Welcome!

Thanks for visting Simply The Nest. I'm an English girl married to an Portuguese boy, and when I'm not taking care of our two adorable daughters, I blog about our house renovation, DIY projects, delicious recipes, inspirational interiors, and family life in a Victorian Manchester nest.

Photo Galleries
Search Me
Tweet Me

Pin Me

Face Me

I'm not a Facebook person, so instead here's a link to some kittens singing Beyonce in Northern accents.

Favourite Reads

 

« How To Renovate A House With Young Children | Main | A Very, Very Long Victorian House Renovation To Do List »
Tuesday
Sep172013

How To Make A DIY Dollhouse For A Toddler

Eva asked for a "rabbit house" (dollhouse) for her third birthday, so we downed tools on the never-ending lead paint removal stair renovation project, and set to with the jigsaw and a huge piece of MDF that - you'll never guess - we found in the cellar. Bless the previous owners and their wood-abandoning ways.

Here's what she unwrapped a couple of weeks ago, much to her great delight:

A DIY dollhouse project by Simply The Nest - a UK renovation blog

Pin It

It was a pretty simple project - much easier than the play kitchen we made for her second birthday. We looked at a bunch of DIY dollhouses on Pinterest, consulted some instructions from Ana White, and drew up a design. We wanted it to be big enough to give sufficient headroom to a colony of Sylvanian Family rabbits, while leaving enough space for toddler hands to reach in and rearrange the furniture without knocking everything over. We also needed it to be sturdy enough to bear the weight of an enthusiastic climbing 13 month old, should it happen to take her fancy to do so.

Here's a picture showing the dimensions we used. We sited the whole thing on a heavy piece of old tabletop which gave it a nice strong base - all the other pieces were cut from 13mm MDF, with a 3mm piece of MDF nailed across the back.

A DIY dollhouse project by Simply The Nest - a UK renovation blog

You'll see the top floor is 18cm high, while the ground and first floors are 22cm. This is because we only planned to have two storeys and an attic - but when we cut the side pieces, we cut them with extra length just for a bit of flexibility, and decided at the last minute that we had just enough room to add an extra floor. The 22cm rooms are probably a slightly better height for a 3 year old to access easily, so if you plan on using these dimensions then you should cut your side pieces to (22cm x 3) + (the width of your wood x 3).

We used screws to hold the walls, floors and roof together, and panel pins to nail in the back piece. We also used our Makita sander to mitre the top of the walls where they met the roof, and where the two pieces of roof connect together. You could probably get all fancy with a protractor and some calculations, but we just did it by eye until it looked right. A bit of sealer hides a multitude of sins on this type of project, anyway.

Here's how it looked before we started painting ("are you building a multi-storey car park?", asked a humorous friend).

First of all we primed the whole thing and then gave it a couple of coats of white woodwork paint. I put the thin backboard (we used two pieces, with the joint hidden behind one of the floor pieces) up against the dollhouse, drew round the outline of each room in pencil, and then painted each one.

The deep pink paint and pale blue are from Eva's room, the two turquoises are from Natalia's room, the yellow is the paint I used on the stool in the spare bedroom, and I made the pale pink and yellow paints by mixing a couple of spoonfuls of white in with the darker pink and yellow. The deep brown roof is the paint from our garden picnic table, and the bricks are the paint that we used to makeover our old garden shed!

Here's a view from the front:

A DIY dollhouse project by Simply The Nest - a UK renovation blog

Pin It

A little voice in my head said "ooh, wouldn't it look pretty if you did a simplistic version of Eva and Natalia's murals in the respective bedrooms?" and I had to concede that yes, yes it would, so that's what I did:

A DIY dollhouse project by Simply The Nest - a UK renovation blog

I also spent about four hours watching F1 while handpainting gingerbread-style tiles onto the roof:

A DIY dollhouse project by Simply The Nest - a UK renovation blog

And I cut a piece of sponge into a small rectangle to use as a stamp to create bricks with a bit of realistic texture and pattern:

A DIY dollhouse project by Simply The Nest - a UK renovation blog

Finally, here's how it looks with the furniture in place and the inhabitants all moved in:

A DIY dollhouse project by Simply The Nest - a UK renovation blog

Pin It

The furniture is a bit of a mix. Some is brand new, for example, the 'rustic kitchen set' (cute benches, huh?)...

...and some is old. This nursery set lived in my childhood dollhouse (it's actually a Sylvanian Families set - both the set, and the brand, are still going strong twenty-odd years later), and I sewed that little felt pillow when I was about ten.  

