How to Make A DIY Cardboard Dollhouse with Lights!
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How to Make A DIY Cardboard Dollhouse with Lights!


A DIY Cardboard Dollhouse with Lights!

We’ve been building and decorating a DIY cardboard dollhouse this past week. A few actually.

Mostly Daphne and me, with a few cameo appearances by Maia. It’s been a nice change of pace from all the 2-dimensional creating we often do around here and the kids are loving the finished dollhouses!

We added stained glass windows, as we did last time, as well as a string of lights, so they are extra lovely for low-key playtime in the evening before bed or first thing in the morning.

The girls moved their little figurines in, as well as some horses and unicorns. And made beds out of my silver flats padded with socks.

The little mail boxes you see are from the $1 Spot section of Target and have been used for delivering Valentine’s and notes between dolls.

Make A DIY Cardboard Dollhouse

girl drawing on cardboard box dollhouse

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(Note: I made the basic cardboard house structure ahead of time for Daphne. Maia helped create hers and made all the decisions. She could have easily done the whole thing on her own, and has used the glue gun a fair amount, but wanted to work together.)

1. Make roof

To make the roof, I cut off two of the longer flaps, trimmed them down to the same length as the shorter ones, and glued them to the remaining flaps to make them longer.

Then I took an additional piece of cardboard, cut it to the same length again and scored it down the middle the long way. I then folded it over to make a “V” and held it in place as the peak of the roof. I glued the two roof pieces to it.

This last step isn’t strictly necessary, and we didn’t do it last time, but it makes for a sturdier dollhouse.

2. Create chimney

Finally, I shortened a cardboard tube from a paper towel roll and cut the end at an angle (to match the roof pitch) with scissors, and glued it on as the chimney.


Girl drawing on cardboard dollhouse

3. Draw windows and doors

Once the basic forms of the cardboard houses were complete, the girls each drew on the windows and doors for me to cut out.

Girl drawing on cardboard dollhouse

Daphne, especially, loved this step and really got into drawing on the cardboard box/house. We should probably all provide cardboard boxes for our kids to draw on and paint more often!

Girl drawing on DIY Cardboard Dollhouse

She decorated the chimney…

Drawing windows on DIY Cardboard Dollhouses

…and made many amorphous window shapes in a wide range of sizes (talking about what she was doing the whole time and who the different windows were for).

Drawing with DIY Cardboard Dollhouses

When she was finished adding doors and windows and chimney decorations, she drew our family on the inside of the house!

Cutting windows DIY Cardboard Dollhouses

4. Have an adult cut windows & doors

I cut out the larger of the windows with my handy X-Acto knife and cut the door on three sides so that it would open and shut.

Painting DIY Cardboard Dollhouses

5. Paint the house

The next day, I spread a dollar store vinyl tablecloth on the floor, and set out the cardboard houses along with some paints and brushes. Daphne soon wandered over to paint hers.

I love the red roof!

Painted DIY Cardboard Dollhouses

6. Add stained glass windows!

She also painted the roof on my house. And we turned some of the windows into stained glass windows with contact paper and colored tissue paper pieces left over from the heart crowns.

DIY Cardboard Dollhouses with lights!

7. Add electricity!

I lined the houses up and strung a couple of strings of Christmas lights through them.

Playing with DIY Cardboard Dollhouse with Lights!

8. Time to play!

The girls, along with a friend, immediately populated the little village with dolls and animals.

Then they had a horse and sleigh deliver Valentine’s and messages from door to door. And mailbox to mailbox.


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How to Make A DIY Cardboard Dollhouse with Lights!


  • Reply
    February 3, 2014 at 10:14 am

    They look beautiful with that glow! I love reading about your process, Jean. So inspiring.

  • Reply
    February 3, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I LOVE these homemade doll houses!!!

  • Reply
    February 3, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    I must do this with my 4 year old. She will LOVE it!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    February 3, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Thanks, Rachelle!

  • Reply
    Mel Brammer
    February 3, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    How lovely! We’ve made a small house with a shoe box, and have used boxes as basic cuboid buildings for cars to go around, but I love the idea of a set of houses, and with stained glass windows and lights too. Gorgeous!

  • Reply
    February 3, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    e always had a cardboard box on hand when my girls were young. It was alternately a playhouse, puppet theatre and ice cream truck. Redecorated and adorned whenever it changed “jobs.” So much fun was had with those big boxes!!
    A great book to read is “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis.

  • Reply
    Kim Chance
    February 4, 2014 at 9:29 am

    These are so cute. And I agree about giving kids cardboard boxes. A friend of ours had just moved and she was going to throw out all of her cardboard moving boxes. I asked her for them and just placed a bunch of them in our playroom. My kids had fun with those for months! They didn’t even do much to decorate them but they imagined the boxes were ships, fort, rockets, doll houses, etc. They got played with every single day. Eventually they fell apart but I’m always on the lookout for more boxes for my kids to play and create with.

  • Reply
    Lina @ Keeping Creativity Alive
    February 4, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    These are wonderful! It’s amazing how lighting them up brings new life to them. Great idea!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    February 4, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Thanks, Nancy!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    February 4, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Have fun with it, Tomoko!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    February 4, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Let me know if you try something similar, Mel!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    February 4, 2014 at 9:24 am

    I love that book! And I love that you and your girls turned boxes into playhouses, puppet theatres, and ice cream trucks. How fun!

  • Reply
    February 5, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    I showed these to my three year old son and he is so excited about making one of his own! Especially with lights. A few months made a car out of a diaper box and used round plastic lids from coffee cans for the wheels. He drove it around the living room until the wheels fell off :). The possibilities are endless with boxes that normally get trashed. Love seeing and hearing everyone’s creative ideas.

  • Reply
    February 21, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Since Facebook is notorious for not letting page owners know when I tag them, I thought I would stop by myself and let you know I featured this post and my readers loved it!

  • Reply
    February 24, 2014 at 10:47 am

    great.. I like so much…I would use to play a role in my classroom..thanks.

  • Reply
    Cindy deRosier
    March 10, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I’m the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your awesome dollhouse! You can see it here:

    If you have other kid friendly crafts, we’d love it if you would submit them. If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a wonderful project idea!

  • Reply
    September 10, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    I absolutely love the idea of the lights and chimney. I just made a doll house for my girls and couldn’t figure out how to make a good chimney, so thank you! We made ours a 2 story house. Here’s a link to how we made it:

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