American Girl on the Cheap: Making a Room for Your Doll

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Since our trip to the American Girl store in Atlanta, little bit has been dying to make an American Girl doll house.  Now, we’ve had the typical Barbie houses before, but 18″ dolls like American Girl just don’t fit.  I searched the internet, found some options, recovered from the sticker shock and decided that wasn’t happening.  Not even a little bit.  Then I put my brain to work…

American Girl Room Project On The Cheap

Some of the options I considered were wooden crates, Closet Maid storage pieces, and IKEA shelves.  They weren’t nearly as pricey as some of the rooms I’d seen online, but they still were more than I wanted to spend (especially considering how much we’ve already sunk into the doll and the few official American Girl furniture pieces we have.)  I wanted CHEAP!

Where do you go when you want cheap???  Of course, we headed to Wal-mart.  I loathe that store with a passion (hopefully they aren’t reading this), but sometimes you do what you have to do.  After loading both kids in the car solo and hitting the road, I knew I was coming home with something.  We cruised the aisles, inspiration hit and we were on our way!

American Girl Room Project

Planning and Execution:

I knew that adhesive shelf paper ($3.97) worked great to cover the inside of tri-fold display boards ($2.77).  I’ve used that trick a few times in the past for display board projects.  I also knew the girl would love some of the funky patterns.  Hello, wallpaper.

American Girl Room Project Step 1

I unrolled the shelf paper, measured three strips the full height of the board and started peeling.  I did the sides first and the center last.  Start at the top, only removing a little backing at a time, and be sure to smooth out the air bubbles as best you can.  I still ended up with some and it’s still just fine.

American Girl Room Project Completed Step 1

As you can see, it’s MUCH prettier now.  It will stand on it’s own perfectly well, though ultimately ours will end up sitting against a wall.

For the sake of size comparison, here you can see how an 18″ doll (sorry for the nakedness) compares.

American Girl Room Project Completed Size ComparisonThe Details:

You could totally stop here and call this a room, but why would we do that?  Our rooms have windows… and rather than cutting out a hole, I went with a slightly (at least in my mind) easier method and created a window and scene using scrapbooking paper I already had on hand.

American Girl Room Project Parts of Window Scene

You could print a picture to use here, or even cut one out of a magazine.  I’m always looking for a reason to do a little art though, and this was it.  Some circles, a few squares and a flower punch later…

American Girl Room Project Completed Window Scene

Then I got crazy and added curtains.  I have a pretty decent fabric stash, but you can get little fabric bundles in the craft section at Wal-mart for $4 and there is more than enough in one bundle for a set or two of curtains.  My sewing machine made quick work of  hemming these, but you could use iron down hemming tape, or just a pair of pinking sheers to cut the fabric to keep the edges from fraying.

American Girl Room Project Finishing Touches

I tacked the curtains up with regular sewing thread (needles push through cardboard really easy) and used small hair ties as curtain ties.

We even found tiny embroidery hoops ($1.97 for 2) that made super cute picture frames for the wall (look just above Caroline’s head.)  You could glue in a picture out of a magazine, a personal photo, or print out an American Girl photo like we did.  I also tacked up the photo frame with plain old thread.

The Big Reveal:

Little bit was so excited about her new ‘bathroom’ that we had to get it set up right away so she could make a ‘tour video’ to put on Youtube.  (That kid LOVES Youtube.  We’ve learned how to make all kinds of great things there, like this Frappuccino.) I promised her I would share her video, so here it is…

Next up, we’re using that zebra print shelf liner to make a bedroom for her dolls.  I’ll be sure to share picture of it on Facebook when we have it finished.  Like our page if you haven’t already so that you’ll be sure not to miss it.

Do you have any ideas for ways we can improve our bathroom or things that we might want to incorporate in our bedroom?  Please share in the comments.  Also, if you’ve found any great tutorials for American Girl on the cheap, please share them with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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29 Responses to American Girl on the Cheap: Making a Room for Your Doll

  1. You are so creative! I love it! This site has a person who took a shelf and decorated each back shelf with paper, then made it into rooms – real cute too.

  2. Kelly says:

    Thanks! Guess what I’m going to Walmart to buy later today?! Your idea was a hit with our 10 yr old! Blessings! Can’t wait to see that zebra bedroom!

