Monday, January 14, 2013

DIY Barbie Townhouse!

The Townhouse is finished! I can't believe it.

A basic $20 shelf from Walmart
It all started when I bought a basic four-tier plastic shelf for my laundry area. As I put it together and stepped back to admire my work (all of 5 minutes' worth), the wheels started turning: I noticed this was pretty much the same basic construction as the old (and new, really) Barbie townhouse I used to play with as a kid. Three levels, posts for support, and something for the walls.

I wasn't sure if my harebrained idea would work, but I figured it sure beat spending a small fortune for the "real thing" - something that wasn't that sturdy or well-made, sadly. I looked at one in the store for a frame of reference, and poked the back wall with my finger. It was nothing more than cardboard! Surely that wouldn't last long. I wanted to make something sturdy, not that expensive, but something that was meant to be played with.

I started out by buying another 14" shelf like the first one. After I purchased it, unfortunately, I realized it probably wouldn't be big enough for everything. I took that one back and got a bigger one, that was about 16" deep and 36" wide - too big! I finally settled on one that was about 14" deep and 30" wide. Just perfect.

You can use any size you want, depending on what you want to do. But for my purposes, this shelf worked out perfectly, in more ways than one.

I originally bought it solely because it was the right size, and it was white. (Barbie's house, if it isn't pink, should be white, right?) I didn't want anything too tall, because after all, my daughter is six - it would be frustrating to not be able to reach that high. It's lightweight both for moving around, and in case of tipping, it won't do much damage.

For the walls, I picked marker board, which is basically hard board (the same stuff that pegboard is made of, only without the holes) that cost $10 per sheet at Lowe's. I bought two, allowing for any extra pieces that would be used as inside walls to divide up the rooms. We had just enough (with a little tinkering) to make the back and side walls minus one, leaving it open for a possible 'patio expansion.' :)

I started by using spray adhesive to attach sheets of scrapbook paper for the walls. I had to mix and match the plaids - this may take extra to match the stripes, patterns, etc. I used six sheets (four for the divided rooms, which are smaller) and it was a tight stretch, but worked okay. It all depends on the size of your "walls." I would advise doing better measuring than I did!
You can see the 'lip' edge - this was perfect to hold the side wall panels in place with a press fit. We measured the side pieces to fit in between the posts and slid the pieces up underneath inside. It worked perfectly!
 The back - I wanted the prettier white side to show. You can see the screws - there were, to my amazement, holes in the back for some reason so we used this to attach the back wall panels. I thought it would make it lighter and easier to decorate if we cut the pieces rather than using one solid sheet.

The walls, papered and in place. Some of the glue adhesive started to come up after drying, so I used a paintbrush and some Mod Podge to repair it.

I chose different papers for each "room" and then added a dividing wall on the first shelf to make two separate rooms. Below is the future dining room/bathroom. 

The dividing wall between the bathroom and dining room. I just used a leftover scrap piece that was tall enough to wedge up against the plastic pieces in the "ceiling." 

Barbie's bedroom, with some furniture pieces I made ahead of time. (The table was purchased for $1, I think, at AC Moore, a local craft chain. I found the tiny alarm clock for less than $1 at a hobby shop.) 
Barbie's sleeping in on Christmas morning! 

On Christmas morning: Waiting for someone to open presents to finish off the bathroom and dining room. :)

Stay tuned: It's time to decorate!