A few years ago I stumbled upon this blog post on Dinosaurs and Robots. Now that I have a daughter, I was reminded of this post and decided take up the project and build it for her as a christmas present. Being a fan of instructables.com I decide I would document the project here too, but this is my first instructable so bear with me!

Because the original drawing was published in the American Sunset Magazine (December, 1961) all the measurements are imperial. I live in Germany so I first had to convert all measurements from imperial to metric. While doing so, I also had to take the standard measurements of wooden parts that are sold here in Europe, into account. I made new drawings based on these metric measurements, but you can of course still build one using imperial measured parts. The fact that I had to convert everything made me to build the whole house in my head in advance. This was actually pretty useful, because I didn't have any major problems or surprises while building it. According to the old plans:

The house takes dolls of a common size, ¾ inch to one foot in scale.

Which means a scale of 1:16. In my version the ground floor has a hight of 150 millimeter which would be 2,4 meter in real life. Pretty good I would say. For 1:12 scale interior or dolls the house might a bit too small.

Cool thing is the fact that the two roof parts can be folded out creating a lot of room to play in and around the house. Afterwards you just put all the toys back in the house, flip up the roof parts and pick the whole thing up to put it a side.

I drew out everything on the computer in 1:1 scale for easy measurement. Using the few dimensions that were given on the initial plan I worked out detailed plans for the two different A-frames (two on the outside, one in the middle), the roof, the walls, the ground and first floor. The whole dollhouse will be made up of just a few parts:

  • Plywood: 5 mm and 6 mm thick
  • Slants: 15×5 mm and 20×5 mm in different lengths
  • Dowel: Ø 5 mm and 180 mm in length
  • Piano hinges: two pieces of at least 600 mm (I used a brass one with a width of 32 mm)
  • Scraps of the dowel and plywood can be used for the stairs

Apart from that you are going to need some tools and other material:

  • hand saw (a japanese sawdozuki or ryoba– works wonders too!)
  • jigsaw (or laser cutter)
  • drill and small drill bit for wood
  • some small nuts and bults for the hinges (I used brass M3×10 mm countersunk bolts with matching nuts and washers)
  • wood glue
  • carpenter's square, ruler and a pencil
  • maybe some paint or varnish

Luckily I have a FabLab in my neighbourhood (Die Dingfabrik in Cologne, Germany) where I could have the walls and all the plywood parts cut out and even decorated with a laser cutter. Sadly, by the time I wanted to do so, the laser cutter was out of order so I had to do them by hand: I used my japanese saw and scrap piece of wood as guides. Worked like a charm!

Step 1: The New Plans

I cannot tell you to go out and buy 5 pieces of this, 2 pieces of that and 10 pieces of that, because of all the different ways the wood is sold. I have made a list of all the pieces I needed and you can figure out yourself how much you will actually need to buy.


  • 15×5 mm in different lengths; 167 mm (2 pcs.), 267 mm, and 283 mm (4 pcs.)
  • 20×5 mm in 439 mm length (4 pcs.)
  • 5 mm plywood gusset


  • 20×5 mm in 439 mm length (4 pcs.)
  • 5 mm plywood gusset
  • 5 mm plywood wall (No. 1)

III — GUSSETS (5 mm plywood)

  • 140×144 mm (3 pcs.)


  • Ø 5 mm and 180 mm in length

V — WALLS (5 mm plywood)

  1. 405×150 mm
  2. 325×150 mm
  3. 244×150 mm
  4. 155×150 mm

VI — LOFT FLOOR and BOTTOM (6 mm plywood)

  • 252×375 mm (Loft Floor)
  • 405×910 mm (Bottom)

VII — ROOF (6 mm plywood)

  • 456×810 mm (2 pcs.)


  • Piano hinges of at least 600 mm in length (2 pcs.)
  • Proper nuts and bolts for the hinges (20 pcs. of countersunk M3×10 brass bolts with nuts and washers)

Below you will find the PDF documents of all the necessary parts and some drawings to see how everything should been put together. You can use these drawings and print them out (do not scale them) to use them as guides.

Gorgeous! I am going to try to find someone to hire and build fo me! Beautiful project, excellent results! Thank you for sharing.
<p>You have done a fine job with your first instructable. It is a very appealing retro project brought up to modern day use. Sorry for our imperial system. When I was in construction I worked for a european company a couple times and used metric. It was a lot simpler, but forgot it as soon as things became imperial again. As you said you would do things different again, I can see additional features such as the inside of the roof panels decorated with landscaping, or redesigned to fold completely under the house. Anyway, good job. </p>
<p>Thanks! And yes, there is a lot of room for improvements. Initially I wanted to paint the rooms too. Create little tiles for the walls and floor in the kitchen, make rugs and furniture, but in the end I liked the bare look more. </p>
<p>Thank you! Inittially I thought about turning the inside of the roofs into a garden with a pond, a tiled terrace and so on, but I liked the whole simple and natural wood-look so I kept it that way :) Ofcourse you can go crazy with the interior. Make little tiles, carpets or just paint them on! The sky is the limit, haha!</p>
<p>Great job! Forget childhood--I want to play with that dollhouse RIGHT NOW! :)</p>
<p>Hahaha, that was how Christmas-Eve looked like :) Mom and dad were bussy playing with the house while our daughter had more interest in the wrapping paper it came in. </p>
<p>a great way for the younglings to play together on opposite sides of the house.</p>
<p>I will find out in a few years, if you know what I mean, haha!</p>
<p>I think this is a great idea. Especially for tose of us that arent the best 'builders&quot;.</p>
<p>There were some tricky parts, but that might also be perfectionism in action ;) Thank you!</p>
<p>I adore this. Thanks for sharing!</p>
<p>Thank you and no problem :) It was fun to build!</p>
<p>Beautifully built, excellently documented, not plastic, and not &quot;made in China&quot;. There is hope for humanity yet!</p><p> I made a plywood dollhouse a few years ago ( I am a bit annoyed I never thought of the possibility of opening sides....). The kids have used it since, for their rag dolls, Pet Shop dolls, and now Monster-High dolls. It&acute;s not the kids that make the bad choices, but the adults.</p>
<p>Thanks! There sure is hope :) And I also think this dollhouse will last much longer than any other store-bought one!</p>
<p>looks really cool</p>
So cool! Your daughter is a lucky lady :)
<p>Haha, she is, but so are we :D</p>
that is very cool. retro and vintage styles are on fire now. you nailed it quite nicely for your daughter. grand details and smooth edges - nice work.
<p>Thank you :) </p>
<p>Ooo the house turned out so pretty, and it's awesome that you could revitalize a vintage toy design. I bet your daughter will love it for quite some time! Welcome to instructables!</p>
<p>Thank you! It is all pretty new to me :)</p>
I love the nontraditional style of this doll house. I have a little girl coming soon and she will eventually need a great looking doll house such as this. Thanks for the ible
<p>Thanks! It is exactly that nontraditional style that made it interesting for me too :) Don't forget to show off your dollhouse here on this site!</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: Dutchman in Cologne.
More by flim:Fixing a Dual 505 turntable (start mechanism) Floorbed with a Bookcase (and a secret compartment) Vintage A-Frame Dollhouse (collapsable) 
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