Yard sale season is finally upon us, fellow homesteaders. Now is a perfect time to stock up on homemade toys and gift making supplies for Christmas and all of the birthdays that are coming up this year.
The annual countrywide yard sale took place over the weekend and I scored some superb – and super cheap, toy making materials. I also enjoyed some time out hiking with the grandkiddos to harvest some sweet smelling honeysuckle to use to make natural perfume to bottle and give as gifts.
In addition to finding some (a trash bag full to be exact) ike brand new (some with tags still on!) dresses for our young granddaughters for only $.25 each, I also bought a dollhouse for our youngest grandson, Colt. yes, you read that right, a dollhouse for a boy. At least a dollhouse is what the manufacturer intended for it to be.
Colt LOVES fire trucks and playing in his papaw’s fire hat. The miniature fire truck great papaw sent out to our homestead since he no longer rides in it in for parades as a Shriner, it the most popular item in the play area.
I wanted to buy a firehouse to go with some firefighter Playmobil figures and fire truck for Colt’s birthday. It was hard enough to even find a toy fire department in our world of movie and television themed toys, let alone find one that was affordable.
Eventually I came across three plastic toy fire stations online, the cheapest was $60 and it was small. The wood one I came across, and I always prefer wood toys to plastic, was well over $100 and was still not really large.
The Playmobil fire station that could have easily been used to play with the fire truck designed to be used with the set, was $80 and was not much more than a red and white plastic not-large shell – and $80. The fire truck alone is $60 – it has lights, a siren, and even a pump that can be filled with water to put out pretend fires.
So, with the truc being so expensive, I was not about to pay $80 for more plastic junk – that is where the yard sale dollhouse comes into play. It was only $3 and in really great shape. A corner computer with a built-in corner stand can easily be used as a pretend 911 dispatching area.
Last Christmas I turned a 3-tiered bookcase into a soldier base for our oldest grandson, Crosley, and had planned on doing the same thing for Colt with the play fire house, but this dollhouse will work equally well and I don’t have another unneeded bookcase laying around.
The dollhouse makeover into a fire station is still a work in progress and probably will be for several more hours – until I have it just right. The grassy area outside of the front door will feature a doghouse the firefighters’ Dalmatian dog calls home. In this photo I was just starting to paint the floors.
Before painting a plastic dollhouse I highly recommend scuffing up the existing finish with some sandpaper so the craft paint adheres better, more evenly, and will have less of a chance of running and not drying thoroughly.
This is the built-in computer area mentioned above that will have a chair added to it and be used as the 911 dispatching area for the fire station.
I started the project with a plant to paint the pink and purple floors red, the roof and window trim in red, and using the side porch as a helicopter landing pad – leaving the existing white “siding.” But, after getting the first coat on of those colors everywhere but the purple floors, I decided that color scheme did not create the perfect firehouse look.
Because Colt and Auddie are too young to grasp precisely what I am doing to the house and won’t know it is actually going to be a Christmas present for Colt (or birthday present, since they are the same day, still haven’t decided) I let them help put a fresh coat of red paint on the dollhouse “siding.”
They love to paint and did a fairly good job. I was painting along with them and could fix any runs before they became permanent.
The dollhouse firehouse will be red with black trim, I like this look a whole lot better. I am going to use a paper cut to create a perfect circle on the side porch – helicopter pad to make a bull’s eye landing area.
I regularly visit the local Dollar Tree to score some cheap yet nice and sturdy wood furniture to put in Colt’s fire station and other homemade Christmas “house” type projects. The Dollar Tree regularly sell dollhouse beds with red and white checked attached bedspreads, chairs, dressers, and tables. I will put some beds on the upper level, a table and chairs in the kitchen, and turn the room next to the bathroom into an office for the fire chief.
On my last visit to Dollar Tree I snagged a surprisingly sturdy paper-based firehouse. I just bought it for the stickers to use in my homemade firehouse and for some of the interior images to cut out and use decoupage to affix to the interior walls for added interest. Bobby brought me home some computer label paper to make my own stickers with free graphics from the internet, and I will probably still do that as well, but I figured with the ever ridiculous cost of printer ink, I got of cheap with the $1 paper firehouse and sticker set.
This is the $1 paper-based glossy firehouse from Dollar Tree. It came with the stickers and paper doll style firefighter, dalmatian dog, and fire truck. Colt was not supposed to see this, but walked over to see his Yaya (still have no clue how or why he came up with that to call me, but apparently I am not grammie like I had planned, but Yaya to Colt and his sisters) and absolutely fell in love with it.
He went straight to my craft table and grabbed it to play with the next two times he walked over from their cabin across the way from our home. He is going to be really upset that is has disappeared (been cut apart and used to adorn his firehouse) the next time he comes in and decides to go looking for it on my heaping full craft table.
