Dollhouse Guide: Don’t Get the Wrong Dollhouse

Dollhouses are the favorite toy of many children. Dollhouses and furniture that mimic real-life architectural styles and layouts are also collector items. With the different types of dollhouse series available, there are certain factors to keep in mind when considering how to buy a dollhouse.
>> Who will be using the dollhouse?

Understanding who will be using the dollhouse is the first step in deciding how to buy a dollhouse that will suit the recipient.

Children need a durable dollhouse large enough for their dolls to fit in and sturdy enough to withstand hours of play. Older children might appreciate more complex dollhouse designs, including features like battery-operated elevators or mini appliances with sounds, but younger children need simple, straightforward dollhouses.

Adults tend to seek out dolls and dollhouses for very different reasons. Known as "miniaturists," dollhouse collectors enjoy the assembly of the dollhouse and related accessories, and generally display their dollhouses rather than interact with them.

>> Determine the dollhouse size

The next factor in deciding how to buy a dollhouse is the dollhouse size. Make sure you have enough space available for the best dollhouse you are considering: check the dollhouse dimensions in advance. You don't want to assemble a dollhouse only to realize that you have nowhere to put it.

Dollhouse size is also measured by scale. The most common scale for miniaturists is 1:12, meaning that 1 inch in the dollhouse corresponds to 12 inches in the real world. Half size, or 1:24, is sought after by many collectors. Suited for children's use, playscale is 1:6, meaning the dollhouse must fit standard-sized 11-12 inch dolls.

You may not necessarily want to buy a full-size dollhouse, especially if you are a miniaturist who likes to build unique dollhouse furniture. Room boxes are a possibility, allowing you to have the miniature feel of a dollhouse without the space and commitment of a fully realized house.

>> Consider materials and assembly

Another consideration when figuring out how to buy a dollhouse is the material from which it's made. Top-rated dollhouse series for children tend to be plastic and pre-assembled, such as doll dreamhouses. Because intricate details and architectural beauty are not necessarily the focus with these types of dollhouses, plastic is the cheapest, most durable choice. Not all pre-assembled dollhouses are mass produced, however, and many that appeal to a collector can be bought fully assembled and furnished.

Most dollhouses do require assembly, and they usually come in two main variations. Tab and slot dollhouse kits are generally detailed and visually stunning. Often based on real houses, these kits are packaged as dye-cut plywood pieces that require glue. The finished product is lightweight, and much less expensive than the alternative dollhouses made from glue and nail kits. Glue and nail kits are intended for those who seek to enhance their dollhouses beyond what is included in a kit. Because they are made with thicker wood, these dollhouses take longer to build, which is generally a fun aspect of these types of dollhouses. These are favored by collectors who enjoy creating or collecting unique dollhouse furniture because the rooms are spacious.

>> Select a dollhouse style

To buy the best dollhouse, consider the style of the house. For children, this is a basic choice. Most kids' dollhouses are open style, so that the inside of the house is easily accessible. Similar to this style are mansion dollhouses, which can also be open style but are generally several stories high. Some have the option of folding up, if mobility is desired. Specific themes may be integral to a dollhouse design.

Collectors have many choices in this area. Because many dollhouses are based on architectural styles, the variety of dollhouse styles for collectors mirrors the variety found in homes around the world. Victorian doll houses, with elaborately trimmed roofs and towering spires, may be the most recognizable style. However, anything from American-style homes to Tudor-period-inspired houses are available, with many custom-made options.
>> What types of accessories work with the dollhouse?

Once you have determined how to buy a dollhouse, the next step is accessorizing and customizing the house. For some miniaturists, this is the reason for buying a dollhouse. If you are creating your own furniture, you can add anything. Alternatively, many furniture pieces can be bought for any style of dollhouse. Some miniaturists make custom furniture for others.

With children's dollhouses, finding the perfect furniture is generally less important. Dolls are a significant part of owning a dollhouse for a child, and finding dolls that are suited to the style of the house is a fun challenge. Variety is the key here, as children might want several dolls to interact with in the space of the dollhouse.

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