Thursday, February 27, 2014

Empty Nest. . . Means Empty Closets :)

Over the last three years, my husband and I have gone from having a full house--nine people--to an empty nest. Big adjustment! Suddenly we have empty rooms and, naturally, empty closets. I am trying not to fill them up with random stuff, but I am enjoying the opportunity to use some of the extra space creatively.

I loved dolls as a child. I had dolls of all shapes and sizes, and my oh-so-talented (and patient) mother sewed beautiful clothes for them, including tiny, detailed, Barbie dresses. (Some of them survived both me and my girls and are now being used by her great, grand-daughters.) I spent hours creating homes, furniture, and accessories for those dolls.

Later, when Delys, Elin and Laurel started playing with dolls, I had the chance to sew and plan and build all over again. When they outgrew the doll-phase, I boxed up their favorite things to keep them for their daughters. Long story short, with the help of my kind and skillful brother-in-law, I recently turned the bottom half of the game closet in our family room into a two-story town house for 18 inch dolls.

We measured and marked a line 24" up from the floor and screwed boards into the walls along that line to act as braces for the "floor boards," which we made from scrap boards cut to fit the space. (You could also use plywood.) We used two boards and joined them together on the bottom with some metal braces and a single, perpendicular board in the middle for added stability.

Support Braces
You can see the water stains on the bottom of the  boards, but once we primed and painted them, the tops looked great.

Below are some pictures of the different "rooms" and their furnishings:
The Living Room
If you read this blog regularly, you will soon discover that I love bargains (code for "I'm cheap"), so almost everything in this doll house was either homemade or bought on clearance. The chairs and all the accessories in the living room were gleaned from bargain bins or at resale shops.

The Fireplace

The fireplace started with the mantle, a small wooden shelf I found in the clearance aisle at Michael's. The other pieces were wood scraps I had at home and cut to size--except the white corner pieces which I bought, pre-painted, from Home Depot. (You don't need fancy tools; I used a hand saw with a miter box to keep the lines straight.) I simply cut the pieces, painted them with inexpensive acrylic paint, and then glued them in place.


I bought the kitchen on sale at Target. I loved the details--doors and drawers that open, knobs, burners, cupboards, burners, facets, etc. The pot on the stove was actually a Christmas tree ornament that I found after Christmas. The mop in the corner is a baster that I grabbed from a clearance bin at the grocery story. You can find little tea sets in all shapes and sizes and price ranges--including at dollar stores.

Dining Area

I found the dining table and chairs on sale at Tuesday Morning, but I have also seen unfinished tables at craft stores, and the last time I was at Salvation Army, I saw someone walk out with a wooden cake stand that would have made an adorable table. The shelf on the wall was another under-a-dollar clearance find that I painted and hung.

Second Floor Bedroom
One of my sweet sisters made the bed years ago for the girls with her scroll saw. I bought most of the other bedroom furniture unfinished at different times at craft stores. White paint and green and peach stenciling on each piece helped bring them all together. The wardrobe had shelves but no hanging rod, so I added one by drilling a small hole part way into each side of the inside of the wardrobe, cutting a wooden dowel to length, and gluing it into place. The rug is a placemat (found at Kohls on clearance, of course). I love the jukebox on the bedside table, an after-season birdhouse that I found for 90% off at Walgreens.

I hung a shoe rack on the door to hold clothes, shoes, and accessories. 

The house is ready. The dolls are excited. Can't wait for the grand-daughters to come!

P.S. . . . .

A friend pointed out that it would be easier to visualize with a doll in it. (Sorry, I should have thought of that.) So here are a few pictures, with a doll, that will hopefully show the scale a bit better:

 In the bedroom. . .

And the kitchen. . .

And the living room. . .

 And while we're at it, the bathroom.  Because floor space is limited in the closet townhouse, you can store additional items on the shelves when they aren't in use, and then pull them out to create additional rooms in the space around the closet. I bought this tub, complete with plastic bubbles, at a thrift store.

 The backyard or the park. I found the trellis at a dollar store and wound it with ivy--also from a dollar store--to create an outdoor backdrop. Like most of the wooden furniture, the bench came, unfinished, from a craft store. I bought the metal birdbath at the end of the season at Hobby Lobby, and the pram is a thrift store find. I think it is actually quite old--a fun treasure.

Another view of the garden.

This is the longest blog ever--sorry :)


  1. Love it! You are so clever! Great bargains and beautiful too!

    1. Thank you, Marcy. It was a lot of fun to put together.

  2. This is unbelievable Marilyn! But I'd really love to see a photo WITH a doll in it, or your hand or something, to help me visualize the space! OH MY how the girls will love to come to Nanna's house. Brilliant! So, what will you do for the grandsons?

    1. Delys said the same thing. I'll take one next week and add it. Funny, I didn't even think of it. I had a plan to convert one of my hall closets into a pirate ship for the boys, but then I realized that I could fit all my Christmas decorations in it including the un-broken-down Christmas tree. (I used to have to drag everything out of the attic or out from under the stairs.) So I have to think of Plan B for the boys

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