How To Renovate An Old Dollhouse: A Miniature Guide To Maximum Fun!

Why renovate a dollhouse, you ask? Beyond the sheer pleasure of engaging in a creative pastime, dollhouse renovation holds immense sentimental value.

Additionally, dollhouse renovation fosters valuable skills such as patience, precision, and problem-solving, making it an educational and rewarding endeavor for both young and old.

Let’s just dive right into the topic of how to renovate an old dollhouse with three different topics: exterior, interior, and landscaping!

1. Exterior Beautification: Giving Your Dollhouse a Fresh Look

Giving your dollhouse exterior a facelift can be done in different ways, starting by repainting it, but there are a number of other things you can do.

Let’s summarize things because we already have talked about most methods on my site! 😉

1. Repainting the dollhouse exterior.

Alright, first things first, let’s talk about paint. You’ll want to use acrylic paint, which is fantastic for miniature projects. It adheres well to surfaces and dries relatively quickly. You can find a wide range of colors, so feel free to get creative.

As for tools, grab some quality brushes in different sizes. You might also want to invest in painter’s tape to make sure you get those clean lines. And don’t forget a small palette for mixing colors if needed.

We already know how to paint a dollhouse, but repainting a surface requires a few extra steps:

  • Step 1: Assess the Situation Take a good look at your dollhouse. Any chipped paint, peeling wallpaper, or scratched surfaces?
  • Step 2: Strip It Down If there’s existing paint that’s seen better days, let’s bid it farewell. Use a fine-grit sandpaper or even a small sander if you have one, and smooth out those rough spots.
  • Step 3: Patch and Repair Fill in any holes or dents with wood filler. Smooth it out, let it dry, and then sand it down until it’s as sleek as a dollhouse in a magazine.
  • Step 4: Clean House Give your dollhouse a good cleaning. You want that surface to be pristine before you start applying new paint.
  • Step 5: Prime Time Now, let’s talk primer. It’s like the foundation for your dollhouse makeover. Apply a thin, even layer and let it dry. This will make sure your paint sticks around for the long haul.
  • Step 6: Color Choices Think about the color scheme you want. Are you going for a Victorian elegance or a modern pop of color? The choice is yours.
  • Step 7: Paint Away Start painting! Use a brush for those delicate corners and a small roller for larger areas. Be patient between coats, and don’t be afraid to layer up for a richer color.
  • Step 8: Detail Work Time for the tiny details. Doors, windows, trim – grab a smaller brush and give them the attention they deserve. Precision is key here.

    If the doors or windows are a bit wonky, consider replacing them, as craft stores often have a variety you can use. If they’re just a bit worn, a fresh coat of paint can do wonders. Or, you can totally make your own windows and doors!

    If your dollhouse has a roof, consider whether it needs any attention. A new coat of paint, or even adding miniature shingles, can give it a completely new look.
  • Step 9: Finishing Touches Once everything is dry and looking spiffy, seal the deal with a clear varnish. It’ll protect your masterpiece and give it that polished finish.

    For any chipped or damaged trims, use wood filler to smooth them out. Once dry, sand lightly. You can either repaint or, if needed, replace it with new trims.

Check out my expanded blog post on how to paint a dollhouse here

2. Create a stone brick wall for your exterior dollhouse wall

There are several ways to create a stone brick wall for your dollhouse and here are a few of them in short:

  • A. The Clay Method:

The Materials you need:

Pottery clay, MDF plate/wall, water-PVA mixture, acrylic paint, filler.

The Process:

Sand MDF plate, apply clay, sculpt into bricks, apply PVA mix, fill gaps with a paint-filler mix, paint rocks with various color mixes, and finish with dry brushing and wet brushing.

  • B. The Polystyrene Method:

Mask, polystyrene, knife or hot wire foam cutter, Mod Podge, pre-colored grey grout, non-toxic sealer, colored sand.

Use polystyrene to create a textured wall, apply pre-colored grey grout, use molds, weather the stones, seal with acrylic, and add colored sand for a dry look.

