American Girl Projects: Dollhouse (PART1)

While we were working on the American Girl Pets Playset project that I wrote about earlier, it became obvious that we had an American Girl stuff problem. That is, we already had a lot of American Girl stuff that had been mine that I'd handed down to the girls, that up until now we'd been storing here, there, and everywhere (mostly in the girls' closets and under the pool table in the basement.) Whenever the girls wanted to play dolls I had to lug up a bin of stuff and we ended up will doll things strewn throughout the living room.

"You made this tiny living room in the living room for us, right?"

"You made this tiny living room in the living room for us, right?"

Bunkbed ladder, or horse stable? Doesn't make getting into bed harder at all.

Bunkbed ladder, or horse stable? Doesn't make getting into bed harder at all.

We eventually found these "Scenes and Settings" books used on Craigslist... which actually only made the problem worse.

We eventually found these "Scenes and Settings" books used on Craigslist... which actually only made the problem worse.

Not only was it messy, but I noticed that pieces were starting to go missing, getting stepped on and broken, and being nibbled on by the pets. The final straw was that our dog nibbled on the doll's copy of Robin Hood... I looked online at the cost to replace it and saw that it was a whipping $12 to replace! With an influx of new, pretty expensive American Girl toys coming this Christmas, it didn't seem like a good idea to continue with this system.

First, we tried a shelf under my older daughter's loft bed.... 

But having all the shared doll toys in one girl's room was a recipe for sibling strife (I should have probably anticipated that.)

So, we moved the shelf out into an empty central area of our house.... 

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An improvement on the sharing scale, but a big step backward on the "tripping over and stepping on and breaking small things" scale. And it didn't really solve the problem of keeping the pets out... 

"Still here for me, right?"

"Still here for me, right?"

So, while I was cardboard prototyping the Pets Playset, I convinced my husband to put together a quick dollhouse. At first he balked at my proposed dimensions and I had to show him that I'd measured it to the scale of the furniture that we actually have for the toys and that, essentially, they're already taking up this amount of space in bins and closets. I finally sold him on the financial aspect of it as a way of protecting the expensive toys so they'll stay nice and so that when the girls out grow them we can sell them and recoup some of our money. (Hopefully the bakery will still be selling for $3,000 in a few years! lol). 

The design consists of three cabinets that, when folded up, make an enclosed dollhouse safe from domestic predators. My husband did shave off a few inches here and there, namely off the bottom which I'd originally designed to be 10" off the ground, so that I could store stuff under there in shoe boxes: he didn't see the value in that. Ah well. 

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It's coming along great so far! We did the major construction this week while the weather was still warm. We might not get to do the finishing (painting, wall papering, etc.) until after the holidays because our Santa project takes priority, but that's OK because it'll give us something fun to work on together with the girls' through the boring part of the winter while we're all trapped indoors!

"Still for me, right?"

"Still for me, right?"

The cats went room by room, and are pretty certain that this is the purrfect cat house. Hopefully once the front cases are done the closed up dollhouse will be able to keep them out because they are guilty of nibbling on the wicker furniture and shredding doll ribbons. 

My husband was frustrated by the lack of directions available online for building a dollhouse--- lots of examples of AG dollhouses (thank you, pinterest!), but not many explanations of how they were built. I'll ask him to write up a tutorial when we're done in case you're interested in making your own giant dollhouse shaped storage cabinet! :-) Stay tuned!