Monday, September 6, 2010

How to turn those extra bookshelves into Barbie real estate!

My two-year-old niece, Emma (whom I absolutely adore! all you Aunties out there know what I'm talking about) is starting to express some interest in Barbies. So, when she recently came to visit, I wanted her to have a doll house to play with them in.

If you've ever been to my 600-square-foot condo, you know that there is not much room inside for an additional residence, Barbie-sized or not. So, to save room and cost, I cleared off two bookshelves and transformed them into a brand new housing development!

If you have a niece, granddaughter, neighbor or friend coming over, or just want to create your own display diorama, here are a few tips I've discovered:

If your shelf needs a little freshening up, consider covering the "walls", "ceiling" and/or "floors" with shelf liner paper. There are some need patterns out there, too: wood, marble, polka dots, etc. (Just make sure the scale of the print is small enough.) Target always has some, but also try your local dollar store - if they have some, it's usually less expensive.

Use heavy upholstery swatches or carpet samples for wall-to-wall carpeting or area rugs.

Make use of some fabric scraps by turning them into sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, curtains, etc.

The right size of upside-down shoebox makes a great bed!

Mini picture frames can be stuck on the wall with double-sided tape. I filled this on with a picture of Emma's dad!

The wooden furniture is sold at Target in separate room sets, but I found it on clearance at BigLots for $5/set. (I did recover the couch and ottoman cushions from their original yellow fake fur to a cute brown and white polka dot.)

Accessories include various table favors from my recent International Fashion Doll Convention (including a fabulous flower arrangement on the living room credenza by fellow staff writer CaliVali!

I'm not sure who loved this project more - Emma or Auntie! The best thing about this little piece of real estate is that you can always return it back to it's original storage space, or start charging your Barbies rent and make a "little" extra dough!


  1. I think Auntie had more fun with this project and Emma came in a close second. Excellent ideas Auntie!!!

  2. Awesome! I would love to set something up like this for my dolls.

  3. I really love this idea, Jen! What a great project--lots of fun details!

  4. Great idea! I will have to try it.

  5. This is awesome! Great recycling idea! My sisters did the same they took a huge china armoire ( I am not sure how to called it) but it's about 5 feet tall and added an ascensor for barbie. :)

  6. Andrea, that sounds like a great setting for a Barbie apartment!


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