My grandpa made a dollhouse for me when I was three or four years old. It wasn’t your typical dollhouse. It was constructed of leftover real house materials (think steel framing, indoor-outdoor carpeting, parquet floors, etc.) and it was HUGE. At the time, I would use the sloped roof as a slide and my baby brother would crawl through the house width-wise as if it were a tunnel. Imagine my frustration every time he came barreling through Barbie’s living room! I
blame credit my grandpa and that amazing dollhouse for instilling in me early a love of all things home.
So, naturally, I wanted to brainwash Mabrey in the same way. However, I’m not quite as resourceful or energetic as my grandpa. (He’s 78 now and still has more energy than me.) And our space doesn’t really allow for a ginormous dollhouse. I opted for a modest, off-the-shelf dollhouse that I could put my stamp on instead.
The original orange and blue color scheme wasn’t doing it for me so I grabbed leftover black and white paint from our garage and doctored the heck out of the dollhouse. You can read more about my tweaks here but basically I painted the roof, shutters and front door to achieve a neutral color scheme. The paint contained a built-in primer which negated extra steps. I even stained the floor boards for warmth and contrast because kids think about those things when they’re playing, you know. KIDDING. The materials for my tweaks were all leftover from real life renovations so they didn’t cost me a dime – just a little time and patience. I completed all the tweaks before assembling the house.
I painted the bathroom white and spray painted the fixtures gold. Every dollhouse needs a gold toilet lid!
I painted the kitchen doors and drawers black. It resembles our real kitchen which Layne and Everett immediately picked up on.
The dolls were a gift from grandparents. They are handcrafted and super easy for Mabrey to manipulate. They are too cute and add fun splashes of color to the neutral house. Each doll has its name hand painted on the bottom which gives them fun little personalities.
The best feature about the house is its versatility. The doors, windows, stairs, partitions and balcony can be easily moved around should boredom strike. Kids can experiment with different arrangements. I’ve found the bathtub in the kitchen and the toilet on the balcony (!) after Mabrey’s had her way with the house. But to me, that’s the lure of dollhouses – the freedom to incorporate totally outrageous and impractical ideas without consequence.
It was important to me for the dollhouse to fit on the trunk in Mabrey’s room. Her room is small (just shy of 10′x10′) and space is tight. I didn’t want the house taking up precious floor space and I didn’t want a house that would require a larger horizontal surface to rest on. Taking measurements before ordering was essential.
The height of the dollhouse on the trunk is perfect for Mabrey. She can stand to play and easily access the house and its contents. Because the house is lightweight and well made, I can move it out to the coffee table in the living room for extended playtime. But, most of the time, the dollhouse lives in the nursery.
Mabrey isn’t the only one who enjoys the dollhouse. I’ve caught Layne and Everett playing with it, too. And I may or may not channel my inner four-year-old from time to time. I’m looking forward to adding more accessories over time and watching the dollhouse grow with our family.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking