I’m so excited to finally get this post about our dollhouse makeover up, I know I’ve been promising it for a good few weeks now. Honestly this was such a labour of love but worth every single blistered finger and late night, both of the girls absolutely love playing with it and spend ages making up little stories and rearranging all of the furniture of course. I know that this is going to be something that Aria and Maia are going to enjoy for many years to come and I love that it’s something we can keep adding to as the years go by, basically the gift that keeps giving.
Before I chat about the actual process of the dollhouse makeover I wanted to give you four tips that I think will really help:
- Give yourself a decent amount of time to do the makeover, I’m talking two or three months, even more if you’d like. I feel like if you rush to get it done in a weekend you won’t enjoy the process and believe it or not, it can actually be quite a rewarding and theraputic thing to do in the evenings.
- Scour second hand shops and Facebook Marketplace. Dollhouse furniture and actual dollhouses can be hugely expensive, but if you’re patient and willing to dig a little, you can find some amazing items. I actually found our dollhouse and some accessories second hand for only R500, brand new it retails for R2500!
- Make peace with the fact that it wont be perfect. Ours definitely isn’t but the girls love it despite that, in fact they probably haven’t even noticed the wallpaper that hasn’t been trimmed properly or the herringbone flooring that has one extra slat of wood to even it all out.
- If you can, take the dollhouse apart, I wish we did that, it would have made things (especially the wallpapering) so much easier.
Like I mentioned a little earlier, we purchased our dollhouse second hand and I often spot really lovely and affordable ones up for grabs on Facebook Marketplace, you can actually set up your notifications so that you know when a new one is listed in your area, super helpful. If you’d prefer to purchase one new, the ones that Tiny Dollhouse sell are really great because they’re basically a blank canvas, also if you’d like to start small, they also sell single rooms.
Let’s start with the floors shall we, the were definitley the most challenging for us, I think I did the bedroom floor 4 times with a different finish each time. For the kitchen and bathroom we used mosaic tiles and secured them to the floor using No More Nails (which would become our dollhouse makeover bestie). We (when I saw “we”, I really mean Dan) used a toothpick as a spacer between the tiles which worked really well and then once all the tiles were laid, we used woodfiller to grout them as it’s what we had on hand. The thing with dollhouses, especially if you are buying second hand is that the walls can be slightly warped and so the walls aren’t perfectly straight which means that chances are pretty high that you will have a bit of a gap on one side, but it’s nothing that a bit of dollhouse furniture won’t hide.
Onto the bedroom, my problem child. Like I said, I redid this floor so many times and with different materials but nothing looked right. In the end, we bought some of these stick on tiles from Leroy Merlin and stuck them down in both the bedroom and also the attic space. They weren’t the most cost effective choice as we had to buy a full box but the price wasn’t exorbitant, they were really easy to cut and secure, they’re quite thick so will withstand wear and tea as well as toddlers and they look great.
Dan’s problem child was the lounge. Call me crazy but I decided that we needed to lay a heringbone wooden floor made from ice cream sticks. Truly, my husband must love me because once I had buggered it up, he lifted it all and then sat with his calipers and knife cutting the ice cream sticks down to size and laying them at the perfect angle with No More Nails and then giving everything a light sand to make sure that there weren’t any rough bits that would cause splinters. Basically he’s a floor laying artist because the end result is stunning and exactly what I had envisioned.
The next big thing we needed to cross off of our dollhouse makeover list were the walls. Something I discovered that is super helpful is that most hardware stores will give you 0.5m of wallpaper at no cost as it’s considered a sample. I picked up three different ones from Leroy Merlin for the kitchen, bedroom and attic. You can use wallpaper glue but I just used wood glue and it worked perfectly. For the bathroom and the lounge I used some contact adhesive wallpaper from Tiny Dollhouse, this one for the bathroom and this one for the lounge.
Now, I didn’t think that wallpaper would be tricky… and then I remembered that the dollhouse had windows and doors. After much trial and error I discovered that different methods work for the two different types of wallpaper. For the traditional wallpaper that I stuck on with wood glue, I (again, with a lot of help from Dan) first made a template of the area, including any doors and windows, using paper. After doing that, I traced it onto the wallpaper, cut it out and stuck it on. For the vinyl contact adhesive wallpaper, I stuck the full sheet onto the wall and then with a sharp knife (it needs to have a sharp end, not a butter knife shape) I sort of slid the knife along the outline of the windows and doors, the wallpaper then just peeled off where I needed it to.
And because that wasn’t enough I decided that I also wanted to add some wood paneling to the bedroom and bathroom. For the bedroom I used some more ice cream sticks, I trimmed the bottom of them so that they would sit flush against the floor and then glued them to the wall. I could have trimmed the top of them too but I quite like the scalloped look. For the bathroom, I found some round sticks at Westpack and secured them to the one wall with wood glue. I love the effect that they give!
Now lets get to the really fun bits and pieces… the decor! I’ll go room by room and link the furniture (or similar) where I can.
Bathroom suite (alternative, not similar linked)
Bedroom kit 1. This value set from Tiny Dollhouse includes the bed and linen, side table, lamp, pouffe, throw and lamp.
Coffee table and chairs (alternative, not similar linked)
Sideboard (similar linked)
Quite a few of you asked me what dolls we’re going to be using in the dollhouse as Barbies are too big. We did some searching and some pricing and ended up getting Bunny Family Li’l Woodzeez from Ideal Toys. They fit perfectly and their little outfits are so sweet, baby bunny even has a nappy!
I am absolutely obsessed with how the dollhouse turned out and I love it even more because of how much the girls play with it. They make up so many elaborate stories and it’s just so wonderful to watch.
I hope that this inspires and motivates you to undertake a dollhouse makeover, it really was so much fun and there are so many different resources to show you how to do things step by step. Pinterest is your best friend but be warned, it leaves you wanting to add more, and more, and more…