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Old 08-16-2010, 06:24 PM
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Any one built a dollhouse from a kit?

I'm thinking on making/getting a dollhouse for my girls. I know nothing about them, being a guy and all. I can't tell if they are hard to build, if it's worth it to get them already put together, if they are worth the price, or anything else for that matter.

From what I've gathered so far they run anywhere between 150-400 or so. However the prices seem to be all over the place, one nice looking one is 150, while a smaller one is 200+. Nor can I tell what extra stuff I will need as all the photos are completed houses. Do parts come painted or do they have to be painted by me. Will these houses last a long time like I hear people say their old houses say theirs are?

I'd like to get something for my girls, and if I need to make a second one. I'm not all that handy, but I can learn. I'd just rather not spend hours and hours on something that will break easily.

Since I don't know any of the companies any good suggestions are welcomed. Hell I'd almost be willing to build it totally from scratch if that's possible.
Old 08-16-2010, 07:36 PM
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 18,119
About 30 years ago, we built one similar to this one. If I remember right, it cost about $150. It included the basics -- walls, shingles, framing for doors and windows, stairs, rails for the porch and stairs, and a base for the thing. (The base was handy when we had to move the house.)

You'll probably need to buy paint, stain, and glue, and for that finished look, wallpaper, floor coverings, lighting, furniture, etc. No special tools needed, but you'll want an Exacto knife. Some of the wooden parts and the shingles might need to be trimmed to fit.

It was sturdy enough. We didn't have little kids, but the house was moved many times and nothing fell off.

It was a lot of fun to do, but you're right that it can get expensive.
Old 08-16-2010, 07:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Snowy Oregon
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Yeah but then one slashed up another's face and then split. It didn't go as well as I'd hoped.
Old 08-16-2010, 07:50 PM
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Doll house building is a very strange hobby ... the basic kits can range from totally naked that are incredibly cheap and pretty much disposable garbage, to stuff that is more for serious crafters that will make the tiny furniture, but microscopic wallpaper and fabrics and interior decorate the place.

The latter one would of course last much longer than the cheap one, and you can just paint it sort of generically ...
Old 08-16-2010, 08:22 PM
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Skammer had this post last year. he was planning ot build a dollhouse for his daughter's Christmas present. You might ask him.

Old 08-16-2010, 11:18 PM
Join Date: May 2001
Location: A house.
Posts: 3,711
You don't say how old your daughters are.
I've made literally hundreds of models at school and having worked at a model shop once. Granted, all of these models are created from scratch and are not play things, but I can tell you this from experience:

Start off with a small house kit. Michael's has a cute one for 5 dollars. Yes, of course it's a cheap thing... Building this can give you a heads up on what to expect. I got one for my daughter- age 6 - for her to decorate to her heart's content.
This model took me approximately 2 hours to assemble.
In doing this you can ask yourself if you have the patience to put together a big "real" kit!

The cheaper dollhouses are usually made from a horrible splintery wood. A nice wood if they have it is Bass Wood (not balsa!!!).

Buy an x-acto knife and plenty of blades. Dull blades can cause accidents. They can be really expensive but they are worth it.

Buy a Square or squaring blocks. You will need these to hold the walls straight. Blocks can be crazy expensive but you don't have to get fancy ones for a doll house!

Sand the edges with fine sand paper. This can make a difference in how straight the walls are!

Look at all the pieces to get an idea of what goes where.
Pieces such as trim are often easier to paint before. For example: finish the house, paint it and then apply the gingerbread after. Painting around things or masking can be a chore!

Another huge help is to go to an art or hobby store that sells cynoacrilade (can't recall the spelling but you might know it as Krazy Glue). Get the heavy get and the "kicker". The kicker when sprayed will INSTANTLY set something. Believe me that this comes in handy! Be sure to have ventilation and to test it before. In large quantities it is very dangerous to breathe and gets very very hot!

Consider building a base to place the house on. One that doubles as storage is better.

Feel free to ask questions.
Old 08-17-2010, 08:05 AM
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I didn't know places like Michael's had dollhouses, not that I've ever really looked, but I do go there and don't remember seeing any.

