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Dollhouses & Furniture

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Advice about Playing > Dollhouses & Furniture


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Inexpensive dollhouse for 4yr old boy

June 2006

my son loves playing with dolls/houses & i want to finally get him his own for his birthday next month, however i need some help to figure out the best set to match our needs 1) not a lot of space (we share a bedroom & also have housemates) 2) not a lot of money (need a basic set that's very affordable, though it'd be nice if it can be added to as well) 3) accepting that i'm gonna probably have to get plastic toys, but don't like the amount of emphasis on make-up & fashion i've seen in many of them (even in the preschool section!) 4) as gender nuetral as possible. he loves extremely 'feminine' & 'masculine' things (from frilly dresses & makeup to crashing trucks and so on) & i love that he embraces it all (though i tend to prefer to keep things more balanced) & want to encourage that especially as he gets older & gets more messages of what he 'should' like. he's in a public preschool with other children who are being raised with much more 'traditional' sense of things & i don't want to set him up to be harassed by playmates. any & all suggestions on brands, stores, etc. are welcomed ~ if you could please email me offline, that'd be incredibly helpful! thanks & take care


I've seen wooden, gender-neutral dollhouses at IKEA.

Five Little Monkeys (on Solano, near Cornell) has a folding dollhouse that I've been coveting for a while. It's also wooden, gender-neutral, and looked like it would fit in a small space. I don't know if it's still there, but they have stocked it in the past, and might be able to help you find it, if they don't have it anymore. Good Luck! Donna


Ikea has some cute and reasonably-priced ($15/set of either kitchen+living room, or bathroom+bedrooms) dollhouse furniture, although I don't think they have the houses themselves right now.

A 2-shelf bookshelf makes a pretty decent dollhouse. Or, as a kid I had a great time furnishing shoeboxes and other containers as rooms that I arranged in different configurations - even more creative than just playing with a premade dollhouse, and very easy to store under the bed when you're done playing. If you enjoy that sort of thing, it can be really fun to decorate with wrapping paper, fabric scraps, spools, etc.

I love the Ryan's Room dollhouse stuff now, but it's expensive, though perfect in every other way (wooden, sturdy, modular and not too girly). They also have a fire station which comes with beds and things that I'm thinking of getting for my son as a manly version of a dollhouse (not that there's anything wrong with dollhouses for boys!). Good luck and have fun! Another mom of a boy who likes to play house


Dollhouse for a two year old

Feb 2005

We'd like to get a dollhouse for our daughter who turns 2 this month. What kind is the best -- wood or plastic? What brands are good? I notice that for some of the wooden dollhouses, all of the furniture and dolls are sold separately. I don't want to spend more than $100 on something I'm not sure she'll like. Any suggestions? berkeley mom


I really like the ''Furnished Dollhouse'' by Melissa and Doug, who make beautiful wooden toys. My husband put it together and said it was really well designed and went together well and easily. Lovely quality. It does say ages 3 and up, but we decided that nothing was dangerous for our 20-month-old. We actually got ours through Lillian Vernon (Lillianvernon.com), listed under be. momma
we have had plastic as well as a beautiful wood one, well the plastic was more appealing in the moment- looks colorful,etc. and got use out of it though only on occasion. The wood was unappealing at age 2 to my daughter but has gotten a lot more use in the long term (6.5 now)- however you might not see your money's worth at this point. The wood seems to capture open- ended imaginative play in a different way than plastic, but the plastic serves something too. Check out toy-go-round on Solano ave. or somewhere where they have a few set up and see if she gravitates to any. I'd try to go for used, or there are packaged wood ones that come with furniture and people- and sometimes at places like Marshall's/ Ross. The little ones might be good for a 2 year old there is a cute Calico Critters mini house pretty expensive for what it is though. Also think of where it will go, because they can take up a lot of space and get lots of use for a while, then none for a long time and you wonder if you still need it there, but then they'll probably go back to it.... thought a lot about dollhouses
I found an excellent dollhouse that is wooden and comes with everything. My two year old loves it, but I know she will get even more out of it when she's older. It also comes on a turntable so she can play with it from all angles. It's made by Kidcraft, this store has it on sale for $79.99 free shipping (and it was easy to assemble) http://creativebrainsonline.com/kid30dolset.html Nicole

Dollhouse for toddler boy

Nov 2004

Hi. My son is 21/2 and, like many boys his age, obsessed with firetrucks, garbage trucks, construction trucks, and the manly men that tend to drive such vehicles. I am concerned that we are getting too truck focused around here- he does have many other interest and I know he would enjoy playing with a cool dollhouse. I don't want anything overly pink or Barbie-ish. I was considering the Fisher Price Little People's house, but a friend thought he would grow out of it too soon. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks.


