A DIY Wooden Dollhouse

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

Project dollhouse is complete! I’ve been looking forward to creating a dollhouse for the girls for a while now and this Christmas felt like the right time to put that in motion. Liv is just the right age to play house, and Taylor wants to do anything that her big sis does :). The problem with most dollhouses that you can purchase pre made is that they are so big. We don’t really have a designated play room and the girls’ room doesn’t have much free space to store something extra large.

A while back I was wandering a Madewell shop and they had these adorable little house displays for some of their accessories. The houses sparked an idea and I knew immediately how I could build something size appropriate for the girls that also might be a pretty manageable task. Project miniature dollhouse was born!

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

These two little houses are extra awesome because the little one can be nestled into the bigger one for storage.

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

Perfect for a small space! The middle floor (shelf) removes from the larger house to stack the houses for tucking away or travel.

What’s also great about a two part design? Liv can play with one and Taylor with the other when they each need their own space (sometimes it can be frustrating for an almost-four-year-old to share with an 18-month-old).

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

The houses themselves aren’t super big, the largest is about 18″ tall by 11″ wide and the smaller is roughly 16″ by 11″.

Rather than worry about creating my own dollhouse furniture, I decided that Santa might help the girls furnish the house a bit by delivering a sweet little bedroom and living room set from Hape (along with a family of dolls). Santa and I are in cahoots this year ;). I’m thinking that we can eventually add a kitchen or nursery (or even a little bathroom!) in the future for Liv’s birthday or another special day.

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

Let’s talk about building these guys for a moment. I wish I could take the credit for these adorable houses but I have to hand it all to my very talented neighbor (the one that built the beautiful built-ins for the girls’ room) who helped me make the cuts and ended up assembling the houses (as a surprise!) as well.

I sought some advice from my neighbor – who is an expert in all things woodworking – on the cuts for the house (from a list of measurements that I had drawn up) and on what kind of wood to use. I was also hoping to steal some time with his miter saw. He recommended 1/2″ birch drawer stock (it is already glossy and sanded making it slightly more expensive but the edges and finish are perfect) and helped to calculate the angles for the pitched roof (which aren’t in my measurements because it was sort of a trial and error process – the top is probably close to over 100 degrees and the point where the walls meet the roof maybe 160).

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

My measurements looked something like this:

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

I started with 11 1/4″ drawer stock boards (because they came in that width without any cuts) that were then cut to length with a table saw. As a bonus, my neighbor also routed the bottom and middle shelves into place, something that I wouldn’t have thought to do had I assembled these guys myself. They’re so clean and pretty! Assembly included wood glue and brad nails (with exception of the removable shelf/floor in the larger house).

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

The backing of the houses is a thin plywood cut to size. To make them a bit prettier, I covered the top of one and bottom of another in wallpaper samples from wallpapering the girls’ room. I attempted wallpapering (following this method) the paper to the plywood but it didn’t want to stick, so I turned to my trusty friend:

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

Then using paint samples from my stash, I painted the opposite ends of the backing. I can’t believe I had all of these supplies on hand, it worked out perfectly.

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

Finished! They’re just as I pictured them and I can’t wait to share them with the girls in a week :).

Handmade Wooden Dollhouse | PepperDesignBlog.com

I had so many wonderful handmade gift ideas this year in the works, some of which have worked themselves out (yay!), many of which haven’t (so goes life but still hate when that happens…), this is the one big project that I’m so happy is complete! I couldn’t be happier with the new dollhouse!

PS the play kitchen (loved this one, too) for Liv two years ago and the set of art boards for her last year for Christmas (though I was still – shhhhh – finishing them up this summer :)).

A (Happily) Simple Olive Branch Wreath

DIY Olive Branch Wreath | PepperDesignBlog.com

This is probably the simplest project in the book but it’s my first go at using a wire wreath form so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

Win for the home team! I was so surprised and happy with how quickly this wreath came together that I might ditch all of the artificial wreaths we have around the house and replace them with live greenery next year. For now, this guy is making our kitchen feel just a bit merrier.

DIY Olive Branch Wreath | PepperDesignBlog.com

I picked up a wire wreath from Joann’s a long while back (they’re only $2-3 each) and had it in my Christmas stash. I think that what made this project so easy is that it wasn’t just a wire form but actually has the wire ‘claws’ built in (here’s a similar one). My understanding is that simpler wire forms require floral wire as well (sort of like this technique but on a more heavy duty scale).