    • mamamommymom says:

      It’s all ready! We just haven’t got to the point of photographing it yet. My daughter loves using her little set up. I would love at some point to get her a big doll house, but this is realistically so much more practical for us.

  3. Michelle Mills says:

    Adorable! I love your creativity…it reminds me when I was younger and my mom would say…Use your imagination! I am too quick to run to the store to buy what my kids want. Great reminder to add a personal touch!

  4. Donna W. says:

    What a clever way to make a dollhouse for any doll. I think my daughter and I will try this. It’s easy and portable.

  5. Sarah M says:

    Our girls should get together! We would be broke but they would have all their creative juices flowing!

  6. Lindsey says:

    I love this!!!! We are heading to American Girl in a few weeks, and I am so doing this for Makailyn’s doll.

  7. Niki Meiners says:

    Have you ever thought about making fake food for the dolls with polymer clay?

    • mamamommymom says:

      We’ve tried some things with silicone, but not polymer clay. My daughter has found several tutorials on YouTube that she wants to try though, so I know it’s only a matter of time.

  8. Jenn says:

    Can’t wait to make one with my girls!

  9. Ashley Rehorn says:

    Yup! I have Ikea Stuvia (sp?) frames in the attic, ready to go for Christmas. I’ve ordered self-adhesive led light three pack minis to use as ceiling lights for the rooms. Each young-un is getting a bedroom frame, and they are both getting together a frame that’s twice as long to turn into a classroom. I ordered the teacher desk, student desks and chalkboard off etsy. I’ve gotten lots of school supplies on the severe cheap on ebay.

    We’re going to use carpet remnants, mode-podge scrapbooking paper and fabrics, etc. It’s gonna be so fun! We need to bounce ideas off each other one day.

    One thing I’m totally doing is connecting the frames via huge amounts of velcro. that way if Elizabeth’s bedroom HAS to be in Langley’s bedroom for some reason, she can detach it….but at the same time, the frames won’t slide off each other and squish my children due to their ridiculous size while they’re playing.

    We’re doing a few rooms at a time, and it’s a family craft project. Very cool. I’m going to be spying on your building definitely. 🙂 Thought about starting a blog about all our AG insanity….who knows.


  10. LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! This is so cute and so easy! I know what I’m making my girls tonight 🙂

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  14. Aubrey says:

    This is such a great idea, and I will totally have to file it back for later when my almost-2-year-old is ready for AG dolls. I can’t wait to introduce her to my Molly. 🙂 Visiting from the Parenting Pointers linky!

  15. jenny says:

    This would be a perfect Christmas present and a great cheaper alternative to buying all of the AG accessories. I would love for you to share your project on my Meet Up Monday Blog Party!

  16. Angie says:

    Great idea! I found you on the SITS Sharefest
    PS – I also wanted to invite you to a networking blog hop called The CLIMB:

  17. Pingback: Parenting Pointers Linky Party #39 -

  18. This is so cute and clever. I’d seen an online shop with these and they wanted a fortune for them and this is so much nicer. Would love to feature this, but can’t find your link party page if you have one. If you do, or if you can add a party button somewhere, that would be great. Thanks for linking this up to Craftastic Monday at Sew Can Do!

  19. What a great idea!!! It’s inexpensive AND can be folded up to hide easily. There aren’t a lot of American Girl things that can do that!

  20. What a wonderfully fun thing to do with your daughter! I always wanted a doll house when I was a little girl but I never got one! Your daughter is absolutely adorable in the video too. I miss my daughters being young like that. Now they are snotty teenagers with bad attitudes… Ughhh teenage hormones! Thank you for linking up to the Oh My Heartsie Girls Wordless Wednesday Linky Party!

    Wishing you a fabulous week!

    Co-Host OMHGWW

  21. Robin says:

    I just loved the American Girl Dolls when I was growing up, this is really awesome. I just have boys but have a few nieces who would love this! Thanks, for sharing!

  22. A cute bathroom — so easy to store! And for the doll mommy ti move it around to new locations! Pinned.

  23. Cydnee says:

    what a great DIY project! Great tutorial! Thank you for joining us at #purebloglove. We enjoy having you every Thursday at 8PM, EST through Sunday night. ~Cydnee

  24. Caroline says:

    This is so fun and creative, thank you for all of the great ideas. I also checked out the starbucks craft. Everything is very inventive and lovable. I am really enjoying your website blog!

  25. Sarah says:

    That is super cute.

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