DIY Project: Tiny Doors


As you know, I’m a huge fan of completely non-functional projects where the only goal is visual delight. Sure, they don’t do anything, but if they are fun, or beautiful, or mysterious? Even in this world of infinite stuff, that’s still totally enough for me. This project falls into that category, and needless to say, I love it beyond measure. After a compelling discussion with her son, Harry, about the source of mysterious noises in their house — Harry argued that the tooth fairy, not mice, was causing the ruckus — creative blogger Kate Benbow decided to craft this ingenious little “fairy door” to surprise him one morning.

Obviously, no kid could resist this; all things miniature are deemed automatically awesome when you’re a child, or at least they were for me. But in all honesty, I doubt anyone, young or old, could deny the delight of stumbling across this tiny universe, even if he or she created it. In fact, it is not too dissimilar from the Parallel World installation that Google’s former creative director Ji Lee installed on his ceiling. I think it’s safe to say that the mere thought of miniature worlds is wonderful and amazing, and if you were to install one of these tiny doors in your home, a friend’s home or even a public space, I’d dare you not to smile every time you came across it. Just try it! — Kate

Read Kate’s story about coming up with the idea and the full how-to after the jump . . .

It was bedtime for my three-year-old son, and we were curled up reading a story when there was a scuttling and scratching noise under the floorboards. We live in a very old house; the mice regard us as interlopers and show no signs of leaving any time soon. Casually, Harry ventured: “I don’t think it is mice, Mummy; I think it might have been the tooth fairy.” We ended up having a rambling and impromptu conversation about where the tooth fairy lives, which got me thinking. Later that week, I found two inexpensive dollhouse doors and did a spot of secret crafting. Harry came down to breakfast the other morning and was astonished to discover the actual front door used by the tooth fairy, Santa’s elves and . . . well, who knows who else lives behind the door? We know for sure that someone lives there because they get mail and milk deliveries and are fond of leaving their boots outside the door when it rains. — Kate B.

Materials

  • plain, non-opening dollhouse door and any dollhouse door furniture you want to use (You should be able to buy these for less than $10.)
  • paint for door (Choose the same color as your woodwork for greater invisibility, or a contrasting color pop for a temporary door or one you want to be noticed quickly!)
  • small sheet of lightweight cardstock
  • pen
  • baker’s twine (for making a bundle of mail)

 

Instructions

1. Paint the door and leave to dry.


2. Affix any door furniture using a dab of strong glue. Once dry, attach to the skirting or woodwork in your room. Strong double-sided tape works well for this; it gives a strong enough adhesion to withstand little hands tugging on the doorknob but shouldn’t damage your woodwork too much if and when you decide to remove it, unlike glue.

3. Accessorize your entrance! I made fairy mail by cutting up tiny squares of cardstock, scribbling a tiny address and tying it together with baker’s twine (see pictures), but other ideas include tiny flowerpots, boots, milk bottles and even a holiday wreath for the door. Most miniatures stores stock these routinely for DIY dollhouse enthusiasts.


4. Finally, for ultimate mystery, rotate your “props” to create the impression of life — take the mail away, change the number of milk bottles. The eagle-eyed kids in your house will notice!

  1. LOVE this! As an adult I still have frequent dreams about discovering secret passageways & rooms in the house. I loved The Littles, despite the creepy animation. Never heard of The Borrowers, but thanks to your readers I’m about to find a copy on Amazon!

  2. allison says:

    my 6 year old son loves the fairies and gnomes who he says lives in our walls. i’ve made him several doors for them, and several times a week we pick leaves and berries to leave overnight in a little dish by the door. in the morning when he wakes up, the treats are gone, and there’s a little sprinkle of fairy dust (glitter) left behind. i absolutely love it!

  3. Alyson says:

    This is such a creative, whimsical idea! It would definitely spark conversation and maybe some curiosity in my fourth grade classroom :)

  4. Jessica says:

    This is such a gorgeous idea! When I was growing up there was a shop called The Lost Forest, which sold all sorts of wonderful stuffed creatures. The story behind it was that there was a secret trapdoor that led to a forest filled with these creatures – I always dreamt one day I’d find a trapdoor of my own.

  5. dana says:

    My kids are in college….I have NO excuse for wanting this. But I will go home and do it this weekend. This whole post made me smile! Fantastic!

