Recycle: A no-footprint dollhouse makeover

Dollhouse upgrade for BoPIN IT

When I embarked on this Nothing New Project at the beginning of this year, I knew that I would have a few challenges… birthdays and gift giving being one of them. When Bo was born two years ago I was adamant that she was not to have any toys with batteries, not only for the environmental factors but also for the imagination factor. I couldn’t see how a toy that “does” something would encourage a child to use their imagination to create a world of their own. So right from the word go I asked my family and friends not to buy Bo any toys that needed batteries, and I’m pretty impressed that now, two years on, she still doesn’t have a single one. Bo has more plastic than I’d like her to have, but at least none of it talks to me in creepy voices in the dead of night…

When I found this old wooden, unloved dollhouse at the tip I knew what I would give Bo for her birthday. A simple, lovely dollhouse to house the little wooden furniture I discovered at an op-shop last year and put away for a moment just like this. I bought this dollhouse knowing it needed work. It was covered in revolting stickers, old, chipped enamel paint and about ten years worth of dust and grime… I paid $2.50 for it and took it home with me that day.

Over a series of 2 weeks I scraped and soaked and scraped some more until I removed every single sticker from the old, tired wood. I used my sander to remove the top layer of enamel and create a good surface for priming – always make sure you wear good safety equipment if you are sanding back old paint surfaces, you never know what nasties might be hiding in there – a good pair of gloves, goggles, noise reducing ear muffs and a thick mask are a must for any sanding job.

I searched local tip shops and salvage yards for discarded paint and primer. I collect these when I find them… paint is pretty terrible for the environment and dumped at the tip it is doing nothing but damage. It’s also super expensive to buy from the hardware store – so sourcing it second hand is excellent for the environment and the hip pocket. I picked up a spray tin of primer and a tin of beautiful quality wall paint from our local tip for $2 along with a couple of discarded paint brushes which were thrown in for free. I picked up an old chipboard and pine mini bench off the side of the road and gave it some new life with a good sand and a lick of home made chalk paint… tinted by Bo herself…

dollhousePIN IT paintPIN IT blank slatePIN IT tinting paintPIN IT

When I presented Bo with her lovely new dollhouse on her 2nd birthday she was appropriately underwhelmed by it all, as any two year old who honestly couldn’t care less about presents would be. But in the past month, I have watched her explore it and play with it on a daily basis and it gives me great joy to know that this beautiful, simple addition that sits right in the middle of our little home was created with absolutely no negative footprint on the earth. All of the products used to create this gift were rescued from the tip and have been recycled and reused. The entire project cost me less than $6.50… and plenty of hours of sanding and scraping, cursing and sweating, painting and at least an hour of searching piles of stinky, dusty rubbish for the perfect products.

I could have walked into the Kmart down the road and spent less than ten minutes of my time and $30 on a pink, wooden dollhouse that she probably would have loved just as much, though I doubt it would last as long as this one will. I also could have easily spent hundreds of dollars at hobby shops and hardware stores on perfect little additions to make a sweet little miniature home with all the fittings… pretty and lovely but also expensive and not necessarily environmentally friendly.

I’d rather build something beautiful out of garbage any day…

Dollhouse upgradePIN IT

Similar Posts:

  • April 2, 2014 - 11:35 am

    Alisha - I absolutely LOVE this dollhouse. I’m currently making dolls and furniture for my daughter, and have plans to build her a dollhouse from an old bookshelf. I’m still looking for a book-shelf, they seem to be something that not many people part with.ReplyCancel

  • April 2, 2014 - 2:13 pm

    Linda Uzubalis - How beautiful!!!

    We gave our two-year-old a toy kitchen for her birthday and like you, wanted to recycle rather than buy new. We used an old TV cabinet from my inlaws house and my husband toiled for a few weeks, painting, cutting, building new doors and even making a modern looking wooden tap that turns like a real one!

    Our family helped out by buying wooden accessories to fill Anouk’s kitchen and whilst some was new, they all help foster hours of imaginative play whilst respecting our efforts to keep the house as plastic free as possible.

    We’ve already decided to give our second daughter a dollhouse for her first birthday in August and luckily have one donated by my sister. It doesn’t need any work, but I am now on the look out for op shop pieces to furnish it and am planning on making a bunch of clothespin dolls for it.

    I really admire your effort to buy nothing new this year. The project has encouraged me to reassess my spending habits and make a few small changes… maybe next year I’ll have the courage to buy nothing!

    Linda. xReplyCancel

  • April 2, 2014 - 2:51 pm

    Aina - I just found your blog via the “Whole Larder Love” comment section. Got blown away with your honest writing, now I love your blog also! I find your thoughts and look on life so similar to mine. Although I am not the one who speak out loud very much, mostly because I talk to deaf ears. Well, my husband agrees with me, sometimes it feels like we are the only one with critical views on the way we use or not use our precious land, waste, pollution and specially the tragic food industry. Myself has not chosen to create a stir with my blog, but still, daily I take better choices for me AND my little family.

    Greetings from a new follower ~ AinaReplyCancel

  • April 2, 2014 - 2:52 pm

    Jovanna - Beautifully and thoughtfully made. I’m sure Bo will cherish it especially since her Mom made it for her.ReplyCancel

  • April 2, 2014 - 4:33 pm

    Sarah - An absolute treasure! You’re incredibly inspiring, Sash.

    Sar xxReplyCancel

  • May 9, 2014 - 10:16 pm

    7 Ways To Live Well This Weekend - Henry Happened - […] avoid buying anything new for an entire year! I’m inspired by her posts – this lovely doll house make-under has me rethinking my plans for Sam’s upcoming 2nd […]ReplyCancel

  • July 2, 2014 - 8:28 pm

    My Simple Life: Sash Milne | House of Humble - […] around us, it’s the best feeling. For my daughter’s birthday I invested time in building a dollhouse out of completely recycled materials that I found at the rubbish tip. It was a great project and I’m looking forward to doing more […]ReplyCancel

  • July 4, 2014 - 6:22 am

    Reflecting | Goodnight Bambinos - […] – Stumbled upon this handmade dollhouse using recycled, reclaimed wood and am inspired to build one for my daughter, […]ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *