Thursday, October 28, 2010

Barbie Dollhouse Project Transformation

If you recall back in June I embarked on a project of converting the colorful High School Musical play set into an elegant home. You can review the project from its' beginning here. After painting and papering I hit a major creative block. I played around with a few different furniture arrangements but nothing clicked. I sadly put away my mini-mansion for the summer. With four boys running around the place I figured it would be safer tucked away.

Late in September I finally organized my studio enough to have a landing spot for my beloved dollhouse. Out of storage it fit perfectly on one side of my L counter workspace. Slowly the rooms came together and the final product is nearly done! Wait. What? Nearly done? Yes, in my rush to get a final "product" I failed to complete all of the fine details. A few unfinished edges. Some missing baseboards. More artwork needs to be hung. Oh and I'm not completely sure how I will address the bar area. Is any house ever really finished?

Ok. Enough talk. You are all here to see pics. Unless you stalk my Flickr page then you have seen them already. But this is my blog and I will post them here anyway. Bonus content here is a description of my project in details and a few extra photos not available anywhere else. Juicy inside info you can only read about here!

First...let's look at where this journey began. I knew that this structure had potential. Good bones. Great architectural detail.
Phase 1 entailed painting the entire house white and adding accent walls throughout. My number 1 goal in completing this house was to not purchase ANYTHING new. I could only use what I had on hand. The wallpaper accents are scrapbook papers. They came together in a book. Love the coordinated paper packs! Fortunately I collect scrapbook paper like I do doll furniture. But enough about my issues.
Phase one photos:

Then the fun began. Space planning and furniture placement. Excuse the yellow cast of these photos. My studio space is in the garden basement with very little light. I had to use a single lamp for these photos as I still do not have outlets in there! Ugh!!! Luckily I could run an extension cord from the boys room next door..but I digress.

Overview of the whole house:

The living room houses a chaise style sofa and baroque coffee table. Originally blue, the sofa is a Mattel piece. It fits perfectly in the niche. The coffee table is a Christmas ornament that was originally pink/gold. I still need a large piece of art for the accent wall. Colorful pillows accent the built in window seat and tie in with the bead embellished Mattel chandelier.

Decorative pedestal lamps are a combination of elements. Resin columns were Christmas ornaments that matched the baroque coffee table. I painted silver and aged with raw umber glaze & white highlights. The tulip shaped shade was a plastic Christmas bell ornament. Between the two is a decorative plastic bead. All pieces were glued in place. E6000 glue is fantastic. If in doubt a great source is Tells you what type of glue necessary for what type of material.

Nestled in front of the built in window seat a small table is perfect for resting a beverage or snack. The base is a plastic egg cup and the top a wood disk painted white.

The center of the living area was a real challenge. I had tried to use my remaining modern black & chrome picture frame chairs in the space but they were not quite the right scale. Although this play set was created to use with Barbie dolls it really isn't the right size. If you put Barbie in the house where there is a built in ceiling her head touches it! Ouch! But it would be great for a shorter doll. Great. Now I need to buy a new doll to habit the house. Just what I need more dolls. :-)

For now I am leaving the middle space as an open concept foyer of sorts. The Asian style table was an eBay purchase five years ago. The horse statues are resin and from my favorite discount closeout store Bargain Bills. They originally looked like real horses so I just gave them a couple of coats of white paint so that they resembled statues.

The foyer walls have sconces that were made from deconstructed light fixture magnets. They looked like typical carriage style lights with a brassy gold finish. I removed the top piece, glass panels and faux bulb. Sprayed them silver and mounted them upside down for a modern look. The new faux bulbs are round plastic beads!

Originally intended to be a wine cellar the bar area nook is the least finished. The bar counter was from a Barbie store playset.

 Let me just tell you that the green plastic was a huge pain to turn white. The nooks & crannies were the hardest. Since the spray paint did not get into all the spaces I had to hand paint which then turned into a faux finish because I can never leave well enough alone.

Haven't figured out the backs of the nooks. I contemplated using mirrors but I don't have any that fit. I am still mulling that one over. Inspiration will probably come one day at 3am. Isn't that how it is for you?

I want to cover the odd shaped wall that started out as a soda machine. It houses some electronics for the house. I think a faux stone wall would be a nice touch. We'll see! Oh and the fabulous mod stools. Those are from a Bratz swimming pool set.

I bought the whole set JUST for those stools! But it was on clearance so really could I pass it up? I know. Crazy. But I sold the pools at my garage sale & made some little girl happy. Her dolls don't drink so they didn't need barstools.

Ok...I think this post is LONG enough. I will address the kitchen in a post all by itself and then the upstairs!

Linking to: Transformation Thursdays-The Shabby Chic Cottage, Before and After Party Savvy Southern Style

Until next time..

Happy Crafting!


  1. Beautiful! You do such great work. Can't wait to see more! Will you customize the outside as well. I was watching Gossip Girl the other day and the exterior looks a lot like some of the buildings on the Columbia University campus. If I had room, I'd run out and get that HS Musical set too!