  • C. Real Rocks Method:

Lava stones, mortar.

Sort stones, create a foundation, arrange stones, and apply mortar. Video tutorial:

There are plenty more methods: check out this blog post for more methods to create a ‘stone brick’ look for your dollhouse walls!

2. Interior Renovation: Walls, Ceilings, and Floors

Now, the order in which to renovate a dollhouse interior is a topic of discussion and opinion, as it can greatly depend on the choice of materials and personal preference.

This is just my personal opinion: if everything needs to be renovated, including the floors, I would start with the ceilings, then the walls, and only then the floors.

If your ceiling drips any paint, for example, it doesn’t matter if you are still going to cover your floors with popsicle sticks, for example, as they will cover the stains.

Also if you do the walls first, and after that, you want the place skirting boards against the walls, you are already at the correct height AND you don’t need to cut off any wallpaper, the boards already cover it.

But again, this can be a matter of personal preference and of course, you can disagree!

1. How To Renovate the interior walls of a dollhouse.

A. Repainting the dollhouse interior walls

Before you repaint any (chipped) interior walls, you need to take these steps:

  • Sand and Smooth: Begin by sanding the chipped areas to create a smooth surface. Use fine-grit sandpaper to avoid damaging the underlying material.

  • Fill and Prime: Apply a thin layer of wood filler to any noticeable gaps or dents. Once dry, sand again.
    Prime the walls to ensure that the new paint adheres well and provides a consistent finish.

After this, you can just go ahead and paint the walls again, preferably using acrylic paint, which offers endless possibilities.

You can experiment with techniques like color washing, stippling, or ombre effects.

Consider using a primer for a smoother finish and choose colors that reflect the room’s purpose—soothing blues for bedrooms, warm yellows for kitchens, or vibrant patterns for playrooms, as we discussed in our “choosing colors”-blog post.

B. Placing new wallpaper on the dollhouse walls

Now, before you can add new wallpaper to your dollhouse walls, you will need to get rid of the old layer, and this can be quite a hell of a job 😉

Here’s what I would do:

  1. Peel Off the Edges:

    • Begin by gently peeling off the edges of the wallpaper using a utility knife. You can use a damp cloth first or a small water spray to make it come off more easily.
      Do not overuse water, as this can damage the rest of your dollhouse, especially if the floors might get warped.
      Be cautious to avoid damaging the underlying wood.
      Try to scrape off as much as you can.

  2. Use a Hair Dryer (Optional):

    • If the wallpaper is stubborn, you can use a hair dryer on a low heat setting to warm the adhesive slightly, making it easier to peel off. Keep the heat at a safe distance to prevent damage.

  3. Adhesive Remover (Optional):

    • If there is residual glue, you can use a small amount of wallpaper adhesive remover on a cloth or sponge. Again, be cautious not to oversaturate.

  4. Wipe with a Damp Cloth:

    • After removing the wallpaper, wipe the surface with a damp cloth to clean any remaining adhesive.

  5. Let it Air Dry:

    • Allow the dollhouse to air dry completely. Since you’re not using water extensively, the drying time should be relatively short, but it’s crucial to ensure that all surfaces are dry before proceeding.

  6. Assess the Condition:

    • Inspect the wood for any signs of damage. If there are areas that need repair or refinishing, address them before applying new paper.

  7. Apply New Paper:

    • Once the wood of the wall is completely dry and in good condition, you can proceed with applying the new paper.

Adjust this process based on the specific condition of the dollhouse and the type of adhesive used for the wallpaper.

The type of wallpaper to choose to renovate the house totally depends on the style of your dollhouse. If you have a Victorian dollhouse, for example, you need another type of wallpaper then let’s say a Shabby Chic dollhouse.

How to exactly wallpaper a dollhouse room is explained in more detail here.