The Playmobile preschool dollhouse (NOT the elaborate ones for older kids)could work for you. It is quite simple, and can house vehicles as well as people. I believe it comes with furniture. It is definitely toddler/preschool style, so won't last him for years in terms of his interest, but it is very durable, so you could easily pass it on. Playmobile makes a line of toddler toys, including people, animals (pet and farm) and vehicles (cars, tractors, etc.) that fit in it. It's called Playmobile 1-2-3. R.K.
My son is the same way about trucks, etc. I think you need to realize that this is just part of his nature and a long future of them having interests that might differ from what we would like for them to do. And if you look closely at his play with trucks for example, there is imaginative play in that, just like they would get from a doll house. You could get him toys that are similar in the developmental concept of a doll house, like the Fisher Price farm where instead of dolls they pretend play with animals and tractors. We got our son a old fashioned looking gas station w/ car wash on sale at Pottery Barn Kids. Again, the same sort of pretend play as a doll house, but following his interests.

Other ideas that might appeal to him are those play vacuum cleaners (my son loves to help me vacum and sweep with his toy broom). Or those little strollers for dolls (I got one for my son; at first he refused to have anything in it, especially a doll, but enjoys pushing it around and now occassionaly will give a stuffed toy a ride.) Those are physical activities that appeal to boys but break out of the stereotypes.

I know the nature versus nurture is a hot topic, but coming from an extended family of lots of kids and having done a lot of babysitting, you really see these sort of boy versus girl behaviours, no matter how they've been brought up. My older son and some of his friends were brought up in strict no toy gun households and no violent cartoons/movies. But they were forever making weapons out of carrots, sticks, shoes, you name it. Legos were used to make fighting space craft. It's hard to accept sometimes, but yet I appreciated their creativity. I've also found reading books like ''What's Going On In There?'' really helpful. That book is about brain development from conception to age 5, and reading about how boys and girls brains are wired differently has helped me come to grips with my 2 year old son already showing some of those typically male traits that my 11 year old and husband show! anon


My son is also train-and-truck obsessed. He has Little People vehicles, with people, but he tends to ignore the people and just play with the trucks! However, he's recently -- at 3 1/2 -- begun to enjoy messing about with the wooden and Calico Critters dollhouses set up in Five Little Monkeys. (He seems mostly interested in the furnishings and the teeny weeny dishes and things.) So he's getting a wooden dollhouse this Christmas. The Plan Toys/Ryan's Room type wooden ones are not girly at all. They are, of course, much more expensive than something like the Little People variety, but I figure the stuff will hold his interest a lot longer. (And if it doesn't, well, he has a baby sister!) Most of the wooden ones are unpainted, so no worries about pink. We found a cute house with the interior walls painted blue and green at IKEA, and the price was really reasonable too.

Another alternative to the Little People is Fisher Price's ''Loving Family'' line. It's similar to Little People -- plastic, colorful, houses and vehicles have electronic sounds -- but aimed at slightly older kids. Somewhat less pink than Barbie. Not appreciably cheaper than Plan Toys/Ryan's Room.

All of these things are labeled age 3+ and it may be another year or so before your son is really interested, but I agree that a Little People house might be outgrown before it really catches his interest. Need a Truck Garage in the Dining Room


Hi, I would check out the dollhouses at Ikea. You can find them in the Children's section. They are made of wood and are very contemporary in style. It looks like they are very sturdy and would last a long time. They are not pink or plastic. They have great furniture and dolls to go with it. Also the price is very reasonable. Margaret
I would recommend purchasing one of the wooden dollhouses for your son. They are less detailed and provide for more imaginative play. The playhouse can easily be transformed from house to fire station to school, etc. Lakeshore Learning Center and, I believe, Rockridge Kids carries them. Furniture sets can be purchased separately. ToysRUs carries wonderful sets made by Mellissa and Doug. Have fun! Jan
My advice is to avoid buying a toy that takes up a lot of space unless you are sure your child will play with it, especially if it's durable, long-lasting, or costly. I broke the bank to buy my boys the Playmobile castle which, it turned out, I liked a lot better than they did. How many times did I spread all the pieces on the floor, spend an hour putting it all together, and wait in vain for them to leave the Matchbox cars just for a minute, which they never did? A lot of times. All of the time. And it got passed on to their cousin in mint un-played-with condition, who also didn't play with it. So, if you do get a dollhouse, I recommend getting a small, cheap one. Mom of boys
My son is the same age into trucks etc. He had a great time recently playing with the Playmobil dollhouse. It was a great one. I have also seen very cool wooden ones by Ryan's House (at least i think that's the brand.) The toystore on 4th street in Berkeley has them. EB
we found a firehouse-dollhouse for our then 2 y.o. boy. it took for him the interest in fire trucks, etc. and added to that play that includes sleeping, preparing meals, and such. we've also added a baby, with all their crib, highchair, and changing table to the firehouse, so the firefighters can also take care of their baby. (the firefighters and their house is the same size as all the ''ryan's room'' style furniture and dolls.) it's been a popular play house for over a year. we got the firehouse from ''constructive playthings'' (http://www.constplay.com) and the baby accessories from rockridge kids. jolie
There are a couple of great dollhouses that are more ''classic'' and not the overly pink Barbie types. The SFMOMA store has a really cool one called the Contemporary Doll House. It's pricey ($110) but pretty hip and is really neat: http://store.yahoo.com/sfmoma/codoho.html Also, check out the BRIO Plan City classic dollhouse. It's about $60 and is wooden, with little people and furniture.

