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Dollhouse Restoration

December 15, 2008

When brainstorming about what to give my daughter for Christmas this year, I remembered the dollhouse that my parents gave me.  It needs to be cleaned and repaired, but I think it will be nice to hand it down to my daughter.  Yesterday we pulled it out of storage and started the first phase of restoration.  My husband and I took all the accessories and furniture out to decide what could be saved.  About half of the things had to be thrown away, including the family of dolls that were badly decomposed.  I took the pictures of flowers and horses down that I had taped to the walls.  I pulled out the carpet from the attic and bedrooms and attempted to peel the outdated vinyl off the kitchen floor.  There were all kinds of insect exoskeletons in the carpets and all over the doll beds.

There is still a lot of work that I need to do before I can give this dollhouse to my daughter.  I have to peel the wallpaper off some of the walls and finish removing the vinyl.  Then I need to sew simple curtains for all of the windows.  All of the things that we decided to save need to be cleaned.  And I need to think of what kind of doll family is going to live there.  I hope to get it all done before Christmas!

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dollhouse restoration

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dollhouse restoration

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dollhouse restoration

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dollhouse restoration

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Have you ever taken on a restoration project like this? Do you have any advice for me?

  1. December 15, 2008 11:04 am

    No tips… just encouragement! What a great dollhouse– I bet your daughter is going to love it as much as you did.

  2. December 15, 2008 11:09 am

    No tips here either. she’ll LOVE it!

  3. Susannah permalink
    December 15, 2008 11:27 am

    What a perfect idea! My parents have our dollhouse and all the furniture/contents are still wrapped in a box from our move…in 1998! I hope to have a little girl in our family someday to pass it down.

    This link has dolls and other items. Check out this ‘modern family’ –haha

  4. December 15, 2008 12:02 pm

    oh sarah, it’s beautiful! i don’t have any advice since i’ve never done anything like this before, but i did get make a very small dollhouse for V last year (got the idea from angry chicken) out of a wooden cd holder from michael’s and i used scrapbook paper for the wallpaper and sticky-backed felt for the carpet.

  5. Susannah permalink
    December 15, 2008 12:04 pm

    One more thing…there used to be a dollhouse/miniartures show in Harrisonburg every year that my mom used to take me to…I tried to google it for you but didn’t find anything. Keep an eye out though. They always had really neat hand-made items. She could collect one special piece every year!

  6. December 15, 2008 1:24 pm

    What a great thing for you to do!! I know she will love it!

    My girls love to play with doll houses! I wish I had one that I could do that for!!

    Hey, what about putting real pics of your family in some of the rooms. They would have to be small enough to fit, but I bet that would be cool????

  7. thebeadden permalink
    December 15, 2008 1:41 pm

    What a great project! There are quite a few sites that offer free things for dollhouses.
    Do a search (in quotes) “Free printable Minis”

    I have made miniature books before. It was great fun. Good luck to you!

  8. December 15, 2008 5:08 pm

    I love it! What a wonderful gift idea. I’m sure she will love it! 🙂 🙂 🙂 I can’t wait to see the “after” pictures!

  9. Organic Mama permalink
    December 16, 2008 5:30 pm

    Why not ask your daughter what she’d like to do to decorate? I’m suggesting she be in on the choices – this or that, etc., so her vision of the house can be part of the plan. It’s now almost a new, moved-out-of house ready for new interior design and I find that terribly exciting. Have fun with new little furniture, the curtains, little tables and other things. I would also suggest getting a new set family dolls to begin the whole process of giving them a home. Have fun!

  10. refincher permalink
    December 17, 2008 9:36 pm

    That is beautiful!!! Did your dad make it? The angle of some of your photos make me feel like I could move right in.

    Here is a link to the doll family our girls will be getting for Christmas:
    They have families of various ethnicities.

    Btw, congratulations on your pregnancy!!! Hope you are feeling well.

  11. December 18, 2008 9:22 pm

    I spent almost 3 hours cleaning it today, scraping and sanding and wiping. It is looking good.

    Rebecca, that is the same family that I got for my daughter, except I got the Asian ethnicity because I liked the mom’s dress. My dad didn’t make the dollhouse. Someone that my parents knew was making them.

    Susannah, my mom took me to the furniture show at least two times that I remember. That is where we got the white chest of drawers in the first photo. I love (to hate) that “modern” family. I decided to get wooden dolls.

    Organic Mama, she is in on the color choices without knowing it. I’ve had her pick out some fabric, but the dollhouse is a surprise. It’s hidden at my parents’ house and she doesn’t even know it exists.

    gr8tful, I love that idea of putting our own small family photo on the wall! Thanks!!!

    There will be “after” pictures once I get it all repainted on the inside. Whew! I got worn out today.

  12. December 19, 2008 6:19 pm

    That looks like a great mother-daughter project, even after Christmas. Kudos to a great gift idea, if I was a crafts-person I would offer more, but sadly I am not.

    All the same, it is a grand undertaking, more power to you with your plans!

  13. December 21, 2008 7:29 pm

    JellyBeen, thanks for the encouragement! I worked on it three more hours today, mostly with putty filling in around the windows.

  14. rosiemolinary permalink
    December 22, 2008 6:11 pm

    Oh, I hope you are able to snap a shot of the look on her face when she opens/discovers the dollhouse. She is just going to love it. What a thoughtful idea. I can’t wait to see the finished house and its little family. Oh, and to hear the stories of your daughter’s family as their life in her hands begins!

  15. December 24, 2008 12:37 pm

    Thanks, Rosie. I’ll try to get that photo of her reaction if I can. My dad even bought the house Christmas lights and my mom made a Christmas tree for the dollhouse family. I finished yesterday and it is under a sheet like an art exhibit. 🙂

  16. Lauren in Maryland permalink
    December 20, 2009 8:20 pm

    I came across this website because I’m looking for help with my own dollhouses, which are filled with mildew. If you could tell me how you stripped everything, I would be sooooooo grateful!

    I haven’t gotten up the courage yet – some of the wallpapers were so beautiful. Sniff…

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