Introduction: American Girl Doll House

About: I am a middle school computer teacher with an EE degree. I do programming to pay for my teaching habit. I am also one of the founders of LVL1 - Louisville's Hackerspace.

Build this one for your daughter for Christmas!

In this instructable, I will show you how to build a fantastic doll house for your American Girl dolls. For those out there who do not know, American Girl dolls are 18" tall dolls that are based upon fictional girl characters in America. They really are nice dolls with beautiful clothes and accessories. Here is the American Girl website: My daughter has several of these dolls and loves them all. But of course, this doll house will work for any doll!

I built this dollhouse during spring break one several years ago. It takes about a day or so to build and another couple of days to paint.

Find a corner of a room suitable for this dollhouse. In my case, I used a corner in my daughter's bedroom. You will need about 4 feet of space in both directions from the corner. You may also want to think about how your child will play with the dollhouse. Is there enough room for her to set up her dolls and play?

Step 1: Go Shopping...

For this dollhouse, you will need...

1 4X8' sheet of plywood. I used the best grade birch plywood I could find. I had the guy at Home Depot use the panel saw to cut it into thirds so I ended up with 3 pieces of plywood 48" X 32" in size. You will use two of these sheets and have one left over for another project. Alternatively, you can buy two 2X4 foot sheets of plywood that are precut at Home Depot. I went with the bigger plywood because the proportions looked better.

2 stair spindles - these are used to hold up the corner of the house. I bought oak ones.

8 corner 'gingerbread' decorations - these are wooden gingerbread decorations. I found these nice brackets in the wood section of Home Depot near the trim wood. See the picture below.

2 or 3 8 foot sections of 1" x 1/2" wood. You will mount these to the walls to set the floor and roof sections on. You may use some other scraps of wood to build the roof, etc.

Some Luanne Plywood or 1/4" plywood to build the roof with. Home depot sells half and quarter sheets that are easier to deal with. Even though I used Luanne Plywood, that may not be the best choice because it splinters easily. I used it because I already had some around.

2 hinges to for the hinged roof panel. Check the hardware isle and be creative!

A bundle of Wooden Shakes. I had some shakes around from another house project. My friend built an identical dollhouse and used cedar shims that he cut to the right size. Again, be creative. The roof could be made any way you want. You could even cover the roof with 'shingles' made of wallpaper.

A box of 1" drywall screws. You can use drywall screws to hold just about anything together. They are fast and easy with a power drill/screwdriver. I use drywall screws anytime I need to fasten wood and it is not load bearing.

Liquid nails. I used liquid nails to glue the roof shingles to the plywood roof structure.

Paint - of course. I used Porter oil based enamel. Same paint as my house trim.

Step 2: Mount the Horizontal Wooden Strips.

Basically, I just screwed the strips into the studs (through the drywall) with drywall screws.  For the most part, you can use drywall screws to build things like this because they do not have to hold any real weight.

Set the plywood boards on top of the wooden strips, and tack into place with some finishing nails.

The first level is about ~30 inches off the floor.  The second level is ~24" above that.  Use your judgement to place the levels where they would look the best and in proportion to the dolls your are using.

Step 3: Add the Spindles and Gingerbread

Attach the spindles to the unsupported corners.  Again, I used drywall screws.  I screwed an L shaped bracket on to the bottom of each spindle so that I could attach it to the floor (right through the carpet) and the first shelf.

I attached the ginger bread things to the spindles with drywall screws.  I did have to shave the inside edge of the gingerbread wood pieces so it would fit together nicely.

Add some molding trim to clean up the plywood edge.

Step 4: Build the Roof

I built the roof by basically building a frame to hold the luann plywood.  I attached scraps of wood to the top shelf and the wall with drywall screws.  Really, there is no magic to this, you just have to use your brain to build a frame and cover it with luann plywood. 

I hinged part of the roof so it could be lifted up for attic storage.  See picture.  I used some hinges I bought at home depot.

For the shingles, I used cedar shakes, that I stained.  Staining the shakes is not necessary.  I used liquid nails and a staple gun to attach the shakes.  It worked pretty well and went up easily.

Step 5: Paint and Decorate

Paint or stain so it looks good.  I used oil based trim paint, because that is what I have.  But I would use something water soluble if I were doing it again.

After the paint is dry, start decorating.  Involve your child in this part.  Go to Michaels or Hobby Lobby.  Lots of good stuff there!

I used a picture frame and made a "window" on one of the walls.

I also mounted some push button battery powered lights

Step 6: Have a Tea Party!

Step back and enjoy your doll house.  Now have a tea party with your daughter!  Mine is now 15 and she still redecorates her dollhouse and dolls from time to time!

Homemade Holidays Contest

Participated in the
Homemade Holidays Contest