Make: A Modern DIY Beach Dollhouse from Scrap Wood

Have you noticed that DIY dollhouses are all the rage lately? Having tried our hand at an MCM-inspired shoebox dollhouse, I wanted to take it to the next level with some more permanent materials. The result was a modern DIY dollhouse fit for a *beachside* location and because I’m new to wood projects and have ZERO serious tools, it is about as easy as it gets for a handmade dream house. Seriously, my DIY’ers. I KNOW the joy (then immediate devastation) that comes with seeing a lovely dollhouse DIY that uses complicated supplies and has a zillion steps.

That’s why this mid-century-modern-inspired take doesn’t use any fancy materials or require anything more than drill know-how. It can be completely made (furniture and all!)  from scrap wood, pre-cut blocks & dowels, a little paint on paper, and some fast-growing wheatgrass if you want to go the extra mile!

A view of the front of our modern DIY dollhouse with simple DIY dollhouse furniture pieces on a rooftop patio and a mini planter full of wheatgrass

Okay, with the ease-of-use disclaimer out of the way, this will be a modern dollhouse DIY will be a post in three parts. Think of today as a quick  “tour of the grounds”! Head to Part 2: The Construction of our Beach Dollhouse for the process and plans to make your own beachfront dollhouse, then visit Part 3: The Beach Dollhouse Details for simple instructions on creating all the extras – furniture, paintings, palms, a flying seagull (!!!) & the planter of “ornamental grass”.

For an adorable play accessory, visit our latest STEAM-building project to see how we turned a plastic takeout food container and cardboard box into a super chic miniature swimming pool! Or create your own set of diverse DIY peg dolls plus scrap wood toy cars and trucks for small world play.

A NOTE ABOUT OUR LOVELY DOLLHOUSE FOLIAGE:

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this yet, but I LOVE using real plants with kids’ projects whenever I can. From the rooftop gardens of our cardboard box city neighborhoods to our magical potted unicorn garden – there’s just no substitute for the real deal. Does it get messy? Maybe…probably. Here’s what I have to say about that: I have found that the (minor) annoyance of cleaning up after a tiny bit of dirt, water, or plant mess is SO worth the (major!) joy kids experience taking care of their own plant babies.

From just a few scraps of wood and simple supplies, you can make your own super-hip, mid-century-modern beachfront DIY dollhouse in an afternoon. No, seriously!

You can easily substitute cardboard, paper, or faux plants for the wheatgrass I used to make our natural “ornamental grass” planter, but if you’re willing to give real plants a go, this truly couldn’t be easier. The wheatgrass takes about 4-5 days to grow from seed (that’s it!) and is a fantastic starter science experiment in addition to providing beautiful bright green foliage. Bonus: it grows like a weed, and can be trimmed every couple of days and used for juicing!

DOLLHOUSE ART PROJECTS UPON ART PROJECTS:

One of the things I love about this super simple beachy dollhouse style is that it allows for a TON of fill-in-the-blank (or maybe more aptly fill-in-the-walls) creativity on the part of your little designers. There are so many ways to incorporate art processes into the making of house accessories.

A closeup of the DIY dollhouse furniture we made from wooden blocks, with a stamped paper dollhouse rug and handmade mini modern art on the wall.

As an example, we made some miniature, minimal, modern collages to deck our walls. We also used paint + some simple printing processes on paper to create our floor coverings (more on that in Part 3!).  A good statement rug is hard to find, so being able to make your own in a few minutes…? Two thumbs WAY UP.

MODERN DOLLHOUSE DETAIL INSPIRATION:

For a little modern DIY dollhouse decoration inspiration check out this IN-CREDIBLE mini mid-mod dollhouse a couple based on their childhood homes! I could pore over the layers and layers of handmade details they added for hours. Or visit this collection of drool-worthy MCM dollhouse details from House Beautiful.

A view of the top of our modern DIY dollhouse with a rooftop patio, mini DIY palm trees and planters, and simple DIY wooden dollhouse furniture.

The delight is in the details and simple style of this mid-century-inspired coastal crib. This was honestly a blast to make and is a great “starter” wood project for the whole family to plan out and work on together. Now mosey on over to Part 2 for the modern DIY dollhouse construction tutorial!

From just a few scraps of wood and simple supplies, you can make your own super-hip, mid-century-modern beachfront DIY up cycled dollhouse in an afternoon!

If this project has you clamoring for more small world play ideas, try a twist on house-building with this DIY soft city playset – an interactive handmade toy set that invites kids to get in on the creation process. Or for those of you who like to give your dollhouse a sense of environment, consider adding a cardboard secret garden, add a row of paint-scrape surfboards next to a recycled seaside beach hut. Dot your ocean view with scrap material sailboats or maybe a miniature play food truck has set up shop by the beach…!

Interested in trying more simple wood projects? Check out our DIY balance board, DIY play laptop/tablet, and our crazy versatile scrap wood and dowel rod Thingamaboard toy for creative play.

Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

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