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Does your child love playing with Barbies, swear by Sylvanian families or enjoy playing house with other favourite figurines? Perhaps you’d like to get them a big wooden dollhouse for a Christmas or birthday present, but you’re put off by the hefty price tag.

We’ve got a solution with this simple hack: repurpose a bookcase where each cube can be turned into a dollhouse room. So put the credit card away and spend a little time instead – even one hour should do the job. However, we can’t estimate the time you’ll need to decorate it, should you find yourself enticed by the results!

Materials to make your life size dollhouse

  • a bookcase with cubes: ideally upcycle it or choose the size that suits your project and your home (here we’ve chosen a model with 6 cubes for a dollhouse that measures around 1.5 metres, ideal for children aged 5 to 8),
  • two plywood sheets about 1 cm thick, the same width as your bookcase (the length may vary depending on your bookcase; for a unit with 6 cubes, we’ve used 600 mm boards),
  • two angled brackets,
  • a square wood strip measuring around 40 mm long,
  • large rigid cardboard and/or 3 mm MDF board for the back of the dollhouse (factor in both the back of the unit and height of roof you want to add),
  • a pack of 25 mm screws,
  • two small nuts and 10 mm bolts (the diameter must fit your angled brackets),
  • wide flat-headed nails,
  • balsa wood boards and rolls of adhesive vinyl (which will serve as floors),
  • patterned sheets of paper or wallpaper samples (to cover the walls),
  • white glue and wood glue
  • drill driver
  • 2 or 3 mm wood drill bit 

What material can I use to make miniature furniture for my dollhouse?
Balsa wood! This material is made from the wood of the tree of the same name. Extremely lightweight, it’s often used for making models. By choosing a rather thin model (here we used 3 mm-thick balsa boards for furniture), you can cut it with a box cutter.

How to make your DIY dollhouse

Follow the steps in the tutorial by referring to the photos – it’s a snap!

Step 1: make the dollhouse roof

make your dollhouse roof

Cut a piece of your wood strip the width of the roof and attach the two plywood sheets at right angles to the strip. Add two screws on each side to keep the sheets on the strip.

Step 2: attach the roof to the bookcase

attach the roof to the bookcase

Place the roof on the bookcase, make sure it’s centred and use the angled brackets to secure it to the sides of the case on the back of the dollhouse. If the boards you’re using for the roof are especially thin, we suggest pre-drilling them using a wood drill bit with a small diameter (2/3 mm).

attach the roof to the bookcase using angled brackets

Locate the bracket holes on the roof and drill a hole using a bit that’s wide enough to fit your bolt through. Put the bolt through the wood and bracket and then tighten the nut.

Step 3: add a back to the bookcase

add a back to the bookcase

For the back, use MDF, grey cardboard or any other hard cardboard. Just nail it directly onto the wood.

Tip: If you want white walls in the dollhouse, it’s easier to paint the back beforehand.

Step 4: add the attic wall

add a back to the roof on your bookcase

First, use a pencil to draw the shape of the roof on your wood board or rigid cardboard. Cut it out.

cut the backing off the back of your roof wall

Cover with wallpaper or paint before nailing it to the strip at the top of the roof.

Step 5: decorate your wooden dollhouse!

decorate your wooden dollhouse

This step is definitely the most fun. First, lay the floors. Use 3 mm balsa boards for parquet, patterned adhesive for vinyl floors or even mosaic for a tiled effect.

For walls, opt for paint or stick on some wallpaper or patterned paper.

If you are champion when it comes to finishes, you can also cut strips of balsa to make baseboards.

Now that everything is ready, you only need to furnish your wooden dollhouse!

Inside your wooden dollhouse

Did you enjoy building your own wooden dollhouse? Are you looking for other easy DIY ideas to surprise your kids? Make them a tent bed, DIY Connect 4, create light from a potato or build a Lego table with our tutorials.

Visit ManoMano for all your DIY, home & garden project needs!