2. How to renovate the ceiling of a dollhouse room?

So again, this process depends on what you want to do with the ceilings of your dollhouse or existing conditions, but basically, these are the steps to take to renovate them:

  1. Remove the Old Ceiling (if necessary):

    • If the existing ceiling is damaged or you want to replace it, carefully use a utility knife or small saw to cut and remove the old ceiling. Take your time to avoid damaging the surrounding walls.

  2. Clean the Ceiling Surface:

    • If the existing ceiling is in good condition but needs cleaning, use a damp cloth to wipe away any dust or dirt. Be gentle to avoid causing any damage.

  3. Repair Damaged Areas:

    • If there are holes, cracks, or imperfections in the ceiling, use wood filler to fill these areas. Follow the wood filler instructions for application and drying times.

  4. Sand the Surface:

    • Once the wood filler is dry, use fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface. A sanding block can help achieve an even finish.

  5. Priming:

    • Apply a thin coat of primer to the ceiling. Primer helps the paint adhere better and provides a more even finish.

  6. Painting:

    • Choose a suitable paint color for your dollhouse ceiling. Use a small brush or roller to apply the paint evenly. Apply multiple thin coats if needed, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

  7. Detailing (Optional):

    • If you want to add decorative elements to the ceiling, such as molding or stencils, or even particular paper structures, now is the time to do so. Be sure to use materials that are appropriately scaled for a dollhouse.

  8. Protect Surrounding Areas:

    • When working on other parts of the dollhouse, cover the painted ceiling with a drop cloth or newspaper to prevent accidental damage.

Always take your time and handle the materials with care to preserve the integrity of the dollhouse structure.

3. How to renovate dollhouse floors?

Renovating a dollhouse floor can be a lot more labor-intensive than the ceilings, of course, so it will require more time and precision work, but you can do it!

Step by step, these are the things you need to do to renovate floors:

  1. Assess the Floor:

    • Examine the condition of the existing dollhouse floor. Determine if it needs cleaning, repair, or replacement of the decorative elements.
      If you want to keep an existing floor, but just do some touch-ups or repaint, I would follow the same procedure as the walls above, if not, go to the next step:

  2. Remove Decorative Elements:

    • If the existing decorative elements (tiles, wood veneer, popsicle stick floor, carpet,etc) need replacement, carefully remove them using a utility knife or small saw. Be gentle to avoid damaging the subfloor.

  3. Clean the Subfloor:

    • After removing the decorative elements, clean the subfloor with warm water and a few drops of dish soap to remove any residue or loose debris.

  4. Apply Glue Dissolver (Optional):

    • If there are stubborn glue residues, apply a commercial glue dissolver product following the product’s instructions for application and dwell time.

      Use a putty knife or scraper to gently remove the dissolved glue. Be patient and avoid using excessive force to prevent damage to the subfloor.
      ( I know, this can get frustrating LOL)

  5. Repair Damaged Areas (if applicable):

    • If there are gaps or damage to the subfloor, use wood filler to fill these areas. Follow the wood filler instructions for application and drying times.

  6. Sand the Subfloor:

    • Once the subfloor is clean and any repairs are made, use fine-grit sandpaper and a sanding block to smooth the surface.

  7. Prepare Decorative Flooring Materials:

    • Cut or arrange the new decorative flooring materials (tiles, wood veneer, carpet, popsicle sticks, (fake)stones, etc) to fit the dollhouse floor. Ensure they are appropriately scaled for the miniature setting.

  8. Apply Adhesive and glue pieces to the floor:

    • Apply a suitable adhesive to the back of the decorative flooring materials and carefully place them on the subfloor. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the adhesive.

  9. Detailing (if applicable):

    • If you want to add additional details, such as grout lines between tiles or staining for a wooden floor, do so at this stage.

  10. Let it Set:

    • Allow the adhesive to set completely. Follow the recommended drying time provided by the adhesive manufacturer.

  11. Inspect and Touch Up:

    • Inspect the renovated floor for any imperfections. Touch up any areas that may need additional attention.

