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Getting Started with Dollhouses

Welcome to the Mini Adventures Co. blog! I plan to use this blog to share easy tutorials with you so you can create your own mini adventures. Since this is the very first post, it seemed fitting to share my story of how I got started with miniatures and how you can start your own dollhouse.

This is the very first dollhouse I ever worked on, and it's amazing how far I've already come in my miniature making. I purchased this Melissa and Doug dollhouse for my daughter Lucy a couple years ago for Christmas. I hated the pink and purple color scheme but knew that I could fix it up. With some basic craft supplies, spray paint, and the existing furniture that came with the house, I was able to create a super fun dollhouse for Lucy.

If you've ever considered working on your own dollhouse for a child or even just for yourself (I know lots of people who are amazing miniaturists that have no kids), I highly recommend starting with the IKEA dollhouse. It's super cost effective (only $34.99), and it's small enough not to totally overwhelm you. You don't have to worry about an exterior, and you only need to furnish 4 rooms. Dollhouses can get very expensive, but you don't want to waste a lot of money if you're not even sure you like doing it (I was hooked the second I started Lucy's).

If possible, think ahead on paint, floors, and wallpaper so you can do this while the dollhouse is unassembled. It's a lot easier to paint walls, add hardwood floors (blog post coming soon), and hang wallpaper when nothing has been put together yet. I like to lay out all my options in a general layout of the finished product to get a feel for how it will look when it all comes together.

For the IKEA dollhouse, I like to leave out the bottom partition so I have an open concept kitchen/living area. I use the top partition to separate the bedroom and bathroom. I've also included a third floor cut from plywood or MDF (when I do this, the bottom partition becomes the top partition).

Once you have the dollhouse assembled, it's time for the fun part: furniture and decor! Try to plan it out as much as you can just as you would for a real house. That makes everything feel much more cohesive. Keep in mind that you can see the dollhouse interior all at once so it's extra important that everything works together.

For furniture, there are lots of awesome online shops (like mine, for instance, wink wink). Modern, designer dollhouses are much more prevalent in Australia and the UK right now so make sure to leave some wait time for shipping products from overseas. Hobby Lobby also has a pretty good selection of dollhouse furniture.

If you'd like to make your own furniture and decor, there are lots of tutorials on YouTube. It's amazing how much you can make with materials from just a few sections of Hobby Lobby. The craft wood section is full of items you can use to make furniture. I browse the jewelry bead section for wall art, lighting materials, and kitchen/bathroom hardware. The scrapbook paper is perfect for flooring and wallpaper, and felt makes great rugs. The possibilities are endless. Just walk around the store looking at things from a "mini perspective," and you'll be shocked at how much stuff you can use for a dollhouse that was never intended for that purpose.

You also don't need to invest in a ton of tools to get started with dollhouses. It's taken me a whole lot of dollhouses to accumulate all the tools I have now. For that first dollhouse, I made do with just a few basic tools. You'll definitely need a small handsaw for cutting wood pieces; sharp scissors for cutting fabric, thin wood, and paper; and super glue and/or craft glue (try to avoid hot glue). You can do a lot with just those things.

Have fun with the dollhouse, and remember that it doesn't need to be perfect. After all, you're probably making this for a child who will end up destroying it. If you're going to get upset if anything gets messed up, then maybe don't let kids play with it. I always tell Lucy the rule is she can do what she wants in her dollhouse but she can't lose anything. There isn't much she can break that I can't fix with some super glue.

If you fell in love with dollhouses like I did, I can guarantee it won't be your last. You'll want to try other things and work on bigger, more detailed dollhouses. You'll slowly invest in better tools, and you'll get better at making your own stuff. If I ever inspire you to try a dollhouse, I really hope you'll send me some pictures.

1 Comment

Jan 06, 2022

I’ve done my first dollhouse and now starting my second. My daughter has the exact dollhouse from your last picture. How did you move stairs and change the walll? I like dividing the upstairs into two rooms

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