The sun is shining, the days are long and it’s time to relax – to stretch out on your homemade hammock, eyes closed, cold drink in hand, and try to block out the ‘daddy I’m booored’, or the high pitched ‘why won’t you play with me mummy’. The HandyMano has whipped up a quick and fun DIY Connect 4 to get the kids out of the house and occupied during the holidays (and maybe tire them out enough that you can get some rest!)

What you’ll need

To do this DIY project you will need the following tools:

In addition, these materials will be needed:

  • 2 panels of (veneer) wood [60x60x0.3cm]
  • Wooden slats in a variety of sizes
    • 2 600x45x10 mm
    • 1 20x510x10 mm
    • 2 500x45x10 mm
    • 4   20x140x10 mm
    • 2   55x45x10 mm
    • 2   20x800x10mm
    • 1   5x5x1000 mm OR  a piece of string/rope
  • Carpenter’s glue
  • Paint
  • Wood filler
  • Foamboard or thick cardboard

Step 1 : Divide and conquer

Divide your board into 9 columns, using your spirit level to help. The first column should be 12cm wide, the next seven at 7cm and the last 12cm. Once you have these columns drawn up, work down the board, dividing it into 6 rows. Your first row should be 12cm, the next four 7cm, and the last 20cm

DIY connect 4 giant build your own homemade kids games activities children holidays spirit level ruler drawing gridDIY connect 4 giant build your own homemade kids games activities children holidays table measurements

Step 2: Get the drill out

You’ll be drilling a total of 35 circles, in each square you have created in the middle of your board (the blue sections in the diagram).

DIY connect 4 giant build your own homemade kids games activities children holidays drill circular wood circles

Step 3: Sand away

Now for the most satisfying part – grab your sander and work away at any rough edges or imperfections which might have appeared on the wood during your drilling. Tip: veneer is pretty thin so we recommend taking care not to wear through the wood if you choose to use an electric or belt sander! Try using 220 grit sandpaper, and be sure to stop if the wood starts looking a little yellow.

DIY connect 4 giant build your own homemade kids games activities children holidays wood circles sanding

Step 4: All aboard

Grab those many slats you prepared and get ready to stick.

  • Firstly, take your two boards of 600x45x10mm. This will be what keeps your two sheets of veneer separated, leaving a space for inserting counters.
  • Then, take the strip of 20x510x10mm and put it underneath your bottom row to prevent the counters falling through the bottom.
  • To stop counters from sliding into different rows, you have two options. The first option is to cut up a strip of 5x5x1000mm into 5cm lengths and place vertically down the gaps between each circle. If you don’t fancy all the chopping, feel free to take a piece of string or rope, or something similar, and line it up vertically between the circles. This can be glued down and you may need more than one layer, depending on your rope’s thickness.
  • The two slats of 20x800x10mm should go on either side of the board, extending from, the first planks to reach out to the floor.
  • Now attach the four 20x140x10mm slats, one of either side of each leg, to give your board stability.

Tip: Make sure to clamp your wood together while the glue dries to ensure strong joints!

DIY connect 4 giant build your own homemade kids games activities children holidays wood glueDIY connect 4 giant build your own homemade kids games activities children holidays standing frame

Step 5: Box it up

And no, not because your children are bored of it already…

You want to grab your last slats of wood now [two 500x45x10mm and two 55x45x10mm], and make a box which will hold the counters. The two long pieces of wood should be joined at a right angle, the two smaller ones on either side of this. Let the box dry, and then attach to the main board

DIY connect 4 giant build your own homemade kids games activities children holidays wooden

Step 6: Painting time

Get creative! Paint your box any colour you fancy, or maybe even get the kids to help with this step. Tip: remember to get rid of any dust left over from sanding before you paint, and feel free to give it a lick of primer first to make your paint job last longer! As well as this, we recommend filling in any tricky gaps with wood filler to give your project a neat finish.

Once the paint has dried, you can attach the other main piece of board to the back.

