This idea was sparked by one of my favorite DIYers, @angelarosehome. My husband and I do projects all the time, but I saw this and thought it could be something I could do all myself as a sweet gift to my babies! I started looking at smaller dolls and figurines so I could get dimensions, (I don’t want a full size Barbie dollhouse yet, they can get kind of obnoxious) and thought “hmm, let me just see if maybe it’d be more worth my time to buy a house. The prices I found QUICKLY cemented that I would be building this myself! I couldn’t find anything I was interested in for under $100, and even those weren’t what I wanted. I even checked eBay and Facebook Marketplace and Swapshops consistently for weeks and everyone wanted top dollar there too, who knew dollhouses were such a hot commodity? Not me! I also would love it if every “girl item” in my house wasn’t hot pink.
So, Day 1, back to my insta inspiration, and Pinterest to find a design I wanted to replicate! Annoyingly no one was eager to share their dimensions, and unfortunately I have terrible spacial skills. To save some frustration, I just made sure to overestimate each board so worst case scenario I’d end up with too much. Even with that, I guessed myself to only need 15.5’, which rounds up easily to two eight-foot boards! Lowe’s online has the 12” wide ones listed at $9, and I’m not sure I even need the house to be that deep. That gets all the wood I need except for the backing piece, which I am thinking will be plywood, or another kind of thin finishing board we may have scraps of. I know we already have screws, nails, and wood glue, so we’re looking at an $18 project.
Day 2: Who got a toddler up bright and early to tackle a Lowe’s run? This girl! And what a time it was for him to be in there with me, it was a Halloween and Christmas wonderland! 😂😍 On one side we had magical Christmas trees and lights and nutcrackers, and on the other we had some BA dragon and spider blowups, along with shelves and shelves of Halloween decorations begging you to “try me!” Which we did, to all of them, at least twice. That got my toddler hyped up enough to make it to the depths of the store to the nice “pretty” lumber. Visualizing in my head at home, I figured I’d want a 12” or 10” for my base, and a 10” or 8” for the rest accordingly. Quickly I realized that 8” and 6” were plenty large, and they had 6’ cuts that I opted for to make maneuvering them and my child to the vehicle a little easier. My total still rang up right under $20!
Day 3: Time to start cutting! Again, I wasn’t able to find any house I liked online with exact dimensions, so I had to wing it! I had based my guesstimates off of a 3’ base piece, and my tallest upright being 2’ and cut them with a miter saw. From there I laid the pieces upright on the ground with scrap wood from our garage so I could visualize better and see how the lengths would look before I cut them. I ended up cutting most pieces to my original estimates and trimmed as needed to fit correctly. The last cuts I made were to add a slant to the upright pieces that met the roof. Then I nailed everything together besides the base so I could stain it first.
Day 4: Painting day! This was my biggest regret all project – that I didn’t paint/stain each before nailing, I was just so excited to see it together! I gave a quick sanding to all the edges and then just painted or stained! Nothing fancy, I had some leftover paint from cabinets in our house, a cheap black craft paint for the roof, and Minwax stain that you can find at Walmart or Westlakes. The walls and roof took 3 coats of paint each to make them nice and even, this was the most time consuming step with the wait time between coats.
Day 5: Last day of work! Now I attached the rest of the house to the base, first with wood glue, and then screws. I used a little rubber band trick of my own creation to make sure I didn’t miss the boards. The last step was adding a backing board. I got a 2’x4’ birch panel from Menards for $8. I set it up where I wanted it to go on the house and traced the outside and inside of each wall, and then drew my cut line in between with a straight edge. This was the part I figured I had the biggest chance to mess up since I have only used a circle saw one other time, but I made sure I had the board propped up well on either side, took my time, and it worked out just fine! My only hiccup was on one of my cuts. I had the blade touching the board before the saw was up to speed and it chipped my board. With some sanding and paint it’s almost unnoticeable! This and a few other places could be touched up with some wood filler, but for now she is done, and I am in love!
All together, I would guess my investment was about 3-4 hours of work, two trips to a home improvement store, and $30! (The price would be slightly more if you don’t already have nails + screws + glue + paint, but these can all be rounded up for under $10 more.)
And there you have it! A simple, modern dollhouse on a budget that you could easily customize yourself!
After all my work, I almost get why people don’t share their dimensions, but that was my biggest critique of other posts like this, SO here are mine! They are not perfect, and there are things I would tweak if I were doing over. The easiest fix that I’ll go back and do, the smaller roof is too long by at least an inch. And for any of the lengths that have a “*”, those are pieces with a slant cut, and the measurement is of the longer of the two edges. I honestly just did an angle that looked right on my miter saw, did them all the same, and that was the slant for my roof! (If anyone really cares to know, I can go measure the angle!) I also think that I would have went with wider boards after all, I was just worried about it ending up too big originally. I also would maybe try to add doorways or windows in a future project, but this was enough sawing for a beginner like me!
This size is perfect for the Barbie Chelsea brand of 6” dolls (I got several below for $3-6 each ((actual height 5.5″), and for a size reference, the “Skipper” doll would be able to stand in the house if I’d added about an inch to each level), Little People (Walmart had the super cute little dudes below), or any other small figurines (my son has already had his PJ Masks in there saving the day)!
Next step is deciding which rooms need wallpaper (and probably some “shiplap”), and DIYing furniture, because surprise surprise, that stuff is expensive too! How would you customize?!