For Evelyn’s fourth birthday, my mom was hoping to give her a dollhouse, and this diy is what we ended up making for her! After posting a glimpse of it on Instagram, a bunch of you asked for details. So, I’m happy to share the how and why of our dollhouse, since I assume you’re probably looking for one for your kids too!
First, I should say I am not a crafty mom, so this diy is definitely do-able for anyone. If you know me, or have read my blog for awhile now, you also know I’m a little particular about toys and try to keep things simple – both in quantity and in design. I find that my kids play much better with fewer toys and more open-ended toys that allow for imaginative play. So a dollhouse is a great choice and has proven itself as a favorite toy over the past nine months.
My mom asked me what type of dollhouse we wanted, so I started doing some research and getting ideas. I looked at popular stores, like Pottery Barn Kids and Land of Nod, and wow, those houses are SO expensive and buying all the furniture can add up into the hundreds. They could certainly be a beautiful heirloom toy though. I just wasn’t sure if Evelyn was going to love it enough to justify the cost. Next I browsed Amazon, and found some more budget-friendly options, like a pink & purple Melissa & Doug house, a modern Plan Toys house, and the sweet Lundby doll house. The problem was I didn’t love the doll people that fit these homes, and as I was searching, I came across the sweetest option that I knew for sure Evie would love.
The Calico Critters families were my favorite find! Evie and Tommy have long loved animals, and I was certain they would love these little animal families. The brand has been around for a long time and has great reviews. The arms, legs, and heads are movable, and you can change their clothes too. The furniture is detailed and cute, and not too mature for a 4 or 5 year old who is more concerned with imagination than with scale and electric lights.
So, at this point I had all of the interior pieces of the dollhouse, but no actual house. After reading the reviews, the Calico Critter Cozy Cottage is really tiny. The next step up is the plastic Luxury Townhome, and for the price ($100) I worried it would break and not have enough space for little hands to play. So, the home I thought could work best was the Deluxe Village House, which retails for about the same as the PB Kids homes, $349. Too much! I checked Ebay, which had a couple of big sets for sale, and this is a great option if you’re looking to start a set. I found a couple homes on there today for about $70, but last year when I was hunting the cheapest I could find was $180.
So, I took to Pinterest to find other options….
This handmade dollhouse is my favorite inspiration (it was built and designed by Lia Griffith for a Ronald McDonald house.) This would take a huge time commitment to build, but I think it is so much better than any store-bought version. If Evie really falls in love with our easy diy version, I’d love to commission my husband to make this upgrade for her in the next year or two. The furniture is from Hape.
Just for fun, this dollhouse will blow your mind.
But this DIY bookcase dollhouse was the version we decided to tackle. It was fairly simple, and I liked the amount of space Evie would have to play in. It could transition back into a bookcase as she gets older.
SIMPLE DIY BOOKCASE DOLLHOUSE
- We purchased the IKEA Kallax bookcase ($34 at IKEA), two packs of Rifle Paper Co. gift wrap ($16), and 2 pieces of thick posterboard ($2 at Target). So, for roughly $50 we had our dollhouse!
- My mom and I assembled the bookcase.
- I cut each posterboard to fit two of the four squares in the bookcase.
- I measured and cut the gift wrap “wallpaper” and used double-sided tape to attach it to the posterboard.
- Browsing my Anthro catalog, I cut out mirrors and art to attach to the wall paper.
- Using blue painter’s tape, I taped each posterboard to the back of the bookcase to make a third “wall” in each room.
(Mom trick: It’s ok to leave a room empty. Right now it houses Evie’s library books.)
The sets do come with a lot of small pieces, so on her birthday she only got the bunnies and the furniture to play with. A few days later, we brought out the little pieces, which we keep in a small container and she can get them out to play with during her quiet rest time each afternoon. (Mom trick: It’s totally ok to spread out a gift over a few days so kids can appreciate it!)
Evelyn totally loves it, and she’s asking for some nursery furniture for the twins and a big bed for the mama and papa bunny to sleep in for Christmas this year! And I’m thinking it would be sweet to give my parents the grandparent bunnies that they can bring out when they are visiting our house and playing with the kids.
PS: Sylvanian Families is the same thing as Calico Critters, and sometimes you can find them at lower prices.