How to Build Room Boxes for Dollhouses or Model Scenes

Room boxes are small boxes designed to hold a single room scale display for miniatures and models. A room box can be built in any scale, and they are often used to house a display until a larger collection is completed. If room boxes are designed to standard dimensions, they can be fitted into cases called "baby houses," which resemble a full-size dollhouse.

Room boxes are deeper than window boxes and usually show one or more complete rooms, including entire one-room shops or houses, potting sheds, and garages. Window boxes differ from room boxes in that they usually display only one view of a vignette, and are usually no deeper than three or four inches.

  • 01 of 07

    Use Baltic Birch Plywood

    A simple picture frame encloses the front of a dolls house scale room box, which fits on a bookshelf.

    Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Sturdy room boxes in a range of sizes with or without front glass frames can be easily built from baltic birch plywood, a lightweight finished plywood often available as aircraft plywood from model suppliers. You can use a section of routed plywood to make a channel for a sliding section of glass for the front of your room box, or you can build standard glass fronted picture frames and hinge them to the room box front.

  • 02 of 07

    Try Book Board or Davey Board

    The exterior of a book board box is covered with paper for strength.

    Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Inexpensive room boxes can be quickly built from sturdy paper book board or Davey Board, which is an acid-neutral form of card used for the covers of bound books and available from most art supply stores. Bookboard can be used with set in dollhouse windows and doors and makes good displays for models and miniatures.

    It is especially good for school displays where costs must be minimal or for placement inside baby houses, dollhouse bookcases, or glass-fronted bookcases, where a collection of simple room boxes can be used to finish a dollhouse room by room.

  • 03 of 07

    Make a Breakaway Box With Hinged Sides

    Open breakaway box for a scale display showing two hinged drop down sides.
    Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    A breakaway box is usually a book board or Davey board box with one or two hinged sides that fold down to show off a display. They are often used as play settings for children as they are easily opened and stored. If you only want to view a room box occasionally and like to keep things neatly stored, breakaway boxes are a good alternative to room boxes and an excellent way to build a simple miniature collection for a child's play.

    Like standard room boxes made from Davey board, breakaway boxes can have standard dollhouse windows and doors fitted to their interiors.

  • 04 of 07

    Use an Inexpensive Display Box

    Display box with a collection of miniature Irish cottages against a photo backdrop
    Photo copyright 2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Many companies sell inexpensive display boxes to house collectibles. These instructions show you how you can use these boxes (often available from big box stores) to set up a display for small collectibles or a dollhouse scene or vignette.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Plan Effective Room Box Displays

    Interior of a classic antiques shop with collectibles and furniture.
    Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    As room boxes are very small, focused displays, you need to get maximum use out of your space. Make sure you choose a theme and storyline as well as create focal points.

  • 06 of 07

    Examples of Great Room Boxes

    Pastry counters, displays, and a cozy table in a French Patisserie.
    Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    If you're in need of some inspiration, try making your own miniature plants and flowers as well as miniature furniture.

  • 07 of 07

    Ways to Improve Your Miniature Collection

    Miniature chairs placed side-by-side.

    Photo copyright 2010 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc. 

    Careful planning, as well as some of the frugal tips on this list, can help you create great displays for less money. This is true of all miniature displays but especially true for room boxes, where careful design can reduce your costs considerably.