I saw this dollhouse by the side of the road on our way home from church and knew it must be ours … I mean Clara’s! It must be Clara’s.
I had a goal of a few hours and $20. It makes me crazy to find a freebie and then spend a bunch of money on it. That defeats the purpose! I ended up spending 5 hours on the house itself and $28 total for supplies. I may or may not have gotten a little lost with time coming up with free DIY Barbie furniture.
But this project was so fun! And I got to show Clara how to be creative with what you have instead of buying more things. She LOVED that part. I think her favorite part was seeing a detergent bottle turn into a bathtub! She couldn’t get over it.
Do you like my tape on the left chair? I got impatient putting the chair pieces together and broke it like a caveman.
Barbie kind of has my dream kitchen with marble and butcher block, but it’s cool. We’re cool.
Here are some before photos. Marcello said, “Are you sure you want this?” as he loaded it into the minivan.
Yeah, she was in rough shape. I wiped it down well to get all the dust and dirt off. I used Goo Gone to get old stickers off. That stuff is magic.
That week I got to work, starting with a plan. I decided my color palette and where the colors would go, as well as the flooring (adhesive film or contact paper).
Then came spray paint! This has become my new favorite spray paint — Rust-oleum primer in flat. I got white for the house and gray for the roof. It sticks to plastic very well. I also successfully used it on a yellowing intercom face in our dining room. Such a cheap fix!
Spray light layers and not too close. It took two cans of white and part of a gray.
This poor quality photo shows the house after two cans of spray paint. When you’re spraying the white, focus on the exterior, edges and walls you want to keep white. That way you won’t waste paint on spaces that will be covered by contact paper or other paint.
As it dries, it produces sort of a dust. Just let it sit as is and cure. The “dust” seems to kind settle into the paint. You can wipe off what is left in the next day or so.
I used kitchen bags and painter’s tape to protect the white parts while I spray painted the roof gray. I should have waited longer for the white to dry, because I had some touch ups to do after I removed the bags. I was too impatient!
Next, paint the interior walls with your color palette. I just used leftover paint from our house. So, sorry Barbie, we’re matchy, matchy.
I used painter’s tape to keep the wall divisions straight.
After the house wall all sprayed and painted, wait for it to dry and then add the contact paper, called adhesive film. I already had this pretty marble film from a photo shoot and I ordered this butcher block film to add contrast.
Measure and cut to size. Peel back a couple inches of the backing and apply. Slowly peel back the backing under the film as you go.
And the house was done! That took me the good part of the day. Projects ALWAYS take longer than I think they will.
DIY Barbie furniture
Furnishing Barbie’s house doesn’t have to be expensive, you can look around your own house!
Clara and I looked online for ideas to get us started. That’s where we saw the bathtub from a detergent bottle and fireplace from a frame ideas! (I can’t credit them properly because they’re on so many posts!) After that I channeled childhood Kate, who played Barbies longer than most children, and came up with more ideas. It was fun to show Clara you can be creative and don’t always need to buy something.
By the way, I about died when I saw the prices online. Did they forget they are selling pieces of plastic? Haha! I did buy one set of knock-off furniture that I spray painted, but I made everything else.
Also, the frame in the bathroom is one I wasn’t using from the dollar store. I printed a graphic of an open window inside and hot glued it to the wall.
I did the same with the framed palm trees in the bedroom. The Dollar Tree frames work well because they are lightweight, thin and some come with plastic to go over the photo rather than glass.
I bought this $8 furniture set and spray painted all the bright pink with the leftover gray paint I had. I (kind of) let it dry and then put the pieces together.
I’m very happy with the set, but you get what you pay for — no instructions and a little confusion about what goes where.
Clara might have preferred them florescent pink, but I selfishly didn’t ask. I mean whose house is this anyway?
And that’s the story of our roadside doll house find! Maybe next we’ll upgrade from dollar store Barbies because their arms keep falling off and I feel like they’re watching me.
By the way, I’m doing projects nearly every day on Instagram stories. Come follow along with me. Some don’t make it onto the blog!