DIY Olive Branch Wreath | PepperDesignBlog.com

Kevin was pruning our olive trees and it was the prime opportunity to collect fresh branches. Moving in the same counter clockwise direction, I just began to wrap. And wrap. And wrap. And wrap.

DIY Olive Branch Wreath | PepperDesignBlog.com

I was going for something a little crazy.

DIY Olive Branch Wreath | PepperDesignBlog.com

Then I stole a few ornaments from the Christmas tree and strung them together on a strand of floral wire. I used wire hooks (the type you use to hang ornaments on the Christmas tree) to position them in a little bouquet at the bottom right of the wreath. It was sort of a trial & error process of wiring, stepping back to hmmm about it a bit, wiring, stepping back.

DIY Olive Branch Wreath | PepperDesignBlog.com

DIY Olive Branch Wreath | PepperDesignBlog.com

DIY Olive Branch Wreath | PepperDesignBlog.com

The old frame for the chalkboard in the kitchen eventually found its demise… I’m working on another one right now but it’s on the back burner this holiday season.

My wreath is making up for the pretty!

DIY Olive Branch Wreath | PepperDesignBlog.com

love when projects work themselves out this way and end up being much easier and quicker than you’re expecting. Our house is pretty much done in the decorating department, I’ll pull together some photos very soon. Happy nine-days-till-Christmas :).

Lavender wreaths, our Christmas cards this year and a bigger look at this kitchen chalkboard/breakfast table nook area.

2014 Holiday Gift Guide: for the Kids

Kid's Gift Guide: Christmas 2014 | PepperDesignBlog.com

musical instruments | pram | dovetail horse & alligatorred cowboy shoes
PBS toys that give back shape sorter | giant lionslope sliders | mini Ergo doll carrier
programming for 5-7 year olds, ScratchJr|  infinite tree | doll house
the Alchemist Matter kit | striped baby pants | knit sweater

Have you finished up your Christmas shopping? I’m almost there. It’s one of those years where you think you’re done and then you realize that you’re still missing gifts for under the tree. The best part about this Christmas? We’re hosting it at our house again so the girls get to wake up Christmas morning to our own cozy living room and we have that many fewer gifts to ship or box up for traveling (let the traditions begin!). Most of our family is coming to visit at some point between the weekend before Christmas and New Years and I’m really excited about it.

A few ideas for babies and kids: I love that PBS is teaming up with Wholefoods to bring a line of toys to their stores that are sustainable and that give back to those in need. This shape sorter (which is great for motor skills, learning shapes and colors, stacking) is one of the toys on shelves this year. I’m surprising Liv with a mini Ergo doll carrier when baby #3 arrives in January – I can’t think of a better mommy & me gift while I tote around the newest little one :). As a website designer, I’m also really excited to introduce Liv to programming for beginners – I’ve been doing some research and I think that ScratchJr is where we’ll start! This is a skill that kid’s need to grow up with. Any little scientists in the house? Check out this kickstarter for the Alchemist Matter kit. I love toys that grow with kids and we have this adorable Mishi Design push toy for the girls (they use it as a baby carriage, shopping cart, ride along…) but I think this pram from Land of Nod is equally adorable. Finally, I have a mini dollhouse for the girls in the works (diying it to sort of collapse in on itself so that it’s super small for their shared room) but I’m using all of the Hape toy furniture – their wooden houses are adorable!

I have one more quick Christmas gift idea to share with you. A friend of mine here in San Diego has an Etsy shop that specializes in dinosaur and shark sweatshirts (she rebuilds the hoodies with spikes and teeth!) and asked me to take a few photos of the girls one afternoon wearing her adorable designs.

Kid's Gift Guide: Christmas 2014 | Dinosaur Sweatshirts | PepperDesignBlog.com

Kid's Gift Guide: Christmas 2014 | Dinosaur Sweatshirts | PepperDesignBlog.com

Kid's Gift Guide: Christmas 2014 | Dinosaur Sweatshirts | PepperDesignBlog.com

The girls were movin’ and groovin’ and it was so difficult to snap crystal clear pics, but they loved those warm sweatshirts! Learn more about them here. I had a pink one made for Liv last year (she loves Dinosaur Train on KPBS) and ordered two more for friends this year.

PS a quick link to the guy’s gift guide and ladies gift guide for this year, and a roundup of all gift guides posted on this site from the last several years! I still love everything shared and it’s great for last-minute perusing. I look for a LOT of my favorite gifts on Amazon and use that as a primary link just in case you’re as addicted to Prime 2-day shipping as I am. Thinking of going handmade? Here are all of those posts for those ideas, too.

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