My daughters will be 5 and almost 3 in December. I read through the other thread that said they might be too young, at least for a really nice one. I will probably go a cheaper route for now, but at least then I will get the idea of what it takes. They like playing the the plastic dollhouse we have, but it's a piece of junk and most of the people and such have already broken. I think one broke as it came out of the package.
Old 08-17-2010, 08:42 AM
Join Date: May 2001
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Posts: 3,711
I would agree that they are too young for a typical kit dollhouse. Even my daughter is too young. The one I got her looks more like this:
Granted, it's not one you "build" but it's perfect in that it is so sturdy! Once you start adding in furniture and people it can get pricey. A lot of different companies make this style of house. "Melissa and Doug" is one.

In regards to Michael's:
They have an aisle of what can be termed "3-d wooden puzzles". They have dragons, cars, etc. One of them is a house. It is a 10 sheet set that you punch the pieces from.
They range from 2 dollars to 6 dollars.
This is not a great quality house (5 bucks!) but for the price I was impressed. This is the house she can paint, glitter whatever! It looks like, erm, modern art right now, but her little pet shop animals seem to love it.

One last thing: try ebay if you choose a house like above. They really do last and a used one should be in good shape.
Old 08-17-2010, 08:50 AM
Join Date: May 2001
Location: A house.
Posts: 3,711
One last thing:

For any doll house kit, you will need glue. Even the cheap 5 dollar one. We use Elmer's glue that has been poured out and allowed to thicken. You can also use those tacky type glues.
Old 08-17-2010, 09:42 AM
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Moving from Cafe Society to IMHO.

Last edited by Ellen Cherry; 08-17-2010 at 09:42 AM.
Old 08-17-2010, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Ellen Cherry View Post
Moving from Cafe Society to IMHO.
These people in IMHO no nothing of art, nothing I tell you. Why do you think I hang out here?
Old 08-17-2010, 12:12 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 2,658
I love dollhouses and have put together many.

First thing - get a Real Good Toys dollhouse! Greenleaf and other kits are cheaper, but they are hell to put together. RGT are more expensive, but will be a pleasant experience, as opposed to an exercise in torture. And they are rock-solid and easy to put together.

The trickiest thing will be to decorate it. You can spend lots of money on special "dollhouse" paint and paper, but scrapbook paper and Mod Podge work just fine, as look as the scale makes sense. And decorate it before you put it together.

RGT makes a "Barbie scale" dollhouse for big toys. If it's being used for play, this may be the way to go, since Barbie furniture is way cheaper and more sturdy than wood dollhouse furniture.

Good luck - I love dollhouses!
Old 08-17-2010, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by StGermain View Post
Skammer had this post last year. he was planning ot build a dollhouse for his daughter's Christmas present. You might ask him.

Thanks, StG, you saved me the trouble of finding that old thread.

I ended up getting this kit. It was on sale at Hobby Lobby, and with a 40% off coupon from their website, it was a steal -- I think we ended up paying about $60 for the kit.

Plan on it taking a while, if you want to do it right. I worked on it several evenings a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas and just barely finished it.

Here are some tips:

* After I had assembled the foundation, I spray-painted it with gray textured paint. It gave it a nice, rough, pseudo-concrete look.

* Paint/wallpaper as much as you can before you assemble the walls together. We used scrapbook paper in appropriate patterns for the interior wallpaper. Do not use Elmer's for this (the paper will buckle) -- spring for the specialized dollhouse wallpaper paste.

* For the exterior walls, follow the instructions: paint, sand, paint again.

* Make sure pieces fit before you glue them

* The roof shingles look really nice, but were time consuming. First, I got an "aging solution" from a hobby shop, but you could probably just use a solution of india ink and water. I took a pair of tweezers and dipped each shingle in the solution for a few seconds, then let it dry. They came out kind of unevenly stained which is exactly what I wanted. It took many nights to do them all.

* Glueing the shingles to the roof is also tedious but take your time and measure carefully to get them straight. They look really nice when you're done.

Since my girl is only 3, I didn't bother with wiring or very delicate furniture (she's already broken a few pieces of cheap furniture). But she loves it and plays with it nearly ever day in the corner of her bedroom. It was a big hit and it's sturdy enough that it should last her a long time.

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