Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Modern DIY dollhouse with homemade furniture (Part 1 of 6)

Modern DIY Dollhouse with homemade furniture

This is the story of my $2 thrift store dollhouse makeover and how I furnished it for nothing. That's right, I didn't spend a dime on furniture or decor.

After spending so little on the house itself, I couldn't bring myself to throw a bunch of expensive dollhouse furniture inside. Especially not for a less-than-careful three year old. So I challenged myself to furnish this fixer upper using only things I found around the house: junk, recyclables, scraps and whatever materials I already had.

This isn't one of those fancy, fussy, grown-up lady dream doll houses. It's meant to be played with, but that's probably obvious. I ruled out making any pieces out of cardboard. Apparently, this is very common in the world of homemade dollhouse furniture, but I didn't like the idea of putting so much time and energy into delicate things that won't withstand my daughter's blows.

Once again, it will be revealed just how much of a junk hoarder I am, but I am confident anyone could pull something like this off with a few months of saving recyclables.

DIY dollhouse makeover
Dollhouse roof shingles

The exterior went from the haphazard Disney contact paper look to a clean and fresh coat of aqua paint.
(See more before photos. >>) I shingled the roof using 2x2 inch cut pieces of some leftover window blind slats.

Dollhouse roof shingles made from recycled window blinds

Truthfully, that was the most tedious part of the entire makeover process. I am digging the white roof for wintertime, but may end up spray painting the roof a darker shade next spring or summer.

Ugly dollhouse needs a makeover
Repainted dollhouse with wallpaper

The inside got a coat of bright white semi-gloss paint before I wallpapered with fabric and Mod Podge. Due to the dimensions of this house (and the odd angles on the second floor), pieces of 12 x 12 scrapbook paper just weren't going to cut it. The walls were too long or too tall and I didn't want to tile the paper. But that's OK, because using fabric works so much better for projects like this.

Fabric comes in larger sizes (obviously), but it's also easier than applying paper because you can peel up the fabric and re-position it if needed. After cutting around all those doors and windows, I think I earned a black belt in decoupage.

I put many, many hours into this house. More than I care to admit. If there is a reason for my decreased posting frequency (besides being pregnant and having a non-napping three year old), it's this. But it has been such a fun exercise in creativity to repurpose items that would otherwise be thrown out.

See more!

Dollhouse living room with couch and coffee table
Dollhouse bedroom with handmade furniture
Dollhouse sitting room with handmade furniture
Dollhouse bathroom with handmade furniture
DIY Dollhouse kitchen with handmade sink, cabinets, appliances
Modern DIY dollhouse makeover with handmade furniture made from recycled items


  1. Erin this is awesome! I love all of the mini artwork on the walls. I can't wait to hear all the details.

    1. Thanks, Cori! I had a lot of fun making everything. Well, except for the roof. :)

  2. The toilet tank is a dental floss package, isn't it??? I love it! I can't wait to find out how you made all the other things!

    When I was little, one Christmas my parents and my auntie collaborated to create a totally awesome dollhouse for him, and I loved it SO MUCH! The dolls I had were the hippie Sunshine Family from Mattel, so it had to be bigger than the standard dollhouses.

    ANYway, I loved nothing so much as creating accessories and furniture and things for the dollhouse. I decorated it for Christmas (tree, stockings, tiny gift packages) and other holidays. I remember being THRILLED that I could scavenge scraps of wood and tiles and other bits from my uncle's construction site and use them for my dollhouse projects.

    1. Wow, you were studying that closely! Yes, it is dental floss! More details to come next week.

      There's a lot of fun in challenging yourself to make things from scraps and junk. My daughter's a little young, but hopefully it will inspire her to do the same.

  3. Wow, that's just amazing :D I love the idea, and the finished product! Well done!

  4. This is awesome! I spent so many hours in my teen years redecorating the dollhouse that my dad made me as a kid but I spent a to more money on it than you did and I think yours turned out a lot cuter. Any ideas on making people to go in the doll house? I always thought the ones they sold in stores were not that good looking.


    1. Hi Vicky, I didn't make any people for the dollhouse because my daughter has like a thousand plastic figurines (think Mickey Mouse and friends) that I figured she would use anyway.

      You could always paint up some simple peg dolls that are available at craft stores like I did here. They come in different sizes and shapes depending on where you buy them. They probably wouldn't be to scale, but I'm not all that concerned with that.

  5. Hi, you have really inspired me. I saw a headboard at my local Habitat for Humanity Restore for $15 and thought it would make an excellent dollhouse. I also keep odds and ends and make them into things. My dollhouse isn't finished yet but I made a posting for it on my local Bookoo page. I have plans to add a second story and wire in some LED lighting. Here is the link in case you're curious. I keep updating the pictures as it progresses. :-)

    1. Thanks! Using an old headboard with a bunch of cubbies is a great idea!

  6. When we got to the stove, my 7 year old exclaimed, "That looks like something you could sell in a store!" High praise.

    This is really amazing, you have inspired us to get our old doll house out of the basement and revamp it.

    1. Ha! Thanks!

      You're going to have so much fun working on it together!

  7. You are a genius. I may be stealing your fabric wallpapering idea for my little girl's dollhouse, which also came from the thrift store. Everything in my life comes from the thrift store. Check out my blog at if you get a chance. Genius!

    1. Genius is a strong word, but... I'll take it! ;) Thanks!


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