Ikea Doll’s House Makeover

My daughter Mabel’s night time shouts have become most imaginative. Until now at about 9pm, it has always been the usual kid stuff –  “I want a drink of water”, “I’ve had a bad dream”, “I need the loo!”. Recently, she has become more inventive:

“I feel sad because I miss Lily”. Lily is the old Ford Focus that we sold for £100 to a friend nearly a year ago, I reassure her that Lily is fine with her new family but mummy’s also feeling sad because she’s missing George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.

“I’m worried you might get UPVC windows and they won’t suit our house.” I tell her that we are looking at lots of double glazing options so that the curtains don’t move when the wind blows but she needn’t worry on account of her being eight years old.

“I don’t think there’s enough natural wood in my room.” Right, bit weird. She does have a newly decorated but a bit of an MDF room as its an awkward shape so most of the furniture (unlike the rest of our cobbled together house) was bought to fit from that master of the small space IKEA.

“You do need more storage, I’ll get you some wooden shelves.”

“Or a dolls house?”

“Or some dolls house shelves?”

By the time I’d got back down George and the dreamy yet practical Will had sailed off into the distance in a ‘shed boat’ and I couldn’t bear to watch yet another set of bifolds installed in Grand Designs so though I may as well begin my search for a mini house instead. It went something like this – expensive, make it myself, second hand and then settled back at IKEA with the Flisat.


It’s sturdy, wooden, not too twee, the right size and most importantly the little one liked it. But this wouldn’t be Whack it With a Hammer if we just left it there – not when we can customise!

So, it was a quick trip to Hobbycraft where I let her choose whatever decoupage paper she wanted to decorate with. I know that many kids don’t care what their room looks like and we interior obsessed generation of mums would rather decorate according to our taste, by which of course I mean the taste we’ve acquired from magazines and Pinterest (I follow a bohemian board! What could be less bohemian than that?) But this little girl apparently lies awake at night worrying about the appropriate material for new windows so I let her choose the décor for her dolls house.

What she chose was unexpected – a kitsch seventies pattern for the kitchen, a floral number for the bedroom, a Bollywood print for the living room and a tropical bird look for the bathroom, “What an interesting combination” I started to tweak then stopped. It’s her house she can decorate it as she likes, breathe in breathe out. As Pablo Picasso said, “Taste is the enemy of creativeness.”


Together, we built half the house, slid the back boards in and measured out where the paper was going to go before sticking it on. Then we applied three coats of decoupage glue, one coat of varnish, realised we’d done one panel the wrong way round and did that one again.


I then let Mabel put the final pieces together and she eventually got the hang of which way you need to turn the screw driver.


I stood back and took a good look. My daughter had obviously not embraced the choosing of a ‘cohesive theme that works throughout the house’, the open frontage is purely practical, nothing to do with ‘bringing the outside in’ and I definitely cant see her describing the kitchen as ‘the heart of the home’. She chose what she liked free from influence or cliché and I think  it looks great. It got me thinking that maybe we should all have a little more faith in our own taste rather than aspiring to what we perceive to be good taste…

…or maybe some people have it and the only way for everything not to look dreadful is for the rest of us to copy them. (I’ll be over there snipping pictures of funky bathrooms out of Living Etc if you want to let me know what you think)





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