Dollhouse Suggestion for Dad and 4yr old Daughter?

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Hello everyone. 

New to the forums and the world of dollhouses so please be kind. My daughter is turning 4 next week and we would like to get her a first dollhouse. Not knowing where to begin I started researching google and cam across this forum. It seems greenleaf makes great dollhouses and kidcraft seems to be another popular brand. I'd like some suggestions on which particular dollhouse would be a good started house for us. 

She is a typical 4 yr old girl and loves playing pretend with her kitchen and dolls. Loves Frozen and Trolls. 

I'm a craftsperson at heart and love anything wood, building, lighting, etc... To me I would LOVE the project of a Beacon Hill but seems more for me than for her. I'd love something we can start off with and build / grow as she grows. Something between a ready to build, already decorated house with furniture and the Beacon Hill with lighting kit would be great. 

So please help this father who is out of his element a wee bit. 

 

Thanks!

Tim

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Lighting a dollhouse with “traditional” dollhouse lighting for a 4 year old is probably a mistake. I would recommend using LED “hi hats” and embed them well into the ceiling. However, those lights are too thick for Greenleaf plywood. 

This house was built with a child in mind. One light per room is all that is needed. 

http://www.greenleafdollhouses.com/forum/?app=gallery&module=gallery&controller=view&id=128769

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Yes I agree. A route may be to buy her something that works and have another "side" project for myself if I want to get into the hobby. But even then still need suggestions. 

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Kidkraft houses are 1:6 scale (Barbie size). Most other traditional dollhouses are 1:12 scale. The company’s which made lovely 3/8” birch plywood houses are pretty much gone now with the exception of Real Good Toys and they are expensive. Greenleaf houses require more wall prep and sanding but offer more designs and are less expensive. You can always look at your local craigslist to find a multitude of finished houses that you can redesign and decorate. 

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Have you looked at the houses at Hobby Lobby? With their 40% off coupon you can get nice sturdy house for play,  that needs to be assembled and decorated but won't break the bank. They have a Greenleaf model and some Real Good Toys models.

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So reading, it looks like 1:6 scale is for playing vs 1:12 scale for collecting, is it possible to “play” with a 1:12 scale? She doesn’t really have many dolls so we will likely purchase additional dolls in whatever scale we decide upon. 

We already assumed the initial investment would be around $300. Aside from scale, what are some other differences between Kidcraft, Greenleaf, and Real Good Toys?

Good idea on the 40% off! Hadn’t thought about that, but did think about Hobby Lobby and if the dollhouses they sell were quality or not.

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1:6 is Barbie sized,and named playscale, but 1:12 is the most popular scale and is offered in many child friendly formats.

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Just a couple of thoughts...

A house by Real Good Toys is made out of MDF and is fairly sturdy. Depending on how you decorate it, it could be suitable for a 4-year old. These houses are also very heavy compared to houses that are not MDF (i.e. wood) and the bigger the house, the heavier, obviously.

Personally, I would skip the lights until she is older. You can buy battery operated lights later and as she grows, the decorations/furnishings can be more delicate (and expensive!) - great for birthday and other holiday gifts.This way, she could have something to play with now and there would always be something to add that keeps the house interesting as she matures. You could also have her help with a renovation - changing wallpaper, colors, making rugs and other furnishings, etc. - when she is older and could electrify it then.

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1 hour ago, amyole said:

Just a couple of thoughts...

A house by Real Good Toys is made out of MDF and is fairly sturdy. Depending on how you decorate it, it could be suitable for a 4-year old. These houses are also very heavy compared to houses that are not MDF (i.e. wood) and the bigger the house, the heavier, obviously.

Personally, I would skip the lights until she is older. You can buy battery operated lights later and as she grows, the decorations/furnishings can be more delicate (and expensive!) - great for birthday and other holiday gifts.This way, she could have something to play with now and there would always be something to add that keeps the house interesting as she matures. You could also have her help with a renovation - changing wallpaper, colors, making rugs and other furnishings, etc. - when she is older and could electrify it then.

