Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Dollhouse Tour

I have been asked on several occasions to do a tour, of sorts, of the rooms of my dollhouse.   The house has seen several changes over the years, and with each I have thoroughly enjoyed the process: from contemplation to design to completion.  However, much like a real house, the spaces are ever evolving, out of need or just for whim, so another update will probably be in order in a few years!

Collectors of anything, whether it be dolls, thimbles, soda cans or even cars- all have one thing in common: they need a space to display or store their collections. So in my house, when the dolls and their things started multiplying, seemingly exponentially, it was time to start thinking of building a dedicated space for them. And that meant a house.  A doll house.

Of course for dolls that are 18" in height, a less than what I shall call ordinary house was in order.   It would need to be tall enough to accommodate the dolls, wide enough to fit furniture with room to maneuver and deep enough to set up scenes in.  So it would need to have some moderate size to it.   

I started out by making lists of the spaces I could imagine wanting to create for the dolls.   I consulted my girls, who at the time were both under 10. (This project's first incarnation dates back to 2008). They wanted bedrooms and a bathroom.  I wanted a classroom, a colonial kitchen, a living room.  We'd have to do some compromising.

I decided upon four boxes each measuring: 24"D x 48"L x 28" H
And I wanted to add a bonus attic space on the third floor for Kit and her things.  

The boxes were built in the basement, then very strategically and carefully carried up and set in place.   They are comprised of two long plywood boxes stacked on top of one another, thus creating four separate spaces.  The attic was added separately, later on. The house is located in a first floor guest bedroom that also doubles as my sewing room. 

I knew I wanted the rooms to have windows and I wanted a door.  I tried to place the windows in sections of the wall that I felt would best suit various types of rooms, as I wanted to be able to change the rooms and their time periods when it suited me.

Walls were primed and painted and floors were covered in leftover pieces of carpet and engineered wood, repurposed from other real house projects.  The kitchen floor was taped off and painted in the checkerboard pattern.  I added trim around the door and windows.  Later I added interior bars to the windows.

After decorating and adding furniture, for a long time the house looked a bit like the pic below, though not always quite this tidy:

This picture was probably taken back in 2009 or 2010.  My two girls and their modern dolls had their bedrooms, Addy had her bedroom, we all agreed on the kitchen and Kit had her attic space. Everyone was happy. 

But like most houses, through the years, there's been a need for remodeling and updating.   Or maybe just because I love and embrace change.  Notice that the kitchen flooring had been repainted early on, changing from the blue to black and white.  That's me and my ever present need to refine.

Last month I decided that I needed to make some changes, yet again.  Now it's latest  arrangement looks like this:

No grand sweeping changes, just some cosmetic tweaking and furniture swapping.  And I'm happy to have added a 19th century parlor to the mix.  I still don't have my colonial kitchen though.

Now the tour....


                  19th CENTURY PARLOR

Would Addy have had this refined of a living space?  Not likely, but she is of course enjoying it anyway.  

Many of these items here you may recognize from various American Girl collections:  Caroline's parlor and accessories, Rebecca's settee and kittens, Felicity's nightstand and tea caddy, Cecile's desk and Kit's flowers and vase.  The other items are all found or made objects that work well for a parlor setting. The little rug was gifted to my by my mother in-law.  It was purchased by her sister, who lives in Italy.

Look at this little crystal door knob I fashioned from part of a wood finial and an acrylic bead.  I cut the top off of the finial, painted the base gold and hot glued the faux crystal on- and voila- vintage knob! 

                   Addy's a bit curious as to what is on the other side of that door....


                                  SALLY'S ROOM

                             Sally collects Hello Kitty. And loves Japanese anime.  

 The little shelf is just a small piece of wood that I cut and routed then mounted to the wall with wood glue.

I very recently added the door, complete with hinges and tiny knobs.   I had wanted to add a door from the house's inception, but just never seemed to find the time to commit to it.