  6. natalia says:

    I just can’t recommend you this movie enough http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0485634/

    When I saw this post is the first thing I thought, I think it’s so important to raise children with a little magic.

  7. Darlene says:

    I Love It!!! I don’t care if my husband might think I’m crazy but I’m going to do it in my dining room. Our granddaughters will love it!

  8. Gail says:

    Bless you for this wonderful gift of pure joy!

  9. Megan says:

    Thanks for including instructions. I will definitely try it out. I feel so creative already

  10. Katherine Ross says:

    So fun! Like many have mentioned, this reminded me of the fairy doors throughout Ann Arbor. What a fun way to incorporate it into a home!

  11. Marie says:

    Can’t even stand this cuteness!! Are you kidding me?! LOVE

  12. Sarah says:

    In a small public garden in Pasadena I noticed a dear little round-topped door at the base of one of the trees. Actually took my 28 year old son to see it. He was enchanted.

  13. Diva T says:

    Simply charming and mysterious. We all needs a bit of mystery and fun no matter how young or old. Fun for a holiday project.

  14. dora says:

    I have to ask, isn’t a child going to be disappointed if the door doesn’t open/there’s nothing behind it?

  15. r. mitchell says:

    This is precious!

  16. John says:

    Such a sweet idea to help add a little magic to everyday life :)

    John@KDCUK

  17. drajim says:

    wonderful

  18. Sally says:

    I am a grown up without little children, so why do I feel I NEED one of these in my home?! Love it!

  19. MaryAnn says:

    But….I would be sooooo frustrated by this because it doesn’t OPEN! I didn’t read every post, but did no one mention that? That aspect would drive me crazy!
    I truly love the magical idea of it and applaud your creativity, but being unable to open the door keeps me from trying it.
    Good job!

  20. joanne says:

    my first impression was “that’s ridiculous” which quickly became “that’s ridiculously awesome!”

  21. Tamara Werth says:

    I’m a Fairy Freak…love it…thank you

  22. I absolutely love this idea and my son Lenny will be amazed by it. Ha ha I can’t wait! I think I will put the door on his nursery furniture so the fairies live with him. Great idea.

  23. ere says:

    This is beautiful! I can’t wait to put little sets together I know people of every age that will surely be delighted! I think also that one could install it on a wall to swing open and the possibilities are then endless.. Modpodge a picture of a mudroom, a garden, paint a small scene maybe a tunnel lit by candle, even perhaps just blue sky and clouds or stars :o) looove this ty

  24. Marie says:

    Didn’t you know that only the fairies are able to open these doors! After all, they do have special powers.

  25. Stephanny says:

    Oh my goodness, this is so amazing! I want to try with an opening door and a portal painted behind it. Your idea is so perfect! <3

  26. Deanna says:

    I have my two grandaughters stay with me for a week each summer. They are cousins and a year apart (currently 7 and 8). I am definitely doing this next summer when they come up.

  27. Stacy says:

    Aww, the little milk bottles and crate totally make this for me. It is such a cool look!

  28. Linda says:

    What a delightful idea!! There must be “little people” everywhere! You may want to read “the Borrowers” – a wonderful set of children’s books about the mysterious little people who “borrow” all those small things we need that seem to go missing from time to time.

    The details here are fantastic! Your family must love this.

  29. Christine Cane says:

    I read “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” to my third graders and they loved it. Our school was built in a farmer’s field and the field mice would come into the building each year to get out of the cold. We had a little chink in the corner of one of our cement blocks in our classroom wall. We would see the field mice come int and out through that little chink. One morning, before the class arrived, I placed a tiny motorcycle just outside the mouse hole. It took about an hour for one of the children to spot it. The rest of the day someone was squatting by the hole watching for the mouse to return and ride the motorcycle. It was magical. Children need these moments of magic. Adulthood comes too soon.

  30. Justin Ternet says:

    Nice idea to hide an electrical outlet. :)
    For an openable door: i think just 2 small magnets and glue the door on a piece of fabric folded in half lengthwise.

  31. Jody Keleske says:

    How I wish I had found this when my children were young! We celebrated all things magical. Now, unfortunately my grandchildren are just a wee bit too old. This is delightful and should be in every household. Children are young for such a short time…..celebrate it!

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