Friday, March 18, 2011

The Art of Eclectic Doll House Designs, or Neon Green in the Dining Room Won't Affect My Appetite

You probably think by now I'm all talk and no action. I prattle on about my love of doll houses and crafting, but for the most part haven't really put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. Today I'm going to show you that I can walk the walk, so hold tight to your keyboard and prepare to be blown away... **winks**

One of my favorite aspects of doll house building is decorating and furnishing my mini-mansion. I can try outrageous color combinations, textures, and treatments on my doll house that I could never do on the walls and surfaces of my own home, either due to cost or my husband's veto power. I don't have to worry about functionality or practicality, I can go all out, and if I don't like it, I can paint or paper over it, just like in a real house. After all, my dolls have only the opinions that I give them, so they are always ecstatic about my designs (except for Hansel, he only likes houses he can eat). 

I fell in love with the bright colors and antiqued treatments from the set of "Nanny McPhee," and I really like many of the furniture pieces and treatments implemented in the show "Shabby Chic," so I attempted to incorporate that kind of aesthetic in the design of this doll house. Using fabric scraps, old paint, buttons, paper clips, and various odds and ends, I have cobbled together an inexpensive, easy to make doll house full of rich color and detail sure to impress even the great Genevieve Gorder (even though none of my walls are painted black). Okay, maybe I'm getting a little cocky, but I'm pretty proud of how this one turned out. I hope you enjoy!

This doll house is constructed from a diaper box and another cardboard box, hot glued
together. The edges are sealed with papier mache and self-adhesive ribbon. Lighting is functional,
however batteries cannot be replaced. (Something I am working on.)

The shingles are made from medium-grit sand paper cut to size and overlapped. The
exterior surface is a two-tone paint treatment, the first an off-white spray paint (applied
before the interior was completed), and the second is a reddish-brown acrylic applied
with a sponge.

Doors and windows are cut from the cardboard before sealing the edges and painting.
Wooden beads were used for door knobs.

The floor is a solid sheet of contact paper. I marked the grid lines with a sharpie
and painted the dark "tiles" with black acrylic. The walls were painted and then
antiqued with a few dabs of brown paint. I obviously didn't measure the pieces
used for the bottom part of the wall, but you certainly can for a more professional
look to your doll house. Furniture was purchased at the Dollar Tree, originally red, I
painted the table and added beads to the legs to lengthen them. Lighting is a
battery-powered LED tea light, velcroed to the ceiling to allow access to the switch.

Faux wood flooring is a paint treatment. Scrapbook pages used for wall paper and ceiling tiles.
Stairs are constructed from folded, corrugated cardboard, hot-glued to the wall and painted
black, fabric covered using Mod Podge. Paintings are art stickers framed in yarn. Lampshade
is a toothpaste lid mounted on a wire and beads. Rug is cut paper Mod Podged to the floor. TV
is a magnet with a photo glued to the screen.

Bed is constructed from wood scraps, popsicle sticks, and cardboard painted white. Comforter and pillows
constructed from fabric scraps and are machine stitched. Curtains are hung from a dowel rod mounted on
paper clips. Ceiling fan is another LED tea light with wooden blades attached. Stool constructed from beads,
dowel rods, cardboard, and fabric. Floor, wallpaper, and ceiling are scrapbook paper affixed with Mod Podge
and sealed with self-adhesive ribbon. Trash can is a coffee creamer tub.

Flooring is the same contact paper as used in the dining room. Sink/bowl and
pitcher is an antique tea pot (the most expensive item in the entire doll house).
Ladder to attic is constructed of dowel rods glued with Elmer's school glue
and painted brown. Train on top of cabinet is an Easter tree ornament.

Due to irregular boxes, this house has a small attic. Pillows hand-stitched from
fabric and lace scraps. Trunk is a cardboard box covered in brown paper bag
and trimmed with painted twist ties and gold paint. Colorful box is an earring
box. Light is a book light, painted to blend in with ceiling paint.

I would estimate I have $20-$25 invested in this, including the furnishings. Not bad, considering what you would pay for a commercially constructed doll house kit and accessories. (You don't even want to know, really... these things can be ridiculously expensive.) Feel free to take any of these ideas and incorporate in your own projects!

Want more ideas for constructing your cardboard doll house? Check out All Things Crafty's awesome doll house. This one is much more elaborate than mine, although it is not in a finished state in these pics, you will definitely be impressed!


  1. Wow! Great job! I especially love the ceiling fan! So do you let the kids play with it now or what?

  2. Thanks! Well, I think it would take the girls less than 5 minutes to destroy it... maybe when they are older. Eli and I made his GI Joe house together, and he's allowed to play with that one any time. It's in need of minor repairs, but not too bad. I figure I will either give away or sell this one, and make new doll houses with the girls when they can be trusted with scissors and glue :)

  3. That is the one down-side of the cardboard doll house: durability. It's easy to tear apart, but when you haven't invested too much money in it, it doesn't hurt as bad if that happens. They are also very light weight, so that's a plus if you make one as a gift for a child.

  4. I love it. When my daughter was little I had a book that gave ideas on making a doll house with the furnishings using whatever was around the house.
    Now I have a new acquired granddaughter and would like to start a project, actually everyone could be a part of this project.
    You gave me more ideas than I started with.

  5. Babs, I'm glad I could help! I had a book like that too when I was a kid, it's actually the same book featured in this blog:
    Even though this blogger hasn't posted recently, there are a lot of great ideas here.

  6. Thanks so much for this. So much've given me a lot of inspriration to try and complete something like this for my grand daughter. well done!

  7. I also make cardboard dollhouses, your blog inspires me...thank you!

  8. I love cardboard, the house is a real piece of art!