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Monday, February 4, 2013

Pinstrosiversary - DIY Portable Barbie Doll House

Like most girls, my daughters love Barbies.  My oldest daughter, Halle, scolded me the other night when I was joining them in their playtime; she informed me that organizing their Barbie box was not "playing Barbies."  Well I just say that depends on who you ask!  I thought it was fun.  So as you might figure I don't like Barbie clutter.

I almost had a heart attack when Halle (the one that scolded me) asked for a Barbie house for Christmas.  I had made it over ten years without having to buy one of those overpriced, bulky, ugly houses.  N ow with three kiddos and toy overflow I certainly did not want to add that to my house now!  I pretty much laughed at her for suggesting it and shot her down.... shot her down bad.  Then I felt bad after Christmas came and went when the poor thing made her own house out of cereal boxes and cardboard boxes (from Christmas presents.)

So this past weekend I decided to do something that I had pinned on Pinterest.  I saw that a lady had made a Barbie house out of three ring binders.  It is collapsible and portable and stores well on a bookshelf.

Tutorial on how to create doll houses using three ring binders.- Awesome!

She has an excellent tutorial.  This lady used a lot of stuff from around her house as the supplies and printed online images for her wall decor.  I also printed online pictures.  I have no idea which sites I got the pictures from so if they are yours please let me know so that I can appropriately source!

We headed to the store to get the binders.  When we were there we compared the height of Barbie to the height of the binders and realized that Barbie was taller.  We didn't want her to be taller than her house so we bought some small tri-fold project boards instead of the binders.

This was a great craft for she and I to do together and my three and 1/2 year old "helped" too.  The hardest part was thinking of ways to make the Barbie furniture out of things we already had lying around the house and the raw materials I bought from the store.  I used some of the ideas that the original lady did, but I came up a lot of other ideas to make mine unique.

This took me a day and a half to complete.  While the rest of America was watching the Superbowl, I was sewing Barbie curtains, ha!  All of fabric came from scraps that I had or old clothes.  

Barbie Bedroom.
Barbie Bedroom

base made out of cardboard box
reversible comforter
The bed is constructed out of styrofoam and hot-glued together.  The styrofoam that you buy in the craft section is really expensive so I bought a $3 styrofoam cooler instead to use.  The scalloping on the headboard and footboard is from the cooler lid because it came that way.  I bought my son some training toothpaste while I was out shopping, so the cardboard box that it came in became the base of the bed!  I also made a reversible comforter for the Barbie bed made out of a old Hello Kitty shirt and a tank top.  

Barbie Kitchen.
Barbie Kitchen
 My kids already had a fridge and kitchen island, so that helped fill the kitchen.  The island was originally a brownish color so I painted it green to match.  I also painted a green stripe on the fridge.  I used a $0.97 wooden board as the table top.  Halle painted it and glued scrapbook paper to it to make it look like place mats and plates.  The base of the table is a painted upside play-doh cup hot-glued to the wood.  The chairs are made out of Popsicle sticks and marker caps (we have tons of marker caps because my girls always forget to put the caps back on markers and they dry out.)  The fatter the marker cap the better Barbie sits without falling over.  The vase is also a marker cap hot glued to the table.

Barbie Bathroom.
Barbie Bathroom
I only bought three tri-fold boards so this is actually the back "wall" of the kitchen.  The original site used a small oval bowl and clip-on earrings to make the tub, but I couldn't find a small oval bowl at the store.  I did find this cute french bathtub at Michaels, though!  It was 40% off so it was about $10.  This was my most expensive purchase by far.  I painted the rim with gold so it would match.  Instead of a finger bowl for the sink like the original site, I used a small coffee cup.  It is glued to a dollar store candle holder.  I painted them both pink and added a gold rim.  The inside of the cup I left white.  The handle of the cup is turned toward the back so it's not visible.  I glued tulle to the corner to look like a shower curtain and a small wooden rod for the towel holder.  The bath towels are made out of terry cloth from an old baby doll outfit.  Since the bath towel on the wall doesn't move I made an extra for the girls to play with.  I originally decided that Barbie doesn't need a toilet because it's an eyesore and my kids really don't need to pretend Barbie going potty, lol.  My daughters insisted that the room wasn't complete without one, though, so I found a cute pink toilet pic online (well, cute as a toilet can be anyway.)

Barbie Living Room.
Barbie Living Room

ottoman/coffee table made out of  ceramic cup and craft paper 

"bean bag" made out of dry rice
I saved this room for last because I had no clue how to make a durable couch out of styrofoam or cardboard.  Finally it hit me, and I realized I was a genius!  I cut a corner out of the cooler, so the couch is actually one solid piece!
the bottom right corner of this styrofoam cooler is what I made the couch out of.
the original cut of the couch.  I trimmed the edges down to make the arm rests lower than the back.
I then "upholstered" it with an old corduroy toddler skirt.  I didn't have any rhyme or reason when upholstering it.  I just cut and glued until it was covered.  I really didn't care how bad my job was.  You could definitely put more care and actually use a ruler if you wanted.
The pillows I stuffed with toilet paper (I did that with the bedroom pillows too) because I didn't have any pillow stuffing.  The bean bag is fabric stuffed with rice.  The lamp is a painted Barbie stand and a Mason jar lid covered in paper and ribbon.  The ottoman is a dollar store ceramic jewelry holder turned upside down and covered in scrapbook paper.  I pulled some leaves off of one of my artificial house plants and glued them to a marker cap.  The rug is just a piece of thick scrapbook paper and the throw is scrap fabric.  

Total project cost - about $40.  Not bad compared to the $100+ ugly big Barbie dollhouses.  And it's custom.  And we had fun making it.  The best part is that the rooms are collapsible and portable!  They easily slide under the bed and out of the way!  The furniture can be stored along with the other Barbie accessories.
all three boards collapsed. 
I still have two free spaces on the boards for another two rooms.  I plan on adding a patio/backyard and a gameroom.  Someday.


  1. What a wonderful job ya'll did! (Speaking from experience) This will be a fun memory and will probably be around much longer than the ginourmas plastic ones that seem to fall apart when just looking at them.

    1. Thanks! I think that since the girls helped they will give it more care than they would a regular toy. I hope so anyway. :)

  2. I am SOOOO impressed by this!! Seriously this is awesome!!