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Cardboard Doll House: For Budding Artists

Updated on November 27, 2013

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.

Image: Amazon

Paper Play

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 Kit

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When to Choose a Cardboard Dollhouse

  1. When your child wants to create a dollhouse, not just own it.
  2. When your child isn't old enough to help build a real one... yet.
  3. When a real dollhouse just isn't in the budget... yet.
  4. When you want an eco-friendly first dollhouse.
  5. When you want an introduction to the dollhouse hobby.
  6. 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!

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.

Paper or Plastic?

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    • Howcanigetagirl profile image

      Howcanigetagirl 5 years ago

      Great fun to make your own..... my daughter will love this! Great lens

    • estellaeffects lm profile image

      estellaeffects lm 5 years ago

      This is a wonderful idea. My daughter is gonna love it:)

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 5 years ago

      Plastic doll houses have their place I suppose. I love doll houses of every kind. I have recently considered making a cardboard doll house for my granddaughters, but I never knew there were kits for making 'em. This is a real revelation to me. I feel that dolls an' doll houses are something that we girls can continue to love for alla' our lives. I have certainly carried a love for both into my golden years an' it pleases me to realize that my girls seem to feel the same way.

      I was so thrilled to see this page listed on the Squidoo Front Page. Congratulations! It is definitely Front Page quality. I have enjoyed my visit very much.

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      I love these Cardboard Doll Houses

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Paper please. This is my kind of toy, stimulating creativity--a real gift.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      I think it's a very fun idea to make one.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      I think it's a very fun idea to make one.

    • SassyGie profile image

      SassyGie 5 years ago

      I like the lighted cardboard dollhouse! In this day of commercialized plastic toys, cardboard dollhouse will surely spark children's creativity and save that money towards more important things.