The best dollhouse
Many children dream of owning the perfect dollhouse, and you can make that dream come true for the kid in your life. From compact first dollhouses to huge mansion-style homes, you can find all kinds of options on the market.
This guide will help you choose the best dollhouse for your child's playtime. We've listed a few suggested models, our favorite being the Melissa & Doug Classic Heirloom Victorian Wooden Dollhouse. This dollhouse looks beautiful and is of a manageable height -- big enough to play with but not so large that it takes over the room.
Considerations when choosing dollhouses
Dollhouses can range from less than a foot high to over five feet tall, depending on the scale to which they're made. Large dollhouses give kids more room to play, which is especially beneficial when buying a dollhouse for more than one child to share, but they can dwarf a small room. Plus, if your child doesn't end up playing with their dollhouse much, it's a lot of space to be taken up by something that's rarely used. You can find midsize dollhouses, which are still large enough not to be cramped, but not so gigantic that it's intrusive in your home.
While you will find some exceptions to this rule, dollhouses usually don't come with dolls. If your child already owns a range of dolls, buying a dollhouse that fits them will save you money. When buying dolls separately, look for ones that match the scale size of your dollhouse.
Not all dollhouses are suitable for all age groups. Some intricate dollhouses have small parts and are unsuitable for young children. Conversely, you can find some basic dollhouses designed for preschoolers that older children may find babyish.
Dollhouses, especially high-end ones, are often modelled after classic Victorian or antebellum-style mansion homes. Of course, you can find some with more contemporary designs, too.
Some dollhouses have working electric lights, which is a nice touch. If your chosen dollhouse has this feature, these lights will be battery-powered, so you'll need to make sure you purchase the correct type of batteries to power the lights, if they're not included.
Opening windows are another fun feature to have. It might seem irrelevant, but they can add an extra dimension of realism and enhance play.
You can find some dollhouses for less than $50, but large, durable models usually cost between $100 and $200.
Q. What does the term "scale" mean in reference to dollhouses?
A. The scale of a dollhouse is its size in comparison to real life objects. For instance, a 1:12 scale dollhouse is one-twelfth of the size of a real house. This might sound like a lot, but an average, 30-foot house would measure 30 inches high as a 1:12 scale dollhouse. It's important that dollhouses are made to scale because it means they look in proportion. If you know the scale of your chosen dollhouse, it makes it easier to find correctly-sized dolls and furniture, too.
Q. Which dollhouses are the most durable?
A. Well-made, solid wood dollhouses are arguably the most durable on the market. These are the types of dollhouses often passed down through the generations, so it's the ideal choice if you want a dollhouse your child could give to their children one day. You can find some extremely durable plastic dollhouses, too. They might not be as pretty, but they're less expensive than high-end, wooden dollhouses and great for young children.
Dollhouses we recommend
Best of the best: Melissa & Doug's Classic Heirloom Victorian Wooden Dollhouse
Our take: A classic Victorian-style dollhouse in a 1:12 scale, measuring just under 30 inches tall.
What we like: Quality wooden construction. Careful attention to detail with plenty of attractive finishing touches. Different decor in each room, in keeping with the Victorian style of the house.
What we dislike: No furniture or dolls included.
Best bang for your buck: Storytime Toys' Goldilocks and the Three Bears Fairytale House Set
Our take: A compact and affordable dollhouse based on the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
What we like: Includes furniture and doll-like cut-outs of Goldilocks and the bears. Easy to assemble and take apart. Comes with a storybook.
What we dislike: Small and basic. Best for young kids.
Choice 3: Calico Critters' Luxury Townhome
Our take: A small yet attractive plastic dollhouse designed for use with Calico Critters, though kids can play with any small dolls inside it.
What we like: Can be closed up when not in use to save space. Has working battery-powered lights. Accessories are easy to find.
What we dislike: Designed for dolls that are only three inches high.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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