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Foam Board Dollhouse Tutorial

March 26, 2014

Finally I’ve finished my foam board dollhouse project and within this entry I’m going to do my best to explain the process I went through to bring it all together.

My husband and I designed this dollhouse to create a small budget solution for housing the furniture that I’d completed in February and I’m enormously happy with the end result.

Foam board is one of the least expensive craft supplies you will come across in the US however here in the UK it’s substantially more expensive.

All in (with embellishments) this house cost me about £25, but it would have been less than £20 if I hadn’t splurged on some fancy paper. If you were just making the house without adding any color or “carpeting” it would cost about £10 all in (basically the cost of the foam board) and it would cost substantially less in the US where you can buy foam board at the dollar store!


Click On Any Photos To Enlarge

If you want to make this house straight out of the foam board without doing any embellishments It will take you about 3 hours from start to finish. If you want to make it fancy with “wallpaper” and “carpets” it will take you substantially longer because you will need to incorporate drying times.

Materials Required

Foam Board



Box Cutter

Glue Gun

Glue Sticks


Optional Materials

Craft PVA


Mulberry Paper


Clear Plastic

BBQ Skewer

Before I start I want to say that we have designed a staircase in the middle of this house which is entirely optional and quite easy to leave out if you’re not interested in including one. 

The first thing you need to do to make a foam board dollhouse is measure and cut out all of the pieces. I’m going to describe the shapes and sizes of all the pieces here to the best of my ability however, I’m far from perfect so I apologize in advance if I’m not being clear enough. (I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments section.)

For the purposes of this tutorial I will be referring to the largest open side of the house as the “front”.


Every measurement is in inches

Bottom Floor -16.5 x 11.5

Top Floor – 16.5 x 11.5

Attic Floor – 16.5 x 5.5

Roof – 17 x 7.5

Back – 16.5 x 15.75

Top Floor Divider – 6.75 x 5.25

Top Floor Divider – 7 x 2

Bottom Floor Divider – 7  x 7.25

Bottom Floor Supports – 1 x 7 (you will need to cut 4)

Attic Side- (tricky) 5.5 (bottom) x 4.5 (front facing side) x 1.5 (back facing side) … then connect the top corners of the front and back sides to make the roof slope which should measure 6.5 inches.

Big Side- (tricky) 12 x 1 4.25 trace the rectangle then trace the attic side piece on top to save yourself a big headache and cut it out as a single piece.

For the first draft trial house I used mostly craft knives to cut out the pieces and it was a big mistake. The key is to keep the knife sharp (you’ll go through at least 3 or 4 box cutter blades by the time you’re done) and to have very precise control for straight edges which I found so much easier with the box cutter that I used for the final draft house. If the blade is consistently sharp you will create perfect edges through the foam board, however as soon as it starts to dull it will rip chunks out of the foam.


The front supports of the house are there to help fortify the second floor. Since the side wall is on the left, it doesn’t need much (if anything) for extra support however the right corner really needs the extra support and this is why I asked you to cut out four of these pieces. Three of them glue together, back to back to make a nice, strong pillar for the right support (pictured above) and the forth will glue onto the opposite side.


After all of the pieces are cut out you can incorporate windows and a door. These are optional and can be excluded from the final design of the house, however the reason that I did incorporate them was to allow as much light into the house as possible so it’s up to you whether you want that extra light in there or you’d rather just get the house built with minimum effort.

If you plan to not cover the walls at all or plan to cover the walls with something translucent like mulberry paper, you will need to make sure that any pencil lines you make are light and easy to erase. I knew that the exterior of my house would be covered in opaque paper so I wasn’t worried about the lines showing.

The measurements for the windows on the back wall of the house are as follows: 

Windows themselves: 3 x 4 inches

Window bottom (vertically) from floor bottom 1.75

Window top (vertically) to top floor window bottom 3.25

Second floor window top to top of attic where it meets the roof 2.75 inches

Distance on either side of the house (horizontally) to the sides of the windows 3 inches

Distance between windows (horizontally) 4.5 inches

It is important to note that there is a top and bottom to the house. The distance from the top of the wall to the tops of the second floor windows is deliberately larger than the distance between the bottom of the wall and the bottom floor windows because the top also incorporates some of the attic wall. All I’m trying to point out here is that if you just try to make it vertically symmetrical it will not work out in the end.


The window pieces can be discarded once they’re cut out.

Next I drew on the lines to mark where the floors will attach to the back wall. Each line represents where the bottom of the floor piece will attach. The first line is 7.125 (one eigth) inches from the bottom of the wall. The second line is the same distance from the first. The extra eighth of an inch is to compensate for the thickness of the floor.


Now I’ll briefly discuss the pros and cons of covering the house with decorative paper and PVA glue.


It looks pretty and tidy

It covers up blemishes

It covers the edges of the foam board


It takes ages to do when you consider drying times

the wetness from the glue will warp the board and it isn’t always easy to force it back into shape without creating dents.