All the little pieces and parts that comprise her room were collected over a span of several years.  The better percentage are actually not items purchased from American Girl.  They were found or made objects from a host of sources that work perfectly in scale for the dolls and the room.      


                                THE KITCHEN

This is the room that has seen the least amount of change over the life of the dollhouse.  I committed to the two windows, and mounted the cabinets to the wall making furniture placement limited.  I don't mind, as this arrangement makes the most sense.    Kit's stove works seamlessly with Molly's table and chairs and American Girl's Sweet Treats Bakery Case, from a few years back, functions perfectly as a peninsula in the space. 

         Much like a real house, everyone seems to gather together in the kitchen.     



                                           KIT'S ATTIC SPACE

 Kit could't be more happy to have her own space- to share with Ruthie and Grace too, of course!  The walls are constructed of plywood.   I stained and added trim pieces in strips along the walls to mimic an unfinished attic space.

Here Kit sits and types out her newsletters and stories.


My 10 year old claimed this room for her doll Kayla (seated) and went about arranging the furniture to her liking.  I think she did a great job.  

Kayla is a bit of a social butterfly and is always inviting this friend or that friend over to play the Wii, giggle, gossip and eventually raid the kitchen.

The white dresser is a vintage jewelry box that I stripped and repainted.  

 I painted the mirror to match the rest of American Girls McKenna's neon green room accessories.

More eclectic mixing of American Girl goodies and found objects.  

Another view.  For this picture I am standing, or rather shoved into, the far west corner of the room, in an attempt to capture the house in it's entirety.   

And following the theme of change...if you haven't noticed, you can see, my 10 yr old had her way just in the last few days with the kitchen space and was happy to remodel it with the addition of the red Our Generation kitchen.    She had always pooh-poohed Kit's stove and thought an updated modern look would be more appropriate.  I'm not sure I'm sold.  But if it keeps her interest in the dolls for just a little longer, then I'm happy.  

And just for a chuckle...my oldest and her amusing antics...

It appears that someone has slipped through the time warp door and discovered a found object of her own!  I keep removing that darn laptop (don't want the universal laws of time and space to go awry) and somehow I keep finding it again and again seated with Addy. Hmmm... Miss Addy looks innocent to me.  ;)   But my 13 yr old claims her innocence as well, so who to believe??

Have any questions about any of the items seen here or about the dollhouse?   I am always happy to answer.   



  1. Your dollhouse is one of the best I've seen!

  2. Wow! Amazing! I especially love the floors, doors and windows. Those are difficult to do in the right scale for realism but these look perfect. :-)

  3. I love your dollhouse so much! It's amazing! I'm in the process of making mine, but it's not going to be this amazing!

  4. Wow! I love all the details!
    My husband just built our daughter a 6' x 6' one that takes up nearly the entire wall in her room. We have four rooms and a full top floor as loft space. Love your ideas here!

  5. That is an outstanding doll house! I am so very happy it brings such joy to you and your daughters.
    I love how each room is decorated (even the OG kitchen...the red really ties it together with Molly's table).
    It's too funny that the laptop keeps appearing with Addy. (Maybe she is preparing for the new BeForever Addy. ;-) )

  6. Love this! So many outstanding details. :) Addy's laptop cracked me up, too. ;)

    Thanks for sharing these photos and ideas with us. :)

  7. I adore all the pictures of every little thing. Do you prefer your dolls to look like adults or 10 year-olds in their scenes? I like the scale of your house, so many AG and OG items are off scale. Does that bother you? I noticed you fixed Kit's sideboard hehe

    1. I want our dolls to remain a blissful 10 in body and mind, always. I hope that's conveyed somewhat in the pics. I try not to have them do too many "adult" things, but my real life 10 yr old prefers otherwise, honestly. She'll have them driving, time traveling, running restaurants, teaching, etc. It's all great fun though, and a necessary part of pretend play.

