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A vintage house renovation project- Before

Sometimes you find the perfect house just waiting for a bit of love.

handmade dollhouse with white siding

One with the white cottage siding,
a big porch and three levels of grand and gracious gorgeousness... 
and a whole lot of memories over the years.

But you know, old houses need love often times
and sometimes they tell stories.

I remember when I first pulled up into the driveway of our house
I felt like the house standing in front of me was a bit sad.
It had been neglected for over 60 years.
With broken windows, ceilings open to the attic
and bits of history just wearing away along with the siding and roof
 in the California sun.

white siding and vintage details on dollhouse

But I saw something more than that. 
I saw all that had been forgotten for so long
 saw a home just waiting and waiting for someone to love it.

old stairs in a vintage dollhouse.

And this little painted home...
The one with chippy white painted siding

vintage doll house

old wood plank walls, 
worn wood floors

vintage doll house with wall paper

and peeling fabric wallpaper...
well, this home hadn't been forgotten.
It had just been set aside by a little girl long ago
and then rediscovered when she was about 17.
And this house was built by that little girls dad when she was small.

From each piece of wood siding 
to every single thin wood shingle that made up the roof.

small dollhouse renovation

And that little girl remembers the grasscloth wallpaper that  she used to paper one bedroom.
It was leftover from her dads Real Estate Office.

vintage dollhouse details

And that fabric that lined the walls and floors 
were bits of remnants from the fabric store.

old hand made dollhouse

With wide porches
 and a perfect center door way and stair case

stairs and windows on doll house

and the most charming two story bay windows

vintage doll house with old windows

and scalloped shingles.

scallops on doll house siding

Every single one of them
held memories.

doll house with windows

Would you believe that this dollhouse has traveled across the U.S. with me?
And all the way back to California when I came home.
It was special to me- it was a doll house that my dad built for me one year 
when I was a young girl.

vintage dollhouse window

When I tell you about all the fun projects we do on our house now-
 and how my dad
is a contractor and craftsman kind of guy... 
this doll house is definitely a perfect example of that.

He didn't buy a prefab kit or packs of precut pieces to create this charming place to play
 he cut the shingles on the roof with his band saw out of full size cedar shingles
glued strips of siding
and built porches and bay windows and added little details to the tops of windows.
I think he would probably tell you that he has some scars that were from the work on this wee house.

bay windows on door to vintage doll house

It is actually a large dollhouse though measuring close to 3'wide x 3' tall
it might be where my love of old stately colonial style homes started.

It has been waiting for a bit of love for years... 
one of those renovation projects on the back burner
while working on the other renovation projects in the house.

But... last week, I started playing a bit with giving it a new look.

vintage doll house siding details

It is a little worse for the wear after 35 years, I admit.
It has broken bits, missing pieces, wonky walls and not too many shingles left on the roof...
but you know what?
I love the old weathered and worn character it has just as it is.

So I have been moving furniture 
playing house on a tiny scale 
and yes, 
I even put that tiny little potted plant from years ago 
back on the window sill.

flower pot on window sill

And, I have to be honest, 
it is just as fun playing with it and fixing it up 
as I remember it being when I was little.

white painted vintage dollhouse

So... yes,  another whole house renovation has started...
but on a much smaller scale.


Happy Monday everyone.


  1. What a precious heirloom to have Courtney! It was a gift of love, and I hope you can restore it!

  2. We have one of those in our garage! From when the girls were little, and it sits, hoping someday for another little girl to love it.....(so far only grandsons)

  3. Oh my, I have the doll house my dad built for me some 60 years ago. I had just about decided to pitch it, because it has been stored for years. Always thought my daughter/grand daughter. Would play with it, but they were not interested. It was never really finished, but my cousin and I didn't mind. We played for hours with that house. I really don't have a place for it, so still don't know what to do.

    1. Put it on Craigslist! You won't believe how many grown women love to have a doll house...or of course someone might want a project for granddaughters. Please don't throw it out!

  4. What a dreamhouse! I'm excited to see it come back to life.

  5. A beautiful remembrance, you're a great storyteller. I can see you putting your wonderful style fixing up the little house:).
    Kathleen in Az

  6. I'm so excited for you, Courtney! How fun to renovate this sweet little doll house of yours! My father found one for me. a Swiss chalet, when I was 14 or 15. Really, by then I was past the doll house age, but my mind has never forgotten decorating it. That summer and again in the following spring, I took wood shop classes and built another doll house that I wallpapered and made furniture for. The chalet lived on top of the "turn table Victorian", which ended up really being more of a display case with eight high ceiling rooms. 😆

    Enjoy fixing up your old dollhouse! It's definitely where you got your love of decorating {or where it began coming to the fore},
    xoxo Barb 💕🏡

  7. When I read the first few sentences, I think I knew where you were I read, I had to hold back tears...I had a precious doll house too..but when my dad moved us all back to his birthplace of Iowa when I was 10, I had to leave my precious dollhouse behind...there was no room for it in the small trailer that was hitched behind the car. I am so happy that you still have your very special house to renovate and bring back the memories and create new ones. I always wondered if that doll house still exists...funny, after one winter in Iowa, my dad quickly moved us back to Florida!

  8. What a beautiful treasure! Take it from one interior designer for 20 years turned miniature designer... the renovation and decoration will make you fall in love. You'll instantly lose yourself down the rabbit hole into a magical beautiful world! Have fun and enjoy! If you ever need any help or sources, just let me know! Hugs, Cynthia Lauren Sperin (cynthias cottage design) (cynthias cottage miniatures) xo

  9. How beautiful! I used to work for a Doll's House maker here in the UK, and I have two Doll's Houses of my own. I love them as much for their architectural detail as for the furnishings <3

  10. That is so neat!! What a treasure to have and perhaps someday a granddaughter will be able to peek inside and help you move furniture. I'm curious though, your dad being at craftsman, what was his first reaction when he saw the house you fell in love with?

  11. Magical! Those seeds of creativity were planted early by your sweet father. My grandmother owned a house with a tiny cottage in back and allowed us to paint and decorate it; it became our clubhouse every time we visited each summer. It likely planted the "renovation seed" in me. Such a sweet thing your father did for you, and anyone can see those seeds he planted enrich your life today!

  12. What precious little house

    1. So sweet! I love miniature ANYTHING - this house is extremely special. And all handmade to boot - Thank you so much for sharing this. ;-)

  13. Courtney, this is one of my favorite posts of yours. From the heart and hands---touched and loved, what could make a more perfect post. Thank-you for sharing. May you love the house again for the next generation. My Grand and I play in the doll houses all the time, Sandi

  14. Courtney, though I rarely leave a "comment," still I've followed your beautiful and entertaining blog for years and have kept very many of your posts in a file on my computer. I, too, have a dollhouse that my husband built for me many years ago after I'd told him how very much I'd always wanted a dollhouse when I was a child. I decorated it and he has often gifted me with quality furnishings, as well as an exquisite porcelain doll who lives in the dollhouse. I treasure that doll, but work and other things in my life took priority. However, I've decided that it is more than time for me to create an updated and completed interior for my doll, Jacqueline, her Golden Retriever, Cooper, and her sweet kitty, Emily.