Around Philly: Fixer-up Dollhouse

Lately we’ve come across some fantastic Philly finds that we want to share with you, so we are staring a new blog series called Around Philly. For our first feature we are going super local, as in right here in Elkins Park, the town that down2earth interior design calls home. Have you heard of Kwandaa and her amazing ‘Fixer Upper’ Dollhouse? She’s gone viral with this amazing mini interior design a la Fixer Upper style. She is now featured on HGTV – check out their article here – and Joanna Gaines also shared Kwandaa’s fabulous dollhouse on social media and she’s featured on Buzzfeed!

After our team here at down2earth interior design fell in love with Kwandaa, her dollhouse interior design and renovation skills from a local facebook page and we just had to get in touch and find out more.


What inspires your style?

My own personal design style would most likely be considered preppy, but with clear lines. I like neutral walls and furniture (but no white walls) with pops of color. It makes it easier for me to redecorate, which I do often. Before I had children, my house was calming and serene. Now it’s bright and happy, like it’s perpetually springtime. The dollhouse was my interpretation of Joanna Gaines’ style. I had to really restrain myself from putting pops of color in the house, but that’s just not her aesthetic. But I like high contrast (the charcoal gray shelves against the white, with the reverse in the kitchen). I also love painted cabinetry and brass fixtures, so my style was also in the house. The bathroom is the most “me” room in the dollhouse. I totally want to soak in that copper tub.

Fixer Upper Dollhouse

Do you have aspirations in design? 

I have gotten lots requests for decorating work/advice, so I’m hoping to have another outlet for my passion.

What brought you to designing and decorating dollhouses?

I bought a Melissa and Doug dollhouse for my 3 year old daughter for Christmas (I also have a 5 year old son, just so he’s not left out). But it was pink and purple and opened in the back. I wanted it to look more like a real house and I also wanted it go under a window in her room. So I closed up the back and made it an open front with a hinged roof. I painted it, and added wallpaper and push lights from the dollar store. I had blast! I realized it was a way I could do interior design without having to redo my house again, which of course isn’t very practical. So when I saw the Hearth and Hand dollhouse by Joanna Gaines in Target (I LOVE Target BTW… and Homegoods, but that’s another story), I bought one for me and one of my best friends because we are big Fixer Upper fans. I thought we could decorate them together, but hers is still in the box. (Lol!)

Daughter's Dollhouse before/after

If you don’t mind telling us, is this hobby expensive?

The house cost $129 and I probably spent another $200 decorating it. Most dollhouse furnishings are Victorian, and the few things that are more modern as crazy expensive. Like $250 for a 5 inch bed!!!! So I ended up building or remodeling things myself. I had never even been in Michaels or AC Moore before, and now I live there. I have since bought 3 more dollhouses, a colonial, a Victorian and a beach mansion. They all will have different design styles (all “me” though). I plan to decorate them and put them on a cul-de-sac in my closet/craft room.

We are curious, what is your “day job”?  (Spoiler alert! I know from google but its more fun for you to tell us.)

I am an fulltime OB/gyn practicing at Holy Redeemer Hospital, and I love it. But I’ve had a passion for interior design since childhood. I would spend all of my time watching This Old House and Hometime, and studying my IKEA catalogs because HGTV didn’t exist. When I got my first car, I would drive around Abington staring at the different architectural styles (I’m Cheltenham class of 1990, so this really is my hometown). I’ve designed houses for my friends in the past. I made over one of friends apartments during a long weekend while he was away, and he cried at the “reveal.” It was an awesome feeling to know that design can touch someone that way.

How does this hobby fulfill you? 

I have been overwhelmed with the response to my little house. I’ve gotten messages from Kenya to Indonesia, Canada to Milan! This house has a life of it’s own. I have some before and after’s on my Instagram page @tinyhousecalls. I only joined 2 weeks ago, so I’m still getting the hang of it. My millennial neighbor had to help me figure it out, which made me feel really old.


Did we mention, just this week Kwandaa is now featured on HGTV and Joanna Gaines shared her dollhouse?!



Check out more detailed photos of the level of detail and interior design in this Fixer Upper dollhouse.  And keep in mind what the original house looked like before the Fixer Upper transformation (Wooden Dollhouse with Furniture – Hearth & Hand™ with Magnolia from Target).


Target Heart and Hearth DollhouseAFTER:

Fixer Upper Dollhouse details


Thank you to Kwandaa for sharing her story with us. Look for the next Around Philly feature here at the d2e blog!

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