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Make Your Own Doll House

Make Your Own Doll House

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Looking for a great way to spend quality time with your kids and have something concrete to show for it? Our next summer project is just the thing.

Besides being a great money-saver (quality dollhouses cost a fortune these days), making your own doll house with your children nets other benefits, too. It gives your children a wonderful opportunity to use their imaginations in a positive way. They decide how many rooms, how many floors, and how to decorate their doll house. The cutting, pasting, and maneuvering are all great tools for eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. And best of all, they're totally unlimited; instead of buying one doll house, your children can create an entire neighborhood!


This is just a basic list of materials you'll need to make your dollhouse; other craft items you might want to use are included in the instructions. The quantities and specifics are up to you, depending on how big you want your dollhouse to be.

Cardboard boxes (my favorite are shoeboxes; more on that later)

Poster paint

Craft glue or a glue-gun

Good quality scissors and/or craft knife

Popsicle sticks

Scraps of material, wallpaper, colored contact paper, wrapping paper, crepe paper, etc. (for décor)


As with the list of materials you'll need, these instructions are really general guidelines. Feel free to change them, or do what your imagination tells you to do!

First of all, decide how big you want your dollhouse to be, based on the size of your dolls. If your dolls are full-sized, then shoeboxes won't be big enough, and you'll need a large cardboard box (or two, depending on whether or not you want your house to be a two-storey or not). My personal favorite, however, is to use shoeboxes, stacked next to and on top of each other and glued together. But we'll give basic instructions for both.

If you want a full-sized dolls house, then you'll need to use a large, sturdy cardboard box. Cut a roof out of the top flaps and, if necessary, with flaps from other boxes, too. Set the box up so that it has sides and a back, and leave the front open. Paint the outside of both the roof and the house however you like, and set aside to dry; or, cover with appropriately-colored contact paper. Then glue the roof to the house using craft glue or a glue gun (watch your fingers!).

Now you have to decide if you want your house to have two stories. If you do, then divide the main structure of the house by cutting a piece of thick cardboard to match the length, width and depth of your original box. For supports, glue popsicle sticks, cigarette filters, or a small piece of Styrofoam to each side of the box, and then glue the cardboard strip to the supports. To divide each storey into individual rooms, do the same thing - just lengthwise.

If your dolls are small, and you're using shoeboxes, making two (or more) stories is much easier. Just glue the shoeboxes one on top of the other, and that's it! To divide into rooms, follow the instructions above.

Decide how many windows you want, and if you want connecting doors between the rooms. Mark and cut out the windows; if you want, you can even make windowpanes! Just cut two pieces of clear contact paper, one to fit the window and the other a bit larger. Stick the two pieces together, and then stick them on the inside of the space you cut for the window. If you want to make the outside of the house prettier, you can make either glue little flowerpots to the sides of the house, or create an external windowsill from the kind of wooden sticks that doctors use, and glue the flowerpots to the sticks. For flowerpots, take toothpaste caps and paint them however you like. Crumple small bits of brown crepe paper; attach them to the inside of the caps with a little glue. Glue mini-silk flowers (you can get them at any crafts store) to the crepe paper, and you have a gorgeous flowerpot!

Now that the outside of your house is gorgeous, it's time to take care of the inside. This is where all the scrap material and paper in the "you will need" section comes in. Decide which function each room will serve - bedroom, living room, kitchen, etc. Decorate the walls of each room accordingly, so that the house will have a more "realistic" feel to it

Once you've done the walls, you're ready for the floors. You can either leave them as is, paint them, or paint popsicle sticks like a parquet or wooden floor, and glue them one next to the other. Contact paper comes in all different patterns; you might find one that resembles tile, and glue it to the kitchen floor. Pieces of scrap material are great for throw rugs and even wall-to-wall carpeting!

Stairs might sound intimidating, but they're really not that hard. Cut a strip of cardboard or oak tag to the width you want your stairs to be. Fold the strip like a fan - just make sure that your folds are wide enough for your dolls to "step" on! Glue one end of the stairs to the bottom floor, then cut a hole in the upper floor where you want the stairs to end. Glue the other end of the stairs to the upper floor, and that's it!

Now that your dollhouse is all ready, you're set for the next stage - decorating and adding accessories! Stay tuned for our next article, where we'll be giving you great ideas for dollhouse furnishings and finishing touches - both crafts and mini-sewing projects. In the meantime, have a wonderful time building the dollhouse with your children - both you and they deserve it!

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