Contact paper (basically a giant sticker, also sold as “drawer liner” would make a pretty great alternative to applying glue to the foam board because it isn’t wet and therefore would not warp.


If you do choose to cover the pieces it’s not difficult but it is time consuming. Just leave the edges loose to be sure you have plenty to wrap around and try to use the thinnest layer of glue possible. I used dollhouse wall paper, mulberry paper and proper wallpaper on parts of this house.

Mulberry paper is by far my favorite paper to use for covering because it’s so versatile and forgiving and it molds over the edges flawlessly.

The outside (fake stone) paper that I used was by The Dolls House Emporium and it’s not expensive… I just really loved the fake stone look and decided to try some. It took two rolls to cover the outside wall and the back. I then used the scraps to cover the front facing, bottom floor supports.

Then I wanted the roof to be a different color so I used some wallpaper that I had lying around. It actually cost me a whole £1 a year ago as we bought it for this project (making a full size play house) for out little girl.

Clearance aisles in craft and hardware stores are a crafters best friend!!!




Depending on what you use and the likelihood of glue seeping through the paper, you can weight down the pieces so that they don’t warp as badly while they’re drying. It is impossible to do this if you’re using mulberry paper though because it’s so tissue thin.



Cutting the windows out of opaque paper on the back of the house was tricky. I just glued down one edge of the paper and traced the windows onto where they would fall once the edge was dried. Then I cut them out. I also used a piece of laminated plastic to make windows. they look really wavy in photos but look great in person. I would warn anyone who is doing this that they were a royal pain in the butt to install (sandwiched between the foam board and the stone paper) while trying to keep the window holes tidy.

If you were using a translucent paper to do the exterior the window thing wouldn’t really work. The stone paper hid the plastic edges pretty well though.


Now moving on for both those who do cover the foam board and those who do not.  We shall next explore the door. This is another optional embellishment that you can feel free to leave out entirely or adjust however you wish. The way that I did the door was I manipulated the cut out piece to actually swing open and closed. This is really easy to do but challenging to describe so I’ve illustrated it with a handful of photos to help explain myself.

I put the door on the side piece to open out into the kitchen area. The door hole measures (2.25 x 4.5 inches) and it is placed about a quarter of an inch from the floor edge (to allow for the thickness of the foam board to be attached) and about an inch and a half in from what would become the front facing edge of the house.


The first thing you need to do, is pop the door piece back in its hole. It should fit very securely since you cut it out with a lovely sharp razor. Next remove the door piece and very carefully shave away the edges (checking the fit after each shave) until it fits in the hole quite loosely.


Cover the door if you choose to and make a little glued on door knob if you want a little door knob. Then take the bbq skewer and about 1/4 an inch from the edge of where you want the door hinged make a hole up through the bottom of the door frame and straight into the top. The pointy end of the bbq skewer should push right through the foam easily.


After you have the frame holes push the same skewer through the door piece as pictured above. Do this slowly and gently because you’ll be displacing the foam and you want it to be quite straight. I poked it through half way then flipped it around and did the other half until it met in the middle.




Then remove the skewer and thread the whole thing together through the door frame. If it’s too snug to swing open and closed you can always trim the door down a bit more.

Lastly after you’ve jammed the skewer as far as you want it to go into the door frame, snip off the end so that it’s flush with the bottom of the wall piece.


And now you have a cute little door that swings both ways with ease… no tricky hinges required.



If you plan to incorporate a stair case you’ll need to create the hole in the top floor where they let out. This rectangular hole should measure (2 x 4.5) and it should be placed about 1/2 an inch in from the front of the house and 4.4 inches in from the right hand side of the house.



After everything is cut out and covered (or not) you’re ready to glue the whole thing together, which is a HIGHLY satisfying 5 minute job.


To assemble, first hot glue each floor to the back panel (one at a time) as pictured above. The lines you drew on should meet with the ceiling line of the floors.Working quickly is essential because the hot glue doesn’t stay hot for long and the lines of glue are going to be quite long.

To ensure that you are getting each piece on straight at a 90 degree angle just use something with a 90 degree (right) angle to sit between the floor and the wall as the glue cools and sets. This can be anything you have lying around, from your ruler to a hard cover book.

Next, working quickly, put glue onto the sides of each floor and attach it to the big side piece.

POOF! It looks like a house!



Next glue on the small attic side piece (as pictured) and once that’s dry the roof should fit on top, lining up with the back wall.



Then add in the TOP floor dividers and bottom floor front supports as pictured above.

Lastly glue in the stair case so that the last step matches up with the 2nd floor opening (as pictured) and then once the stairs are straight and glued in place you will be able to tell where the bottom floor divider fits in as it slightly overlaps with the stairs so that well placed tiny dab of glue on the divider wall can help to support the stairs in their permanent position.

Furnish and make some lucky child very happy!


Click any of the links below to see the details of how I did the furniture pieces

Master Bedroom


Living Room

Kitchen/Dining Room



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