This is the interior of the $1 paper firehouse. It is perfect for the set of wood peg people I made last month. Our local Dollar Tree (local meaning one of the few stores in the next county over – which has more stores than our county and that’s just fine with a non-shopper like me) also had the paper barn and dollhouse sets – each complete with stickers and paper dolls. If you plan on creating a homemade gift in either of these themes, you might want to check it out.
This is the final look for the inside of the DIY firehouse. I have paint to remove from spots where it should not be, scratches to cover with some fresh dabs of paint, and then clear coat to put on, but this is the final design. I used black paint pen to make the stripes on the wall in what will be the fire chief’s office second floor left. It had a flower print wallpaper that just would not be acceptable in a firehouse at all – according to my favorite local hero.
I used a combination of paint pens and permanent markers to change the color of the bathroom sink and mirror. Again, touch ups are needed in that room as well, and the blue towel will become black with red trim before I clear coat the entire homemade firehouse.
This is how the firehouse looked after I added the stickers from the $1 paper firehouse kit and cut out parts of the house from that set and glued them to the wall.
I may add some trim with black ribbon around the bunker gear “hanging” on the wall to create more of a locker look. I thought the little white ledge helped frame out the gear area nicely, but it either needs sides and/or a top, in my opinion. Maybe I will paint some popsicle sticks black and glue them, flat side back, around the top and sides to create a three dimensional locker area. Yep, I think that is the winning idea, but I am not officially out of black paint, so that final touch will have to wait until tomorrow.
It surprised me during the project how difficult it was to cover the pink plastic floors with the red paint. I did not recall having such a problem covering pink plastic on prior projects. I think it may have been a lighting issue while working on the interior of the dollhouse – firehouse at night and not noticing the steaks of pink still showing. Touch ups all over the house are going to take a couple of hours because I will have to wait for various colors of paint to dry while removing splatters with rubbing alcohol, but I am finally in the home stretch on this project!
From beginning to end making this firehouse has been a lot of fun, especially when the children themselves helped paint a little bit on the project. Because I started making Christmas and birthday presents at the beginning of the year, there was no immediate deadline looming causing copious amounts of stress or extremely late nights (talking about toy making and sewing until 2 am and getting back up at 6 am for barn chores here, folks) to spol all of creative joy. Starting my projects super early this year also allowed me to skip around on a few projects at once to vary what I was doing, so no aspect of any given project became tedious.
You could make any kind of pretend playhouse for boys out of either a plastic or wooden dollhouse. I have seen several action figure, super hero, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle “boy dollhouses” on Pinterest using this same concept.
This Batman themed dollhouse for boys is pretty cool too. There options for creating a boy’s dollhouse are virtually unlimited. I chose a firehouse because that is what Colt is into at the moment. If the young man in your life is not interested in any particular type of character or activity, a simple log cabin or lodge style home would allow him to use his own imagination to guide the adventures his little guys go on in and around the home.
Boy Dollhouse Creation Tips
• To remove stickers from a dollhouse during its transitional phase, simply apply a little bit of rubbing alcohol and use a rag to rub them off.
• The craft paint will chip of during play if you do not apply a clear coat once it has all dried. I recommend using a brush on clear coat nad not the spray can variety to avoid applying too much and causing the dollhouse to be covered in a sticky residue that could give a yellow cast to the paint.
• Felt squares that can be purchased for about $.25 make great floor coverings and curtains in both boy and girl dollhouses.
• Battery powered tea light candles with a plastic flame that lights up make great faux fireplace inserts and campfire centerpieces for boy dollhouse play.
• If you want to make a castle, buy a small kitchen cabinet, like the over the fridge type. My next project will turn an old bathroom cabinet that is just a bit larger and no longer needed, into a castle for Auddie.
To give the cabinet more of castle look, I am going to buy a set of wood castle blocks and paint them to match my color scheme and then screw them into place on the top of the cabinet – in the “courtyard area” to create towers and turrets.
The rather large bundle of blocks is only $25, which should bring my total cost for the cabinet to castle interior and exterior makeover to around $35 – not including the $1 each pieces of furniture I will purchase to go inside. The $35 figure factors in the cost of craft paints (Plaid brand Apple Barrel paints are my favorite, cheap, dry quickly, and give excellent coverage even over plastic) even though I think I am stocked up enough from other projects not to need to purchase any new bottles.
Need some help figuring out how or what to design for a boy dollhouse? Just drop me a line in the comments section and I will answer and help spark your creativity or troubleshoot your issue as best I can. Once you finish your boy dollhouse, please share your project photos with us and the New Life On A Homestead community via our social media pages.
Tara lives on a 56 acres farm in the Appalachian Mountains, where she faces homesteading and farming challenges every single day, raising chickens, goats, horses, and tons of vegetables. She’s an expert in all sorts of homesteading skills such as hide tanning, doll making, tree tapping, and many more.