DIY connect 4 giant build your own homemade kids games activities children holidays painting wooden red

Step 7: Counter Attack

Take a thick-ish material of your choice (cardboard or foamboard) and draw out circles of 6.5 cm in diameter. You’ll want 36 counters in total, 18 in one colour, 18 in another. You can colour, paint or spray paint these counters your choice in colour. We went with the classic – white and black.

DIY connect 4 giant build your own homemade kids games activities children holidays compass circular counters

And there you have it! You built a giant DIY Connect 4, we’re proud of you. If you feel like showing off your achievement, why not head over to our Facebook page and send us a photo! If the kids still won’t get off your back, we’ve put together 8 child friendly garden activities to help keep them entertained. Alternatively, if you feel that you deserve a relax by now (we agree) you could try your hand at this quick and easy wooden bath tray to give your evening that spa quality touch.

DIY connect 4 giant build your own homemade kids games activities children holidays redDIY connect 4 giant build your own homemade kids games activities children holidays red


This article was written by: Bricoydeco and translated. Mari Luz authors the blog ‘Bricoydeco’, she is a DIY fanatic, lover of recycling and customising furniture. Her passion is giving a second chance to turn once forgotten things into unique pieces!

We all like to enjoy our privacy in our outdoor spaces and keep away from prying eyes or unsightly views. Here are some ideas on what privacy plants to grow alongside ways to build a plant screen for your balcony, garden or terrace so you can enjoy your outdoor oasis in private.

Privacy plants

The choices available to us for our plant screen will largely depend on the size of our balcony, terrace or garden. Bamboo, for example, is a great plant for privacy, but as it grows it can end up taking up a lot of useful space in a small balcony. 


Privacy plants for your balcony (C) shutterstock_1355766608

Boxwood is an evergreen (it does not lose its foliage) low maintenance plant, ideal for areas where the weather allows you to enjoy the outdoors for many months. 
It can be grown in full sun and in partial shade, and it can also withstand below zero temperatures in the winter.


Bamboo is a luscious way for balcony privacy (C) Franco Mariuzza

Bamboo grows very fast and is a plant resistant like few others, easily withstanding both direct sunlight in the summer, and very low temperatures in the winter. Its leaves sprout from the base of the stem, so it is ideal for building tall plant screens or barriers. It can be grown in pots or planters, although its height and growth will be limited to the available space: the bigger the planter, the taller the plant will grow.


Horsetail is a good plant for privacy (C) Alesah Villalon

Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) is ideal for demarcating spaces or if we want to give our outdoor space a zen look. It can be grown in direct sunlight as well as in partial shade, and requires frequent watering, especially in the summer.


Hedges provide luscious privacy
(C) Wonderlane

We cannot fail to mention hedge plants, even though they are usually planted directly in the soil. The cherry laurel has glossy round leaves, and is perhaps the smoothest to the touch of all the hedging varieties. Thujas are much more dense, and can grow quite tall. They can all be grown in large pots or planters in order to achieve the desired density.

Climbing plants

Climbing plants can provide a privacy screen
Climbing plants provide a vertical screen

All climbing plants can create a more or less dense screen to provide some privacy. However, some of them lose their leaves in the autumn, so keep this in mind if you need your screen during the winter months as well.


Jasmine provides beautifully scented privacy (C) Shutterstock

Not only can jasmine provide us with a beautiful privacy screen, it will also allow us to enjoy its wonderful jasmine scent during the whole summer. It is a hardy plant, which can be grown in partial shade as well as in direct sunlight when mature. Be careful if you transplant it in the middle of summer to an outdoor area with a great deal of sunshine.


Luscious flowers for the garden
Bougainvillea (C) David Clode

This shrub can be grown in large pots or planters, and requires regular pruning if we want to guide its growth. If you have the space to grow it in a big pot, don’t hesitate to do so. Its blooming in summer is absolutely spectacular and will fill your terrace or balcony with gorgeous colour.


