Build an American Girl Doll (or other 18″ doll) DIY dollhouse / DIY treehouse to keep the imagination going outside.
[Updated 09/07/17: I am including some build plans in this post]
Our friend Jeannie is turning 8 shortly. She is my youngest’s best friend and her parents are our best friends – so when a birthday allows me a little DIY love, I’m all over it!
I had a few parameters that I tried to stick to when building this American Girl doll treehouse:
I wanted it to be an outdoor toy. We love our friends and want them to stay our friends – expecting them to come up with the room to house an additional 4′ dollhouse seemed like a good way to lose friends.
I wanted it to allow two kids to play together. The dollhouse/treehouse that was originally sold by American Girl only allowed one girl to play with it at a time.
I wanted it to be sturdy – again, friendships can die over a house collapsing on their child. Go figure?
I built the frame for the DIY doll treehouse out of 2 x 2″ boards, but then covered the entire piece with cedar. Cedar 1″ x 6″ boards for siding and the cedar decking. You can purchase actual cedar shingles at Home Depot for the roof. This doll treehouse will be light enough for one person to move (cedar is a light wood) and will age beautifully in the yard with little to no maintenance.
I covered the upper trusses with 1/2″ plywood and then tacked cedar shingles in place over top.
The deck railing is made with 1″x2″ boards nailed/screwed into place at equal intervals and then capped with another 1×2″ on top.
This American Girl DIY doll treehouse is 36″ wide by ~36″ tall – so it has plenty of room for kids to sit side-by-side and play.
There are several mistakes in this build – but cut me some slack – I built the entire thing without plans and without having ever done roof trusses.
I know the roof is going to leak. I did put plywood underneath the cedar shingles and I did overlap the shingles to minimize rain getting in – but I didn’t know how to get the peak tight enough to stop all water getting through. I also didn’t know how to close off the lower section of the roof to the house. But hey, the airflow will also help it to dry out faster and keep any mould or mildew from forming.
2. I used a LOT of screws.
I tried using nails and wood glue, but it just didn’t seem sturdy enough, so I used 1 ¼” wood screws throughout. Overkill, I know – but I refer back to that “don’t let a house fall on your friend’s kid.”
3. There is probably a better way to trim out the window and the back edging of the floor. I’m going with the “don’t notice, won’t tell” window sill on this one.
4. I probably should have created shutter doors for the back of the DIY doll treehouse so that it could be closed when not in use. My concern was that the shutters would be in the way when two were trying to play and move freely behind the house. Oh yeah, and I’ve never made cupboard doors/shutters before.
We surprised the birthday girl last weekend…
(she was moving so fast I could only catch her blur)
I’d say she forgives me my errors?
The girls immediately started decorating and prepping for the American Girl beach party – seems they’ve decided this is a beach house (and not a doll treehouse) today. Could be – I could easily see a doll in a red Baywatch bathing suit with a life-saving buoy on the deck. lol
Happy birthday Jeannie-Bean!
We love you!
If anyone would like building plans for this DIY doll treehouse / beach house – please leave me a comment and I’ll get to work (with corrections for the errors I made above of course).