Yay! The time has come to reveal the final dollhouse. I am so excited to document and share this here. If you need to catch up, you can read about the Before and the During here and here. Otherwise, let's get to it!

A grey house with white trim and a bright green door. Perfectly casual in every way. I think this fits right in in Anytown, USA. I love the way the white roof turned out and the chunky white trim. The house originally had no door, so I faked that one with paint and trim. I still want to add some detail to it, paint in a knob, knocker, some house numbers—23 is significant to us. I also added white trim to all of the corners. I did this for aesthetics but also for durability. The trim is a bit thicker than the siding, therefore the edges are not exposed to get snagged or pulled. It's my intention that that siding be on there for life.

As you can see, the house is pretty small, with just five rooms. But we live in a small house too so really, there's no challenge here. I divvied up the spaces the way I always have, clockwise from top left: parents' room, bathroom, kid's room, kitchen and living room. When I was picking out all of those papers, this is the visual I was most excited about. I wanted to give each room the appropriate personality, but still have continuity across the rooms. All of the solid walls use paper of the same texture, it almost looks like grasscloth. And of course, all of the patterns were from the same line.

Before I get in to the details, let's just reveal that I went with all Hape furniture in the house. Originally I thought I might be able to salvage at least some of the furniture I had collected. But really, what survived was not in good shape. The years and climate did a real number on the wood and the glue that held it all together. There are a couple pieces ripe for restoration and it's my hoping that when Thora is older, she might like to do this with me. At this point, I just want her to play without my worry standing over her. The Hape furniture is really adorable and perfect for small hands. It's wood and nontoxic. It's not cheap though. I bought all of my pieces from Amazon during the holiday season and that proved best price for me. I would've loved to have bought them locally, we have many great and small toy stores here, but I couldn't swallow the nearly $10 price difference per room. In the end, right choice by far. It all just makes the house.

Like are you kidding. Is this an exact replica of our own little family or what? Well, maybe if we are dressed in our hipster best. That Lady in the Tramp dog is mine from when I was little. Oh yeah, I collected miniature porcelain figurines too. I was that girl.


I love the dark navy and floral walls here. It's the perfect parents' retreat. The bright orange rug came with the set and it picks up the orange in the little flowers.

I'm still debating taking the shower out of here, it's so cramped! The hardest part here was lining up the wallpaper pattern to go around the room. It was just a bit tricky with my wonky walls. The wainscoting was created with extra flooring, I simply painted it with watered-down paint to get a white-washed look. Then a thin piece of trim topped it off.

What's to say, cute bunk beds? Check. Rocket ship? What more could you ask for. I will say this, I haven't gotten so far as adding unique, personalized touches to the house. As in, there is no art on the walls, no extra details other than the finishes. I look forward to doing those things over time. But for now, Thora's favorite part might be the little stools. She pulls them up to the bathroom sink and has her doll pretend to brush teeth.


Kitchens need to be cheery, and this little eat-in is certainly that. Sherbet walls with a floral backdrop, colorful cabinets, large windows and many doors to open and shut. The dining set even came with silverware! But I'm keeping that aside for a year or so—choking hazard.

I couldn't find a fourth pattern to use on the back of this wall, so I went all ocean blue, all the time. This room is the most apparent for lacking personal touches. We need art on these walls! And maybe a bigger rug. And maybe a picture of Little Mermaid on the tv, since Thora can't stop singing THAT SONG. You thought it was Frozen? No, it's Little Mermaid apparently. (A quick Google research revealed that Ariel was voiced by an actress from Rockford. Holla!) P.S. That wrinkle on the left gives me an eye twitch.

Oh my gosh, I almost forgot the best part. The attic is a surprise little gem. I actually didn't show Thora that the attic swung open until she had her house for a week or so. Let's just say, mind. blown. Right now, I have it outfitted literally as an attic would. It's got some of Grandma's things on one side and will eventually be a playroom on the other. Details in time.

So that's it in a dollhouse nutshell. Thora loves her little house and I love, love, love watching her play with it. She likes to put the family to bed, she likes to put them on the potty and sit around the table. It's like it was made for her or something! I love that I was able to do this for her. I hope it gives her many wonderful memories and feeds her imagination.

Not a bad way to spend 3.



Once the house was clean, sturdy and white, it was time for the truly fun part. I spent a lot of time browsing online for modern dollhouses and wow, Moms be busy out there. There are a lot of amazing houses put together for some very lucky girls. Like this one. And this one. And this one. And sorry, this one. Not to mention, what's available new. Everything from Hape and Lundby made me drool... But I was on a budget. And jeez, Thora is only three afterall.

