A Haunted Dollhouse Mansion

turn a dollhouse into a haunted mansion for halloween

One of the things that continues to amaze me about my kids is how they integrate seemingly unrelated elements into their games. At times it’s intentional – like when Jason told Jenna that they could play Star Wars birthday party in order to combine his interests (Star Wars) with hers (parties and cupcakes). Other times it’s seems more natural, like when Minions, Angry Birds and other characters inhabit Lego structures and drive Lego vehicles. My favorite combinations are those that involve the interpretation of a digital game in a non-digital format – like when Jason was grounded from the iPad and decided to make his own tablet … out of Legos.

Seeing their imaginations at work is pretty awesome, and every once in awhile, I like to attempt a toy mash-up of my own. So this Halloween, I converted Jenna’s dollhouse into a haunted house using toys and crafting supplies I had on hand. Jenna was pretty excited when she came home from school to find her dollhouse had been taken over by evil spirits. But she also requested that as soon as Halloween is over, we decorate her dollhouse for Christmas. Oh dear.

a halloween dollhouse

halloween dollhouse detail

a halloween dollhouse

halloween dollhouse

A Dollhouse Update

So, the official deadline of the dollhouse challenge organized by Emily Henderson is tomorrow, Dec 15th. As you can tell from the photo below, my dollhouse needs a wee bit more work, more than I could possibly finish in 24 hours. Luckily for me, my true deadline is Christmas morning so I’ve got a couple of weeks to wrap things up.

Here’s the current status of things …

Decorating a dollhouse is messy work and it’s hard to keep it all hidden. I won’t be surprised at all if Jenna walks down the stairs on Christmas morning and asks if I’m giving my dollhouse, the one I’ve been playing with in my office for the past 3 months, to her for Christmas. Jason has already found one of his presents (which I hid in a bag, on the kitchen counter), so it’s clear that I completely underestimate them in this area.

The living room is almost complete but is still without any flooring. I love the sofa and chair that I purchased. I made the toothpick mirror, lamp and table, and I’m still hoping to find a furry rug. And speaking of furry, yes, that is my cat in the picture. He is fascinated by the dollhouse and tries to get in all of the pictures.

The kitchen is pretty much complete but I might add some pictures on the wall – or I might draw something on the right wall which is covered in chalkboard paper. I purchased the furniture set here.

The bedroom furniture arrived last week so the only thing remaining for this room is the bedding, which I plan to make myself. I still have 2 weeks, right?

The biggest missing piece is the upstairs, which I had planned to divide into 2 rooms: a child’s room and a bathroom. I decided that was too complicated, so now I’m going to use the space as an artist studio.

Anyone else participating in the challenge? I’d love to see your dollhouse – share a link below.

Here are my other dollhouse-related posts.

Inspired By … Gray, White, Pink

Sources: Lisa Congdon, Dear PumpernickelEva Hesse, Nancy Ramirez


I only have a couple of week’s left to finish Jenna’s dollhouse in time for Christmas, and I still have a lot of work to complete – walls that aren’t painted, rooms entirely devoid of furniture, a roof only partially tiled – but I seem to be better at the details than the large brushstrokes. Case in point, this weekend I worked on some artwork for the house. The mostly unpainted, un-wallpapered, unfurnished house.

I’ve been collecting examples of art that I think would work well with the dollhouse decor (at least, with the decor as it looks in my mind) for awhile. Not surprisingly, it’s all pretty pink, white and gray. Here are a few of the tiny pieces I’ve created based on my inspiration:

Dollhouse Update and Mirror Mini Tutorial

This week in the dollhouse challenge: some paint and wallpaper decisions, a new mirror and acknowledging my limitations.

I finally committed to a paint color – a mix of brown, gray and white – for the upstairs room, and I added the wallpaper to the living room – as in, it’s glued now and there’s no going back. The polka dot paper is sized and ready for glueing and I think I should do it now before I lose my nerve. I thought decorating a dollhouse would be like designing a website. But making decisions in the real (um, dollhouse) world is much more permanent, and I’m constantly afraid of doing something I’ll regret.

I also made a new mirror for the living room, which has really tall walls and needs some needs something to break up the space. I saw this Jonathan Adler-inspired dollhouse decor and thought the mirror design would work well for my dollhouse. Now I’m wondering if it’s too violent looking for a child’s dollhouse. See there’s that regret  again.

