Weekend Challenge! Dollhouse in a Shoebox!

Since our Dollhouse in a Shoebox workshop has had to be cancelled, we thought we’d set you the challenge of making your own 18th Century Dollhouse at home!

We usually make our dollhouses room by room, however if you only have one shoebox to spare, then just try create one room!


But first, here’s a little information about 18th Century dollhouses and what they were used for!

In the 18th Century, dollhouses were a symbol of people’s wealth, and they were used to teach the young girls of the household how to run a proper household. Most importantly dollhouses were NOT TO BE PLAYED WITH!

The first dollhouse belonged to a Dutch woman named Petronella Oortman. All of the furniture in this dollhouse, was specially made for this lady, she even ordered the plates all the way from China!  Petronella did not play with her dollhouse but rather it was a work of art which acted as a status symbol! It let everyone know how wealthy Petronella was!

The second dollhouse is called the Killer Cabinet (it’s not as scary as it sounds!) it belonged to John Egerton Killer and his wife Ann and their 4 daughters. This was a dollhouse which was used to teach the daughters of the Killer family how to run a proper household. The girls did not play with the contents, which means it is in fantastic condition! Traces of the family can be found in every room, giving a sense of their interests, personalities and talents. See the close up of the interior of the Dollhouse above!


So now that you understand the historical context of these Dollhouse, we can start building one! We have created a folder where you can access lots of 18th Century wallpaper, flooring, fireplaces and paintings, all of which you can use to decorate your Dollhouse/Room. If you don’t have a printer, then you can use them as inspiration and create your own decorations!


What will you need:

Empty Shoebox

Scissors (or an adult to help you with scissors)



Paint/ Colours

Dollhouse furniture (if you have spare, if not make your own using matchboxes, cereal boxes, matchsticks, toilet roll etc.)

Dolls/ Lego

Camera (to take pictures of your creation!)


Printer (to print off wallpaper/flooring/decorations)

Access our folder here



If you are making one room, you have plenty to choose from! 18th Century mansions were large and had lots of rooms! You could make a library, dining room, drawing room, bedroom or a nursery. You could also make the servants quarters which would have been in the attic, or a kitchen which would have been located at the bottom of the house.

  1. Place your shoebox lengthwise as the bottom of the shoebox is going to act as the wall.
  2. Either print off the wallpaper we have provided or use the wallpaper you have created. Make sure to cover all of the cardboard parts of your shoebox with wallpaper and glue it into your shoebox.
  3. Then start on your floor! Glue down the flooring, again making sure you can’t see any of the inside cardboard of the shoebox
  4. Time to add some decoration! You can use the fireplaces or paintings in the folder, cut them out and glue them into your shoebox…alternatively you can draw mini paintings, cut them out and hang them in your shoebox!
  5. Once your walls are decorated with paintings/bookcases or fireplaces, you can start adding furniture! If you have dollhouse furniture, choose the ones that make the most sense for the room you’re creating!
  6. If you don’t have dollhouse furniture, don’t worry, you can make some from old cardboard, matchboxes, cereal boxes, ice lolly sticks…let your imagination run wild!
  7. Once your room is furnished to perfection, its time to start playing! While kids in the 18th Century couldn’t play with their dollhouses, you can play with it for as long as you like! Grab some little dolls, Lego men or PollyPockets and play!
  8. Don’t forget to take pictures of your dollhouses and send them to us! You can email them to nanonagleplacecollections@gmail.com or put them on social media and tag us @nanonagleplace or use the hashtag #nanonagleplace

Here’s some inspiration of Dollhouses created by us and some families in quarantine! Get creating!


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