Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cardboard Dollhouse

I was about to organize our recycling when I noticed a couple of diaper boxes from afar. "I can do something with them. Maybe a dollhouse?", I thought to myself as I picked up the boxes and arranged them one over the other wondering if this idea of mine was possible. I saved the boxes and searched online for ideas. I was thrilled to see that others had thought of this before me. My search resulted in what seemed like a never ending quest for an almost perfect dollhouse without spending too much money and completing it before Christmas (it was mid-November then).

I've always loved dollhouses. I remember one evening, years ago, walking down Lexington Avenue when I stumbled upon one of the most amazing stores I've ever seen in New York City: a place that only sold dollhouses and miniature furniture and accessories for them. The store was closed and I've never really had a chance to go inside (probably best) but I stared at that place for a long time, amazed at the details and beauty of everything. Of course, the dollhouse that I would build for my girls would be nothing like those victorian, elegant, delicate ones; instead it'd be one perfect for their age, something they can actually play with, something made entirely by hand; something we could share and remember and talk about in the future: "remember that cardboard dollhouse mom made for us?"

I rummaged through drawers and closets, looking for items that I could recycle. I saved egg cartons, toothpaste boxes, empty bins, plastics, medicine cups, bottle caps, scraps of paper, toothpicks and more; a few extra materials from my crafting supplies were also added to the mix.

I glued the boxes together and carved a few windows and a balcony door. My daughter helped paint and glue paper to the exterior of the house. This was probably the best part of the project, having her help and listen to her suggestions (I asked her opinion for almost everything I wanted to incorporate to the house). To this day, she tells everyone that comes to visit that she and her mom made the house and that she painted the purple roof all on her own.  She saids it with so much pride, I can't help smile every time.

Below are photos of the finished house. I would've loved to do more but I had already spent too much time on it and my obsession needed to stop. My scavenger hunts and late night dates with glue and paint were becoming too much (also, my husband was starting to look at me as if I had gone mad). 

I didn't complete it before Christmas; I put it aside two weeks in and didn't get back to it until after the new year. I'd say it took me about a month to complete. I'm happy to say the house has been a success and my heart jumps a little every time I see my girls playing with it. (More photos can be seen here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/barcarola/sets/72157644625913575/).

Walls and Flooring: All paper, glued and Mod Podged.
The Kitchen: my favorite room in the house and the one I am most proud of. I mean, it still amazes me that I was able to pull off the stove-sink-countertop piece. This was made of a jewelry gift box and a tin container (baby shower souvenir) as a sink. The stove tops are felt chair glides and the handles were made of a lollipop stick that I cut and painted black. The oven window has a piece of plastic I added from a toy box.
The garbage dispenser is made of an M&M's container cut in half and I glued a tiny plastic bag in it. The refrigerator is actually an iPhone box painted white. The door was part of the box which was cut and attached with duck tape so that the door could open and close.
Curtains and shelf were also hand made. The curtain pole came from a kebab skewer (removable). 
The Living Room: All handmade furniture using wood, cardboard, paper, felt and a rum bottle cap as side table.
The Balcony: Flowers outside of kitchen window and on the balcony were cut from a a decorative flower stem. Flower pot is a painted medicine cup. Railings or fence consists of four wooden pieces (from Michael's) which I glued together and painted. The balcony was made from leftover cardboard.
The Kid's Bedroom: I love this room. It started out with the bunk beds, made from cardboard, wood, paper and Mod Podge. Pillows were sewn from one of my daughter's old baby onsies and filled with cotton. My eldest daughter helped filled them. She also made the rug (without help, just my instructions) out of cardboard and yarn. Curtains were handmade. ABC magazine cutout was Mod Podged to the wall. The ceiling lamp was made out of a metal tea light cup, ribbon and a piece of a kid's party necklace.
The Main Bedroom: The bed was the first piece of furniture I created, using cardboard and paper (also Mod Podged). The lamp was made using a lollipop stick, foam and a medicine cup covered in lace ribbon. The side table was borrowed from a pizza box and the wall mirror was a red Christmas ornament that I painted over with acrylic. 
The chandelier was made using a couple of old earrings I no longer used, over a gold colored paper clip (which was disguised with Christmas tinsel) and hung with string.
I had purchased the white picture frame a while ago at Michael's and used it to frame a small "art" piece I made for the room with my girl's watercolors.
The Bathroom: Tub made out of a cookie dough container; the faucet came from a juice box straw that I covered with metallic paint. Sink is a metal tea light container over a toothpaste box painted white. As for the wall mirror, I removed a mirror of a makeup kit I no longer used and covered it with foam to prevent little fingers from getting hurt. 
The toilet, yes, I struggled with this and at the end decided to borrow the one from my kid's Fisher Price dollhouse. 
Rooftop/Sitting Room/Do-whatever-you-want-area: My daughter also made the rug while I made the chair out of wooden sticks and four pieces of a wooden puzzle that I borrowed from her (don't think she minds).

This was definitely a fun and memorable project. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Week 16: Checking Easter baskets.
"Portraits of my children once a week, every week, in 2014".

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Week 14: A morning at the park.
"Portraits of my children once a week, every week, in 2014".

Monday, April 7, 2014

Farewell Winter!

I don’t remember the last time I saw my girls run with such excitement and freedom as they did one afternoon, a few days ago. It was the first time this year that we were able to play outside. This winter has been long and cruel and, even if you have a sizable indoor space, nothing compares to fresh air, to running with arms wide open and letting your body fall on the grass, feel the coldness of a ground that, just as you, longed for the sun’s warmth. They chased bubbles; smudged their hands and faces with chalk; played their version of hopscotch; said hello to the girl next door; picked up leaves left behind by the cold. They were happy. Meanwhile, I let go of my wintry shell and left my heart open to the possibility of falling in love with this city all over again.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Week 13: Playing with bubbles.
"Portraits of my children once a week, every week, in 2014".