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Dollhouses

A Designer House for Merritt

When my best friend’s mother-in-law asked me to design a dollhouse for her granddaughter, I had to take a moment and pinch myself. Not only would this be the first dollhouse I created for someone else and for a kid, but I was doing it for someone I had known since my own childhood.

Flashback, like way back, to the first day of kindergarten. Ashley (said best friend) and I bonded over a bucket of crayons placed in the center of our table. From that moment, we were pretty much inseparable and spending as much time together as our parents would allow. We did all kinds of arts and crafts, choreographed dances, and experimented with Jiffy mix in the kitchen. Frequently, we played with Barbie’s and her parents created her the coolest house out of cardboard that stood bigger than us.

Ashley went on to pursue an artist’s life and is making quite the name for herself. She teaches art at an elementary school and in her limited free time, creates amazing collections. As if that wasn’t enough, she also created tiny paintings for me based some of her previous collections and artists she admired. You can check out her latest art collection here and follow her on IG here (which I highly encourage).

Needless to say I couldn’t have been more thrilled to create something for her daughter. And the cherry on top was that we would plan on surprising everyone at the big family vacation. Only grandma and I knew what was in store for everyone.

The Client Profile

Merritt is a fan of pink, sparkles, and all things girly. Her closet is overflowing with princess dresses and she never fails to impress when she steps out of her bedroom, ready to tackle the world. Which is good because when you have a head full of flowing fire engine red curls and porcelain skin, people are sure to take notice of you. She’s not afraid to speak her mind either, so I was a bit nervous that I could not consult with her before hand since it was a surprise. There was a risk that she might not like what I created for her. But I was up for the challenge. Besides, I had grandma giving me inside intel.

The Hunt

I set to work finding the perfect home to refurbish and came across one that fit the bill being sold on Facebook Marketplace. Although it had some years of love on it, it was still in great shape. The house was originally fabricated by Le Toy Van. This version is no longer in production, but they still offer similar ones on their website. Merritt was only three so it had to be durable and I had no doubts this would be.

The interior backgrounds of the house weren’t horrible, but just a bit plain and in need of some sprucing up. So I decked it out with designer finishes, specific dollhouse scale prints, and a big dose of whimsy. 

The exterior was wonderful as it was, so I didn’t bother to alter anything. I simply added Merritt’s birthday across the front door as the house number to give it a personalized touch.

The Result

The Living Room had designer wallpaper on almost every surface – a metallic basket weave grasscloth on the floor, a watery abstract vinyl on the feature wall, and another vinyl with a tiny pink print became a rug to tie it all together. The furniture was purchased from Amazon, of course, and you can find it here.

In the Kitchen, I simply had to use a super fun scrapbook paper that had donuts with bright icing colors on it. I didn’t want it to be too over-powering for the room, so it was only used above a white wood wainscoting. The table was a cake stand in it’s past life and the stools were repurposed from the plastic spacers that come in pizza boxes. Vinyl pink cushions made from more wallpaper gave it a finishing touch. Above the sink hung artwork by Ashley and that was specifically created in Merritt’s goat-likeness.

The stairs that lead to the second floor were missing, but I had a pair in my building stash I could repurpose. I fitted them in white washed oak treads and stringer. But it was the risers that were the star of the show with real mother of pearl tiles on them. Oh how I would love to do this in a real house! I adore the subtle sparkle of the shell and the natural glam vibe it brings to the space. Definitely a stairway to heaven! 

The Master Bedroom has a plush carpet specifically made for dollhouses in the perfect shade of aqua. I never get to use aqua carpet in a real house so it was a treat to use it here. The pink heart wallpaper was scrapbook paper and really made the space feel cozy. The bed was jazzed up by raising the height slightly with wooden blocks, adding a fringe bed skirt, and layered with bedding in designer fabrics. A photo taken from the family’s recent New Year’s card was the finishing touch. 

In the Bathroom, the walls feature dollhouse scale tile printed wallpaper and vinyl tile with tiny hexagons was used on the floor. The ceiling also has a designer wallpaper treatment to add an unexpected pop and to also tie in the aqua tone from the rest of the rooms. Merritt is an avid dancer so artwork of a ballerina only seemed fitting. 

One of the biggest wow-moments comes from lifting the roof and revealing the designer butterfly wallpaper in the kid’s attic bedroom. The wings of the butterflies incorporate all the shades used throughout the house and the silver metallic background works perfectly with the chunky metallic wallpaper on the sides. The room is prepped for play, but also calming enough for afternoon naps. 

It was furnished with just enough to entice hours of play, but also allowed lots of room to grow, add, and to truly make it her own.

It was so hard to keep this project a secret for months, but the reaction at the Grand Reveal was so worth it. Merritt’s squeals of delight said it all. Watching her light up over her first dollhouse is a moment I will always treasure. Her joy was contagious and we all had huge smiles on our faces.

Making this for my best friend’s daughter definitely got me choked up and it all ended the way it started – with me pinching myself. 

Little Miss Merritt with Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Living Room

  • Wallpaper: Villa Nova by Romo
  • Flooring: Phillip Jeffries
  • Rug: Phillip Jeffries
  • Furniture: Giraffe
  • Art: Leftbank

Kitchen

  • Wallpaper: wood paneling and donut scrapbook paper
  • Flooring: Houseworks
  • Furniture: Giraffe
  • Art: by Ashley Cassens

Master Bedroom

  • Wallpaper: Pitty Pat Miniatures, Inc.
  • Flooring: from friend’s stash
  • Furniture: Giraffe
  • Mattress and Pillows: Casamance
  • Blanket: Cassaro

Bathroom

  • Wallpaper: Itsy Bitsy Mini
  • Flooring: from friend’s stash
  • Fixtures: Giraffe
  • Art: Leftbank

Kid’s Room

  • Butterfly Wallpaper: Designer’s Guild
  • Metallic Wallpaper: York
  • Flooring: Houseworks
  • Mattress: Casamance
  • Furniture: Giraffe

Miscellaneous

  • Curtains made from lace trim and pom-pom fringe
  • Everything else from personal collection
  • Foxy Family from Li’l Woodzeez

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