Types of Dollhouses

When searching for a dollhouse or dollhouse kit, there are several types to choose from. Before the initial purchase, check the different types of construction and styles available in a miniature shop. Determine how you are going to use the house. Will it be for show? Will it become an heirloom to be passed down from generation to generation? Or will it merely be a playhouse for your child's amusement? Deciding how the house will be used will help in your selection of materials. The better the materials used in construction, results in a better dollhouse to be enjoyed for years to come.

The world of miniatures is no different from the rest of the world. Put simply, you get exactly what you pay for. While top quality dollhouses and kits cost more initially, they tend to be a better value in the long run. Often, you end up spending more in upgrading an inexpensive dollhouse than you do buying a higher quality one at the outset.

The Die-Cut Kit
If you like to be inventive, desire a challenge, and do not mind long hours spent in the construction process, then the die-cut dollhouse is for you. Although it takes many hours to assemble these kits and finish them to your satisfaction, you can achieve beautiful and elegant results.

Because of the lower cost for the complete dollhouse kit, they are popular with many craft stores and miniature shops. These dollhouses are die-cut by machine on sheets of 1/8" plywood. You must punch out and sand each piece. Also, it is a good idea to mark each piece as you punch it out for future reference. A "complete" kit will include all windows, doors, trims, stairways, etc., as well as shingles and clapboard pieces.

The die-cut dollhouse kit comes in a variety of the more popular designs, including Victorian. However, because the plywood is thin and will not always withstand a lot of wear and tear, these houses are better for the individual who will not be moving or playing with the house. These kits make excellent shop and collector pieces.

You can upgrade the quality of these houses by substituting many of the finishing elements, such as the trim, windows, doors, stairways and clapboard. However, this is no easy task. Often, the available upgrade components in the dollhouse market will not match the material used in your die-cut kit. Most of these components are constructed for use with 3/8" plywood, not the 1/8" plywood used in your die-cut kit. Therefore, in order to make these parts work, you need to work a little harder and expend a lot of creativity.

The Shell Kit
The better houses are constructed of 3/8" cabinet-grade plywood. They come in shell kits, which include the exterior and interior walls, floors, roof and base. The component sets for certain styles are also available to finish the house. These sets include doors, windows, stairways, dormers, spindles, railings, hardware, interior and exterior trims, siding and shingles. Several companies offer these separate shell kits and components sets as one complete kit.

The 3/8" plywood dollhouse is more expensive, but it is much sturdier. Since it will endure for a long period of time, these dollhouses are great for children and the collector alike. For the child, furnish the house with playable furniture and upgrade the furniture as the child gets older. They also make excellent heirlooms to pass on from generation to generation.

The Custom Dollhouse
These dollhouses come in a variety of styles with available features for both the beginner and advanced miniaturist. There are custom built dollhouses sold complete with windows, doors, stairways, porches and interior trim. Also, there are several styles available in shell kit form alone, leaving the windows, doors, etc. to your creation. For example, one line of custom dollhouses is made of 3/8" cabinet-grade plywood, with grooves on the exterior to resemble clapboard. Therefore, for these particular dollhouses, you do not need to add the clapboard.

Finished Dollhouses
This type of dollhouse is completely built and finished inside and out. Most are constructed of sturdy 3/8" MDF exterior walls with clapboards milled directly into them. Interior walls are wallpapered, and floors are finished with stained hardwood. Even the shingled roofs are stained. You just take it out of the box and start furnishing and accessorizing with items of your choice!

QuickBuild® Dollhouses
Similar to Finished Dollhouses, QuickBuild® homes have finished interior and exterior walls, and are constructed of sturdy 3/8" MDF. The difference between the two is that QuickBuild® arrives unassembled, but goes together in minutes (easy-to follow step-by-step instructions included). Depending on the dollhouse, roof shingles and hardwood floors are already attached and ready to paint.

After determining which dollhouse is right for you, follow the instructions in the kit to build the shell.

Note: there are a few construction tips which might be helpful in the Miscellaneous Section.

The remainder of this book is an instructional manual for finishing your dollhouse once the shell is built. Follow the Sequence of Steps to Finish a Dollhouse, reading each chapter before you start to do that particular step. Take notes along the way in order to save time and minimize mistakes.

Back    Table of Contents    Forward