DIY Dollhouse Makeover

Thursday, December 7, 2017

There are those presents that the kids lose interest in right away (womp womp), and others that are still favorites years later (parenting WIN!). A few years ago, I did a last minute DIY dollhouse makeover for my boys, transforming an off-the-shelf dollhouse into a mini-me version of our own home, and years later, the boys (now 4.5 and almost 6) still play with it all the time and show it to everyone who comes over!


When we were little, my mom created several dollhouses for my sister and me. She bought them unfinished, and then meticulously decorated and furnished them, using real carpet, tile, and linoleum remnants on the floors, and using fabric to create wallpaper for the walls. Those dollhouses were our prized possessions and I always envisioned creating a similar dollhouse for my own daughter someday.

When I had two sons, I kind of assumed that there wouldn't be any dollhouses in my future, but boy was I wrong! When Beckett was 2 and a half, he spotted a dollhouse at a toy store, begged to play with it, and had to literally be dragged out of the store 30 minutes later. He talked about that dollhouse a couple of days, and then he seemed to forget all about it. In all of our visits to Santa that Christmas, a dollhouse never came up, but then just weeks before Christmas he informed me that a dollhouse was the only thing he really wanted! Uh oh!

I thought about just running out and buying him the house he had seen at the toy store months before, but it was designed for use with little mice, squirrels, and bunnies in fancy flowery little dresses that he showed no interest in. It was the furniture and the house itself that seemed to enthrall him. 



Around the same time, Beckett had started to show a lot more interested in my blog photos. He began climbing on to my lap and requesting to see his room. Then he would ask to see the rest our house room by room, excitedly pointing out the details he recognized in each space.

And that's when I realized that this was my opportunity to create a truly special dollhouse like the ones my mom had given me. Except at that point it was just two weeks before Christmas and time was quickly ticking away. Good thing I'm always up for a challenge! 

Since I didn't have time to start completely from scratch, I was looking for a something that I could customize, with the goal of creating a dollhouse that resembled our own modern home. 

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you buy something that I recommend, you pay the same price, but I may receive a small commission.

I started my search online, and I was surprised to find lot of simple, contemporary styled wooden dollhouses. I liked this one from Melissa & Doug, this one from Plan Toys, and this giant one from KidKraft*. 

But in the end I chose the Hape All Season House because I liked the size, the layout, and the potential for customization! The basic shape of the Hape dollhouse reminded me very much of our home - with its straight, geometric lines, and rooms spread out over many floors.


And here's the view of the back of the house, in its original form...

Its true that our house is very bold and colorful, so I didn't mind the primary color scheme of this dollhouse! In fact, if I were buying a dollhouse for two boys and didn't want to spend the time customizing it, this would be a perfect choice because it's really very fun and gender neutral! 

However, since I did want to customize the dollhouse, this one perfectly fit my plans. The clearly delineated rooms and square shapes made it very easy to update. Here's a sneak peek and the supply list, and then I'll show you how I did it, step by step!


SUPPLY LIST


STAIN THE WOOD

My original intent was simply updated the walls and floors in each room, and to paint the green front door and green roof. But once I unpacked the dollhouse from the box, I was suddenly inspired to also change the light wood color of the frame to better match the dark wood throughout our home. I grabbed out a can of left over stain {Dark Walnut}, and went to town!


Fortunately staining the frame of the dollhouse didn't take long at all. While the stain dried, I turned my attention to the roof. 

PAINT THE ROOF

One of the really fun elements of this dollhouse is that the roof serves as a handle to easily move the house around, is removable to create easier play access in the top level of the house, and is even reversible. In its original state, one side of the roof was bright green with vines growing around solar panels, and the other side of the roof was covered in snow drifts.


Since I was going to be covering up all the other bright green on the house, I decided to paint the green side of the roof black {to match our own roof}, but since we live in Colorado were snowy rooftops are a common sight throughout the winter, I definitely didn't want to cover up the snow drift side. I used painters tape around the boarder of the snowy side of the roof to allow me to paint the edge of the roof without accidentally getting any black paint onto the white snow.


