When I was little, one of my favourite things to do was playing with paper dolls and building them houses out of old cardboard boxes. 20 years later and having two children myself I wondered if it was possible to bring the idea of those little carton houses to perfection, just using the stuff everyone has at home anyway. In the following step by step-tutorial I will show you how you can easily build a beautiful victorian dollhouse yourself
Crafting toys on your own is no problem at all. I showed you before in this DIY-tutorial. What you definitely need is time and patience.
Dollhouse DIY – This is how it’s done
I highly recomend to set up a fixed work space for the whole time you’re working on your project.
2 cardboard boxes
additional cardboard for the details (chimney, staircase, roof, etc.)
wooden skewers (20cm)
2 picture hooks (as door hinges)
rail / long ruler
white glue (PVA glue)
brushes (various sizes)
If any questions arise while reading these instructions, just comment below.
Start with cutting off all flaps of your box. Do it smoothly.
Draw in the windows, bay window, dormers and the door. Don’t forget the foundation!
Cut out the windows, the bay window area and the door.
Consider the form of the bay window. I went for 3 commensurate walls and windows.
Cut out an appropriate floor plate.
Because the first floor is not at ground level you need to cut out another floor plate like this one shown below.
Fold the edges o the bay window walls
Attach the floor plate and the baywindow to the house. Use masking tape to fix all parts together.
Build a simple substructure for the first floor. Mind the inner dimension of the box.
Fix the substructure and floor plate with masking tape.
Because we want to build a protruding roof we need to cut out a cardboard which is a little wider on the sides and front.
Fix the cardboard to the box using a glue gun.
Planning the top floor you have to consider two things: First of all, future residents need to get up there simply. That’s why we cut out a gap for a spiral staircase, which will be installed later. The second thing is, that you have to bear in mind another gap in the floor plate for the chimney.
Cut out those two parts smoothly. You can use a simple trick for cutting out the staircase hole. Just perforate the circle with a pin until the cardboard easily comes off.
Cut your second carton box into two halves (you just need one) and again remove all flaps. Draw in and cut out the dormers. This step is similar to building the bay window. Fix everything with masking tape.
Building the roof is a bit complicated. The front part is trapezoidal with two gaps for the dormers. Mind the chimey when constructing the side parts!
Add staircase, chimney and the roofs for the dormers and bay window and attache mouldings at various suitable places to give the house a more elegant look. I also reinforced the places where the cardboard joined together at the back side, so the house would be sturdier and remain stable.
The framework has been completed? Add the base plate and get ready for the next step:
A dollhouse made out of paper mache
The house actually seems to be complete. You could even play with it by now. BUT: It won’t remain in that condition.
It has to be stabilized, plastered and – of course painted.
Mix plain white flour with a bit of water to make a (not to watery) paste. Cover your house with torn newspaper and the paste. Make sure, everything is dryed out completely before you add another layer of paper mache. (You should do around 3-4 layers in total).
If you don’t let the layers dry out one by one your house could get mouldy.
When the last layer of torn newspaper has dryed, the whole house is coated with gesso, a mixture of joint compound and white PVA glue. The more glue you add the more runnier the gesso gets. Learn more about home-made gesso here. Use a sponge for applying the mixture.
You can easily sand the surface when it’s dry (wear a mask if you do!) and finally paint the dollhouse with acrylics.
When you’re done with painting you can cut out the windows from solid grey board. Use wooden skewers for the bars and fix them with your glue gun.
The door is made out of three equal parts. Use the outer layers to create elegant panels and hide two picture hooks in between as hinges.
Paint the door and windows with acrylics and apply each piece to the house using the glue gun.
Et voilà! We’re done. At least with the outside.
The interior works are a complete different story, I’ll tell you some other time. ;-)