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The Making of a Dollhouse

Updated on September 21, 2008
Completed full view
Completed full view

Tackling the Task

When I was in high school, I decided to take building trades since I enjoyed working with wood so much. We did everything from drawing plans, reading blueprints to actually building a house. Right down to the plumbing, wiring and bricklaying. And I must say that my grades were much better than some of the guys in my class. This was especially cool since some of them teased me about being the only girl taking building trades.

So, when I decided to take on the task of building my granddaughter a dollhouse for Christmas this past year, I figured I should be well prepared for it. After all, it is a kit and I have had some experience in the woodworking field. I figured this should be a piece of cake. Hehehe...WRONG!

First of all, they claim to give you everything that you need to build the house as featured on the box. This was a blatant lie since none of the pieces were even primed, much less painted. And forget about not having to measure and cut the pieces! They could have at least started with a set of instructions that made sense! None of the pieces were even labeled so that you could compare them to the list of materials they gave you to be sure you had everything. This also left you guessing at what piece they were calling what. Just to give you an idea of the crazy instructions that were furnished, this piece of informative concoction had me building 2 stories of the castle style house before even building the foundation. This left me having to put this portion of the house on top of the base.

Now, I know the school I went to is in a small town but we were taught in the beginning that the foundation should be where you start. Wouldn't you agree with that? I mean, it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that when you are building pretty much anything, you should start from the ground up, right?

Finished Living Room

Check out that shine on the floor!
Check out that shine on the floor!

Getting started

Once I had the instructions figured out enough to know that I should toss them in the garbage and look at the picture on the box, I was ready to go! The excitement kept the adrenaline flowing so fast that I spent at least 10 hours a day drilling away at this creation of pure love that could be nothing less than perfect for my Granddaughter.

Rather than to take you through three long weeks of infinite detail, I will break it down into a review of sorts. The hardwood floors had 4 coats of polyurethane and took 5 days to complete, having to allow 1 day for the stain to set and 24 hours between each coat of polyurethane. In the meantime, the porch railings had to be assembled piece by tiny little piece, allowing time for the glue to dry on each piece before moving on. Then, there was the very tedious job of priming and painting these bite-sized pieces as well as the inside walls and the outside walls and trim. There was also the doors to paint and trimwork on the whole thing.

Look closely at the picture to the right and you can see the detail in the flooring as well as the tiny curtains that I made from strips of lace trimming that I bought at Walmart.

Inside the tower room

Looks easy doesn't it?
Looks easy doesn't it?

Coming Along!

Once I had the foundation in place and the first two stories done, it was time to add the tower. Now, this being the smallest of the whole thing (just the one room) you would think it would be smooth sailing on this. Think again! The rest of the house was straight up and down. This thing slanted and if it wasn't just so-so, it would stand out like a sore thumb! But eventually I did get it and it was on to the next step.

Finished top section

Look very closely at the shingles
Look very closely at the shingles

Time for the Roof

Now it was time to start the shingles. This totally horrified me! If you will look very closely at the picture to the right you can see that the shingles are individual pieces! These pieces are about 3/4" by 1 1/4" each and there are over 1,000 of them on this roof! Each one was individually glued in place and cut where needed. While I was not experienced in roofing, my husband just happens to be an ex-roofer. My original plan was to rope him into putting the roof on but his company felt compelled to make him work! Can you beat that?

However, armed with the crash course he provided in roofing, I dove in with all four feet and soon the once-plain roof began to take on a life of its own. After that task was completed and the glue (or should I say liquid nails) had dried, it was just a matter of taping off and staining the shingles. This was a bit trying in some areas as it is not easy to keep stain from bleeding into the trimwork that it connected with. Therefore, after the stain dried, I went back to do the priming and painting touch-up needed from the stain bleeding. But I finally made it and you can see the results of that in the picture to the right.

Finished second floor

Notice the tiny trim work
Notice the tiny trim work

Time for some trimwork

Now it was time to cut, prime, paint and glue on the baseboards and ceiling moldings on the inside of the house. This was especially trying due to the fact that the pieces were so thin that it would bulk easily once the wet glue was applied. This is where lots of masking tape came in handy! All in all I think it turned out pretty well.

Detailing the front

Once I finished the inside, it was time for last minute touch-ups to the front porch. The steps were not even included in this totally complete kit I had so I had to make those from scratch, prime and paint them and then attach them to the front porch. Once this was done, I had to find a safe place for the little tiny skeleton keys that went to the brass door knobs that I found at Hobby Lobby that was just the perfect touch. Knowing that a 7 year old would never be able to keep up with something so tiny, I had to be creative on how to keep them safe. Therefore, I glued them to the porch for safe keeping. I then took a piece of poster board, cut a square from it and glued pink felt to the top and made a mat for the porch. I inserted the full size picture below to allow you to see the tiny keys that the mat will cover. You can also see some of the details of the brass doorknob.

Front Porch

Notice the keys and brass doorknob
Notice the keys and brass doorknob

Full view

Ready for delivery
Ready for delivery

Finishing up

Now it was time to put in the curtains and load it up to deliver Christmas morning. It had been a long, hard road and all the while I was swearing I would never do this again! And I have kept that promise so far. That is, until I start on the BIGGER one she wants next year!

