Need a cool gift idea? Build an American Girl Dollhouse. It is easy and addictive and can be done for under $200!
We can all recall a time in our lives that we were inspired and given the courage by someone to go for the hard thing. For me it was Ana White and the thing was a massive dollhouse for my daughter for her 10th birthday.
My daughter’s birthday was just a week away. Her love for American Girl was strong and I thought it would be such a treat for her to have a dollhouse, too! I didn’t find anything I liked on the American Girl website and not to mention the cost of it all is insane to me. $1,400!! Did you fall over??
I have seen a few dollhouses like this online, but I wasn’t about to spend the $1400 they were demanding on Etsy and I didn’t want a cheap plastic dollhouse that could break if well loved and played with, so I decided I absolutely needed to build my own.
If you don’t know who Ana White is, you need to check her out! I stumbled upon her a few years ago and was so inspired by how easy and budget-friendly she made furnishing her home. She wrote a book called The Handbuilt Home and I immediately had to have it!
I downloaded it to read in digital form because I am too impatient to wait (thank you Amazon) and was so inspired to think that I could actually do these things, too!
Tools you will need for this project:
- Tape measure
- Speed square
- Safety glasses
- Ear protection
- Kreg Pocket Hole Jig
- Circular Saw
- Jig saw
- Brad Nailer (a hammer and nails would work, too)
- Hand Sander (sanding by hand would take a REALLY long time)
If you are just diving in to the world of DIY, all of these tools will be used over and over again in your household for many different projects so they are worth the investment if this is the first time you will be purchasing them.
I have been crafty and handy my whole life and have made lots of things before, but nothing this in depth. After discovering her book, and realizing she also has a website, I quickly found a tutorial by Ana White for a dollhouse for 18″ dolls. This happens to be the exact size of an American Girl doll.
After reading the plans all the way through, I was confident that I could build this dollhouse and so excited to get started! The only tools that I needed to buy would be a circular saw and a pocket hole jig because I already had everything else.
Unfortunately I wasn’t blogging at the time I built this dollhouse so I don’t have any pictures of the construction, but I sure wish that I did!
Lesson learned: take photos of your projects for your own sake. You may want to look back and see how far you have come and, as I have found, you just might want to show somebody some day!
When you find plans that you want to use, don’t be afraid to alter them to fit your needs. I altered her dollhouse plans a little to make ours only two floors high instead of three. I didn’t want it to be so tall that my daughter needed a step stool to get to the top floor.
It didn’t take me very long to build and it was exciting for both my daughter and me! The plans were so easy to follow and I could see it coming together quickly.
Once constructed, I painted the whole house white except for the floors, the roof and the exterior. I stained the floors and the roof of the house instead of painting them and let my daughter pick out the color for the exterior. It got painted the most beautiful shade of aqua/teal, her favorite color.
I had picked up some paint sticks at the hardware store to cut down and use for shutters. I painted them black and they were so cute!! I added casters to the bottom of our dollhouse as well, which made it easier for us to move around.
Ana also has plans for an “American Girl Dollhouse for small spaces” so you can still have the house but it isn’t as massive.
Doll Furniture? Yes, please!! You can build that, too!!
Isn’t this little dollhouse kitchen just a dream?? You can find plans here for this little adorable kitchen and a lot of other dollhouse furniture for 18″ dolls on her site. You could probably build a dollhouse and the furniture for under $200.
I wish now that I had taken photos and kept all of my receipts so I could share it all with you. I was so proud of this project and my daughter LOVED it!!! But this project did so much more for me. It gave me the confidence to tackle my Craft Room because I realized that I could do it.
If you feel nudged to build something but don’t know where to start, maybe start with some of the smaller doll furniture to “get your feet wet”. What an amazing gift for any little girl or boy!!
I would love to see your dollhouse if you build one! Or any of the hundreds of other projects/plans Ana White has on her site. Once you dive in to her site, you just might find yourself building something for your home instead! Join me on Instagram and tag me @aprilcolleenblog so I can see what exciting, hard thing YOU decide to do! Have a wonderful week!!