Thursday, January 3, 2013

Home Sweet Dollhouse

So for Christmas this past year, Ryan and I teamed up to make his (almost) 4 year old niece a dollhouse. I've seen quite a few tutorials out there on how to make a "bookshelf" dollhouse or something similar, so I tried to pull from those ideas and make little miss Sophia something really original, fun, and safe to have in the house with her baby brother. (No itsy bitsy pieces).

The House
Ryan was in charge of this part, and he made it all from scratch instead of using a bookshelf to start with. The main part of the house is 24" tall by 24" wide by 8" deep. The roof is 12" tall. The chimney was added for additional support, and there is a piece of trim to bridge the gap on the back where the back of the roof meets the back of the main house. We primed the whole thing white and then used a nice semi-gloss trim paint. The back wall of the 4 main rooms are painted with acrylic paint, and the back wall of the attic is "wallpapered" with a piece of 12" square scrapbooking paper cut on the diagonal, and glued with Elmer's glue.

The Furniture
Buying this from the store can be expensive, and as beautiful as those pieces are, they are NOT sturdy. I know this from experience. So instead, I wanted to make Sophia things that she could really play with, and yet nobody would be upset when things eventually break, as all toys tend to do. I hit the wood crafts aisle at Joann's and picked up a couple big pieces of 3/8" thick balsa wood, some 1" wooden cubes, and some 4" and 6" pre-made plaques. I used an xacto knife to cut the balsa to the correct size. You're also going to want some wood glue, medium grit sand paper, and a couple of clamps if you can find them.

The chairs are each made of a 1" wooden cube and a 1" wide piece of balsa wood, simply glued and painted. 
The kitchen table is all balsa wood, with 2 interlocking squares of balsa as the base. This was tough to get level though, so be prepared for some sanding. The beds are a combination of balsa wood and the wooden plaques. Ryan cut these for me on the table saw, but you could do it with a hand saw. the twin beds got the plaques cut short-ways and the king bed is cut long-ways. The frame of the bed itself if just 3 pieces of balsa wood, glued together and then to the headboard/footboard made from the wooden plaques. The clamps were handy for this part, but left impressions in the soft balsa wood, so maybe add a piece of cardboard or something to protect it. We painted the beds white just like the house, and I sewed little sheets and pillows out of some 1/4 yd pieces I got on clearance at Joann's. I pressed the edges of the sheets so that they would bend over the edges of the bed, and I feel like this really made the difference.

The couch is made from yet another plaque, cut longways. I built the seat out of balsa wood and sanded it to make the edges rounded after the glue was very dry. Balsa sands very easily, so it should be quick to get the edges rounded. The coffee table is just balsa wood again.
The toy chest in the attic is just a box that I bought from the woodcrafts aisle at Joann's and painted. It makes a nice place to store all the little items.

The Decorations
This was the most fun. The fireplace and the kitchen counters/fridge are all just images that I found online and printed off. I glued them to the back wall, and voila! I also added a dresser & mirror to the one bedroom, a plant & rug in the living room, and some family photos! The frames in the living room are actually scrapbooking stickers. The other photos just have a white border around them. I also did some printable miniatures for the cereal boxes and games. They're just paper and they were free, so nobody is going to be upset if they get lost. Check out Jennifer's Free Miniature Printables, and Jim's Dollhouse Printables.

We did buy the actual dolls and the Christmas tree from the little dollhouse store in Plymouth. Other than that, the whole thing was DIY! Please check out some of these other great blogs/sites that I used for Inspiration!

The Homemade Dollhouse
The DIY Dollhouse by The Busy Budgeting Mama
The Neapolitan Dollhouse by Simply Kierste