second box large enough to fold and form the roof. Glue it to the outside of the box that will be the dollhouse. Use a wooden dowel to hold up the middle and glue it to the roof and top of the dollhouse box.
Cut off the box flaps from the front of the house. Now, you are ready to begin decorating the outside of the box. Browse through the wallpaper sample book and look for pages that will serve as a roof and walls. Brick or stone designs work well. You can also use acrylic paint to cover the outside of the box. If you choose this method, find an open area and allow it to dry completely before bringing it back inside.
Use a brush and paint to draw windows and other details on the outside of the box. You can also cut out the windows if you choose.
Setting Up the Inside of the Dollhouse
Once the outside is done, you can begin work on the inside of the dollhouse. The first step is to partition the box into rooms. There are two ways to do this. You can cut out squares from other boxes and glue them in the box. The better way is to find smaller boxes to fit inside the large box. This will make the homemade dollhouse sturdier. You can use a short box for the first floor and a second box to sit on top for the second floor. The third floor will be under the roof as a loft.
Glue the boxes in place so they don't move around or fall out. Now, you can begin looking for wallpaper to use as wallcoverings and flooring. You can also visit a carpet store and ask for samples to create your own carpeting. You will glue all of these in place and let dry before moving on to the next step.
Adding Furniture to Your Homemade Dollhouse
Once the dollhouse is completed, the dolls will be ready to move in. They will need furniture to make their house a home. You can make this, too, with the small boxes and bottles you collected. Here are a few suggestions to get you started. You will probably start thinking of others.
The couch: Use a long thin box like a cheese spread box for the base of the couch. Cover it in a fabric and glue. Cut the back of the couch out of a strong piece of cardboard and cover. You can also add pillow stuffing to the board before covering with the fabric to make it softer. Once both pieces have dried, glue them together.
Beds: Find boxes the right size and cover them with a piece of flannel fabric. You can also sew quilts and small pillows.
Tables: Take an empty thread spool and glue a cardboard circle on top of it. Use wallpaper samples that look like wood or other materials to cover the cardboard.
Chairs: Create the chairs the same way as the couch, using boxes that are the appropriate size.
Kitchen appliances: Use boxes for refrigerators, stoves, and microwaves. Find a picture of the item on the internet and make a color copy. Cut it out to paste on the front of the items.
Decorating Your Dollhouse
Adding mirrors, pictures, and other items is what will make the house a fun place for your little girl. You can use your imagination to create many fun pieces. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Pictures can be created by using pieces of matchstick or thin wooden sticks. Glue them in a square around a picture that you cut out of a magazine. You can use pictures of people to make photos to hang on the wall.
Aluminum foil can be used over a piece of cardboard to create a mirror. Toothpaste lids make good trashcans or flowerpots. Sew small pieces of fabric for pillows on the couch. If you can crochet, make an afghan to drape over a chair.
Be creative and have fun with your ideas. It doesn't have to be perfect to be enjoyed by your children. Many of the items are things they can help you with, and this will make the dollhouse even more special to them. I still have fond memories of my childhood dollhouse even though it was not a designer item. Making memories and inspiring an imagination is what creating your own dollhouse is really about.
Sana on May 19, 2012:
Nice idea!i made things that you told and was looking amazing . i made this summer vacations means 2012 . i like it very much .
Virginia Kearney from United States on April 13, 2012:
Great idea. I made my own dollhouse as a kid and I've made some for my girls. We've done home made ones like you've suggested and also made two from kits like the picture you have on this hub. My girls have used duct tape and pipe cleaners a lot.