Make Paper Dollhouses

This project is inspired by Magic Trash: The Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art. You've seen what kids at reDiscover Center can do with upcycled materials, but have you seen what a whole town can do? Tyree Guyton reclaims Detroit's crumbling communities using art.

Find this book at our Chill Zone on your next visit to reDiscover Center. Written by J.H. Shapiro; illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.

In this book, we see Tyree Guyton's family house on Heidelberg and how every time he came and went, it looks different. It becomes transformed through multiple iterations of decorations, continuously to this day. This strikes us similarly to how our dolls and action figures have multiple outfits!

Clothes allow us to express ourselves to other people. They show a tiny peek at our personalities. So do our living spaces! For this project, we will draw little dollhouse versions of a room in our home and make different "outfits" for it. Much like paper dolls, except it's for your home and not a person/figure.

Sometimes, we play around decorating our spaces based on the seasons we are in or the holidays that are coming up. Decorations can be pricy so we always recommended making your decorations! Let's make some for our drawings to tell the story of your home and what elements go into making it a home to treasure year-round.

STEP 1 - Gather Your Materials


  • Scissors
  • Tape (Any kind works. We used packing tape and artist tape)
  • Markers/Pens of different colors
  • Ruler
  • Gluestick (Liquid Glue optional)
  • Hot Glue (optional)
  • Gloves

Making Materials

For this project, I took a handful of creative reuse materials I could find at home. Make sure to check with an adult if it's okay to use before hot gluing it onto art projects.

  • Any creative reuse materials you can think of
    • I found the following in my crafting stash/around my home
      • fake plants
      • tissue
      • mylar
      • felt
  • Paper board and Construction paper (or any paper of different colors. I had extra envelopes that happened to be yellow that I thought would be nice to use).

STEP 2 - Draw a room in your home/living space

Draw a room on a sheet of cardstock paper. It can be on paperboard. We use these types of paper because it's more sturdy than a thin sheet of paper.

Start by drawing a square container using the straight edges on a ruler. Then sketch out one wall in your home. This will be a plain image of our home without any decorations. What furniture do you have? How many windows and where? If you have shelves,  where are they placed? Keep them empty.

STEP 3 - Create decorations!

Things to think about when making decorations:

  • What theme are you decorating for?
    • When you pick a theme for decorations, it helps you make decisions for what you end up drawing and cutting out.
    • Themes can include:
      • Seasons
      • Holidays
      • Color schemes (all pink, Neopolitan ice cream, different shades of blue)
      • Biomes (Jungle theme, oceans, etc.)
    • What imagery/pictures can you draw that are associated with these themes?
      • Examples: Flowers for spring. Snow for winter. Brainstorm.
  • What materials are you using and how do you use them?
    • Markers and pens are great for drawing "accessories" to decorate with.
      • Draw decorations on construction paper and cut them out for making pieces quickly and easily.
      • *PRO-TIP: Use gluestick to put together pieces of paper. Paper adheres to other papers very easily so you don't need to use hot glue for that. Only use hot glue to stick more bulky materials together, as these fake plant leaves to each other, and paper.


  • Let your decorations be temporary!
    • By not gluing them down, you get to move pieces around and change them whenever you feel like it. We change clothes all the time! Layer pieces onto your paper to "dress" and style your home.

STEP 4 - PLAY with Decorating!

Check out some of the themes I picked and decorated for my living room! Slide to see iterations.


I let my creative housemates re-do my decorating with all if my decorations piled together. This is what they came up with!

For Future Adaptations...

Loved this project, but too easy? One way to elaborate on this project is to create a 3D version of your room and decorations! Make it more challenging, and more fun.

Activity Guide by Hanabee Cartagena, with concepts from Joyce Tam.


For any tips on how to use specific tools safely, visit our Youtube library for Tiny Techniques. 

Check out this video on how much hot glue you should be using on certain materials.


Visit the Techniques tab in reDiscover Center's Pedagogy Resources  for more activity guides, access our Tiny Techniques videos, and get tips for working safely and efficiently with tools.

Once you have finished your character, share them with friends and family and show them how you take care of yourself, by filling the void in your life in healthy ways! If you want to share a picture on social media, make sure to tag @reDiscoverCtr. We love to see what you make!

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