When I received an e-mail from David Rothenberger, which contained pictures of this dollhouse made completely out of styrofoam, my first thought was, ' No way ! '.

After I had a brief look at the photos my second thought was, ' Why didn't I think of this ? '

For gentle use, styrofoam is a brilliant material to use for dollhouses or room boxes. It is cheaper than plywood, as well as being lightweight and much easier to cut out.

Luckily David was willing to share his photographs of the constuction of the house as well as hints that he learned along the way. All of the photographs and instructions for the styrofoam house are David's work.

The plan for cutting out this dollhouse can be found on the Let's Build a Dollhouse Pages

the styrofoam dollhouse

"Gracie's Dollhouse"

I was looking for a winter project and came across Jennifer’s dollhouse web site. My granddaughter is only 4 ½ so I decided to make something that would be fairly cheap but easy to repair if there was an “oops” problem. The Styrofoam possibility came to mind since I had used it for some simple things and a neighbor, Tom, was working with some of it at the time. After starting the project, my original idea of a really simple dollhouse went away after my daughter-in-law proclaimed she had always wanted one and I realized it would be better taken care of. Hence the hand cut shingles, wood porch railing, fancier front door, etc.

constructing the styrofoam dollhouse

The floors, inner walls, roofs and outer walls without windows were hand cut from a sheet of 1/2x48x96 Styrofoam.

Gorilla glue was used to secure the inner walls, floors, roof and the outer ply of the walls.

Very little of the glue goes a long way.

the plastic for the window glass is sandwiched between 2 pieces of styrofoam

The exterior walls with windows are hand cut 2 ply ¼” Styrofoam sheeting. Both materials are readily available at Lowes or Home Depot.

The reasons for the 2 ply construction was to place the window sheeting in the center and it would also sandwich the floor and inner walls for additional strength.

Here is an inner wall section that is to be glued in place. I used Titebond II wood glue to hold the inner plies in place.

I pre-painted the interior plies and add the window trim prior to gluing in place.


Toothpicks were invaluable for holding in place and could be snipped off when done

I used straight pins at most locations to align and hold the ¼” sheeting in place.

When it came to the ½” Styrofoam, I used toothpicks. The toothpicks could be left in place by nipping them off and sanding.

Pre-mixed spackling compound filled any holes or scuffed areas nicely. 100 grit or finer sandpaper easily smoothed and shaped rough corners and edges.

Gaps or dents were filled with light weight spackling and then sanded

Scrap pieces of Styrofoam worked well for filling in any open joints inside the dollhouse. Once again, I used lightweight spackling compound.

One problem with the Styrofoam is its soft surface and I had to be careful since even my fingernails would penetrate it easily.

My daughter-in-law is going to finish the decorating and will use some of Jennifer’s wallpaper and a flooring of some type which will make for a better interior surface in the end.

acrylic paints were used to paint the walls and floor Here is one of my high-tech clamping devices in action. Books and of course any heavy item will suffice.
Here are the roof weighted roof sections. Open books along the roof ridges worked well and books down close to the eaves were used. A couple of toothpicks along the bottom edge of the books held them in place.
The outhouse

The time period for the dollhouse was to be established in the 1920s to 1930s and I thought a “privy” for the back yard would be a nice touch. Many homes, especially in rural America still had them even if indoor plumbing had been added.

Note that the roof had yet to be painted. For the roofs I used Rit dye. I mixed it per instructions but that proved to be too dark, so I diluted it with an equal amount of water and the color was much more to my liking. An out of date Sears catalog is provided for the necessary reasons.

The component parts for the outhouse

This is the partially assembled privy. The picture also shows the Styrofoam sheet from which I cut the pieces. This was the first part of the project on which I used Tom’s foam cutting machine (more about that later).

For hinges I went to a model airplane dealer and found some nylon hinges that were very cheap compared to the normal brass dollhouse hinges. I believe the price was around $6 for a dozen. They were cut to the right size and used for the doors and privy seats.

marking the woodgrain
I wanted to experiment with texturing, so I used the side of the small screwdriver to provide wood planking and a wood grain look for the privy. It worked well. The dollhouse is supposed to have a stucco look.
The interior of the styrofoam dollhouse

Not only was the dollhouse made out of sytrofoam, but the furniture is also
constructed from styrofoam go to the next page to see more

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