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Designing And Building A Budget Dollhouse

February 24, 2014

After I finished the dollhouse furniture I started on the dollhouse that was by the same brand (Woodcraft Construction Kit – Fantasy Villa) and it is a really beautiful and affordable dollhouse kit but the problem is that the rooms are tiny.

A lot of the floor space is wasted with all of the pretty porches, stair cases and ornamentation. It is the same scale as the furniture but unfortunately you can’t fit even a quarter of the furniture set in the house because of the lack of floor space and for me, that makes it not so great for being play-with-able.

So I’m still going to build it and I’ll write that all up as a separate project but I’ve also decided to design and build my own dollhouse from (incredibly inexpensive) foam board based on the furniture set I’ve already made.

Below I’ve shared some of my ideas and photos of the first draft model that my husband and I put together over the last few days.

(If you would like to see the completed project (tutorial) click HERE)

I got the idea to do it in foam board in a sort of round about way.

draft house 1

My husband has recently rediscovered his love for building and flying remote control aircraft and he’s constantly watching build videos by Flite Test. They do amazing things with foam board (dollar store stuff) and I can’t help paying attention to the videos because even if you aren’t into flying RC planes, anyone who enjoys making things can appreciate the creativity and passion that these guys put into their craft.

Then I got the idea to make the TINY dollhouse for the dollhouse and even though I made it with cardboard I used some of the techniques I observed on the foam board air craft video tutorials to apply to the construction of the house and afterward I got into a discussion with my husband about transferable skills. You know, skills you pick up doing one thing which can be applied to something completely different.

At that point he mentioned that someone did post on the forum that he made a dollhouse from foam board and he got a lot of flack for it because it had nothing to do with making planes and people were missing the point about transferable skills.

draft house 2

I never tracked down that post to see if there were any photos but the mention of it was enough to get those creative gears turning in my head and so we started drafting our own dollhouse. I started by separating out the furniture into rooms so that I could measure out the floor space that I wanted for each room. Then I arranged it into two floors and the rest of it fell into place.

I made sure that the rooms were all tall enough to allow for light to come through and so that little hands and arms could reach in from as many angles as possible while still maintaining structural integrity.

draft house 3

You’ll notice in the photos (click to enlarge) that a lot of the cuts aren’t exactly square and there are some patched in pieces of foam board. This is because this was just the draft house. Now that it’s completed the plan is to measure the pieces and correct for errors before cutting and assembling the final draft.

draft house 4

There will be a separate garden piece that attaches to the side of the house where the door is. If I had made it as part of the bottom floor it wouldn’t have been strong enough to hold together when the house is inevitably moved from shelf to floor over the course of its life. If you can’t really visualize it… that’s ok, it’s going to look amazing, trust me.

I also plan to make a door that opens and closes and I’ll be attaching stiff clear plastic to all of the windows. The interior will be papered and carpeted and the exterior will be papered as well.

draft house 5

The stairs were a really big headache to design. I was just going to leave them out all together but once I got them made and installed I was really happy with the way they looked so they will be incorporated into the final draft as well as the instructions (somehow) but I can very easily see other people just leaving them out.

rough draft furnished

Dolls are obviously an important part of a dollhouse and 1:24 scale dolls that aren’t hideous are pretty damn difficult to come by so I just went with animals. Specifically “Sylvanian Families” (the sheep obviously) because first of all, they come in FAMILIES and second, they fit in with most of the furniture pretty well. They do not  fit exactly but they fit well enough. I bought a set with a mother, father and two children then a separate baby. They weren’t cheap but I needed them to help me measure and design the house as well as the accessories that I’ve been making so that’s why I didn’t put off buying them until later.

The most important design point that I focused on while creating this draft house was that it would be fun to PLAY with. It might not be as pretty as a lovely, perfect Victorian dollhouse but those are for collectors. I could still install working lights and all sorts of fancy things in there if I wanted to but for now I’m just focusing on making a toy for my daughter.

So that’s all for the moment. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to make the final instructional post for the final dollhouse but I’m guessing I’ll have it done within the next couple of weeks.

If you would like to see the details of how I made the furniture click any of the links below.

Master Bedroom



Kitchen/Dining Room

Living Room

Foam Board Dollhouse Project 

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