This photo shows a portion of the dollhouse my mother made for my sister and I when we were little. Built from cardboard boxes, the house was filled with wallpaper remnants, beds fashioned from old spaghetti boxes, curtains sewn from leftover fabrics, crocheted rugs and plenty of ingenuity. We loved our dollhouse then for its large size (Barbie’s Dreamhouse never had so many rooms) and personalized touches. Only now do I admire it for it’s eco-friendliness, the recycling of old materials in this labor of love.
Sofie started off with a little wooden dollhouse and a wooden doll family, but she’s since transitioned into the world of Barbie-size dolls that need a home of their own. First, I perused craigslist for options but balked at the prices for today’s Dreamhouse. They were so plastic, so plain, so pink. I was inspired to do better.
So in the tradition of my family, I have begun to build Sofie a Barbie-sized house from cardboard boxes. It’s not nearly as large as mine was, although I’ve incorporated her wooden dollhouse into the layout so doll families big and small can coexist (reducing that carbon footprint!), but Sofie’s quite excited about it, and all I’ve done so far is to carve some windows into a few boxes. Meanwhile, I’m gathering bits of old fabric, saving boxes from various food items and dipping into our collection of leftover no-VOC paints. Other ideas: making wall art from some of Sofie’s artwork; adding on a stable for her horses; and maybe even some “solar panels”…
It is still a bunch of cardboard boxes – no amount of paint and cloth will disguise that, but I’m having fun with the process of creating something for my daughter instead of buying it ready-made off the shelf. I think this is something we’ll both remember more, as my sister and I do with our childhood house.
And the idea of re-use must be catching on, because Sofie will find a discarded item in the recycling bin or trash and say, “Mommy, can’t we use this for my dollhouse?”