First order of business was finding the clapboard for the exterior. I knew I didn't want anything narrow or precious, I think of this as a farm house, so I set my sights on 1/2" reveal in 36" long sheets, (a lot like this) which proved a challenge to find. Luckily the Berkeley Ace Hardware was able to scavenge it from a Michigan location or something and between that and what they had on hand it was just enough. Not to mention, they were running a holiday sale which made it a lot more affordable. If you don't know, the Berkeley Ace has an amazing hobby basement. It's a dreamy, dusty time warp.

While I waited for my siding to come in, I started strategizing all of the trim and how to replace the windows and what to do about the floors. I may have gotten a little overwhelmed, mind you I have a deadline-driven job and the aforementioned three-year old to tend, but when it has to, my mind works like tetris. Determined I whittled each detail into separate tasks, in certain order, in allotted chunks of time and bit by bit, I got it done.

I started with white paint. I used the same satin-finish Simply White by Benjamin Moore that's all over our real house because I had it on hand. The ceilings were painted as was around all of the edges and windows. At this point, I decided to paint the roof white too. I debated shingles, but ultimately decided on a white roof. It's a cleaner look and is less-likely to be destroyed, a la, little fingers plucking one by one. As I worked on this house, I realized the key to modernizing is—easy on the details, lady.

Next up, the windows. As I mentioned before, all of the original windows were gone and/or damaged. I tried to get fancy and went to Home Depot and purchased a pricey sheet of plexi. Got it home, cut out ALL of the panes (there were 12) and as I anxiously peeled off the protective covering my stomach ended up in my throat. It was frosted. What?? Clearly, not labeled clearly. The next day was another Home Depot adventure only to learn that they did not sell clear plexi. But great ideas are born of desperation. I made a quick trip to my beloved Michael's and purchased a $3 poster frame. That thin, clear, plexi was/is the perfect solution. I felt a little wasteful tossing the rest of the frame, but it was minimal collateral—those thin little strips of metal. There is more packaging on any given toy at Toys R Us.

Once all of the new windows were measured and cut, it was time to place. Aleene's Tacky Glue has been around as long as myself, so has the logo (Aleene's, let's talk), but don't be mistaken, this is the perfect craft glue. You can see how how my window frames have a little inset for the plexi to sit in. A little dab of Aleene's in each corner, and across the middle on larger windows, then set the plexi on top and let it dry. The glue dries clear, which is nice if it smushes out a bit, but that wasn't a problem anyway.

While glue dries over here, paint dries out on the lawn. These are some of my siding pieces as well as trim for the outside of the windows and baseboards. I ended up using three different sizes for trim. I wanted the windows beefy on the outside, but less-so indoors. But the baseboard needed to be thicker than the windows, not to mention the bathroom was getting wainscoting and yadda yadda yadda, mental overload.

Anyway, I had my own little one-woman production line going on. All of the pieces required two coats of paint. I even used primer on larger items like the siding. Basically, I painted everything before I attached it to the house. This made it much easier in the long run and also gave me instant gratification every time I cut, glued and placed. As in any kind of project, efficiency is all in the prep work.

Flooring. Initially I was going to paint the floors and throw down some carpets. But then I was home for Christmas and happened upon a store I will not mention here due to recent news. And they were having a sale on dollhouse materials, specifically WOOD FLOORS. I'm sorry, this might have been overkill, but I could not pass it up. I bought every sheet they had, giggling all the while. It's a lot like this. I bought the natural version so's I could stain it myself. The prestained stuff is a bit mahogany for me. Putting wall-to-wall wood floors in this house is straight up dreamy. Might I add, incredibly easy to install. Easier than paint. I simply stained it with Minwax (Dark Walnut), then cut to size, smear some Aleene's on the back and press into place. I stacked every heavy book I had in there to make sure there was no buckling. Of course, I did all of this AFTER I did the walls...

Probably the most fun I had was an afternoon at a scrapbooking store on Fourth St. I allowed myself to relax and browse casually and did my best not to get overwhelmed—because scrapbooking stores are OVERWHELMING. It took me, maybe two hours, to pick all of this out. During that time I ran through many possibly design schemes. But in the end, I landed on the above combination. The painterly flowers remind me of Rifle Co., although these are Hello Again by Kaitlin Sheaffer. The patterns were slotted for all of the back walls, while the coordinating solids would be the sides, since I had deemed them unsuitable for paint.

And back to the exterior... After window trim was placed and knowing nothing by hand is perfect and square, I touched up around the trim using the same paint as the siding. This was to hide gaps. Worked like a charm. The grey I chose was my own concoction after I unknowingly purchased a terribly flesh-like off-the-shelf version on taupe. It's just craft paint.

All of the trim pieces were cut to size, then painted, then applied. I was sure to paint all of the cut edges as well so you wouldn't blaringly see any of the natural wood.

As you can seem this is a very scientific process going on over here. Thin wood bends when it gets wet—either from paint or glue (same Aleene's). While it's drying you need to make sure it stays flat, because once it's dry, game over.

