DIY Dollhouse Makeover: A simple upcycled project for my daughter’s 7th Birthday

As children get older, it can be harder to find engaging gifts for special occasions. At the age of 7, my daughter is not particularly interested in having lots of toys however she does still love small world play. That’s why I decided to undertake this DIY dollhouse makeover: it was  a great way to improve a resource that we already had at home and breathe new life into a dollhouse that looked a little babyish.


the diy dollhouse makeover was a present for my daughter's 7th birthday, in this photo, she is receiving it for the first time


The decision to complete this DIY dollhouse makeover all started when  my children received their first Maileg mice from my parents. The beautiful heirloom quality toys didn’t quite look right in the dollhouse. My original thought was to simply buy new, however I also didn’t like the thought of wasting what we had. That’s why the DIY dollhouse makeover started!

Before you start thinking of me as a parent who only cares about aesthetics, I also want to stress that, the dollhouse had been neglected for quite some time and I was constantly looking for new ways for my daughter to play with it. My daughter originally received the dollhouse when she was 2, so it was definitely due an update!

In this DIY dollhouse makeover blog post, I am simply going out share the process that I undertook. I am not a DIY expert and I definitely made some errors along the way.

a 2 year old girl in a pink tutu inspects the dollhouse she received for her birthday

How I approached this DIY Dollhouse Makeover:

Because I wanted to collect some Maileg furniture for the dollhouse, I decided to start collecting the pieces early. My daughter’s birthday is in December so I started to buy pieces in September. Each month, I would buy a new item to put into the dollhouse.

I assessed the quality of the furniture we already had. The original pieces were all from Le Toy Van, but many of the items had got broken or had missing pieces over the years. The furniture I could keep was repainted in less garish colours.

I searched for dollhouse furniture, wallpaper and accessories online, however due to my location I didn’t want to risk waiting months for items to arrive. Instead, I went to local craft stores to sources items that might be suitable for painting and wallpapering the dollhouse.


the photo shows the distinction between the old dollhouse wallpaper and the process of upcycling

DIY Dollhouse Makeover Process


  • Acrylic paint specifically for wooden surfaces
  • Base coat specifically for wooden surfaces
  • Craft glue
  • Paintbrushes
  • Craft scissors
  • Craft paper from Paper Poetry
  • Upcycled dollhouse furniture – all originally from le toy van
  • New dollhouse furnishings form Maileg
  • Sandpaper

These are the steps I undertook to upcycle my daughter’s dollhouse.

  1. Assessed the quality of the furniture we already had to see what could be kept and upcycled so that I could budget for what I needed to buy new. To upcycle the old furniture, I cleaned it with dish soap and warm water, then sanded it down before painting.
  2. Removed all furniture, then cleaned the walls (I used dish soap and warm water)
  3. Once dry, I applied a base coat to the walls – I repeated this process twice
  4. I used craft paper from a company called ‘Paper Poetry’ for the wallpaper that was placed on the back and side walls as I couldn’t find dollhouse wallpaper in my location
  5. I painted the ‘door’ wall and attic with a cream coloured paint – I repeated this process twice
  6. Once I was happy with the interiors, I started to add mirrors and other furnishings to make the dollhouse more homely.

the finished DIY dollhouse makeover with Maileg furniture and upcycled pieces

Budgeting for the dollhouse:

Here’s all of the costs you need to take into consideration before undertaking the project yourself.

  • Cost of new furniture
  • Cost of any decorations / accessories
  • Cost of paints
  • Cost of DIY materials such as sandpaper, base coat, paint, brushes, wallpaper

Etsy would be a great place to start with finding dollhouse furniture and accessories that suit your budget. Alternatively, if you’re ‘handy’, try looking for tutorials online on how to make items like bedding, clothes and upholstery.

Mistakes I made with the DIY Dollhouse Makeover:

This was my first time undertaking a project like this and whilst I am overall pleased with the results, this is what I would do differently if I did a DIY dollhouse makeover again

  • Whilst I started this project 3 months before my daughter’s birthday, I didn’t initially realise how long it would take me to paint and put together, therefore by the end I was rushing.
  • In hindsight, I should’ve taken the dollhouse apart to make for a cleaner finish. This would’ve also made it much easier to wallpaper the house.
  • I decided to do this project over a series of evenings (in an attempt to hide the project from my daughter) but in hindsight, it would have been better as a weekend project to make the process less disjointed.
  • Thinking this would be cheaper than buying new – it was in fact, a pretty costly process all in, however we have ended up with a unique dollhouse and one that was made with love!

Seasonal Variations on the DIY Dollhouse Makeover

To keep the dollhouse interesting, we’ve started to decorate it for each season our family celebrates. So far, we have done a Christmas, birthday and Halloween theme.


Birthday Theme Ideas

  • party hats
  • miniature cakes
  • party clothes for the dolls/ mice
  • bunting
  • presents (small boxes wrapped with birthday wrapping paper)

Maileg mice is party hats sit down for a birthday tea

Halloween Theme Ideas

  • fake cobwebs
  • spider/ ghost decorations
  • simple Halloween outfits for the dolls / mice – e.g. a white sheet
  • mini pumpkins

You can read all about our recent Halloween themed DIY dollhouse makeover here. 

a Maileg mouse dressed in a ghost costume sits in a bath that has been filled with cobweb fabric

Christmas Theme Ideas:

  •  mini Christmas tree / wreaths
  • Christmas themed bunting
  • Christmas outfits
  • small fairy lights

Learn how to create an engaging home environment with Play SPACE 101

If you enjoyed this post about our DIY dollhouse makeover, why not check out our mini course all about creating an engaging home environment? It’s available to members of my Substack page, How I drink my Coffee Hot.

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After all, in the early years of your child’s life, this is where you probably spend the majority of your days!

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You’ll learn:

  • The importance of space – beyond what looks good on Instagram!
  • How to locate, declutter and organise your space
  • How to create a space that encourages independent play
  • How to present toys so that they actually get played with

Toy & Present Inspiration

If you’re looking for more ideas on what to buy your children and why, take a look at our exclusive  Toys 101 Masterclass 



Blog Posts to Read Next

This DIY dollhouse makeover could make a great Christmas present for your children. If you’re looking for more ideas, try the following blog posts.

10 ‘Must-Have’ Open-Ended Toys to have in the play space 

10 IKEA playroom favourites 

Winter Mud Kitchen: 20 simple ideas 

How to Make Hot Chocolate Playdough

How to Make Cranberry Playdough

Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.