I made the mirror using toothpicks and a small craft mirror:

Here’s the finished product in the living room:

And finally, I’m realizing that making dollhouse furniture is much harder than I thought. I think the living room sofa (and maybe a few other large furniture items) will need to be purchased. I’m going to stick to the small stuff like mirrors, tables, lamps and art.

‘I’m a Giant’ Dollhouse Challenge … Update

So … not a lot of work has been done on the dollhouse in the past couple of weeks, and I’m starting to wonder if I’ll meet my Christmas deadline. Instead of being inspired by the awesomeness of the other challenge participants, I think I’ve been awed into a state of inertia. Going out of town and getting the flu didn’t help matters. But, this week, I made a wee bit of progress:

I started working on a scalloped roof using dove gray paper with a subtle floral texture. It looks silver in the photos, but it’s a really a brownish-gray.

And, more importantly, I *may* have made a decision on the first residents of Jenna’s ‘House of Pink’ (which is, admittedly, looking more like a house of gray). Meet Megan/Eva/Bella or, as Jenna will likely name her, Baby.

After looking at all of the dollhouse family sets out there, I just couldn’t decide. No one looked like our family, and, worse, no one looked like they would live in a House of Pink. Instead, I think I’ve decided that the first residents will be two Blythe dolls from Hasbro’s Littlest Pet Shop collection.

Dollhouse Table DIY

Last week’s dollhouse diy was a teeny lamp. This week, I made a coffee table for the living room … and it’s sparkly.

Here are the materials you’ll need:

  • Glitter ribbon
  • Mirror circle (3″ diameter)
  • Small wood squares (1″ x 1″)
  • Glue
  • Paint

Step 1: Frame the table

I cut the ribbon to the length of the outer edge of the mirror, applied glue to the top edge of the ribbon, and then attached it to the outer edge of the mirror (keeping the top of the ribbon aligned with the top of the mirror.)

Step 2: Glue the base

I glued the two wood squares together to form a teepee-like shape. I chose small squares and angled them so that the height of the table would be coffee table height. You could use larger squares and/or create a steeper angle if you’re making a kitchen or side table.

Step 3: Paint the base

Once the glue was dry, I painted it a dark espresso color.

Step 4: Attach the mirror to the base

Once the paint was dry, I glued the base to the bottom center of the mirror and placed some wooden cubes on each side to support the structure while the glue dried. I also placed extra glue along the intersection of the legs to make the table a bit sturdier.

Dollhouse Lamp DIY

To cut down on costs, I’m building most of the furniture and decorative accessories for the ‘I’m a Giant’ challenge. And to help keep myself on schedule, I’m planning to share one dollhouse diy project each week. This week, I made a teeny tiny lamp.

Here are the materials you’ll need:

  • Scrapbook paper
  • Glue (I used Mod Podge and then switched to fabric glue for the last step)
  • Beads
  • Small round base (could be a bead, button, cardboard, etc.)
  • Cardboard

Step 1: Create the lampshade


I cut a 1″ x 12″ strip of decorative paper and applied glue to one side and then rolled it up to form a lampshade. While rolling it, I tried to keep the overall diameter about the same as the diameter of the base. I glued the entire outside of the paper to give it a slight sheen and to make it sturdier.

Step 2: Build the base


I started with a round, flat faux-ivory bead and glued a couple of pink beads in a column on top of the round base. Stacking the beads and getting them to stay in a straight line was much harder than I expected. I let this dry overnight and then coated the entire structure in glue, again to make it sturdier. Since this will soon be in the hands of my 3-year old daughter, I’m going pretty heavy on the glue.

Step 3: Attach the lampshade to the base

I cut a small piece of cardboad sized slightly longer than the diameter of the lampshade. I folded the cardboard up on each end and applied glue to the folded portion. I inserted the cardboard piece into the lampshade, allowing the folded portion to adhere to the inside of the shade. Once this was completely dry, I applied glue to the top bead and the bottom center of the cardboard. I switched to fabric glue for this step because the Mod Podge didn’t seem to be holding it in place.

Step 4: Support and Dry

Once the shade was centered on the base, I carefully placed the entire piece against a flat surface and allowed it to dry overnight.

I’m a Giant Challenge: Getting Started

As I mentioned last week, I’m so excited to be participating in the I’m a Giant dollhouse challenge hosted by Emily Henderson. The timing couldn’t be more perfect – I had just purchased an unfinished dollhouse for Jenna’s Christmas present, and there’s nothing like a competition to spur me on. Yes, I’m a little competitive that way.

