Renovating my Childhood Doll’s House

Revamping a 23 year old Dollshouse for my two year old

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I knew that with my little lady turning 2 this year, I didn’t want to do the big birthday party like last year. So I was determined to make sure at least one of her gifts from me was sentimental and something she’d never forget.

If this lockdown period has given me anything, it would be perspective and the ability to stop and actually be present. I often get in to the annoying habit of trying to capture moments from the day on my phone and look back on them fondly in bed whilst everyone sleeps. So, it’s been nice to have frequent social media breaks and slow down. Whilst doing just that, I decided to blow two decades worth of dust off my old dollhouse in preparation to pass it down to my daughter. Needless to say, I was very excited to start!

When I got the dollhouse down from my Mum’s loft, I was instantly rushed with emotion and nostalgia. All my oldest and closest friends remember the dollhouse! My mum had made it for me around my 3rd birthday, and it was honestly all I played with for about 5 years. My hamsters would run through it, and the wallpaper was completely ripped in some places. It was well loved, but not well looked after. This was a key fact to remember as I browsed Pinterest most nights looking for dollhouse inspo. A lot of the modern dollhouses looked so lovely and contemporary, but did not look at all child-friendly. In fact, I was surprised just how many people seem to collect antique dollhouse furniture and build brand new ones just for display. But with my ridiculously talented Mother by my side anything was possible, as long as it was within budget!

I opted for a modern/light interior design and feel, but struggled to find suitable furniture to match. Everything felt really grown up, and more like a dollhouse for me rather than my soon-to-be two year old. So I decided to merge styles – modern chic meets Sylvanian families.

We completely took the dollhouse apart to paint the floors, stick new wallpaper, which we re-sized and printed, add skirting board and give the exterior a hefty a lick of paint. Look how little the paint tins we actually used were!

We searched eBay and Facebook Marketplace for bargains. I ended up buying most of the furniture second hand as a bundle for £25, which is actually a massive win when you look at the wholesale prices of these Sylvanian sets. When I first mapped out how much I’d spend hypothetically, it looked as though it would end up being well over £150 if we bought everything new. Needless to say, I spent more hours than I’d like to admit looking for people simply wanting to part with their loved toys rather than make a fortune. In the process, I met a fellow Mama whose family were moving house and were getting rid of things they’d had for years and years. She said: “it makes sense to part with them now as my daughter is 18!”

It took about 3 weeks of constant, phone calls, WhatsApp messages and FaceTimes between my mum and I. We initially tried our best to match the décor with the furniture, but ultimately we realised that it didn’t really matter. The furniture matching the wallpaper was never going to be a deal breaker for a two year old. In fact, it’s been hilarious to watch what she holds as important after just a week of playing with the dollhouse. They include:

·      The teeny tiny fruit in the fridge. They are carefully laid on the dining table for the Squirrel family to eat.

·      The runner on the stairs. I think the feel of the carpet is a hit. (Good shout mum!)

·      The baby bunny in the stroller has to roll from the kitchen to the living with the greatest of speed.

Truthfully, they’ve been so many highlights to playtime with this dollhouse. And although a lot of time and effort went into bringing it back to life, I have made the conscious effort to not be so precious with it. Things will break, rip, get drawn on and I have to learn to be ok with it. But thankfully, my mum provided us with a quick-fix-dollhouse tool box!

So to summarise, the renovated dollhouse is a complete hit! Baby girl plays really nicely with it so far and it still stands after a week. It was a very happy birthday indeed 🙂

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