Friday, October 23, 2015

DIY Barbie Doll House: Week #3 Part-1 Windows!

I'm finally catching up on posting. This is actually week #3 for the Barbie House, so here we go with


Part 1-Windows.

I can't stress enough, making plans, be they to scale or just sketches with notes. We have chosen to work on this big project in sections-unassembled. By working on pieces you can move them in/out doors, work on the kitchen table, or hide when the granddaughter is around. But, you need something visual to keep track of what you are doing this way, ---so I refer to the plans all the time. Plans also helped in communicating with Hubby, we are from different planets afterall.


Here are the windows in the middle picture for the three floors of the west side piece. You can see the light sketching of the appliances in the kitchen, and the tub on the third floor with a window above it.

Since the holes have been cut in Part 1 and sanded/primed in Part 2--now it is time to frame them out. Hubby actually wanted to make sashes that went up and down---however that amount of detail for a three-year old isn't necessary. So we compromised and I agreed to make window frames, with mitered trims on the outside and inside.

We chose to make windows only on the left and right walls, as the back will face the bedroom walls anyway.

Here I am cutting the straight, inside frame pieces of 1/2" wide by 1/4" strips for the inside of the window. These pieces are the same thickness as the walls, but will help to square up the holes cut by the saber saw. One skinny window, I used balsa wood 1/16" thick. for the skinny sides.

I'm using a small hacksaw with a fine blade and a wonderful teeny miter box...which was awesome. Just a few strokes and I was cranking pieces out. After a few trials and failures, the measurements were pretty accurate. I measured each piece most houses our house wasn't  perfectly square and some of the window holes needed help. These pieces were lightly hotglued directly to the walls one piece at a time.

Hubby cut the first miters on the outside trim. We chose 1/4" x 5/8" wood for the trim. This would be very close to real in the 1"= 6" in Barbie world.

I hand-cut the other end of each piece for the window frames to make sure the measurements were accurate. Big power tools are hard to adjust for such small pieces of wood, not to mention chopping your fingers off.

Hardest part was keeping track of everything. I lined up the appropriate windows with the appropriate walls, we had 3 windows on one that was six trim frames for one side and 4 windows and 8 trim frames for the other. LOTS of pieces. I do not recommend cutting all the pieces at once...for confusion's sake.


 Stacked up like this, they almost look like real windows at the lumber yard. We chose not to use glass or plastic on the windows, but you could easily use plexi-glass by slotting the frame pieces.

Here were my main tools and a window frames lined up as they were completed. 
Measure, Measure, measure!


I hot glued the mitered corners with a dot of flexible hot glue. This allowed hubby to square them up to the windows as they were applied to the walls.

Hubby woodglued the frames for the outside windows.  He used a brad-gun to tack them in place. UPSIDE of using plywood, is you could hand nail each one. MDF is really a poor choice, everything has to be contact-cemented together, which is nasty stuff to use,  and you have major set-up times. Chipping is an issue and Weight is another factor; MDF is very heavy. Looking online at the dollhouses people made, you can tell the MDF ones, by the sagging floors. Just my opinion, I think plywood is the way to go, more expensive but worth it in the long run. Like many a investment, I will look at the total cost divided by the life of this dollhouse, say 10 years for a 3 year-old.

Here's a closeup of the Filigree window for the bedroom, from the outside. The plastic insert is actually from this Barbie Vending Machine I found at Goodwill for 1.99--still crammed with purses, boots, and new shoes. Apparently the mechanisms didn't work well...the reviews were hideous. The person that donated this, couldn't even get the shoes/purses out of the rack. I did once I removed the back. I didnt' know that; I just thought Wow---what a neat (REDO) closet, not to mention the six sets of purses/shoes that were still in the cabinet to fish out.

 The back was covered in two panels of white filigree plastic, I thought we could use for bath and bedroom windows.


***Upside of Mattel Barbie products*** Mattel uses flexible plastics and many of the pieces are easily dismantled: a few screws loosened, pry with a small flat screwdriver and the panels popped right out. Since I planned on using the cabinet in the bathroom and the back will be up against the wall.  MORE on this cabinet later.  I love the idea of a turning shoe display---too much fun. The filigree panels were cut apart on the miter saw with a fine blade. Easy---peassy!

OLD~~Remember When!
All this is a far cry from 1959 Barbies and our matchbox drawers, cerealbox cabinets and shoebox beds with pencils for posters and the cardboard lid for a canopy, but they were so much fun too. Nostalgia, anyone?


Assembly of the plastic panels into the frames, they were hot-glued directly in the holes of the plywood walls and then we trimmed around them using more hot glue to fill the gaps...this will all be painted... and hid.

Hubby applied even pressure to the frames, so they didn't slide around and the filigree window was secured.

Next, I used a small scrap of wood frame to fill in all the nail holes and corners. A metal scraper would have done more damage to the soft wood, this way I didn't make anymore dents in the wood. It looks really messy, but dries white and fast. LOVE this product for painted surfaces.


Here's the other plastic panel window filled. You can see the wonderful details on the plastic, with the distinctive Barbie heads and hearts showing. A light sanding with the fine side of a flexible sanding block and the windows were ready for paint.

I used one coat of spray Acrylic clear sealer, one coat of brushed on white craft paint, and then one spray of semi-gloss white paint---all non-toxic and kid friendly. The coats got into every edge, corner and crevice.  This gave the windows a nice finish. Don't you think?

The crazy window spacings will make more sense, after the furniture is placed. I did design house to go with the OLD, NEW and REDO pieces I have found.


I still have to tweezer off the hot glue, but this window is the best REDO of this post....I just love them, and I am sure Grandaughter, Barbie, and Ken will approve, too.

Total time on doing the windows minus painting about 3 hours for 7 windows, with two people on and off. Power tools involved, miter saw and compressor brad gun. Hand tools involved, hot glue gun, hack saw with fine blade, small miter box. Spray acrylic sealer, white craft paint and semi-gloss spray paint for finishing.

Did I mention sashed windows in 1:6 scale are over $30.00 a piece... 8 x $30==$240 dollars.

Next POST Week #3 Part 2___at last COLOR!

All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own, I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions or posts. Please do not use my photos without linking back to this blog without my permission. 
Thank you for your cooperation, Sandi Magle

Thanks for stopping by, and I will be sharing at these parties:



  1. It's coming right along, Sandi! You and your husband have the patience of Job--such meticulous work, and you do it so well :) Thanks so much for linking up with Vintage Charm--

  2. Wow, Sandi, you are putting your heart and soul into this. My sister made a couple of dollhouses (though not Barbie) years ago for her daughters. Even after the play is past, I have seen some really cute recycling of these houses (mounted on walls in laundry rooms for toiletries, etc).
    Hahaha, I remember those old matchbox drawers, jewelry box chairs & couches, and toothpaste lids for cups for my Barbies. :) Thanks for the memory.
    Rita C at Panoply


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