I used some left over black acrylic paint and a wide paint brush to make the roof's paint job quick and easy.





PAINT FRONT DOOR & WALLS

Next up for makeover was the front door and all those primary colored walls. Our front doors are dark wood with frosted glass panels, so I painted the door with chocolate brown acrylic paint, and then used a light teal color in the window cut outs to mimic the color of the frosted glass.

I wanted to paint some of the walls, and to create "wallpaper" for others. To make things easy, I decided to paint all the walls that had window cut-outs, and to only wallpaper the solid square walls. 

For the inside of the house, I wanted the walls to match the dominate wall colors in our home, so I grabbed out several jars of leftover latex paint from our storage room. I painted the room on the bottom floor the same light gray that is in our basement; for the next room up, I painted the walls the same teal as our kitchen/living room, and for the room on the top floor, I painted the wall a dark gray to match the accent wall in our real third floor master bedroom. {Sorry for the lack of photos here! I was working fast and furious to get this done for Christmas and didn't stop to take all the photos I normally would... but you'll see these walls later on.}

For the back of the dollhouse, I decided to make it look like the exterior of our home, which is  a mix of white stucco, light gray stucco, and stacked stone. I painted each section with a window in a light gray paint to mimic our stucco color.

Once all the walls were painted {but before adding any wallpaper}, I decided to give everything a coat of sealer to make it more durable and less likely to get scratched while the kids play. I laid all the painted and stained parts out on cardboard in the garage and sprayed them with a satin spray sealer.


CREATE DIY DOLLHOUSE WALLPAPER

Now about that "wallpaper" I've been mentioning. I wanted to ensure that both boys could easily identify their own bedrooms in the dollhouse {this was before the boys were sharing a room}. Beckett's room {which is now the playroom} has a fun argyle feature wall that I hand painted...


But there was no way that I was going to try to hand paint a miniature version of the argyle in the dollhouse {both in the interest of time and my sanity}. Instead, I pulled up the Photoshop rendering of the argyle that I had created back when I was trying to figure out the right color layout for the argyle wall. I measured the wall of one of the dollhouse rooms with no windows {7.5" high by 8.125" wide}, and then cropped and adjusted the size of the Photoshop rendering to be the same dimensions. Of course, if you're not crazy like me, you could just search for an image online of the wallpaper pattern you want! 


Next, I needed to recreated the look of the teal ombre striped walls in Cooper's room. 


I again used the dollhouse room dimensions and create a striped image that replicated the look of the ombre walls.


I printed the "wallpaper" onto sheets of inkjet printable adhesive vinyl, trimmed them down to size, and then positioned them on the two walls with no windows.




CREATE FAUX STONE FOR DOLLHOUSE EXTERIOR

To complete the look of the exterior of the house, I downloaded an image of the stacked stone on our home from the manufacturers website, and I printed the image onto more sheets of inkjet printable adhesive vinyl. In addition to covering the two non-window sections of the back of the house in stone, I also covered the bright green bushes next to the front door with stone as well.




ADD FAUX WOOD DOLLHOUSE FLOORS

The final step before before assembling the dollhouse was to refinish some of the floors. I wanted the lower two levels of the house to have the look of the hardwood floors in our home, so I picked up a roll of walnut colored wood grain shelf paper.


I covered the sections of floor that looked like tile and brick, leaving three sections of natural wood colored floor uncovered for the dollhouse bedrooms {the rooms that in our home have beige carpet}.



ASSEMBLE THE DOLLHOUSE

Finally, I was ready to assemble the dollhouse...

DIY Dollhouse Wallpaper



ADD HOUSE NUMBERS


After seeing the dollhouse put together, my husband suggested that I add the house number, and label the mail slot in the door similar to our mailbox. I used a scrap of teal vinyl and cut the numbers and letters on my Cricut electronic cutting machine.  