So, here’s the house, soon to be named House of Pink, or something along those lines. The challenge is to “build your dream house” but I am building Jenna’s dream house, which is undoubtably Pink, Pink, Pink.

I’ve already started collecting fabric, paper, furniture and materials for building furniture and decorative elements. I had no idea how expensive dollhouse furniture was, so it looks like I’ll be crafting most of it myself. Here’s a sneak peek of some of the items likely to appear in Jenna’s dream house…

First, the color palette. It will be mostly pink with a mix of greens, browns and grays.

And I’m hoping to incorporate lots of texture, including a furry rug since Jenna has a furry rug in her room.

I plan on making most of the furniture, but bathroom sets and kitchen appliances are much harder than beds, sofas and tables so I decided to purchase those. I’ve already found this kitchen set on sale at Pottery Barn Kids. And, of course, it’s pink!

And every house has to have at least one splurge (ok, maybe two or three). In this house, it’s a Eames Chair. Would it be sacrilege to paint it pink?

Oh, did I mention the sparkles? Yes, Jenna’s house will definitely be sparkly.

More to come. If you’re participating in the challenge too, I’d love to see your progress!

Update: Check out my Lamp DIY and Table DIY.

Some Dollhouse Inspiration (and a blogland challenge)

I recently came across a brand-new, unfinished dollhouse on sale for $20 and immediately decided it would make an awesome Christmas present for Jenna (not to mention an awesome design project for me over the next couple of months). Well, now said project has just jumped to the top of my to-do list. Stylist Emily Henderson (recent winner of HGTV’s Design Star) is organizing a dollhouse decorating challenge featuring designers/bloggers from Design for Mankind, Making it Lovely, and Simply Grove, among others. Am I up for the challenge? Oh yeah!

Here are some items I’ve pinned recently that will likely inspire my design:

Sources: Arne Jacobsen dollhouse, Wegner ChairHemisphere Chair, Bauhaus Dollhouse, Dollhouse by Beehive, CraftBennett HouseDesk, Kitchen Interior, Made by Joel Dollhouse and furniture, Bookshelves

DIY: Elevator Dollhouse

I’m not sure if I should call this a dollhouse since I made it for my son, and years from now, he’ll probably try to deny that he loved the dollhouse I made for him when he was four.

Let’s call it a Up-And-Down Box instead, since I created it based on his obsession with elevators.

It was really easy to make, and all of the materials were things we had around the house.


  • One large box (approximately 15″ square)
  • One medium box or shoe box (approximately 11″  x 7″ x 4″)
  • One small box (approximately 5″ square)
  • Exacto knife
  • Ruler
  • Glue
  • Ribbon or string


1. Prepare the House: Cut the flaps off of one side of the large box so that it is completely open on one side.

2. Create the Elevator: Cut 2 of the flaps off of one side of the small box, so that it still has “doors” that open and close. Using an exacto knife, cut an X at the center of the top of the box and run a piece of string or ribbon through it. Secure the ribbon on the inside of the small box by tying a knot.

3. Add the Second Floor: Cover two sides of the medium/shoe box with glue and glue inside the back corner of the large box, adding pressure to ensure that it adheres to both sides.

4. Make the Stairs: Cut an 8″ x 2″ rectangle out of one of the flaps cut off of the larger box. Measure 1″ increments and then score. Fold the rectangle accordion style to form stairs. Glue the stairs to the bottom of the large box and the side of the medium/shoe box.

5. Create a Back Wall: Take one of the discarded flaps and score it approximately 1″ from the longest edge. Fold and glue the edge to the left back side of the box. This will prevent the elevator from swaying back and forth.

6. Install the Elevator: Cut an X on the top back corner of the box (directly above where you’d like to place the elevator). Run the ribbon through the X and then secure with a knot.

7. Create Windows or Sunlights (Optional): You can also cut out windows or a skylight. I added a skylight to the top of our house.

8. Furnish and Decorate (Optional): There are lots of online diy projects for decorating dollhouses and making your own furniture. I love this paper furniture project from La Petite magazine. I kept it simple by adding a leaf patterned rug (using the cover of an old notebook) and a few tiny mirrors I had on hand. Very West Elm, don’t you think?  Jason is more into how things work than how they look at the moment, so I didn’t go very far with the decor. But the designer in me is already thinking it’s time to redecorate.