My Bookshelf Dollhouse

Submitted by wmaughan on Wed, 04/11/2012 - 22:26

After much deliberation, I decided to make a dollhouse for my daughters Christmas gift. The aesthetics of the bookshelf-style dollhouse appealed to me over the more intricate and fancy designs. I took the literal meaning of the style and incorporated an actual bookshelf/DVD rack into the dollhouse. On the apposing side I built a magnet board for my daughters given that my refrigerator is not magnetic. About the project: I knew my design would end up being heavy so I started by building a basic frame out of construction grade 2x4's. The frame is placed on four casters and is concealed by the baseboard. When on carpet, the casters are not visible and have come in handy. Working upward, the majority of the construction consists of 3/4" cabinet grade plywood which you can find at Home Depot. The "carpet" I chose was an inexpensive bathroom rug that I purchased at Walmart. The scale & thickness of the berber seemed appropriate for the dollhouse and I attached it using carpet glue. For added security I tacked the perimeter with some staples. For the bathroom tiles, I cut some groutable adhesive tiles into squares on the table saw (use a cross cut sled if you have one) and attached them to the bathroom floor. Make sure your surface is free of dust, and a heat gun or a propane heater will accelerate the drying process and create a better bond. Make sure to use unsanded grout for the joints. To make the shingles, I cut a 4'x8' (used about 2/3 of the sheet) piece of 1/4" mahogany veneer into 2.5"x4' strips. The cuts were made perpendicular to the wood grain to give the desired aesthetic. This gave me a robust shingle construction with the look of shake shingles. I then cut about 3/4 of the way through the strips with approximately 1 1/4" separation between each shingle. Attaching the shingles was easy. I didn't want to wait for glue to dry so in addition to some wood glue, I also tacked the row of shingles in place with 3/8" brad nails. When placing the shingles, make sure to start at the bottom and work your way up to the pitch of the roof. This will allow you to overlap the shingles about 3/4" to cover the uncut portion to give it the appearance of individual shingles. You will also want to offset your rows to change the vertical alignment of the shingle spaces. I marked each row with a pencil prior to cutting the final width. You may also consider which side of the shingles you want facing up. I opted for the rough side to give it a more weathered look. With some of the extra shingle material I made hardwood floors for the kitchen.The veneer I purchased was mahogany on one side, and oak on the other which allowed me to alternated sides and give it a unique look. Attach the floor using wood glue and allow 24hrs before sanding. Place weights on the floor to secure it while drying. I applied both a stain (Minwax Golden Oak) and some wipe-op polyurethane for the finish. The storage bins are Ikea boxes that can be easily removed to allow for additional play areas. The piece of sheet metal I used for the magnet board was already cut to the desired size at Home Depot. I attached it using some 3M spray adhesive, then secured it with some poplar strips. I also used the 3M construction adhesive to attach the craft paper/wallpaper. With all of the chaos surrounding Christmas I wasn't able to quite finish it. Here is still what's in progress: - Painted white ladder to loft - Stained mahogany stairs to family room - Kitchen cabinets - Cobblestone chimney - Closet doors

Built from Plan(s)
Estimated Cost
Estimated Time Investment
Week Long Project (20 Hours or More)
Type of Wood
3/4" Plywood, Poplar Trim, Mahogany & Oak Veneer
Finish Used
Stain for shingles & wood floor was Minwax Golden Oak. Wipe-on poly for wood floors. Paint was Behr paint.
Recommended Skill Level



Thu, 04/12/2012 - 08:29

Oh WOW!!! This turned out amazing! So jealous my kids are too old for a bookcase like this! You did a fantastic job!

jeff womack (not verified)

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 15:18

How did you make the railing? It looks great, but wouldn't it be fragile? What did you use for trim and molding throughout the house? Did you use a dremel to work with the small details? This is an amazing looking doll house that my daughter would love. I just may need to do this sometime before Christmas.


Fri, 04/13/2012 - 20:38

Looks like an intricate design, and whoa! All of those little shingles by hand? Good job. I love how you incorporated the bin storage into the bottom.


Mon, 04/16/2012 - 17:32

It gives the appearance of individual shingles, but I actually just cut strips with grooves in them. I have seen several dollhouses with shingles that have fallen off so I wanted to avoid that :)

Milca (not verified)

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 20:32

Super duper good job on it :) Wish I had time to make one like that for my 4 yo. She's so particular, can't let her see the pictures ah ah. Lucky girls! Talented mama!

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