Then I decided to take it one step further by painting the "toy box" that came with one of the furniture sets black and labeling it like the milk box on our front porch.



And here's the mini dollhouse version!

Cricut Dollhouse Makeover

I was so thrilled with how the dollhouse makeover turned out, and the side by side before and after is pretty drastic - especially considering that it only took me a few hours to make all the changes! The original was very fun and colorful, but the after... well, now it looks like home!

DIY Dollhouse Makeover Ideas

And here's the back of the house...


The stacked stone combined with the two story windows above the front door really makes the dollhouse look remarkably like our home...

\



MODIFY DOLLHOUSE FURNITURE

Once the house was complete, I was ready to focus on the furniture. From watching my boys play with the dollhouse at the toy store, I knew that moving the furniture around would be one of their favorite parts, so I wanted to give them plenty of furniture options. After doing my research, I learned that the furniture and dolls from Hape, Plan Toys and Melissa & Doug are all very close in size, making them interchangeable. I picked my favorites from among all three furniture lines and ordered the following:



Since the dollhouse was updated to look like our home, I wanted to make a few changes to make the furniture look a bit more like our own as well. I pulled out my bin of acrylic paint of went to town, starting with the dining chairs, which I painted black to match the chairs in our kitchen.

Paint wood dollhouse furniture

A grey couch, a silver table, a black headboard, a stainless oven, a brown bookshelf... I tweaked each piece of furniture to match something in our home, and then gave all the painted areas a coat of clear satin varnish to protect the paint from scratching. 

Paint wood dollhouse furniture

Paint wood dollhouse furniture

To complete the furniture makeovers, I enlisted the help of my mom's help for a simple sewing project. She recovered the couch and chair cushions using fabric swatches to match the furniture in our living room and family room. She also used a scrap of fabric from our master bedroom duvet to cover the bedspread for one of the dollhouse beds.


DIY DOLLHOUSE RUGS

The final step to making the dollhouse look just like home was to create some simple rugs for the floor. I picked up a few pieces of felt, cut the rugs to a size of 5" x 7", and then used my colored Sharpies to draw on patterns similar to the rugs in each room of our house. In just about 30 minutes I had seven new rugs! 

DIY Dollhouse Rugs


FINISHED DIY DOLLHOUSE MAKEOVER

And here's how it all came together!

DIY Dollhouse Makeover

Hape Dollhouse Makeover


In addition to the furniture, I picked a cute blue car that fits perfectly in the "garage" at the back of the house - just like our house with a garage entrance from the alley. The car came with a family of four, but I knew the boys would ask where the grandparents were, so I also bought an additional set of wooden dolls.





Ready for a closer look inside?! Come on in!

Just like our home, the lowest level of the dollhouse is the "basement," the kitchen is to the right of the front door, the kids rooms are on the next level up, and the master bedroom and bathroom are on the third floor.


Customize an off-the-shelf wood dollhouse

DIY Hape Dollhouse Makeover



DIY Hape Dollhouse Makeover

Since I wanted the kids to have lots of options, I made two sets of furniture for each of the lower level rooms. The basement can be set up as our family room, or as the kids play area, the kitchen can be swapped out to become our living room. Of course, the kids don't really set the rooms up like this on their own - you're more likely to find the toilet next to the kitchen table, and the couch on top of the bed!


DIY Dollhouse Makeover

TURNING A DOLLHOUSE INTO OUR HOME'S MINI-ME

The kids immediately recognized that the walls, rugs, furniture look like things in our home, and they love talking about it! Let me show you some comparisons...

Our basement family room has a grey couch, orange pillows, white chair, grey number rug, and fireplace...so does the dollhouse family room.

Dollhouse Family Room

At the other end of our basement is the kids play area with a fun letter rug and a white play table with orange chairs. Here's the real thing, and the dollhouse version...


Dollhouse Playroom

On the other side of the dollhouse, the room with the teal wall doubles as our kitchen and our living room. Like our kitchen, the dollhouse has stainless appliances, black chairs, and an ombre rug in shades of teal and blue.