  2. Jaw dropping fabulous! Your work is truly amazing!


  3. Wow, I have never seen such a fancy doll house. What a lot of work and detail went into that. Thanks for linking and my party is called a before and after party.

  4. Thank you Tina and Kim. (I also fixed the link title to before/after) :-)

  5. Oh my! I love how you made over this Barbie house! It's just gorgeous! I just had a lot of fun painting an old doll house for resale in my antique shop and am now a little doll house obsessed! I didn't go into any detail with mine as I was afraid I wouldn't be able to part with it if I started decorating! LOL! I look forward to exploring your blog and becoming a new follower! Stop by and say hi if you have a moment

  6. Wow, what an amazing job. It looks so real and beautiful.

  7. OK - seriously - this is by far the coolest thing I have ever seen!!!! I have two little girls - that would just DROOL over this! I was contemplating building a Barbie Dream house - and I think you just solidified my desires to actually do it! You rock!

  8. WOW! I am your newest follower! I am in awe of this dollhouse. I made one for my 4 year old, but it was all out of cardboard boxes, not nearly as lovely. Someday I have BIG plans. Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Hi Sheri & welcome! I'm so glad you are inspired by the dollhouse transformation. You know, cardboard dollhouses can be gorgeous too. Take a look at my Flickr pics I do many foamcore and cardboard backdrops. (so much easier than with wood) I'd love to see pics when you create that dream dollhouse!

  10. I love this scene, very romantic, love the angel statue too.

  11. lilMama: If I want a solid color I use spray paint for plastic-Krylon brand. If I am doing a faux finish I use Kilz primer and craft paint. (you will see brush strokes which is why it is great for creating wood grain finishes)

  12. OMG! I AM SPEECHLESS! you can tell you do the work of a professional! IMPRESSIVE! THANK YOU FOR SHARING!

  13. I accidently came across this blog while doing a google image search for the Barbie High School Musical Play set that someone had listed on craigslist. My husband and I just bought our first house and after a new roof and remodel we were already strapped for cash for our girl's Christmas gifts. Two days ago my husbsand found out that in three weeks his job will no longer exist and his new position comes with a 20,000 dollar paycut:( Getting this news, especially so close to the holidays, was devestating. The girls had asked Santa for a Barbie house and Barbies and all I could think about when I saw that list was how expensive it all would be. And then I found your blog! I immediately called the lady from craigslist and purchased the HS Musical set. It was meant to be! She sold me TONS of Barbie stuff for $100! After a good two hours of reading your blog, my husband and I started another remodel-and Barbie size is so much more fun! The only additional purchase I made was for the chandelier ornament from Walmart that you had on your blog. Using old kids clothes, left over remodel materials and scrapbook paper my husband and I got started. We ended up staying up til 4 in the morning! So far it looks great! Growing up we had both loved making diaramas. My husband and I were laughing and giggling like little kids the whole time. Your blog was such an inspiration and I have no doubt in my mind that this Christmas will be perfectly magical. This little Christmas gift has made me realize that everything will be okay and that we will make it through all of this. So...thank you! Your blog helped my husband and I realize what's truly important in life and rediscover our inner child. Not to mention two little girls are going to be thrilled!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! You brought tears to my eyes with your story about the Christmas gift for your girls. I'm beyond thrilled that I've inspired you & helped you recapture some of the fun of childhood. That is why I do what I do! Everyone who stops by & comments means the world to me~

  14. WOWOWOWOW I am sooo impressed and inspired!! I make my dollhouses out of cardboard and paper mache, but you've inspired me to find a dollhouse to work on...

    1. Yeah!!! Cardboard & paper mache are awesome too ~you can get really decorative without the constraints of a pre-existing structure. The sky is the limit!

  15. Holy cow, you are the queen! Like a former blogger, I also came across you accidentally. I got one of these dollhouses as a "bonus" when I bought my daughter's secondhand bedroom furniture (the people were too lazy to throw it away so they gave it to me). I've wanted to do something with it because it is so pretty (if you can look past the ugly HSM labels) and my daughter has been begging for a "real" dollhouse, not a school. You have truly inspired me to take that old broken fixer-upper and do some major renovation with it. It think it would make a fun project for me and give my daughter something wonderful in return. Thank you for getting the wheels turning in my head and dazzling me with your vision!

    1. You are so welcome! I agree that this will be a fantastic mother/daughter project. What a fun way to encourage her creative side. Very empowering. I'd love for you to share photos with me when you are finished. My email contact information is in my profile. Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Thank you for journaling your project online to share with other people. I recently bought a High School Musical dollhouse for $5 at a yard sale and did not see any potential in it so I was going to put it on Craisgslist and sell it for the amound I paid. Fortunately I saw this while I was trying to find out how the dollhouse was intended to look.So now I am inspired. I have tried making my own dollhouses with cardboard and stuff and bookshelves and making my own furniture, but I think I want to try this now.I'm very excited about it. Thank you.


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