Introduction: Trinket Cottage From Matchboxes

This tiny and inexpensive house looks great, is quick and fun to create, highly customizable, and the best part is that it's not just for decoration, you can also keep small earrings, note paper, clips and so much more!

I've wanted to make an instructable of this for a very long time (I'm a big fan of miniatures, toys, vintage stuff) and I'm quite happy with the result.


You will need:

  • Two, three or more empty matchboxes (I used three)
  • A small piece of printing paper (doesn't matter if it has something printed, scribbled on
  • Small pieces of thin cardboard. The kind you find in cereal, gelatin, or teabag boxes at grocery stores
  • Sand paper
  • Ruler
  • Scissors and X-acto knife
  • Glue and masking tape

Not shown in picture but was also needed: about 6 inches or less of wire and jewelry plier in order to shape it
a thumbtack pencil


  • For decorating your finished cottage, you have multiple options. You can either add details with a sharpie or a small paint brush and some ink or any paint that will work on the materials for something more simple, or you can create a collage on it instead, using magazines, flyers, books or catalogues that would otherwise be thrown away. I used acrylic paint, and a bit of lace for the curtains. And of course, depending on what you decide to use, I needed for example two paint brushes, a paint palette, and a bit of water, because acrylic is very thick and I prefer to work in layers. So you could also use some paint and add fabric details at the end, or beads, aquarium plants, etc
  • Varnish

Step 1: Prepare the Boxes

Remove the inner boxes from each matchbox, set the inner ones aside and focus on the outer ones.

Do they have piece of cardboard or wood sticking out a bit like mine on the left? You can use your X-acto knife to cut that out, and if there are little splinters on the edges, I recommend you sand them.

Now you can peel the labels if it's easy, and sand a bit too. Because the next step is stacking the outer boxes on top of each other, you want them to be as even and good-looking as possible.

Step 2: Glue Boxes Together

Using a glue that's suitable for cardboard and/or wood projects, add them as seen on the first picture: to the bottom one on the top face, the middle one on the top face as well, and the third one no glue. Now just stack them, make sure they're well aligned (I used normal white glue that we all use in elementary school, and sometimes objects don't stay in place right away when they glue is still wet), hold them or press gently if needed for a minute. Wait for it to be completely dry.

Step 3: Create Handles for the Drawers

We were working on the outer boxes, now it's time to progress on with inner ones!

Using your thumbtack, and careful not to rip the cardboard, punch two holes on what will be the front face of the drawer.

Then, divide in three the wire piece, fold them in a U shape, and insert them through the holes you just made on the inner boxes. Bend them so they don't come out when you're pulling the wire handle, I first bent them outward, and then a little bit down for safety purposes.

Step 4: (Optional) Cover the Top, Bottom and Sides of the Cottage With Paper

Once the stacked outer boxes are dry, you can glue paper to it if you want. It's not absolutely necessary, I just thought it would look better or be easier to paint -even though I wasn't sure which way to paint the house-.

So I measured using my random white paper, I needed a 15x5.1 cm rectangle, and just glued carefully as I covered what's seen on the second picture. So the spaces where the boxes will go are free both on the front and back sides, and the rest is covered in paper.

Step 5: Cut Two Triangles for the Attic

Now you will need the cardboard, and with the help of your ruler and pencil, draw a small triangle. The measurements will depend on the length of the front side of the stacked box. For me, it was a 3.5 cm base, and two 2.7 sides. Then, add a 5 mm border, so you can glue it together on Step 6. Once you cut the first triangle, trace it onto the cardboard so you can get the front and back attic done. Another step I recommend -see second photo-, is to gently trace with your X-acto knife the triangle you drew, because you have to fold that part and since it's so tiny, it doesn't look well if you just fold it and skip this step. Be careful so you don't cut through the cardboard, it's just a guide to fold more easily.

Step 6: Fold, Assemble, and Glue Triangles in Place

Fold the triangles as you see on the first photo, glue the flaps on each side where the corners meet using glue, if this is not enough to keep them in place, use masking tape. I used both to make sure it stays fixed. Then, Use masking tape to place triangles as seen on the second photo, flat sides facing the front and back faces of the soon-to-be-cottage.

Step 7: Secure Position of Triangles Using a Bit of Masking Tape

Since you want the triangles to be standing very straight before you place the roof on top, and you need some masking tape. Measure the side length of the stacked boxes (for me, this is 5 cm), and cut masking tape of that measure. Four stripes will be fine. I glued them to the very edge of each triangle and pressed using my nail.

Step 8: Measure, Cut the Roof and Glue It in Place

The roof is super simple, just fold a triangle of thin cardboard in half. The measure of this triangle will depend on the box. You want a bit of excess (about 2-3 mm) because it looks like an actual cottage this way. So for me, the triangle was 8 x 5.5 cm.

I like a scalloped finish on roofs, so I drew that on the cardboard and trimmed it. Add glue to the two left visible flaps on each side (I recommend using a generous amount of glue in order to prevent the roof coming off. Place the cardboard for the roof on top of the triangles (remember there are extra mm added, you want it to be centered).

Step 9: (Optional) Paint or Line Inside of the Drawers

Use acrylic paint or paper if you want to protect or give a special touch ot the inside of the drawers.

Step 10: Paint the Cottage, Varnish (optional) and It's Ready to Use!

Now that the structure is done, you can add any color, shape, or decoration you want. I started using my big paint brush for the walls and roof, then started adding the small details and textures with the thin one. I also glued some lace to resemble curtains. That's it!

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