Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wren's Nest; a cardboard cottage dollhouse

Maybe your child would like to have a dollhouse, or maybe you want one yourself.  But the cost of a kit (not to mention ready built) is beyond what you want to spend.  And if you get a kit, then there is the construction, which is never as simple as the advertising says :-)   For myself, driving a nail straight is a painful challenge.

So how about a dollhouse you can make with material you probably already have on hand, and no hammers necessary?  A sturdy dollhouse with lots of play appeal?  Cardboard to the rescue!

Wren's Nest, above, is made from cardboard boxes, fabric, and glue.  The key to making a sturdy, and attractive, dollhouse from cardboard boxes is to line the box, both inside and out, with covered cardboard.

tools and materials for cardboard cottage dollhouse

I used fabric to cover my cardboard lining pieces, and cut windows out of my boxes and the linings.  You could also use white poster board and draw interior and exterior scenes for your house, or your kids could!  If you are ambitious, you could applique windows, doors, flowers, whatever, to your fabric before applying it to the linings.   Once you've sandwiched two or three layers of cardboard together, you'll be amazed at how sturdy the dollhouse is.

room box with interior lining pieces, ready to glue in place

Measure the interior and exterior walls, floor and ceiling carefully, to within 1/8 inch.  Cut cardboard lining pieces to these measurements, and label each piece as to where it goes (e.g. left wall interior, back wall exterior, etc).  Each room 'box' should have five interior lining pieces and five exterior lining pieces.

using the lining piece to cut fabric; note the cutting lines on the window fabric

Cover each interior lining piece separately, applying glue only along the edges of the wrong side of the cardboard linings.

gluing fabric around window; the edges will be next

exterior lining pieces laid out on fabric

For the exterior, lay the exterior walls out on the fabric with a scant 1/4 inch between them.  Cut the fabric out around the edges leaving an inch extra all around.  The exterior walls will be glued to the fabric as one piece, with the 1/4 gap as a 'hinge' around the exterior corners.  This neatens up the outside of the dollhouse

bedroom box with interior and exterior linings installed.

outside view

dollhouse with all the interior and exterior lining glued in place

After all the lining pieces have been covered with fabric and installed, the dollhouse is nearly finished.  At this point it is fun to raid your stash of trims and lace to trim up the house.  I like to cover the front openings (you can still see the cardboard box edges if you don't), add some shutters and curtains, and maybe some gingerbread trim to the roof.  Lets see what we have...

these look promising!

What a difference a little trim makes!  

I started this project on Thursday afternoon, and finished it on Monday.   I worked in snatches over the weekend, and pretty steadily on Thursday afternoon, Friday afternoon, and Monday afternoon.   All the materials, including the boxes, came from stuff I had at home.  

Here is a full picture tutorial for making this Cardboard Cottage.

I think Wren and Robin are going to be pretty cozy in this nest, as soon as I make some simple furnishings :-)

27 comments:

  1. Absolutely precious! Just wonderful. :)) Thanks for the instructions.

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  2. You are more than welcome, Lois; and thank you always for your good words :-)

    Beth

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  3. My goodness, this is wonderful.
    Thank you for sharing the instructions.

    Sandra

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  4. Just Love it! totally adorable. I make toys for charity and this is going into my must do list, thanks!

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  5. Wow now that is a wonderful dolls house just love it!

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  6. Hi Beth,
    I recently was told to use Krylon Matte Finish spray for fabric because I wanted to use prismacolor pencils when painting faces on the dolls to keep it from smudging...since fabric collects dust and to keep it from stainning after a spill, perhps you could use it on the doll house for easy wiping...the spray is also non-toxic for kids play.

    Carolyn

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  7. I couldn't help noticing your Cindy doll hanging on the wall...I've been wanting to get one of those dolls...I would like to see you do something with the Cindy doll.

    Carolyn

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  8. Love this project...your little house turned out so wonderful...blessings

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  9. This is amaZinG what you have done just out of cardboard, cloth, trim & glue! I know they are lovin' their new home.

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  10. This is just one of the most wonderful dollhouses I have ever seen. I wish my cardboard walls in our home looked so good. You finished this so quickly too. Any big or little girl would love this so much. I know when I was little, I would get lost for hours playing with my dollhouse. I'm sure my mom appreciated that too.

    Hugs,

    Joyce

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  11. dear Beth this hose is better than any other kit i coul buy. WONDERFOUL!!! i will never stop to say you thanks for sharring with us all your ideas. thank you dear friend. a big kiss from Italy

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  12. Thank all of you so much for your great words :-) Knowing how expensive doll houses can be, I was really happy with the way this turned out. Thanks for the Krylon spray suggestion, Carolyn.

    If any of you make something like this, I would love to see it.

    Beth

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  13. Oh yeah, by the way, I want to play with your house...looking at this house brings out the little girl in me. And I so admire the trimmings.

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  14. Oh, that is just too adorable! You are just amazing Beth! :D

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  15. Love it. It reminded me of the doll houses I made as a child from the wood Kraft cheese boxes. when I was a child a pound brick of Kraft cheese came in a wood box. You could stack them making a two story house. You could use cardboard to divide them into rooms. A staircase was a heavy paper folded accordian style. Furniture was made from odds and ends, spools, scraps of fabric, whatever you could find in Mom's sewing box or Dad's garage. And all this fun was free. Even the dolls were prizes in CrackerJack boxes

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  16. Thank-you Eva :-)

    Yvonne, those Kraft cheese boxes sound like a kid's dream come true! Free fun is the best fun :-)

    Beth

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  17. Bardzo dziękuję za udostępnienie, na pewno skorzystam dla mojej córeczki(5 lat) :-)
    Pozdrawiam serdecznie :-))

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  18. Oh, wow. That is so inspired; I have always been a little leery of the price of dollhouses that I like; this is a nice alternative, plus a nifty way to display your dolls! :)

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  19. Thank-you, Julie, Mieta, and Crochet Dude; you are right Julie; its a fun way to display my dolls :-)

    Beth

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  20. So cute! I'll have to try this too. Thanks for posting!

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  21. Thanks, Bama; It was fun, easy, and cheap :-)

    Beth

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  22. Hi Beth.
    I really like your dolls. They are so cool. I am going to make are doll like yours. And a little doll house. My mum is going to help me and she is going to get the stuff for me.
    From Melanie xo xo

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  23. Hi Melanie,

    Hey, that sounds great! Have fun making your doll's house :-)

    Beth

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  24. Hi, My husband and I are wanting to make a doll house for our daughter for Christmas (hopefully!) and I have a few questions. Basically, what size of doll is this for? I know they're for the Gingermelon Pocket Pixies, but how tall are they? Would this house work for your Pocket Spirits?

    Also, what size is your bottom-most box? The one I have that I am planning to use for mine just looks like it would be too small if I split it into two separate rooms, but, again, I have no idea what size these dolls are.

    Thanks for the tutorial (as well as all your free patterns!) I am really excited to get started on this!

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  25. Hi Lily!

    Yay, a dollhouse! The Gingermelon Pocket Pixies are a touch over 7 inches tall. This doll house would work well with my Pocket Spirit dolls too. The bottom box is 18 1/2 inches long and 9 1/2 inches tall and 9 1/2 inches deep. It isn't a perfect scale to the doll, being a tad cozy, but the dolls don't mind :-)

    Good luck!

    Beth

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  26. maravilhoso! Vc é incrivel!! seu trabalho é fabuloso!

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