Our Family Unit



dollhouse big-2

When I was somewhere around 4 or 5, my great-grandfather gave me a dollhouse.  I have so many fond memories of this dollhouse…literally hours and hours of play.  I remember decorating it with my mom, the furniture she’d made from Kleenex boxes upholstered to match our own family’s furniture, the various dollhouse accessories and, most of all, having my Barbies live here (despite the fact that they had to crawl through the 6″ doorways).

With Jessie’s third birthday approaching, Kyle and I started talking gifts and dollhouses, of course, came up.  I loved the idea, it would be *perfect*!  I remembered how much fun I’d had with mine…I knew she would enjoy one, too.  But what I didn’t love were the price tags!  On the cheap end, a wooden dollhouse is pushing $200 (not including furniture and dolls!)  And then, once we got it, what the heck was I supposed to do with another giant toy in the house??  The more I thought about it, the more the sad reality sunk in…a new wooden dollhouse was completely implausible, illogical, and irresponsible.

After a few days of moping around the house like a three year old (I don’t know where she gets it!), it came to me…what if my old dollhouse was still around??  I called my mom and thankfully, my parents had had the forethought and patience (and storage room) to hang onto it for the last three decades.  It was time for the renovations to begin…


Now, the most brilliant thing about this dollhouse design is that it’s totally collapsible!  It’s approximately a 24″ cube when assembled, but flattens out to a 24″ x 24″ x 2″ square that can be slid under any bed or pushed to the back of any closet when my little Diva changes interests.

When my dad shipped it to me, I was actually giddy with excitement.  It was all I could do to wait until Jessie had gone to bed before putting it together.  Here it is, in all it’s mid-80′s glamour!  After giving Kyle the grand tour forcing him to relive all my childhood memories, we started talking about how to renovate it to make it personal to Jessie.


To say I *flung* myself into decorator mode, would be a bit of an understatement.  I pulled out mountains of scrapbook paper and fabric scraps and started a new “Dollhouse” board on Pinterest.  I even had a notebook with sketches…I know, I’m insane.  BUT I WAS GETTING TO RELIVE ONE OF MY GREATEST CHILDHOOD MEMORIES, who wouldn’t be excited??

dollhouse designing

I eventually settled on a 1/12 scale which means every inch in the dollhouse is equivalent to a foot in real life.  My hope is that going with one of the most common scales for “play” dollhouses will make decorating and finding accessories easier in the future.  After deciding scale, Kyle straightened up the edges and raised the height of the doorways to 7″.  Then I went to work with sanding, paint and Mod Podge.

BEFORE and AFTER of the two floors and roof.

dollhouse floors


dollhouse walls before

Walls AFTER:

dollhouse walls after

I used only the scrapbook paper and fabric that I had on hand.  For all the 2D furniture, art and landscaping; I Googled images and then scaled them to the appropriate size in Photoshop.  After that, it was just a matter of printing the images and cutting them out.  Admittedly, the Mod Podge took a few attempts to get right.  The first wall had A LOT of bubbling and I ended up having to redo it.  The trick was doing 3 to 4 very thin coats, allowing for plenty of drying time in between.

I requisitioned Kyle’s nights for making most of the furniture.  Didn’t he do an incredibly awesome job??  We used the tutorial from Blue Dinosaurs as a starting point and then scaled things up or down to fit our purposes.  I opted for the kitchen appliances to be blocks of wood, as opposed to having doors that open and close, in hopes that we’d be re-gluing things less often.  Then I just freehanded the paint and sewed a few cushions.


The bathroom accessories were a gift from Marmie & Grandpa Dan.  Neither Kyle nor I wanted to tackle them but we couldn’t do without as ‘going potty’ is such a big deal to a three year old.  :)


There were only two *actual* purchases for this project…the baby accessories that I just happened to find new at a local second-hand swap for kid stuff…


and the dolls themselves.  I am SO pleased with these Once Upon a Tree House dolls.  For one, they don’t look entirely creepy…which I was beginning to think was a prerequisite for dollhouse families.  Secondly, I was able to pick and choose my family members…meaning that if I have more than 2 kids and no grandparent living with us or if mom and dad don’t look identical, I can still make it fit our family.  Lastly, they are completely moldable/moveable which makes the creative play go so much further!



