Saving Vintage Dollhouses

Why buy a vintage dollhouse?

All across the world, at this very moment, there are vintage dollhouses hoping to be saved. Some need complete renovations, some are ready to furnish. Here are a few reasons to consider a vintage dollhouse.

  1. Affordability- People who are getting rid of dollhouses are often not the original owners and the dollhouse is in their way. Most of the dollhouses I have purchased have been in the neighborhood of $50. I bought the Katz house (pictured) off of OfferUp for only $250 because its owners left it behind when they sold their real house. The couple that bought the house just wanted it gone. There are awesome deals out there.

  2. Quality materials- Most vintage dollhouses are made from wood and were built to last. If they've made it this far, there is usually a reason. Some are kits and some from scratch. Even if a house is missing some architectural pieces those can be replaced. The exception is the tin houses which haven't aged as well, but you can sometimes find them for around $25.

  3. Diversity of styles- There are many discontinued kit models that are still widely popular. If the new kits just aren't sparking your interest, research discontinued models for companies like Greenleaf, Duracraft, and Artply. You'd be surprised how often you can find new in the box retired kits. There is more architectural diversity in vintage dollhouses. For awhile I collected mid century modern German houses. That's a style that's not as common.

  4. Plug and Play- If you buy an already built dollhouse in good condition you can start decorating right away. I often tell the story of how my dad started building me a dollhouse, but didn't get it finished, (It's one of the reasons for my current mini obsession). Building a dollhouse can be overwhelming for some, buying a newly built one can be very expensive.

How much to pay

Vintage dollhouses can be found from free up into thousands of dollars for artisan built homes. You can certainly find one in your price range if you‘re patient. Most dollhouses I have purchased locally have been $40-$250. If your budget is nothing, don’t be deterred. Just put out the word to everyone you know that you’re looking to rescue a vintage dollhouse. People are often so happy to pass it onto someone who will treasure it.

Where to find one

So now that we've discussed why to get a vintage dollhouse your next question is where. Here are some ideas of places to look. Stay on it. When the right house appears you'll be ready. Although you can find vintage dollhouses through sites that ship, shipping costs can be prohibitive. Plus, packing such delicate and heavy items is extremely challenging so your best bet is to look within an hour of your home. A note about transporting, Don't assume the dollhouse will fit in your car, Trust me.

Best Places to Look

  • Craigslist

  • Facebook Marketplace

  • OfferUp

  • Thrift Shops

  • Newspaper classifieds

  • Flea markets

  • Nextdoor

  • Mercari

  • Etsy

  • Ebay (you can search by your zip code)

  • ShopGoodwill

(if I missed any good ideas let me know!)

Things to watch out for when buying a vintage dollhouse:

  • Lead paint- Order a packet of lead paint swabs on Amazon

  • Insects- I usually inspect and leave in my garage until its totally cleaned

  • Mold- water damage is common, Moldy parts must be treated or removed

I hope this is helpful and that you’ve been inspired to rescue a vintage dollhouse. Be sure to tag me on social media when you find one! @vintagedollhouseshop.

Good luck on your treasure hunt!