The order of interior production went like this: paint to windows to wallpaper to flooring to baseboards to window trim to bathroom wainscoting to done! The order of exterior production: paint to windows to window trim to paint again to clapboard to done!

I can't wait to reveal the finished house tomorrow! But dang, these posts are lengthy as it is. I could talk dollhouses all day and night. Do you think anyone would pay me to do this? Renovating a whole house in my spare time is awful rewarding.



Sometime in the 6th grade, I pulled a dusty, primitive dollhouse out of our basement and fell in love. I didn't know where the house had come from, we just sort of always had it. My siblings and I, we colored on it, shoved junk in there, but never used it for its intended purpose. But something clicked in my 12-year-old mind and I wanted to save it. And while I was saving it, I wanted to create inside a perfect little world all my own.

This newfound interest also coincided with my fledgling babysitting business. Maybe I was feeling the rush of cash-on-hand? Maybe it was because I had started venturing away from my house, across the field to the new strip mall, and wandering the aisles of Michael's Arts and Crafts? Do you remember when that store was more than scrapbooking? It used to be a mecca of art supplies, crafts, silk flowers and miniatures. Sigh... those were the days. (Subsequently, Michael's also turned out to be my first real job. At 15. I had to get a work permit. Employee discount! And possibly the occasional five-finger discount too. Hmm...)

Anyway, I remember standing in front of those glass cases filled with furniture and those plastic bags of bric-a-brac, so tiny, fantastic, wonderful, filling an entire aisle. I wanted it all. The drawers that opened, the books with actual pages, the tiny cups and plates...

As I dreamed of my dollhouse, I romanticized the quiet life its inhabitants would lead. I imagined I was creating my own heritage piece, something to pass along to someone, my own daughter maybe, someday. And I began saving and collecting. I remember the $20 porcelain bathroom set was SUCH a splurge, but I justified it by making my own shelving, using a bead for a perfume bottle. The dusty blue couch set, a budget compromise. I outfitted the kitchen in oak, with a drop leaf table (not unlike the one I have now) and fridge that used ice, no electricity. And a pot belly stove. The parents' bedroom had a four-poster bed I put together myself. And the nursery, the nursery was beautiful. Delicate and white. My mom jumped on my bandwagon and showed me a shop behind The Last Straw Ice Cream Parlour that was just for dollhouses. There I found wallpaper, carpeting and the clapboard siding of my dreams. I used to wander that shop for hours, not always buying something either. I wonder what that counter lady thought of me!

You know, I also wandered antique malls at that age. By myself. In retrospect, is that strange?

So flash forward a quarter century and here I am with a little lady of my own. Full size, not 1:12 scale! And she's coming up on a third birthday. I give my mom a call and ask her to please, oh please, will you pull that dusty, primitive dollhouse out of your garage and ship it California? And she did.

And woah. What many years in a couple different garages of varying temps can do. Gotta admit, I was a little taken aback at the site of the dollhouse I had cherished so much. All of the windows and all of the trim were gone.

The inside faired much worse and it was looking a bit of a horror show. Not to mention, wobbly as all get out. Was I really going to give this to my daughter? Uh, yes. When faced with a project like this, it's fuel for my motivational fire. The uglier something is, the prettier I want to make it.

Ugly isn't enough of a word here. From the top:

Before: Attic
Before: Parents' room
Before: bathroom (my shelf!)
Before: kid's room

Before: kitchen

Before: living room

Safety was priority number one, so the first thing I did was remove every stray nail and scrape every surface until all was smooth(ish). Then I pulled out some wood glue and my nail gun and restored its rigidity. Solid.

A coat of primer went over every inch, because sometimes, you can't see what's there until everything is white. Primer also worked to deter the musty smell of the wood and obviously, stain block.

After the house was smooth, strong and the perfect blank slate, I realized all of the walls, inside and out, were so scuffed and gouged, that paint would not be enough to give it the clean, fresh, 2014 look I was going for. I had already decided on wallpaper for the back walls, but now I knew I would need to wallpaper all of the walls. And the exterior would get all new siding. I wanted to put clapboard on this house SO BAD when I was a kid. It feels full circle to do it now.

The To-Do List looked a lot like this:

Replace windows with acrylic
Add siding on exterior
Wallpaper all the walls
New flooring throughout
Replace trim exterior and interior - around windows and baseboards
Paint the ceilings
Decide on roof treatment (paint or shingles?)

What's hilarious is I had originally intended this to be a Christmas present and thought I could get all of the above done in a weekend. Ha!!! When reality set in, I decided it was best to save it for her birthday at the end of March. Good idea because I need those entire three months to get this done. Between work, childcare and sourcing materials, this project proved intense. I'll follow up tomorrow with the process of restoring this little house. It was so much fun, you know, if you like this sort of thing.