Last Christmas I spent an unhealthy amount of time researching dollhouses for my three-year-old. He asked Santa for only two things--a toy school bus and a dollhouse--so finding the perfect miniature domicile was a task I took [entirely too] seriously. I compared high-end, low-end, plastic, wood, fabric, paper, furnished, not, name brands and random unheard-of companies, and I finally settled on one of the awesome hippy (expensive!) Plan Toys houses AND THEN turned around bought a Playmobil mansion at Toys R Us instead because it was magnificent and, to someone who didn't read the box copy (AHEM) appeared to come fully furnished at a crazy-low price. (Turns out "443 parts" means that's how many pieces you have to assemble to form the basic house structure; all accessories were sold separately. Dur.) We ended up returning the mansion and getting him this instead, and it's been a hit.
Anyway, this is all a long introduction to say I can't believe I didn't even think of considering some DIY options. I love love love this bookcase turned dollhouse featured on the Land of Nod's blog:
(And whoa, hello, there's a link to my cheap 'n' easy 'n' impressive balloon hanging tutorial on this post by Nod's creative director!)
This project had me hooked at the chance to choose cool paper for the walls of each room, but I also like the overall flexibility of being able to design the house specifically with my kid in mind--especially since he's a boy and DIYing this means not ending up with something so girly he'll refuse to play with it when he gets a little older and the usual store-bought dollhouses are stigmatized as Girl Toys.
The blog post about this project includes a tutorial on wallpapering the rooms (so you don't have to glue anything directly to the bookcase) and a quickie note about how to make a tiny yarn rug. Being able to make some of the furniture and accessories yourself seems like a great way to expand the playability of the dollhouse for crafty kids/older sibilings/parents who watch too many design shows on TLC. Awesome awesome.