Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Camp Doll Diaries 2013: The Cabin

If you've browsed around much online for American Girl things, you've probably seen the concept of folding play rooms for the dolls from foam core board. It's not a new concept, and I didn't come up with it. I'm so pleased with how this turned out, though, that I wanted to share it with you. And since I didn't run across any detailed tutorials for how to make these (maybe I missed one), I decided to create my own to clear up any misconceptions you might have, like I did.

This is the finished inside of our Camp Doll Diaries 2013 cabin. This is going to be our doll's vacation retreat, too, so we'll get plenty of use out of this cabin.

The great thing about these rooms is that you can fold them up and store them under the bed or behind furniture when the kids are done playing. The other great thing is the cost. I made this one for right around $10, not including duct tape. You could skip the carpet (and thus make the room larger, if you'd like) and decorating the outside for a savings of about $4, making it just $6 for this fantastic little cabin.

So let's get started with the how-to pictures.

First of all, you'll need three sheets of foamcore board. I got mine at Dollar Tree where they're 20 x 27-1/4". I think they're slightly bigger elsewhere, but these work fine.

You'll also need duct tape. Any color will work, even the original gray style. Just don't scrimp on this because the sturdiness of the room depends on the strength of the duct tape. This is one of the few projects that I wouldn't buy the "duct tape" for it at the dollar store, unless your store happens to carry a name brand.

You want to tape the boards short-sides-together so that it looks like this:

Be careful with the joins, being certain not to just bump them right against each other side-by-side. You want them to be able to fold like this:

I ended up with a small strip of duct tape showing between each of the boards, which is why I was able to fold it forward or backward.

Don't worry, though, if you do it my way you'll still be able to fold it out the proper way like this:

But it folds down to a nice, compact size:

To fold it like this, you fold one outside board one way, and the other outside board the other way. You end up with three boards "stacked" on top of each other, taking up just a tiny bit more space than one board would alone.

But how do we get that cute cabin look?

Get some wood-grain shelf-liner-type paper from your local dollar store. I used almost all of two rolls from my Dollar Tree for the inside. I don't have the outside finished yet, but it will also use two rolls. My store had this in a light color (which I used inside) and a darker color (which I used outside).

Since the rolls at my store were only 18" wide, I added a 2" bulletin board border trim at the top to make up the difference. They carry those at the dollar store, too, and one pack will do the trick. It's the perfect scale to look like wallpaper border.

My dollar store is carrying these carpet-type mats at the moment, and two fit perfectly inside the cabin once I trimmed off about 1-1/2"from one of them. The carpet is completely optional, though.

I may add a fake window or two, but for now I kept it simple because I wanted it to be versatile enough to play with after our doll's summer camp is over.

I can't tell you how much my kids enjoy this. I'll probably be making a few more rooms in the future. I'm thinking of a schoolroom for back-to-school, since they've already played school with these dolls.


Shoregirl said...

Great little cabin room and I love that it folds up to a compact size for storage!

The Zeigler Homestead said...

What a creative idea. Thanks for the tutorial-you made it sound doable even for me :) -Susie