Dollhouse kitchen

The dollhouse kitchen can also be set up as a mini version of our living room, with teal walls, a teal rug, and black and white tweed couch, black chairs, and a silver table.


Dollhouse living room



Now let's head upstairs...

In addition to the ombre walls, Cooper's nursery has a crib, a zebra rug, a changing table, and a red rocking horse in place of a red elephant.

Dollhouse Nursery

Beckett's room is easy to identify by the argyle wall, but I also gave it a simplified version of a houndstooth rug, a play table, a bookshelf, and I even painted a little lamp to look like his DIY chalkboard globe.

Dollhouse Boy's Room

Since I first created the dollhouse, the boys now share the bedroom with the ombre striped walls with bunkbeds, a navy blue rug, and orange accents. I think I might repaint the dollhouse bunkbed white and make a new rug for that room to reflect the real life makeover, and I might come up with a fun way to recreate the hanging play tent that's in the argyle wall room, that's now a playroom.

On the third floor, the master bedroom has a black bed with a blue duvet, and a gray rug. It even has a big deck, just like our room, but the dollhouse deck comes with the added bonus that it can be moved to any room of the house.

Dollhouse Bedroom

Finally, at the top of the house is the bathroom, complete with a toilet with a lid that lifts - one of the boys' very favorite parts! Since the time I created the dollhouse, our real life bathroom received a stylish makeover with graphic black and white cement tile. I'm thinking I might make a little update to the dollhouse bathroom to add some graphic glam style.


Hape Dollhouse Makeover




I had so much fun putting this dollhouse together for the boys, and I'm thrilled that three years later they are still enjoying it just as much as they did the very first day! 

Here are some photos I snapped of them playing with the house a couple of years ago! It was snowing outside that day, so of course they flipped the roof around to the snowy side!


Boys playing with customized Hape All Seasons Dollhouse


Boys Playing with customized Hape All Seasons Dollhouse

Since not all of the furniture can fit in the house at one, I put all the extra pieces in a plastic lidded bin that we keep in the toy cabinet. The boys love having options and spend a lot of time sorting through the furniture to find just the right pieces.



Ok, if you are thinking that you might want to customize a dollhouse for your kids...let me sum this all up for you so it doesn't seem so overwhelming! I realize this post is long, but this dollhouse makeover was really quite easy. 

Make a dollhouse look like your own home



Since I was trying to make it a surprise, I worked on this DIY dollhouse makeover during naps and after bedtime for about three days, but in total it only took about five hours. None of it required any special skills...just a little patience. Here's the overview of what I did:
  • Stained dollhouse frame using left over stain
  • Painted the green side of the roof black using acrylic paint
  • Painted the windowed walls {interior and exterior} using paint left over from our walls
  • Painted the front door and deck
  • Sprayed a sealer over all the painted and stained areas to protect them
  • Printed "wallpaper" and stone onto printable adhesive vinyl
  • Cut the printed wallpaper and stone to fit the non-windowed walls and stuck them in place
  • Covered some of the floors in wood-grain contact paper
  • Assembled the dollhouse
  • Added house numbers and labeled the mail slot and milk box using adhesive vinyl
  • Painted and sealed select portions of the furniture to coordinate with furniture in our house
  • Recovered the cushions, pillows, and bedspread using fabric swatches and scraps
  • Created rugs using felt and Sharpie markers
Everyone loves a good before and after, right?! Here's one more look at the completed transformation! And don't forget to pin this post for any dollhouse renovations that might be in your future!


DIY Dollhouse Makeover


Have you created a dollhouse for your kids? Or do you a picture of the one you played with when you were little? Everyone can use more inspiration with the holidays upon us, so share your photos on Facebook or Instagram, and be sure to tag me!

1 comment :

  1. Wow! What a beautiful, loving gift for your boys. A true labor of love and so inspired. This little home will be a part of your boys' wonderful childhood memories their whole lives. Thanks for sharing. xo

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