      The scale issue used to bother me more, but I simply cherry pick what I feel is appropriate and leave the rest. American Girls's off scale foods are what prompted me in part to begin making my own foods for the dolls.

    2. The off scale foods is what keeps me from buying some of the AG & OG sets. I haven't crossed over into making my own yet. I prefer to use human food cut to size...then after the photo shoot I get to snack. Kind of the the Kraft Tables on movie sets. LOL

  8. I love your dollhouse. Everyone has their own unique space. The kitchen looks like a real kitchen that would have school aged children. I love the room you made for Addy. Kit & Ruthie's room looks wonderful as well. The historical dolls are my favorite.

  9. Oh wow, I absolutely love your dollhouse! You have done such an amazing job with it! So jealous, hehe. ;)

  10. Wow! If only your dolls could speak for themselves, I’m sure they would be very grateful to have that house. Anyway, I love the way you designed your doll house, Melody! You’ve done a great job in differentiating the mood on each of the rooms. I think I love Kit’s room the most. Thanks for sharing!

    Loretta Boronat @ My Sibling Dolls

  11. It's simply beautiful. Full of everything one can dream of finding in a doll house!

  12. I am so jealous of your doll's Hello Kitty collection! I have a collection for myself of nearly 300 items...but I was really wondering where you got the little snap box with Hello Kitty at the foot of the bed and the tiny Hello Kitty clock? They are just so cute.

    1. I have always had this thing for HK. And mini versions of things that work for the dolls are not too hard to come by. A friend of mine generously gave me the little snap box- it had erasers in it. I'm fairly certain I bought the clock on Ebay. My SIL has a huge HK collection too- and quite a few vintage items. She has it packed away- lucky for her or Sally might come and claim some things for herself! ;)

  13. The house has seen several changes over the years, and with each I have ... american-girldollhouse.blogspot.com

  14. The house looks great! Where did you find the fireplace or did you make it?

    1. The fireplace is part of American Girl Caroline's collection. It is her parlor.

  15. Love looking at this, I'm working on a house for my dolls, this gives me lots of ideas and things to think about! The doorknob is perfect too.

  16. I love it! How did you make the doors? And what is a wood finial? Where do you find mini kerosene lanterns, and all that stuff?

    1. The door was made from craft wood. I measured the inside dimensions of the door opening, then cut my piece about 1/4 of an inch smaller to allow for the hinges. I glued on the trim, sanded then painted. The tiny hinges were purchased at a craft store. I carefully chiseled out the trim and the door so that the hinges would be flush and the door could swing open and closed. Hope this helps somewhat. It was a labor of love!

      A wood finial is a small craft wood piece that an be purchased in the wood section of any craft store. The kerosene lamp was purchased on Ebay. There are tons of them in doll scale- in many different colors too. I am always looking for things in doll scale- wherever I go.

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  18. It looks amazing! Where did you get the books that you have on the shelves?

  19. Wow. It looks amazing girl!! I was also wondering where you came up with the Gooseberry Patch cookbooks in the kitchen?

  20. Wow. It looks amazing girl!! I was also wondering where you came up with the Gooseberry Patch cookbooks in the kitchen?

  21. Very nice job of creating this wonderful fun dollhouse for your girls. Made with a lot of love I suspect. I was pinning for ideas to create a diorama for taking pictures of the dolls I make clothes for in my blog when I came across this post. I did get some very useful decorating ideas to use. Thank you so much for the inspiration.

  22. Do you have instructions on how you made Kit's attic? I have made our dollhouse (first time doing something like this and it went well!). I'm just not sure how you work the angles and put the back on the attic. If you have any details or pictures on when you made Kit's attic it would be appreciated!

  23. Love your dollhouse - wish I had a little girl of my own to justify having one. (Have boys and they are big already.) Currently in planning process of a diner for myself. You are a fun inspiration - wish you lived near Asheville. I would love to get to know you and your daughters. :) GramStarr :)

  24. Hi Pippaloo! Love the house! Any changes lately?