American Girl Dollhouse {Ikea hack}

This year for Christmas we surprised our three girls with a giant dollhouse for their 18 inch dolls. I had seen some plans on etsy that you could purchase to build your own, but by the time I had come up with this gift idea I only had about a month to get this done - no time for building from scratch. Then, I came across this idea using the Ikea Besta shelf unit and decided that was simple enough to put together in the short amount of time that I had.  

The bookshelf itself was super easy to assemble. After assembly, I decided to lay it on its side instead of turning it upright because it would allow for wider rooms, and I would be able to make the entire lower level a shared bedroom since we have so many dolls and beds between my three girls. Because I only used one shelf as a room divider on the upper level, I was left with 5 extra shelves. I decided I could use them to pitch a gable up on top to make a little attic space. This also gave me the idea to shingle the roof with these dollhouse shingles. Can you believe it took about 1000 of those tiny little shingles to cover that roof? That part took much longer than I expected, but I was super happy with the results.

In case your are wondering about furnishings, the white bunk bed on the left side of the bedroom is this Badger Basket brand bunk bed with ladder.  The blue bed on the right side is this doll bed from Ikea, which also is wide enough to allow for 2 dolls to lay side by side. The dining table is this set that we purchased from Target a while back.

 The attic space ended up not being tall enough for a standing doll, but it was tall enough to sit a doll down to play this piano my daughter made last year.  She came home from playing at a friend's house with this cute little accessory. She made it out of cardboard and toilet paper rolls. The dolls have had several recitals using this clever little instrument. She even made a doll-sized music book to go with it.

I think I had the most fun designing the bathroom area. Inspired by my daughter's cardboard piano, I spotted a cardboard box in my closet that was just the right size for a vanity. I cut a circle on one side of the box to fit a small toy bowl we had lying around. The faucet is a leftover piece of hardware from a towel bar that we no longer needed. We were able to attach it right into the back of the bookcase using that screw that came with it. The knobs are small drawer pulls that I had pulled off an old dresser and no longer needed. I covered the box with scrapbook paper using mod podge, and put another coat of the glue on top to seal it all together.  I attached the vanity to the floor with some hot glue. I was also able to find a small mirror at Hobby Lobby and attached it to the wall with hot glue. I framed it in with a contrasting color of scrapbook paper to make it stand out. For the bathroom floor, I bought 3 squares of self-adhesive vinyl tile for less than $1 a piece and cut it to fit. I added a little piece of coving with leftover scraps to hide some of the imperfections I made while gluing the paper on the walls.

Before I could attach paper to the walls, I had to rough up all the places where I was going to apply it. This took some extra gritty sandpaper and a lot of muscle to get that shiny laminate dulled down enough to get the paper and flooring to stick to it. For wallpaper, I used 12 x 12 sheets of scrapbook paper in coordinating prints. I used a layer of mod podge to adhere all the paper. Then I sealed it all with another layer of the glue.

In the dining room, I used 3 pieces of hardwood-looking self-adhesive vinyl tile. I really wanted to add windows to the house, but that seemed extremely complicated. I decided for simplicity that instead of cutting out a window, I would use some paper printed with clouds and birds and make a window that way.  On the walls, I used a few pictures cut out from magazines and added a paper frame for decoration.  The flooring in the bedroom on the lower level is from a carpet sample that a local carpet store no longer needed. 

After all those late nights and sneaking off to the basement whenever I got a second, their reactions on Christmas morning made it all worth it. I think it will be put to good use for years to come.

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