This Little Old House

I built a house yesterday. It took just over an hour and a half from start to finish, and that included finding the tools.

A customer purchased the Melissa and Doug Victorian Dollhouse from us on Tuesday afternoon, and asked whether we could assemble it before she picked it up on Thursday morning. I scored the assignment because I am the biggest Ikea fan in the store. I’m the one who loves nothing better than to sit down on the living room floor with an Allen key and a bunch of anonymous pieces of wood and turn the whole thing into a futon or a kitchen cart.

I don’t mind telling you, though, that I was a little bit daunted when I opened up the box. There were a lot of smaller boxes inside the outer carton. The picture on the carton shows the whole thing assembled, after all — they don’t want to scare you by showing you just how much stuff there is inside.

But the instruction manual was very well done: the pieces (once I had emptied all those smaller boxes) were easily identified.

You build a doll’s house just like a life-size one — from the ground up — except that in this case the whole thing just screws together. I was impressed by the fact that a) all the various holes that were supposed to correspond did, in fact, do so; and that b) there were more than enough of the screws provided, so that if you were unfortunate enough to drop one or two onto the floor, where they might bounce away never to be seen again, it wouldn’t matter too much. Purely hypothetically, of course.

And before I knew it, the walls were up, and the floors were in, and so were the staircases. The interior and exterior designs, or decor, are wall-to-wall stickers, which actually look quite nice. The floors are glossy representations of tile, or hardwood, while the walls are “papered” as befits the various rooms. This house is a standard one inch to a foot scale, so that it’s easy to find dollhouse furniture that will fit into it (although it won’t accomodate Barbie or any of her fashion-doll friends, who are too tall to fit and who thus require a dollhouse that is quite monstrously large.)

I would certainly give this dollhouse the parental thumbs-up: it feels substantial, it looks good, and it is functional. It will give any child lots of room for imaginative play for many years to come.

That’s a good toy.

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