How to Plan Building a Dollhouse From a Kit
Building a dollhouse from a kit can seem kind of overwhelming at first! In today’s post I want to share some tips on how to plan and setup your workspace to build a dollhouse from a kit.
Hopefully these tips will make your life much easier and the process a whole lot more fun for you!
I recently ordered the Beachside Bungalow dollhouse kit made by Real Good Toys and it arrived yesterday. You can see what’s inside the box in my post on Unboxing The Beachside Bungalow Kit.
As you can see from the picture above, it can be pretty overwhelming straight out of the box! I couldn’t even fit all of the contents in one picture!
Before I start painting and assembling everything, obviously I need to set up my workspace for success! This post will outline everything I do and also give you some tips too – even if you are working in a smallish space.
Deciding Where to Build the House
The first step of course is to decide where you are going to build the house. This is one of those projects that will take several weeks – even several months to complete – so yes, you’re going to need a dedicated space!
My area for building the dollhouse is only half of a 10×11 room until my craft room is “officially” ready later this summer – so yes, it can be done in a smallish space! The trick is proper planning and a good system of organizing and storing everything.
I am very lucky I have shelving on the walls, so that gives me a lot of room for storing things. I also have 3 tables set up!
Another thing to consider is when finished, your dollhouse is going to be a bit heavy to move – not to mention you aren’t going to want things falling out of it or breaking when you do move it!
In general, I recommend building the dollhouse in the same place you plan on storing it or have a plan where it’ll be on a table or stand with wheels for easy moving to where it will eventually go on display. (A microwave cart can work great for this if it’s big enough or if you add a sheet of wood to the top!)
Setting Up Your Tables + Workspace
The next step of course is to make sure you have enough table surface area to work with. You are going to be painting a lot of pieces that will need to be spread out while they dry and while you paint on them.
In general, I recommend using a craft table you don’t care too much about it getting paint or glue on it. My craft tables are well worn but I say it all adds to the charm!
Since the walls, floors and roof are typically the largest pieces of any kit, it can be helpful to have a folding card table you use temporarily for painting. This way, once the base of the house is assembled, you can fold up the table out of the way.
I have a folding card table very similar to this one that I love and use all the time!
In addition to the folding table, I have 2 large desks that offer ample room and space for laying out pieces until I have everything assembled together.
Organizing All the Pieces of the Kit
Once the tables are setup, your next step is to figure out how you will organize all the pieces of the kit.
It’s a good idea to read the instruction manual that comes with your dollhouse kit several times before you even think about painting or gluing anything together!
Get familiar with what every single piece is for and determine when you will actually need it for your project.
For example, the first pieces you typically work with are the base, the floors, and the main walls. These should all be kept together and painted at the same time before assembly.
Pieces that you don’t use right away can be stored in a plastic tote. These 15 quart plastic containers with lids work great for storage and can be stacked together!
I love keeping everything on a specific project together in one box. This way you’ll always know where to find something!
I also like to organize things in the order that I will need them. For example, I will keep all the trim pieces together in one box, and then maybe in another I will have things for the roof.
I’m lucky to have shelves in my craft area, so if you have wall shelves they are a lifesaver for storing the containers.
Organizing Your Tools
Lastly I want to talk about organizing the tools and supplies you’ll need when assembling the dollhouse kit together.
Having all of your tools together in one spot makes it much easier to keep track of where they are when you need them!
I have an entire tote devoted to all things clamps and also keep a shelf area dedicated for things like adhesives and paints all in one spot.
I also have a dedicated tool box for things like mini pruning shears, small mini hacksaw, and others.
Additional Tips for A Smooth Assembly Process
Once your space is organized, life is going to be a LOT more fun and easier for you while you assemble your dollhouse. Here are some other tips to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Read the Instructions Multiple Times!!!
I can’t stress this enough – you should ALWAYS read the instruction manual – and not just once but twice or three times.
This will help you prepare for what you’ll need and what steps you do everything in. Preparing ahead of time can save you a LOT of grief later down the road!
Paint Before You Glue
The first time I assembled a dollhouse from a kit, I made the mistake of thinking I could just paint everything after it was assembled. Boy was that a mess!
Once everything is together, you’re going to have a lot of hard to reach places. Using a mini roller on flat surfaces before you glue them together is a heck of a lot easier!
One important thing to remember though is you don’t want to paint any spots you plan on gluing together. The paint can make it difficult for the glue to stick!
If you do accidentally paint somewhere that should not have paint, you can usually sand it off pretty easily without too much consequence.
Use the Right Type of Glue for the Job!
Different kits have different instructions for the type of glue that should be used. For example, you can use tacky glue with MDF kits, but for kits made of plywood, you’d probably be better suited with actual wood glue.
For shingles, it’s usually best to use a solvent-based contact cement adhesive, as these types of glue will not only prevent the shingles from curling and moving on you while you glue them down, but also makes it much more likely for them to stay in place for generations!
Dry Fit Everything BEFORE You Paint or Glue!
Glue can dry fast and once two pieces of wood are glued together it’s awfully hard to get them apart in one piece!
Likewise, it’s easy to put paint on but can be hard to remove the paint once it’s applied!
Before you glue any pieces together permanently or start painting walls, it’s important to dry fit everything together first.
Using pieces of masking tape to hold it all together can help you know exactly where things go once assembled BEFORE you glue or paint!
Plan Out Your Wiring Before You Glue Anything
Another thing that is much easier to do before you assemble the dollhouse is to think about how you will wire it if you want to have electricity.
Once you have everything dry fitted together, you’ll be able to easily see where the wires need to go and you can plan for things you’ll need to do.
Adding electricity to your dollhouse is completely optional, but if you need to make any customizations for wiring, it can be wise to do this before everything is permanently assembled.
Be Ready to Clamp and Weigh Things Down!
Being able to put weights on things and clamp them together when it is finally time to apply the glue can definitely help make sure everything stays in place.
Big, heavy books make for great weights – you can also use gallon jugs of water. Tape adds extra reinforcement, but sometimes the tape can be hard to apply. You also have to make sure you use a masking tape that won’t accidentally peel off paint from any spots you painted.
Building a dollhouse is a lot of fun – but it’s also a pretty big project! I hope these tips will help you plan and organize when building a dollhouse!
Do you have any tips + tricks to plan your build? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Thank you for the information for assembling a doll house. I’ve got a couple to work on and this has been very helpful.
I’m glass it was helpful for you!
This was so helpful. My first time building and I had the hardest time finding tips on organizing. Thanks for sharing!
This was super helpful.i am getting ready to build the beacon hill dollhouse kit and I have been reading a lot!!!I plan on wallpapering and electrifying my house so that’s a huge job always having to think a few steps ahead…thanks alot for your helpful tips
Glad it was helpful for you!
Thank you for the tips. I am getting ready to make The Beaumont by Greenleaf I bought in the 80s for $225. I have been collecting for over 30 years to fill this house. How do you decide what era you want to make the design? I can’t decide if I want modern day traditional or more in the plantation old days.
I would probably do an eclectic mix of both! That is a huge dollhouse that will likely take some time but you can always have another side project too! (Just be careful like that or you’ll end up like with me with several unfinished WIPs lol)