I can’t wait to show you how it turned out and the big reveal to Jessie on her birthday!  Stay tuned next week for the final unveiling.  ;)



  • Comment by Marmie — November 22, 2013 @ 9:01 PM

    The doll house is decorated better than my own! Thanks to Jessie for letting me play with it.

  • Comment by Cindi Good — November 23, 2013 @ 8:38 PM

    YOU ARE AMAZING! I LOVED this post! I told Amanda to check it out. She will love it for her daughter, who is 3…

  • Pingback by DIY Collapsible Dollhouse Reveal - Our Family Unit — November 25, 2013 @ 5:56 AM

    […] DIY Collapsible Dollhouse Reveal […]

  • Comment by Jaclyn — December 4, 2013 @ 7:26 AM

    Can you describe how it’s collapsible. We have wanted to build something like this but need a little more information?!!!
    Thank you

  • Comment by Jaclyn — December 5, 2013 @ 9:18 AM

    Hi, does the roof have hinges? Are their only 8 pieces of wood for the walls, 2 floors, and 1 roof?
    Thank you!

  • Comment by Lucretia — December 5, 2013 @ 10:29 AM

    Sure thing, Jaclyn. The 2 floors are 24″ x 24″. The Bottom floor has 4 slots cut into it, approximately 3″ long. The slots are 3″ from the outside edge and centered on each side. The bottom of the walls rest in these slots. The Upper floor, also has 4 slots, but these are 6″ long and go from the outside edge in toward the middle of the floor. These are also centered on each side and when the house is assembled are directly above the slots on the bottom floor (if that makes sense).

    There are 4 walls that measure approximately 12″ wide by 24″ tall. All have an extended piece that sets in the slots on the bottom floor and 2 have an extended piece on the top that slide into the roof slot (the chimneys). Also each wall has a slot cut into the middle from the inside edge approximately 6″ long. This slot and the slots on the upper floor slide together.

    The roof is made of two pieces of wood (24″ x 14″) hinged together. This allows the roof to bend around/over the two angled walls, making the “A” shape. Each roof piece has a slot cut in it for the chimneys. The slot is about 3.5″ and about 4.5″ inches from the outside edge.

    There are 8 pieces of wood total (2 floors, 4 walls and 2 pieces of roof). To assemble, the walls slide into the upper floor, then this 3D plus sign shape is place into the slots on the bottom floor and the roof is set on top to bring stability.

    Sorry for all the “approximate” measurements. My great-grandfather was not exactly a perfectionist. :) I’m also hoping these instructions make sense as little people interrupted my answer over a dozen times. :) If you have more questions, I’m happy to try and answer. And if you do build it, please send pics! Good luck

  • Comment by Jaclyn — December 6, 2013 @ 12:05 PM

    Thank you so much for the added detail!!! We will definitely send pictures. How tall are the doorways? Are the doorways 3 inches wide?

  • Comment by Lucretia — December 6, 2013 @ 12:48 PM

    Our doorways are 3″ wide by 7″ tall.

  • Comment by Jaclyn — December 17, 2013 @ 5:32 PM

    Ok!!!! We have the first floor, second floor and roof accounted for! Questions……….
    How wide is the chimney? What is the length of the wall on the far left (diagonal top for roof, 2 doors on right side) it’s the wall in the top left of your pictures.

  • Comment by Lucretia — December 17, 2013 @ 9:26 PM

    Yeah! You’re nearly there! The chimneys are 3″ wide and the walls with diagonal rooflines are 23″ tall on the inside and 20″ tall on the outside (plus the extra bit that slides into the bottom floor which is about 1/4″). Is this going to be a Christmas present for someone?

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