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Cardboard Doll House: For Budding Artists
An Introduction to the Dollhouse Craft
I like the idea of buying a gift that will go from childhood hobby to adult hobby and (maybe) on to become an heirloom. And one thing I really love is a good dollhouse!
So what's with the cardboard dollhouse?
On the one hand, a cardboard dollhouse isn't that heirloom gift. On the other hand, it's a logical segway...
I want to share the dollhouse hobby with my nieces -- by buying things that I don't have the skill or money to put together. Sure, a low cost kit occasionally appears at Value Village, but can I find all the things I need to make it usable? I'll get it ready someday, I say. And at that point they'll be more ready to appreciate it. But time encroaches. And what about now?
A first dollhouse, an heirloom dollhouse: Often they're not one and the same. I think a cardboard house can actually be a better introduction to the dollhouse hobby than a plastic house, especially if a child likes to draw and has learned how to color in the lines.
Partly it's an issue of creativity. Dollhouses -- and miniatures -- are partly about play and partly about creation. Folks who keep up the miniature hobby throughout a lifetime are artisans. Those plastic first dollhouses for little girls are about putting mommy (or daddy) in the kitchen and baby in the crib. There's not much to create. There's not much for adult and child to share.
Some cardboard dollhouses, on the other hand, encourage a lot of creativity and a lot of do-it-yourself. It's about designing the house as much as playing in it.
If it's fun, it can be replaced later -- when budget and skill level allow.
No, we weren't (quite) making a cardboard house here -- just furniture and people. But this is part of what gave me the idea that a cardboard dollhouse might be an ideal dollhouse for craftsy children in the primary grades.
My eight-year-old niece and I were making paper dolls of her and her four-year-old sister. My niece was less interested in outfitting them than making scenes. She wanted 3-D furniture for her paper self and paper sister: a table, chairs. Oh, and they could use a paper swimming pool...
'Top That' Doll's House KitClick thumbnail to view full-size
When to Choose a Cardboard Dollhouse
- When your child wants to create a dollhouse, not just own it.
- When your child isn't old enough to help build a real one... yet.
- When a real dollhouse just isn't in the budget... yet.
- When you want an eco-friendly first dollhouse.
- When you want an introduction to the dollhouse hobby.
- When you're going on an extended trip -- put it together after you get there.
Recycled Cardboard Dollhouse - Dollhouse Kit for Little Girls
I have looked at several models of cardboard dollhouse. This is a favorite. It's got quite a few reviews.
It's green (made from recycled cardboard). You even end up using the box! But it's far from... well, far from just a box: Cute blacklines for coloring. Furniture to assemble. Stickers.
There is some assembly required. But for many, this is a (big) part of the fun. If a kid is the crafty type -- a budding artisan -- they can have a lot of fun just coloring and decorating the house. Younger children will need some help putting the furniture together -- but again this can be a part of the fun. There are a lot of pieces here!
I'm not sure how I feel about the paper dolls that come with the house. I don't think they were designed to foster hours of play. I played with paper dolls a lot as a child -- and continued to play with them after I had graduated from baby dolls -- but they were a different kind. They had wardrobes, for one thing.
What it comes down to is this: If you want to design a dollhouse with a young child, you're good to go. Going to visit a child? Taking a child to visit a craftsy relative? You can put the box in your suitcase and have some fun hours. If you want to invite play long after the time it's finished, though, you may need some other dollhouse inhabitants. I hear this dollhouse is scaled about right for Polly Pockets or Calico Critters. So, depending on the child's interests, you can buy or make a set of small paper dolls or invite some of your child's other play characters to move in.
The furniture may not last as long as the house itself, but there are plenty of work arounds. I'll share some below...
Freebies: Paper Furniture and Accessories
One reviewer said their child was gung ho about making the kit -- spending hours on it -- but not so interested in playing with it later. Well, there's a crafty kid for you.
For some kids, that's the way they play. You can pull the house out for a makeover every now and then. There are lots of patterns and printables for making dollhouse furniture from paper or card: renovating and accessorizing!
- Creative Ideas from Family Fun
Your dollhouse comes with a starter kit of furniture, but no, it won't last forever. So how about getting started making some more furniture out of paper, cardboard, and other things you may have around? Got some tea boxes? Straws? This is a very cre
- Printable Minis
Here is a huge repertoire of printable, foldable doll furniture and accessories. Designs are available in four scales. (I am guessing the half inch scale will work best for the house pictured here.)
- Paper Furniture Foldables Templates
From Artist Helping Children: templates for very simple foldable paper furniture.
- Really Simple (and Funky) Dollhouse Chairs
Here are some really simple designs for a child's dollhouse. Tape is used to reinforce the paper and make it stronger.
- Thrifty Paper Doll Furniture
This crafter drew her inspiration from a grandmother who grew up in the Depression era. The emphasis is on thrift and creativity, but there are ways you can add a touch of realism. (Like to decoupage?)
- Free Vintage Printable Furniture
From 1911: Elegant paper furniture to color, cut, and put together with tabs.
A Lighted Cardboard House
Cardboard dollhouses can be fancy. I found a creative tutorial for a lighted cardboard house. You can use a ready made house or one that you make yourself. The mom here created a cardboard house in the style of one on the market.
You can find some cute ideas here for personalizing a cardboard dollhouse -- and for making little lamps. Elsewhere on the blog you can find tutorials for making cardboard houses.
Image: ikat bag. Used per terms. Please pin to original source.
Pink Cardboard Dollhouse
I see this one as potentially a better choice if the main goal is play and not creation. It's cheaper than the average first dollhouse and more environmentally friendly, since it's not made from plastic. The house is sturdy cardboard, but there's some wood furniture included.
It looks like the house itself has been colored and styled -- this is one significant difference between this product and the recycled cardboard house above. There is some assembly required and some opportunity to personalize the furnishings. This kit is for a child who prefers painting over coloring -- and one who likes jewels. Yes, there are jewels to apply to the furniture.
Why I Like the Cardboard Dollhouse Kits
Why do I like the idea of a kit? I am good at designing things that are flat. I am not good at three-dimensional space. Even simple folding or assembling tasks boggle my mind.
My niece had fun, but the results are far from professional.
Decorating a Cardboard Dollhouse
Yes, you can make a cardboard dollhouse fancy: Popsicle stick flooring, paper mache walls . You'll probably want a sturdy one before you make too much of a time investment!
Your chid's first cardboard dollhouse probably won't get this elaborate, but you might find an idea or two to borrow.