Finishing the Interior of a Dollhouse, part 1

Dollhouse Interior Finishing

Victorias Farmhouse interior room

Victoria's Farmhouse interior room

The outside of a Dollhouse is its introduction, but the inside… that’s where the action is – that’s where the doll house is used for play, for decorating, for miniature collecting; it’s the part of the dolls house that’s most alive!

Doll House Interior Finishing involves so many choices! Will it be a child’s play house, or will it be an elegant miniature display? Does it need to be robust and washable, or does it need to be photo-realistic. Each of those choices directs the interior finishing along different avenues. Thinking about the way the house will be used is a good thing to do at the begining of the construction process. Depending on your choice, there may be a few things that are most easily done before the doll house is assembled.

When to Paint a Doll House Interior

Paint is the best choice for a house that will have kids’ hands on every surface. Paint is durable, washable, and can be fixed easily. Use premium interior latex paint for both the outside and the inside of a doll house. When I use paint on the inside of a dolls house, I do the first coat before assembly. That lets the paint go on smoothly and makes the sanding easy (it’s the quality of the sanding job that makes the paint “heirloom quality”). I never put a sealer on the wood first, and seldom use primer – the color of the paint should go right down into the material of the dollhouse walls or ceilings. Except for the Dividers (doll house interior walls), I don’t put on a second coat of paint until after construction. Two coats of paint interferes with the ‘grab’ of the glue, gets into grooves, adds thickness to parts that then might fit too tightly, and is often in the wrong place where one room turns into the next… it’s easy to re-do a color over one coat that’s been sanded – it’s harder over two coats.

When to Wallpaper a Dollhouse Interior

Glue on wallpaper

Glue on wallpaper

When I wallpaper* the inside of a dollhouse, I do it all after the doll house is done on the outside and after the ceilings are second-coated (the exception to this is for dollhouses that use connectors to join the walls, like the Batrie Newport or Bostonian). If the rooms will be big enough, I even prefer to wallpaper after the Dividers are in place, but I have big hands so those have to be big rooms! Halls, closets, bathrooms, the small rooms are all papered before the interior walls go in. You don’t have to do anything to prepare for wallpaper, just wait for its turn in the dollhouse assembly – after electrical wiring but before interior window trim or staircases.

Stain and Score

Stain and Score

When to do the Flooring in a Dollhouse

If your dollhouse has applied woodgrain flooring* it should have a coat of finish on it before assembly to protect it from damage from handling or tape, or from paint or glue drips. I like to stain and score plywood floors*, and that has to be done before assembling the dollhouse too, as does “faux-wood” flooring* on MDF floors. However, applied flooring like wood strips*, sheet flooring, tile, or carpet is done after the dollhouse is built (including ceiling paint and wall finish), but before staircases or Baseboard molding*).

In upcoming weeks, we’ll talk about other Interior Finishing techniques, including “Moving a Staircase” (which will be particularly useful if you decide to retrofit a house with a Circular Staircase), “Using the Junior Finishing Kit #J-FK“, Interior “Window Trim and Doors”, or anything else (almost) you ask for.

Leave a “Reply” below to share what you are doing, what you’ve done, or to choose what’s next.

Gary

*References: 
Wallpaper – HH444, P2000  Demo: Wallpapering a JM-907
Applied Woodgrain Flooring – (JM 159, JM 401, JM 907) (Demo: How to identify flooring)
Scoring Plywood Floors – Demo
Faux Wood Floor Finish on houses with MDF floors: JM 1065, JM 975Demo: Faux Wood Flooring on a General Store
Strip Flooring – Demo: Wallpaper and Strip Flooring
Baseboard and Crown Molding – part of the #J-FK Junior Finishing Kit  Demo: JM907 and JM975 using the J-FK

6 Responses to “Finishing the Interior of a Dollhouse, part 1”

  1. John Cannizzaro Says:

    I have made several of these kits and have had
    some problems with wallpaper peeling off in places.

    Is there a particular type of glue that will hold
    better? What do you usually use??

    Thanks, John

  2. Gary Says:

    Hi John
    When I wallpaper I don’t paint or do anything else to the wall before papering (if you have already painted, sand the surface to take away the gloss). Then I cut the paper to fit a little shorter than the wall up-and-down, put paste on the paper, put paste on the wall, and smooth the paper on from one end to the other holding the paper away from the wall until brushing it down so I don’t capture any bubbles. I use pre-mixed methylcellulose paste that I buy at the paint store in 2lb tubs.

  3. nancy west Says:

    I have just purchased Victoria’s Farmhouse, pre-assembled, from Hobby Lobby. I love it. I am going over the archives for suggestions and find it very helpful. Obviously I can’t move anything around like walls and windows. I would appreciate some sugestions on what rooms have been chosen for the bathroom, kitchen, etc. I also need a stair railing on both sets of stairs. Do you have just the railing available? I can’t have people falling off the stairs (liability).

  4. Sophia Says:

    I am about to buy a Queen Anne Dollhouse Kit,but the thing is I dont know where to get the wallpapers or how to put in the doors. How do I get a door I like and put it in?

  5. Linda Says:

    I have Victoria’s Farmhouse and it is comleted with paint and furnishings. My question is can it be wired for electrical after the fact. We chose not to wire in the beginning, but now wish we had. Can it be done.

  6. Diane Suppa Says:

    Hi Gary,
    I read that you would be talking more about Interior Finishing. I am wondering if you did write about the Junior Finishing Kit. I purchased this kit from the outlet and would live any info you can give me.
    Thanks
    Diane