Elayna Danielle Ramsey

The little Princess
The little Princess

Total Cost

Dollhouse kit: $100.00

Supplies and tools: $250.00

Dollhouse furniture (the real wood furnishings) $300.00

Pain control: $20.00

Total hours worked: 200+

The joy on this little princess' face......PRICELESS!

The things we won't do for those grandbabies! That reminds me, I better get started if I want to get her castle and her borther's firehouse finished by next Christmas!


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    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      hey there. u know, i'am also the onli girl doing architecture and i'am also making a house...wel a i was lookin for ways to make the furniture and i found yr story...nice job also get teased but i know my model is better then the ones the guys r making....heheh.....i like all the house dsnt have all those details cos m trying to keep the costs low...have made the outer walls and the ground floor, the total cost til now is 5 US dollars... =(

    • MellasViews profile image


      9 years ago from Earth

      Adorable. I believe this kit was the Sanfransiscan? Correct me if Im wrong, I almost ordered this one as my first kit. I finished the Garfield and even added my own yard. It was a ton of fun, and I too glued the keys to the porch. Adding lights was a tough job, but really adds to the charm. All in all, I think Ive spent well over 1k on adding in all the little touches.

      I want to Queen Anne by real good toys kit, but its still wayyyy overpriced.

      I loved the hardwood floor you added! I added carpet to mine by using table placemats. lol.

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile imageAUTHOR

      Bonnie Ramsey 

      10 years ago from United States


      Thanks for visiting and leaving this awsome info! I am putting this number in my Rolodex! It was frustrating at Hobby Lobby because every time we went to get this or that piece of furniture they had already sold out! You pretty much had to be at the store the day the truck came in to get anything you needed. It was a task to make sure we had everything we needed by Christmas. Took us almost 3 months of back and forth for this and that but we made it! LOL. Thanks again!


    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Beautiful job!  I'm sure your granddaughter will cherish it all her life!

      Unless you've done miniatures yourself, it's hard to appreciate the painstaking effort that goes into it.

      I used to do both miniature vignettes and single pieces so I know there can be times when you can get frustrated with a certain little piece not going in just right and just want to stomp on it after awhile!

      If you are still looking for miniatures, I used to deal with a company in Oklahoma City, OK, by the name of Pacific Trading.  I think they're still in business and also sell retail.  The phone number is 405-216-9258.  They had pieces you couldn't find at Hobby Lobby and the prices were very reasonable.

      Hope this helps!

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile imageAUTHOR

      Bonnie Ramsey 

      10 years ago from United States


      Thanks for stopping in and your nice comments. It was a bit of an undertaking but one well worth it all to see how happy she was! Drop by anytime! Your camments are always welcome.


    • Kat07 profile image


      10 years ago from Tampa

      Wow, what an experience! Who knew it was so painstaking! I had a dollhouse growing up, but it was not nearly as elaborate as what you have accomplished here - good work, I'm very impressed!!!

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile imageAUTHOR

      Bonnie Ramsey 

      10 years ago from United States


      Thanks for stopping in and your wonderful comments. When I get ready to do the other 2, I will do the kits, just not from the same vendor! The furniture, I get at Hobby Lobby because by the time you figure the cost of a kit, supplies to build them and the time it will take, it seemed more feesible to me just to buy the furniture. THAT was the most expensive part! And we didn't even do all the little things such as t.v., microvaves, all those household things. She got Hobby Lobby gift certificates for that type of thing so she could get what she wanted.

      As for the task that you are about to embark on....not meaning to sound cold or anything but I am glad it is YOU and not ME! LOL.She is a little darling, isn't she?? (Grammy's peacock feathers spread wide!)Thanks again for stopping by and I look forward to seeing the pictures of your creations! Stop by anytime!Bonnie

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Awesome job Bonnie! Such beautiful detail. We're thinking on the same lines here. I just bought the supplies for 2 houses last week, that need to be done by Christmas. For my 2 Granddaughters. Both are into these Disney Airyfairies. One look like a woodstump that opens into different "domains" for the fairies. (Tinker Bell's who was a pot fixer, a garden fairie's, etc). The second house will be shaped like a big toadstool that opens up; this one will be the home of a few characters of a book I have almost finished for them. The illustrations for it will take a while still. I will take some pictures along the way too so I can show you.

      Will you do kits again or start from scratch for your next projects? The "houses" I'll do from scratch but I bought furniture kits.

      Super duper HUB regards Zsuzsy (What a gorgeous little Princess)

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile imageAUTHOR

      Bonnie Ramsey 

      10 years ago from United States

      LOL! Her little brother won't let it last that long! But he will eventually grow out of that and hopefully it will be before I get the 2 others built for Christmas! Thanks for stopping by and leaving comments! You are always welcome!


    • About-The-Home profile image


      10 years ago

      I'm sure she'll treasure that for always, and it will probably become a family heirloom, so it will be well worth it!!


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