It’s International LEGO Day today, so to celebrate here’s a really easy DIY you can do to turn any dollhouse/playset with flat surfaces into a LEGO playset!
That’s right – with just a few simple household tools we’re going to turn this:
What you’ll need:
- dollhouse/playset with flat surfaces
- LEGO baseplate
- a few LEGO bricks
- 2×4, 2×6, 2×8 – basically an assortment of bricks 2 studs wide in an assortment of lengths so you can create various total lengths
- craft knife
- sandpaper sheets or block
- hot glue gun & glue sticks
- damp sponge or paper towels (to wipe off sanding dust)
For this project I used this ArtMinds Wood Castle (linked above).
Jakob had received this castle as a Hanukkah gift from my parents and I wanted to surprise him by turning it into a LEGO playset since he never really played with action figures but was completely obsessed with LEGO.
If working with an unfinished product like this castle, you’ll want to sand it before you begin. Some of the edges are unfinished or rough and could cause splinters. The wood is soft, though, so it’s easy work to bring it outside and give the exposed edges and surfaces a quick sanding. This will also help make sure your surfaces are flat.
If using something like a plastic play house, you will want to sand any of the surfaces where you plan to attach LEGO plates to help ensure they stick well.
After sanding, wipe all surfaces with a damp sponge or paper towel. You want to remove the fine sanding dust so it doesn’t interfere with your glue later.
We’ll be using a craft knife to score the LEGO baseplate and LEGO bricks to give us a good edge to cut and snap from.
In my case, every surface in the castle had the same depth, so I wanted to start by cutting my baseplate into strips that were the proper depth. Then later I could cut them into individual pieces for each section.
Set the corner of your baseplate into the corner of one of your sections and use a separate LEGO brick to mark the edge line. We don’t want to cut the studs in half so if necessary err for pieces that are slightly too short instead of ones that would stick out beyond the edge of your playset.
Once you know your depth, use additional LEGO bricks to continue the line all the way from edge to edge. Do not use flat bricks for this as the thickness of the standard bricks will help keep your blade from slipping. Be sure to press the bricks securely as any gaps where they’re not properly seated onto the plate could allow your blade to catch.
NOTE: use a cutting mat or cut on a protective surface. I use my table as a craft table so I cut directly on it. Don’t be like me!
Run the blade of your craft knife down the edge of bricks once or twice, then snap your baseplate away from the cut edge. If you use enough pressure when scoring it should snap cleanly.
If the baseplate doesn’t snap clean off, you can slide your craft knife down the cut edge and the two pieces will separate easily.
Here’s a video for those who find it easier to see the process:
As you can see, with proper pressure the piece will snap cleanly off with a neat, straight edge.
Now that you have strips that are the proper depth, use the same brick-marking method to mark off the width for each section you want to cover. Do each section one-at-a-time.
Here’s the first baseplate flooring cut to size and inserted in place.
NOTE: They are not glued into place. I merely like to place them where they’ll go to help me keep track of what I have left to do, and to make it easy to know where they will go later.
Repeat this process until you have cut baseplates for every surface you’d like to cover. I did all floor surfaces, as well as the stairs. After this image was taken I also cut pieces for the windowsills and doorframes.
When all your pieces are cut, lightly roughen the backs of each with your sandpaper. You want to remove the plastic’s shine and roughen up the surface to help the glue better adhere. At this point you can plug in your glue gun so it can start warming up. I like to keep my glue gun on a silicone mat or scrap tin foil to protect my surface from glue drips.
Apply glue to the back of each piece and hold in place for a moment, pressing firmly. Once all the sections were glued I set it aside overnight so the glue could harden fully.
That’s all it takes! One baseplate was enough to cover all the surfaces shown plus have some extra left over.
The studs on the floors and stairs allow your Minifigs to be posed nearly anywhere, and the ones on the windowsills are really cute to put flowers and plants. Plus you can build off the plates, creating LEGO furniture for your playset.
I couldn’t resist staging a few characters for Jakob to find when he got home from school.
The “renovation” was a big hit, and while it only took a bit of time over one evening to do, it has held up since 2018 and is still going strong. I hope you enjoy this DIY and that it gives you inspiration on how to convert existing toys that might not be getting much love into ones that will be played with for many more years.
Happy International LEGO Day!