Today I am going to explain to you how to make a dollhouse yourself, in 12 steps.
Of course, you can just buy a dollhouse or a miniature/dollhouse-kit, all brand new or second-handed, but you could surely do that DIY-style!
When your kid is about 4 years old, she or he can start to enjoy playing with a dollhouse. Many moms or dads just go to the store, buy a standard bright pink, plastic dollhouse, and voilà: that’s it.
And then dear daughter or son can play with that until she or he is too old for it ( I don’t think I’m ever too old for dollhouses or miniatures though, don’t get me wrong 😉 ). Not a bad choice per se, but making a dollhouse yourself is about much more than just the dollhouse!
You can ask your partner to build it as a surprise, you can build it yourself ( yes women of the world, we can, I am the perfect example! Look at my personal work ), or you can build it as a team. In addition, you can then of course make dozens of very nice DIY miniatures, dolls, and furniture for the dollhouse.
In this tutorial, you can also see all the crafting materials that you would need to do this, so let’s dive right into things.
But first some insights.
I would assume that starting out, you will want to craft a dollhouse on a scale of 1:12 or 1:24. The scale is the reduction factor, which is expressed in a ratio. So a 1:24 scale house indicates that 1 cm of the model is 24 cm in reality. And in reality, the dollhouse is shown in a reduced size of 24 times. A 1:12 scale house however is reduced only 12 times. More about the different scales here.
Miniature furniture, such as beds, cabinets, tables, and chairs, but also dolls and plants, complete the dollhouse.
The scale you are going to choose for the dollhouse will depend on the space you have for the dollhouse at home. (learn more about choosing a dollhouse that is right for you in my article here).
For example, if you would choose the scale of 1:24, then your children who have Playmobil miniatures, can play with that in your self-made dollhouse, as they are about the same scale. These are therefore very useful for a dollhouse on a 1:24 scale.
Dollhouses are mostly made of wood, usually 9mm birch plywood. If you design your own dollhouse, you can choose what kind of rooms you want, to your own taste, such as a living room, a hallway, a toilet, a bathroom, a bedroom, a kitchen, or a garage/greenhouse/patio, etc. It is all up to you!
To get an idea of what it is going to look like, you could measure the spaces in your real house and convert them to a 1:24 scale. This way you can decide which size dollhouse you would prefer.
The minimum materials that you need are:
– Wood; 9 mm birch plywood, beechwood, or MDF
– (wood) glue
– Painter’s tape
– Wood files; block files, square, round, and semicircular files
– a hacksaw
– a jigsaw with very small teeth
– a multi-tool ( mini-drill )
– Glue clamps or grip holders (small size)
– a folding rule or a tape measure
– a pencil
Let’s go in 12 steps.
1. Make a design sketch.
Let’s start by making a sketch of the construction. Now you can see beforehand what the dollhouse will look like. Add the dimensions of the exterior walls of the dollhouse to the sketch.
For the sake of this tutorial, we will imagine making a dollhouse with two floors in the middle, a roof in the middle, and 2 roofs on the side.
There would be several areas to furnish and we would leave the dollhouse open all around with a possibility to remove the roof (like I did with my backyard shed). This will make it easier for kids to play with their dolls and accessories.
2. Create a building plan with a grid.
First, you need to draw a ground-floor building plan on a sheet of paper and make a decision on the sizes and areas of the dollhouse.
The best way is to use a grid and divide the area into equal parts. This will be useful later on when you are going to place the wall panels and when you will be working with the same dimensions.
A way to make this easier would be by using an online tool like this one.
3. Organize the space available.
Draw a grid in the rooms where the surface is not too large because after all, you need to put it in a room that has enough space for it. The rooms, doors, and stairs will be added afterward.
You need to use all the dimensions and proportions according to the grid so that all panels are equally large as much as possible. This makes things easier to work with and prevents errors.
4. Cut out the base plate.
You have checked everything and you are satisfied with the result? Then copy the map to the wooden base plate and cut it out.
Use a jigsaw with a very fine-toothed saw blade to saw a base plate that has the size of the map and use a piece of 9mm plywood.
After that, drill a hole in all corners, on the inside of the lines ( you could use an electric mini-drill ), so that you can put the jigsaw in them. Then saw the pieces, wall by wall, plus cut out the windows and doors as needed.
5. Install the walls.
Glue the walls on the base plate in a logical order. Before you glue the panels to the base plate, you must first decide in which order you are going to install them, so you keep oversight on what you are doing.
After you have sawn out the walls, you may want to install window frames. You can buy those frames all-ready-made in a craft store. But don’t start cutting out the holes until you have the window frames in front of you. That is the only way to see if they will fit!
Make sure to have 1 to 1,5 mm left when sawing out the pieces. As an alternative, you could use long matches to make window frames.
Now you have a choice: you can just glue the pieces together, or glue ànd screw them together. If you decide to screw as well, it is better to use screws with a crosshead.
First, make sure to drill a small hole with a thin drill, so that the screw head disappears into the wood. You can keep the glued panels together with painter’s tape while they are drying.
6. Check-up on the height of the walls and the construction.
It is important that the cutting-job is done precisely. If you are only 1 millimeter off, it already becomes a challenge to assemble the dollhouse tight and firm enough.
So what’s important is to check if your panels all have the same height, which is based on a standard real-life room height of 2,65 m. Continue placing the rest of the panels on the base plate.
7. Checkup in between a lot.
Always check in between placing walls if everything is still ok: there may be an error in your building plan or you may have made a mistake in calculating the scale. Then go on and place the rest of the panels on the base plate.
8. Place the first floor.
Place the first floor on the installed walls. Make sure that it is parallel with the ground floor. You could make a recess on the front part so that it’s easier to play with the dollhouse or putting the furniture in it.
9. Place the rest of the walls on the first floor.
This speaks for itself ;-). After that, if you have a middle piece ==>
10. Install the middle roof.
Place the middle roof, make sure to have an overhang on the outside. Cut the roof from 9 mm plywood and sand the edges until they are nice and smooth. Glue a ridge under the roof, so that it can stay in place.
If you have roofs on the side, install those now. Again with an overhang on both sides and cut from a 9mm sheet of plywood, plus 2 ridges under the 2 roofs, so that they stay in place.
You can place the stairs to the first floor on the inside or on the outside of the dollhouse. There are several ways of making a staircase, it can be a straight one or with a twist. The steps are usually made from small pieces of plywood.
12. Finish the dollhouse.
Remove all chips and splinters and gently sand all parts.
The finishing touch is totally up to you. You can find a few tutorials on my site, on how to :
– add wallpaper
– fix the electrics
– make small doors and windows
– how to make dollhouse roofing materials
– how to do miniature flooring.
– how to make a miniature stone wall
– how to create a miniature diorama around the dollhouse
I hope you like this article on how to make a dollhouse yourself. Of course, you could just use a room box or buy an Ikea closet, make it look like a dollhouse, and furnish it, for example, but making the dollhouse yourself makes it easier to choose the size and layout, etc.
Do you have any questions about this article or is there any other subject that you would like me to cover about the miniature world? Feel free to leave a comment below! Or you can now join me on my newest Facebook group!
I wish you happy crafting!