Another idea if you're feeling ambitious: When I was younger, I had a dollhouse that was built for me by my godmother....my little brother was always getting into it, which drove me crazy! My parents wanted to give him something of his own, but didn't want anything too girlie pink Barbie-ish. My dad built him a very simple ''horse farmhouse'' which was totally cool. One side was the living quarters with a kitchen down stairs and a bedroom upstairs. The other side of the house had four stables (on the bottom floor) and the upstairs had a ladder and was the ''loft'' (they put hay in it). It was very simple, but he loved the horses and dogs.....it was a fun mix of a classic doll house but with a twist! Good luck.... alexandra


IKEA has a fabulous gender-neutral dollhouse. I'll be getting one for my son for Christmas. Happy dollhousing! -I played with hot wheels instead of Barbies!
How about a treehouse? I haven't purchased this yet, but want to for my little girl because i don't want a regular dollhouse for her either... this is the basic set, there is a bigger one too - they are quite tall around 3 feet! http://thetoyhunt.com/basetwifrsh.html wish i had one when i was young! good luck
Ikea has a great dollhouse --a very simple, modular (of course, it's Ikea!) dollhouse painted white, black, and funky blues and greens. You can buy furniture sets and dollhouse people from Ikea, too, though other sets (Ryan's Room) fit, too. My toddler son loves it. Ikea Shopper
My two-year old really enjoys her ''Little Tree'' dollhouse from Target.It comes with some furniture and a little family of small dolls. Everything is made of wood. Not particularly girlish and I don't think she will outgrow it anytime soon. Maria

Wooden Doll Bed or Cradle

June 2006

Can anyone recommend a place to buy a nice wooden doll bed or cradle? The ones I saw shopping this weekend were all around $70 (gasp!). Thanks. Sarah


I bought a doll cradle for my daughter from Magic Cabin Dolls last year. It was about $20-30, I think. When I checked the website (www.magiccabindolls.com) they didn't have it, but they have an alternative you may like. Laurel
IKEA carries an inexpensive basic wood doll bed for less than $20. They even sell separately a pillow and bedspread set for the bed. I bought one for my daughter a couple of years ago, and when I was there about 6 months ago, I noticed that they still carried it.
IKEA in Emeryville sells wood-framed doll beds with a white laminate mattress support at a very reasonable price. I'm sorry I can't remember the exact figure, but it's in the $15-25 range, not near $70. Assembly required. If you don't like the spare, IKEA look, call the used toy stores. I've often seen cradles for less than $70. New IKEA fan
Ikea carries nice wooden doll beds(not cradels) for about $20. Abby
Try checking IKEA. I purchased an inexpensive wooden bed for my daughter there almost 2 years ago -- but I believe they still make them. They also sell a bedding set. anon
We recieved a cute doll bed as a gift from IKEA. It is a simple wooden frame ( unfinished) and has a pillow, mat and blanket that come with it. dawn
Ikea. Susan
IKEA! IKEA! I recently purchased a doll bed and bedding as a gift for about $25 (?). Can't remember the exact price but it was around there. I never opened the box since it was a gift so can't speak to the quality but I believe it's plain wood. Bedding is pink (sold separately). EAnnis
Target has a line of American Girl knock-offs which has a doll bed in the collection. It's not wood, but it's a reasonably attractive one (around $15) and the Groovy Girl lines (available at smaller toy shops like Sweet Dreams and McCaulous) has a cute bed with has attached covers. This is surprisingly handy. Other than that, Ikea is your best bet for a wooden one. mom 2 2 girls
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