(C) Dalia Mu

If your balcony or terrace receives little direct sunlight, ivy will grow there very easily. You can guide its stems so that they attach to the balcony railing, or you can grow it as a hanging plant in pots or planters. Little by little you will manage to build a dense screen to keep your terrace safe from prying eyes. We must warn you, however, that both its leaves and fruit can be toxic when ingested. This is something to keep in mind if there are children or pets in the house.

Privacy plants: vertical structures, pots and planters

Privacy plants for your garden
(C) Shutterstock

In good-sized terraces we can combine tall pots and planters to divide the space, gain height for our plants and create a good privacy screen. At ManoMano you can find a great variety of options.

Stackable pots and vertical gardens can also provide some privacy if we place them in strategic places or hang them from the railings. We can grow flowers, ferns, scented herbs and small vegetables, all depending on the amount of sunlight available.

In addition to the plants themselves, planters, pots and planting structures can help us gain some further privacy.
On a balcony with railing, for example, we can grow all kinds of plants by placing some planters on the floor and hanging others from the railing. You will need to know how each of the plants grows, in order to achieve the privacy screen that you want. Lastly, let’s not forget that some plants can take longer to grow, so they won’t be able to create a privacy screen immediately. In these cases, we can use other, more conventional, solutions to gain privacy on our terraces or balconies, such as privacy screens, retractable side awnings or even roller blinds that we can roll out and back in at our pleasure.

Best privacy plants for your garden (C) Annie Spratt

Did you enjoy this article on the best privacy plants for your balcony, terrace or garden? Perhaps you’d be interested in reading our BBQ buying guide or seeing our 4 tips on garden lighting.

Share your results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway#manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Upcycle wooden drawers into under-bed storage project in collaboration with My Thrifty Life

It can be a challenge to keep your home tidy, especially when you’ve got youngsters at home all day, so why not make the tidying process easier with some handy under-bed storage? This upcycling project makes use of old wooden drawers salvaged from different broken chests of drawers and turns them into useful storage that fits neatly under the bed, sofa or coffee table. Low-profile castors make it easier to access the drawers once they’re full, just measure the height of the gap and make sure the box will fit underneath once the castors are added. 

Upcycle wooden drawers ideas
(C) Andy Greenacre and My Thrifty Life by Cassiefairy

You can make a cartoon-themed drawer for children to help them tidy away their toys, or you could create a handy roll-out box for teenagers’ trainers. You can make multiple drawers to fit along the length of a bunk bed and either go for a coordinating finish or let kids decorate their own personalised drawer in vibrant colours. If you want to add more storage beneath your own double bed, why not add maps or photos to the interior for a grown-up version? 

Check out the step-by-step DIY project to make this handy under-bed storage drawers here.

Project created by My Thrifty Life by Cassiefairy with photography by Andy-Greenacre.co.uk 

Did you enjoy this article on how to upcycle wooden drawers? Why not read our tips & tricks to create a cosy reading space or even our bedroom furniture buying guide!

Are you upcycling your wooden drawers for under-bed storage? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

If you want to organise the family, keep track of the kids’ activities and make lists of tasks and shopping all in one place, why not have a go at turning a door into a family organiser? It’s a handy space to make to-do lists and to keep an eye on what tasks need doing each week, whilst increasing your home’s storage space by utilising every possible nook and cranny. Children can use the chalks to add their own lessons to the planner and will enjoy drawing you a lovely picture at the bottom of the door.

This space saving family door organiser makes use of any odds and ends of DIY materials you’ve got lying around, such as a small section of guttering to store essentials, and copper pipe leftover from a plumbing task to hold a roll of paper for shopping lists and pots full of pens and chalk. You could use the door under the stairs, inside the kitchen pantry or your office door to keep on top of tasks while working from home. It might even encourage your teenager to make a revision planner if it’s painted onto their bedroom door! 

Family door organiser
Family door organiser (C) Andy Greenacre and Cassefairy

Check out the step-by-step photos to DIY this handy doorganiser here.

Project created by My Thrifty Life by Cassiefairy with photography by Andy-Greenacre.co.uk 

Are you making your own family door organiser? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!