A DIY dollhouse project by Simply The Nest - a UK renovation blog

These metal chairs and grandfather clock were also mine when I was a kid - they usually live on the top floor because otherwise Natalia will more than likely grab them and whack them against something (in addition to being a climber, she's also a basher). So the dollhouse has got a nice eclectic vibe going on, as of course all good houses should.

A DIY dollhouse project by Simply The Nest - a UK renovation blog

A family of beavers joined the rabbits a few days later. Here are a couple of typical scenes after an hour of serious toddler play: 

A DIY dollhouse project by Simply The Nest - a UK renovation blog

So now I have a miniature version of our house to tidy every night, yay. No, seriously, I love it - really, there's nothing quite like tucking tiny felt rabbit figurines into tiny beds to relax you after a hard day's labour.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (7)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    How To Make A DIY Dollhouse For A Toddler - Simply The Nest - English Girl Blogging About House Renovation, DIY, Recipes, Inspirational Interiors, Design & Life in a Manchester Nest
  • Response
    How To Make A DIY Dollhouse For A Toddler - Simply The Nest - English Girl Blogging About House Renovation, DIY, Recipes, Inspirational Interiors, Design & Life in a Manchester Nest
  • Response
    How To Make A DIY Dollhouse For A Toddler - Simply The Nest - English Girl Blogging About House Renovation, DIY, Recipes, Inspirational Interiors, Design & Life in a Manchester Nest
  • Response
    How To Make A DIY Dollhouse For A Toddler - Simply The Nest - English Girl Blogging About House Renovation, DIY, Recipes, Inspirational Interiors, Design & Life in a Manchester Nest
  • Response
    Response: Submit a ticket
    How To Make A DIY Dollhouse For A Toddler - Simply The Nest - English Girl Blogging About House Renovation, DIY, Recipes, Inspirational Interiors, Design & Life in a Manchester Nest
  • Response
    How To Make A DIY Dollhouse For A Toddler - Simply The Nest - English Girl Blogging About House Renovation, DIY, Recipes, Inspirational Interiors, Design & Life in a Manchester Nest
  • Response
    How To Make A DIY Dollhouse For A Toddler - Simply The Nest - English Girl Blogging About House Renovation, DIY, Recipes, Inspirational Interiors, Design & Life in a Manchester Nest

Reader Comments (9)

This is incredible. You should be selling them! I adore the mini murals.

Btw...I saw this and thought of you:
http://www.hickeyanddobson.com/

You could be making a mint.

September 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

Mmm that's the grand plan - need to get the kids in school first though so I have more time! Either that or finish the house...

September 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterSimply The Nest

Oh that is stunning! I love everything about it - the mini murals are fab and the brick exterior!

You have reminded me of the dollhouse my dad made me when I was little - it had the same 70s patterned carpet as our living room and little battery powered ceiling lights in all the rooms.

You are very talented and I'm sure it will be treasured x

September 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAntonia, Tidy Away Today

Thats brilliant, I too have a full house renovation that I need to complete for a special little girls birthday this dec.unlike yours, mines a second hand house with no roof, so im kinda cheating. Im totally stealing the Sylvanian family as house guests, thats an inspired choice. Ill send you pics if I ever get it done xxx

September 20, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlouise

Beautiful! Love the detail of the murals mirroring the girl’s bedrooms. Great gift and even more special that you made it yourself.

September 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaz

Antonia - your childhood dollhouse sounds ace, and how lovely that your Dad made it for you.

Louise - the Sylvanians are a big hit, for sure. Definitely send me some pictures when it's done.

October 1, 2013 | Registered CommenterSimply The Nest

Ooooohhh I WANT ONE!!! You are so talented - I love the little touches: the murals, the sponged brickwork, the gingerbread detail. It's seriously gorgeous and something that will no doubt be treasured even after the girls are older. Really beautiful work and agree, you should be selling these!! xxx

P.S. I wasn't joking when I said I wanted one - would it be a bit weird for me to have my own little bunnies to tuck up in their tiny beds? :)

October 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly Hughes

What window film did you use? Is it easy to fit/is it expensive? Can you still open the windows with it on?

November 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKitty

Hi Kitty - we use Tesa Window Film: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B0038JE7X6 It's not particularly expensive and works pretty well. It's a bit fiddly to fit as the tape sometimes doesn't stick to water-based paint very well, or to uneven wood - but it's definitely better than nothing! We can still open our normal windows but I'm not sure it would work on sash windows unless you fitted extra wooden strips close to the glass to fit it on. I'm planning a windows post so will explain more then!

November 6, 2013 | Registered CommenterSimply The Nest

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>