This is exactly what I was thinking. Especially after seeing Real Good Toys website and the room additions and add ons that are available. So how do we go about picking a particular model? Thinking the bigger the better (just more options and more things to do down the road) . I’m particularly fond of Victorian architecture, is there anything that’s like a fairytale castle (Aside from the Disney themed Kidcrafts)?

 

 

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For a 4 year old, I'd start out simple. I built the RGT QuickBuild colonial and changed the wallpaper up for my 4 year old. She liked it, but the house she really played with more was her Lundby House. It was sturdy and easy to clean - has little opening doors and windows was easy to put together. And now, years later, she prefers her General store to any other house. So I guess I'm just saying you can always start small and see how it goes.

I personally loved the whole log cabin thing when I was little:

https://www.realgoodtoys.com/collections/1-inch-scale-design-families-log-cabin-dollhouses/products/adirondack-log-cabin-dollhouse-kit

The Beacon Hill is marvelous but will take a long time to build. I have read a lot of stories about houses that got started and never finished for children. The kids end up finishing the build as adults (after parents are gone) or trying to find the same kit (because they didn't keep the unused kit or partial shell). True story. So just do whatever works for you.

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It also depends on how roughly she plays.

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Shes pretty gentle, that’s not exactly something I would worry about. 

 

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2 hours ago, Fxguy1 said:

Shes pretty gentle, that’s not exactly something I would worry about. 

She may play gently but consider her friends, who may not. Doll houses make great stepping stools for a youngster bent on climbing on top of a dresser or riding it like a hobby horse or ... [fill in the blanks with any other wild hair idea that a kid can come up with]. 

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Then there's the little girl I built a house for whose neighbors' kids decided to see how thoroughly and quickly they could reduce her house to matchsticks.

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1 hour ago, havanaholly said:

Then there's the little girl I built a house for whose neighbors' kids decided to see how thoroughly and quickly they could reduce her house to matchsticks.

That’s why I’m recommending an RGT house. 

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I suspect those children would have taken longer with a RGT house, but in the end the results would have been just as irreparable...

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20 hours ago, Fxguy1 said:

So how do we go about picking a particular model?

I think that the house also needs to be accessible for children's hands so they can move the furniture, etc. around - not full of little nooks - at this stage. In one house (RGT Colonial), I omitted the bathroom partitions because a child would not easily be able to reach around it to the hallway & bedroom door behind it. While their hands are smaller than ours, they can be a little more clumsy and I think having things simply laid out is better (also visually). 

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2 hours ago, amyole said:

I think that the house also needs to be accessible for children's hands so they can move the furniture, etc. around

Along this same line of thinking, leaving the "glass" out of the windows lets little hands reach through the window openings for easier play. 

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All very good suggestions! After some discussion with my wife and showing my daughter some pictures we are settling on the RGT Victorian Painted Lady from Hobby Lobby. Sturdy enough to handle a few bumps, 34 pages of assembly instructions to keep dad busy enough, and with the 40% off coupon leaves room in the budget for supplies, additional dolls / furniture / accessories. 

Anyone have experience with building this one? About how long did it take to assemble? I’m thinking of getting it now as a Christmas gift because it will probably take me that long to get it together for her, lol. 

I’ll probably completely finish the exterior ( save for the glass in the windows) and maybe one interior room? Being completely new to the hobby I’m not sure how finishing and then renovating goes as opposed to simply waiting to finish the other rooms. 

Thank you everyone for the advice so far! 

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May I suggest you paint the entire interior with a nice washable paint. Then paper each room with only one accent wall to give the room an identity. Hobby Lobby has tons of craft paper for this purpose. The tricky decision will be deciding how to decorate the tower now. Cause it will be difficult to change it out in the future. Personally, I’d leave the gingerbread trim off until she is older.

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