Build a Traditional or a Contemporary Dolls’ House
Did You Know?
Dolls’ houses have been around for centuries, and were initially adult treasure cases and collector pieces, before becoming teaching tools for Victorian ladies learning homemaking skills. Children’s toys, especially those kawaii crush dolls, inspire fantasy play today.
Some of the oldest known furnished small homes were found in ancient Egyptian tombs dating from nearly 5 000 years ago.
During the 16th century, Germany was famous for its handcrafted dollhouses, mostly replicas of the homes for which they were commissioned.
After the second world war, other countries started mass producing dolls’ houses, making them more readily available for all.
OPTION 1: Contemporary dollhouse
Supawood cut to:
Floors and roof
- One 600 x 400mm (bottom)
- One 600 x 335mm (second floor)
- One 655 x 290mm (roof)
Walls (bottom floor)
- One 235 x 195mm
- Three 70 x 195mm
- One 150 x 195mm
- One 100 x 195mm
Walls (second floor)
- Five 70 x 175mm
- One 150 x 175mm
- Two 100 x 175mm
- One 280 x 70mm (stairs)
- Ten 70 x 20mm (treads)
- Two 240 x 20mm and two 105mm x 20mm (pool)
- One 145 x 60mm and one 65mm x 60mm (landing ‘railing’)
OPTION 2: Traditional dolls house
Supawood cut to:
- Four 500 x 250mm (bottom floor and top floor)
- Two 488 x 244mm (second floor)
- Four 244 x 240mm (interior walls)
- Four 488 x 250mm (exterior walls)
- Four 305 x 250mm (roof)
- wood glue
- masking tape
- primer, paint
- two hinges (if making conventional dolls’ house)
- file (optional)
- g-clamps (optional)
- measuring tape
- combination square or tri-square and a straight edge
- paintbrush or foam roller
One-half sheet (1220 x 1220 x 6mm) supawood was used to construct the dolls’ house.
The material (6mm MDF/Supawood) is relatively easy to work, so play around. For instance, once the basic structure of the house is complete, use the offcut pieces to create furniture – this is where your imagination can run wild.
1. Mark out the positions of windows in the appropriate panels, using a pencil and try square to make sure their lines run at right angles. Then drill a 10mm ‘starter hole’ in the inside corner of each opening to create a starting point for the jigsaw blade.
2. Cut out the rectangular or square openings using the jigsaw; do consider the thickness of the material and adjust the action and speed of your puzzle accordingly.
Use a g-clamp to hold these panels in place while cutting.
3. You can use a file to smooth the edges shape the corners.
4. Lay the floor sections: 600 x 400mm (bottom) and 600 x 335mm (second floor), flat on your worktable and begin by marking out the positions of the walls using a pencil, the actual wall panels and a tri-square. See the diagram for details.
5 Then start to glue the walls to the floor along these lines. Apply a small amount of wood glue to the joint before positioning these.
Overlap some of the pieces at 90o for added strength.
6. Check that your walls are running perpendicular and straight and then use masking tape to hold the pieces together while the glue dries.
7. Once you have glued all the wall sections in place on both the bottom (600 x 400mm) and second floor (600 x 335mm) and allowed these to dry, add glue to the top of the ‘ground floor’ walls and position the second storey on top. Repeat this when adding the roof (655 x 290mm), allowing it to overlap the sides a bit.
8. Now add a coat of multi-surface primer or universal undercoat to the entire structure, followed by paint in the colour of your choice.
Make the Furniture
This part requires individual taste mixed with practicality and a little fun. Merely use a jigsaw to cut the remaining offcut pieces into shapes and pieces that will eventually be the dolls’ house furniture. Involve your children in the design ‘process’ and allow yourself to play a little, too.