  12. Protect the Floor:

    • Once the floor is complete, take care to protect it from potential damage. Use a drop cloth or newspaper when working on other parts of the dollhouse to prevent accidental spills or scratches.

By making the glue dissolver optional and starting with warm water, you can try a gentle approach first and escalate to a stronger solution if needed. Always follow the safety guidelines provided by the glue dissolver manufacturer if you choose to use it.

Find complete instructions and tons of dollhouse flooring ideas in this blog post!

3. Sprucing Up the Landscape: The Perfect Outdoor Setting for Your Dollhouse

If you don’t have a landscape around your dollhouse yet, now could be the time to spice things up and create one.

However, if you renovated your dollhouse in a certain style and it doesn’t correspond with the landscaping, it is time to renovate that as well!

For example, if you renovated your dollhouse and turned it into a Halloween house, the surrounding landscape will look totally different 😉

1. Ensuring the Landscape Compliments the Dollhouse’s Style and Period:

Here are 3 possible scenarios on where you should change your landscaping:

  1. A different time period/Research the Era:

    Whether your dollhouse has Victorian charm or modern minimalism, research the architectural era of your dollhouse. Match plants, flowers, and landscaping elements to the period for authenticity.

  2. Color Coordination:

    Harmonize the landscape colors with your dollhouse. If it’s a pastel dream, opt for soft hues in the garden, like lavender miniature plants. For bolder exteriors, vibrant flowers can be the perfect accent.

  3. Scale Matters:

    Keep proportions in check. Choose plants and accessories that are proportionate to your dollhouse size. A giant flower in a tiny garden might look amusing, but it could disrupt the visual harmony.

Check out this blog post to find out about how to create a miniature outside diorama for your dollhouse.

2. 5 Creative DIY Projects for Dollhouse Landscaping:

I addition to a landscaping diorama that I posted a while ago, I can give you a few more tips on how to go about transforming a miniature landscape:

Pint-sized Pathways:

Craft tiny walkways using popsicle sticks, real branches cut into pieces or miniature gravel. It’s a simple touch that adds charm and realism.

Petite Pergolas:

Create mini pergolas from chopsticks, popsicle sticks, or small twigs. These not only provide shade for your mini garden but add a touch of sophistication.

Floral Fantasy:

Make your own miniature flowers using colored paper or fabric. Plant them in tiny pots for a burst of color around the dollhouse.

Tiny Topiaries:

Shape small bushes or trees using modeling clay. Paint them in vibrant hues to bring life to your dollhouse garden.
Or create miniature trees with different materials.

Miniature Mosaics:

Fashion tiny mosaic pathways or garden borders using cut-up colored paper or even broken bits of tiles. It’s a creative way to add texture and character.

related article:

My Final Conclusion

I hope that you found this article on how to renovate an old dollhouse informative, but if you have any more questions, please feel free to leave them down below in the comment section!

You can also join me on my social media channels below for more pictures or videos of all kinds of miniature topics!

I wish you happy crafting!

Kind regards,


6 thoughts on “How To Renovate An Old Dollhouse: A Miniature Guide To Maximum Fun!”

  1. Wow! I am so glad to come across your blog post!

    Thank you for sharing this comprehensive guide on renovating old dollhouses!

    Your attention to detail and creative approach truly makes this a standout resource for miniature enthusiasts.

    I particularly enjoyed the practical tips and the emphasis on maximizing fun throughout the renovation process.

    Your passion for miniatures shines through.

    Looking forward to more inspiring content from you!


  2. Nice, have you ever considered using chalked paint when painting your creations with your dollhouses. I use it all the time for projects that I redo and sell on eBay. I like to seal it with Mod Podge. too. It has so many uses but is an excellent sealer.

  3. Hi Lizzy,
    I ran across your site and I must say it is quite interesting! I love all the detail on how to do all the projects on the doll houses and videos as well. A friend of mine has a miniature dollhouse like these, but it is nowhere as nice or as detailed as yours. I will definitely share your site with her, I am sure she will love it!
    Keep up the good work!


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