Some little girls have spacious bedrooms where all their favorite things are readily available. Other girls have more compact rooms and have to put every item away after playtime. Those little girls can have just as much fun as the other girls but they just have to own things that don’t take up a lot of room when not in use. That leaves out most dollhouses, doesn’t it? Some dollhouses do fold up and tuck neatly away but others sprawl across a large area and stay there. If you’re thinking of a new dollhouse for your little girl, but you don’t have the space or the money for the typical dollhouse, make one yourself. Don’t think you can’t! It’s easy to make various dollhouses when you start with ordinary cardboard boxes. And, the unique thing about the dollhouses you’ll be making is that they fold up to look like a boxed gift when they’re not in use!
Whether your girl has a set of very tiny dolls, or the ever-popular Barbie dolls, you can make a dollhouse that she will play with for a long time to come. The main thing you need to get started is a cardboard box with a lid. It doesn’t matter if the cardboard is thick or thin; it doesn’t matter what size the box is. The only thing that’s important is that the lid fits snugly on top and is completely removable. Boxes with flaps or hinged lids are not useable for this project. Choose a small box for small doll sets or a huge box for really large dolls. The smaller versions can be carried while traveling but the larger versions are generally stationary. The large ones, though, can easily be moved from room to room if they’re not simply gigantic.
The cardboard box can be painted or otherwise decorated. You can paint it and use colored tape as accents or you can cover the entire box with fabric. Thin velvet or satin look especially nice. It’s important to use thin fabric so that, after upholstering the box, the lid will still fit. Or, use scrapbook paper and you can give the box a particular theme. When using paper you don’t have to worry about an ill-fitting lid when you’re finished.
Before applying the paper or fabric to the box slice all four corners from top to bottom. This will allow you to open the box up so that it is perfectly flat. Cover the outside of the box with glue. Pay close attention to the very edges and corners of the box when it comes to applying the glue. Set the box on top of the chosen paper or cloth and place something heavy on it until the adhesive is dry or set. Afterwards, cut the excess paper away from the cardboard box.
Cut a square piece of paper or cloth for the top part of the lid. Glue a wide strip of ribbon around the edges of the lid. Cut ribbon to make a “+” design on top of the box and glue the ribbons in place. Glue a bow on top of the box and the lid is complete. To assemble the box, pull the four corners of the box together and hold them still, then position the lid. When you remove the lid the box will automatically open out flat.
Inside the box you have all sorts of choices for setting the scenery of the dollhouse. Scrapbook paper can help you decide on just the right floor or ground you want for inside the house. Glue the piece of paper to the bottom square of the box. Now you can glue in a bed, a couch, tables and lamps or even a picnic table. Set the scene you want but keep it only on the center square of the box.
The side flaps will be used to hold the various dolls and their accessories. On one flap, glue lengths of ribbon or pieces of elastic. Take a length of ribbon, fold it in half, then glue the fold to the flap. Glue two or more of these ribbons to the flap to tie in the dolls. On a second flap, glue a piece of narrow elastic at each side. Now glue the elastic in spots, here and there, across the width of the flap. These elastic loops can hold accessories of all sorts. Do similar things with the other two flaps. They can be made to hold more dolls or even outfits. Cut half-circles of felt, glue the edges to the flap, and the little pocket can hold shoes, earrings and more. When the house is finished simply hold the sides together and place the lid on top. When ready to use, remove the lid and watch the scene unfold.
The greatest thing about the cardboard box dollhouse is that anyone, with any budget, and any time frame, can make one. Paint the box and throw it together in no time. Or, cover the box with wrapping paper you already have at home. If you have more time and money to spend you can even cover the entire box with fake jewels. There are no limits to the various designs you can make. What little girl wouldn’t be thrilled?