Are your dolls living with outdated décor, mis-matched furniture or even stuck in another century? Then it’s time to give your doll’s house a modern makeover! I’ve recently ‘inherited’ my daughter’s doll’s house, as she’s too grown up to want it in her room anymore. With her permission, I started the renovation work, turning a mis-matched doll’s house with basic wooden furniture into a modern and stylish home for Maileg mouse and friends.
I’ll be sharing my doll’s house makeover, providing lots of ideas, inspiration, design, decorating and DIY tips. You’ll learn how to paint and wallpaper your doll’s house and add skirting boards. Later, I’ll be making and adding furniture – one room at a time – so watch this space and follow me on Instagram for updates.
This post includes some Etsy affiliate links which may result in me earning a small commission from any sales.
The starting point for your modern doll’s house makeover is to decide what style you want your finished doll’s house to be. There are so many different interior design trends, it’s hard to pick just one, but having a clear idea about what you want your doll’s house to look like will really help you make the right choices along the way. So how do you decide?
A good starting point is Pinterest – you could start with searching for doll’s houses and see what you find, pin all the ideas you like and this will start to give you an idea of what styles you like. Have a look at my Doll’s House board if you need a head start.
Another rich source of ideas is interior design magazines and blogs. One of my favourite blogs is ‘A Beautiful Mess‘. They have a really lovely fresh clean aesthetic and the blog will give you ideas for décor, as well as crafts that could be made in miniature to decorate your doll’s house. Check out these cute kids’ room and nursery ideas – lots of amazing room inspiration.
The House Beautiful website is another good starting point for inspiration and they even have a doll’s house section ‘Dollhouse Beautiful’ – the result of giving interior designers a mid-century modern doll’s house to decorate. My favourite is the one by Melissa Warner Rothblum because I love all the soft pink accents and modern furniture. Other design websites include Ideal Home, Houzz and Design\Milk, to name but a few.
Another good source of inspiration is your favourite brands. These could be toy brands, furniture brands or paint brands. All brands will have a colour palette and discovering a colour palette that you love can be a great way of giving your doll’s house a harmonious look. For my inspiration I started with Maileg. For those who haven’t come across this brand yet, they are a Danish company that have created a range of toys where ‘matchboxes can be beds for mice; princesses make perfect teatime companions; and adventures can be found on a friendly forest walk. It is a world where cats and mice are friends’ (About Maileg). We only own a couple of Maileg toys, a ‘Little Sister Ballerina Mouse’ , a Rabbit (My – Rose) and the Sister mouse.
Create a colour palette
The Maileg colour palette is full of muted dusty colours, with dusty pink, mustard, ochre and a soft teal. A good trick is to find a photo with colours you love and upload it to the Adobe Capture app. You can then select the colours you like and make a custom colour palette.
Other brands that I looked to for inspiration included Loaf, as they have a similar colour palette to Maileg, with nice warm muted tones and Nkuku, as they have a natural, handmade aesthetic. I also looked at Farrow and Ball as their paints are always the most lovely colours and you can find inspiration from how they showcase the latest colours, as well as how their customers have used them in their homes.
Be inspired by other miniaturists
If that’s not enough ideas for inspiration, you can also find and follow other doll’s house designers on Instagram or Pinterest. Some of my favourites are @mini_modern_designs and @huizehanneke
Create a mood board
A mood board is a collection of images, typography, materials and colour palettes that help to bring all of your ideas together and define a style for your doll’s house makeover. There are lots of apps and online tools for creating mood boards. My favourite is Canva which can be used through the website or through their app. If you search the templates for ‘mood board’ then you will get lots of templates to use. You can then search websites for images and screenshot your favourites to upload into Canva as photos. Then you can slot the photos into the mood board templates. There is also a tool in Canva which picks up the colours from each photo, so you can use this to create your colour palette on the mood board. Have a look at the mood boards below that I created in Canva. I did one for each room (I haven’t done the kitchen yet!). A word of warning – this will make you want to make-over your real home…
Once you’ve come up with your designs and colour scheme for your doll’s house, you need to source supplies for decorating. I’ve listed my supplies below:
- Paint (matt emulsion for walls and ceiling. Primer and interior wood paint for skirting boards) – sample pots are ideal.
- Wallpaper – I used 12″ x 12″ scrapbook paper from Craftelier. You can either buy individual sheets or a block of paper. You can also use specially designed doll’s house wallpaper which you can either buy ready printed or as a pdf to print at home. Make sure any patterns are small scale.
- Paint brushes and/or roller – I used a 1″ paintbrush, plus a smaller craft brush for the edges/ corners. You could also use a small roller.
- Skirting board – you can buy special 1/12 scale skirting board from specialist dolls house suppliers or from a model supply shops like 4D Model Shop.
- Glue tape – I used a glue tape pen to attach the wall paper and the skirting boards. You can also use wallpaper paste.
- Mitre block and junior hacksaw for cutting skirting board corners.
Decorating your doll’s house
Painting in miniature is the same as painting a full size room, just scaled down. So make sure your walls are well prepared – remove any old wallpaper and smooth down any old paint by lightly sanding. Wipe the walls and floors with a damp cloth to make sure there is no dust on the surfaces. Paint the ceilings first, then the walls. Cut in around the edges of the room with a small paintbrush, then paint the rest of the walls. You’re likely to have to use two coats of paint to get a nice depth of colour and to cover any previous colours. Use a torch or light to help if it is dark.
I decided to just use wallpaper on the back walls of each room, as these are the most visible walls when you look into a doll’s house. It also meant that I didn’t have to cut paper around any windows or doors. You can use wallpaper paste but I found the glue tape pen was a quick and clean way to attach the wallpaper. Just make sure you measure twice and cut once! Check you’ve cut it to the right size before you stick the glue tape on. Most rooms only needed 1 sheet of paper for the back wall. The attic room is wider and needed 2 sheets. I realised after I had cut the second sheet that I hadn’t matched the patterns – I didn’t have any spare paper so I’ll have to live with it!
Skirting and flooring
Once all the wallpaper is up and painting is finished you can move on to the skirting boards. If they are not already painted, start by lightly sanding the skirting board pieces with a fine sandpaper. Then prepare the skirting board by painting with primer and then a coat of interior wood paint. Measure the wall and cut the skirting to the right length and at the right angle using the mitre block and hacksaw. I used glue tape to stick the skirting to the wall, after I had cut all of the pieces for each room.
For the wood and tile flooring, I used specialist flooring paper from an online dolls house shop, Minimum World (the Dolls House Emporium is another option). I used sticky backed felt for the carpets. There are links below to some Etsy sellers who sell either printable flooring or paper flooring.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my doll’s house makeover and have plenty of ideas for your own project! Follow me on Instagram to see my latest updates. Happy miniature crafting!Claire