Friday, February 21, 2014

Building a Dollhouse, Part 1

Since building the Fairy Tree Dollhouse, I think I have been seriously bitten by the dollhouse bug. I had so much fun finding furnishings and decorating it.  When you love small dolls, it's wonderful to have a dollhouse for them.  I've actually always loved dollhouses and miniatures too.  When my daughters were really into Lego's, I wanted all of the house kits.  We have several Lego house kits, and those were my favorites to build, play with and just look at. Our Lego house kits are built and displayed on shelves in my daughters' room.

Last summer, we found a big dollhouse kit on clearance at Tuesday Morning.  I bought it on impulse (something I rarely do) because of the bargain price. The list price was $499.99, but Tuesday Morning's price was $199.99. They had marked it down to $139.99, and that weekend all clearance toys were an additional 70% off. Final price was $44.94 with tax. It is a House That Jack Built Rose Marie Dollhouse Kit. It is currently available on Amazon for $221.51, so I think $45 was an excellent bargain.

I guess I was a bit intimidated by the unknown task of building this large dollhouse, so it sat unopened for 9 months. Building the Fairy Tree Dollhouse must have given me just the encouragement I needed to get started on this kit. So this week, I finally opened the box.  Before I got started, I did some research online about building dollhouse kits.  I could't find any information on this particular kit, but I did find a wealth of information on dollhouse construction.  

If you're interested in learning more about dollhouses, check out Joanne's Minis Blog.  She has a whole series of videos on YouTube filled with information on Miniature Building Construction starting with Step 1.
You can also find Joanne's Mini's on Facebook.  

Also, check out Dollhouses and the Things that Go in Them on Facebook. That's Sharon's Facebook dollhouse community where you'll find lots of cool dollhouse info.  Sharon did the awesome tutorials that inspired my Fairy Tree Dollhouse. 

Here's what I've done so far...

Step 1 - Checklist - Check to make sure all of the pieces were included in the box. This should have been done immediately after purchasing the kit to make sure there were no missing parts. The instruction booklet included a parts check list, and fortunately all parts were present and accounted for.  

Step 2 - Primer - I primed all the parts with a water based primer. I decided to stain the original dollhouse floors, so I didn't prime those. You won't be able to use a wood stain on any wood that you have put primer on.  I stained the three floor boards on the top side with Minwax stain. I primed the opposite side of floor 2 and 3 since those would be ceilings. I haven't done anything to the stairs or stair railings yet, because I can't decide whether to stain or paint them.  

Priming the pieces

Step 3 - Dry fitting - I read alot about dry fitting the pieces together before you assemble them with glue and nails to make sure everything fits. I used masking tape to hold the pieces together. I'm glad that I didn't skip this step because now I have a much better idea of how it all goes together, which will help with the building process. 

Dry fit - The interior
Here's what it looks like from the front of the house. I used containers of dog food to help support the heavy sides of the house in addition to the masking tape.

Dry fit - The exterior

I only left it together long enough to take a couple pictures and quickly take some measurement of the interior rooms for wallpaper. Since this is a cabinet grade kit, the pieces are 3/8" thick, which means there are a lot of very big heavy boards held together just with masking tape.

I hope to get started on the actual building process with glue and nails tomorrow. Please leave a comment below if you'd like to see future updates and more pictures of this project. Also, if you have built a dollhouse, I'd love to hear from you. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!  

Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. I have yet to build one of my own (though I do have a kit that has been waiting months for me to begin). I would like to see your future updates as it helps encourage me to get started on my own kit. :)

    1. Hi Nealie Jean! I'll post updates of my progress for you. I hope that you decide to get out your kit and start working on it too! Which kit do you have?

    2. I have the Buttercup by Greenleaf. I thought it would be good to start with something small to learn with.

    3. Nealie Jean, I love the Buttercup. Do you have the 1" scale one or 1/2 scale one? I love all of the gingerbread trim!

  2. I am SO EXCITED! This is a BEAUTIFUL kit and what a bargain. I can not wait to see how this turns out. You are BRAVE to assemble a DH from scratch. I am intimidated and was so glad to have found mine already assembled. Congratulations.

    1. Hi Rhonda! I'm not nearly as brave as you are! The renovations that you have done to your main house are amazing. I think I would be intimidated to tackle such a task. How are you coming on the exterior? I love the remodeling you've done so far!

  3. Hi Lisa,
    It is Sam here. I LOVE dollhouses! It is my number one hobby/passion/obsession! I am in the middle of building a couple of them, and renovating some others. I actually got into the ball-jointed doll hobby so that I would have dolls to live in my houses.(That is where Isabelle comes into play).
    You got a wonderful house at a rock bottom price. Well done! Looks like you are doing very well with your construction. Yes, keep updating us with your progress. It is rather exciting to see it transform.

    1. Hi Isabelle,
      It's so neat to hear from someone else who is in the middle of building dollhouses too. I have become obsessed with it too. :) Your houses are beautiful!!! I'll be visiting your blog for inspiration!!!

  4. Hi Lisa,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your tutorial on the tree house and am really looking forward to seeing how the doll house progresses. You were soooo lucky to get a bargain like that, I'm green with envy.

    Like yourself and Sam, I love dollhouses too. Unfortunately the beautiful one my dad made when my girls were little, went with my second daughter when she moved out some years ago and I have never managed to replace it. I still live in hope though. :)

    1. Hi Xanadu,
      I hope that you can get another dollhouse. I am thoroughly enjoying working on this dollhouse. I've definitely found a new passion.

      If you are thinking about building one, there are some bargain options available. If you have a Hobby Lobby in your area, you can get a Greenleaf Orchid Kit for just $18 with the 40% off coupon. The Orchid may be my next dollhouse!

      Also, Michaels has these cute little Artminds Puzzle Dollhouse Kits for just $4.79 with a 40% off coupon. The wooden puzzle houses are half scale, which means they are half the size of the normal 1:12 scale dollhouses (they are 1:24 scale). They can be glued together and decorated like a regular dollhouse. They are so affordable, and so tiny, they would look cute displayed anywhere.

    2. I built several dollhouses from kits, but last year came purchase two dollhouse at a second hand shop that needed repair. One of the house was the Rutherhouse a 1970's kits someone had started but did not complete. It required a lot of repair of parts that are broken or missing. One part I will have to build myself will be the front French doors. The French door need to be build based on the measurements of the opening. Have you ever build French doors or know where I can find some type of tutorial or instructions. Thanks in advance for your help.


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