You will spend a couple days on making one of these houses. If you are a normal person. But if you are obsessive, you will do it in one day. Skipping meals. Skipping your shower. In your pajamas. All day.
I find it very gratifying to start with a cereal box and end with a cute little cottage. They are straight out of winter wonderland. I buy my embellishments from the Dollar Store and Michael’s. Sometimes I upcycle little bits and baubles I have laying around the house. I also make some items, like rocks or stepping stones, from polymer clay.
Tiny strung beads work for a string-light effect. Paper drinking straws (the sturdy decorated ones) work great as posts/pillars. Floral picks can be dipped in white paint and glittered for trees. Even an old earring can be used to add architectural detail. You already have many items in your house. Just use your imagination!
Start by getting all your materials together…
Basic requirements are: cardboard, scissors, xacto knife, cutting mat, tacky glue, matte mod podge, glue gun, paint brushes, painter’s spatula, mixing bowls for holding paint and glue (I recycle kuerig cup covers), acrylic paints, and embellishments of your choice.
You can find templates for these houses all over the web. Here is the link for the free template I used.
STEP 1: Gather clean cardboard or chipboard. Cereal and cookie boxes are what I mostly use. Remove the side tabs that had dry adhesive on them. Discard these, but keep any pieces that are clean. These are great for cutting smaller pieces, like doors and windows.
STEP 2: Layout your template, starting with the bigger pieces. Avoid laying it over wrinkled or otherwise damaged areas of the cardboard. With a sharp pencil, trace out the template. Extend the fold lines past the template so you can pencil in the fold lines later with a ruler.
STEP 3: Lining your ruler up with the extended pencil lines (mentioned above), draw in your fold lines. Now score all fold lines with one pass of your xacto blade. Do this with light pressure. It will make your creases cleaner when you construct the house.
STEP 4: Cut out your pieces with an xacto knife (or scissors if you have an unsteady hand). Be very careful, xacto knives can cut fingers to the bone! * As you may note in the pictures, I cut past the template at the bottom of the house and also along roofs. This is so I can have some extra ‘glue tabs’, which make the house sturdier when I glue it to the base, or when I glue the roof to the house.
STEP 5: Construct the house by folding and gluing tabs to their proper places. I use tacky glue, clamps, my fingers, and a lot of patience for this step. I only use glue guns on the house when attaching house to base or roof to house. I prefer tacky glue because it gives time to square things up, or correct a mistake. Glue guns are globby and make seams uneven. They dry too fast and so there is less control. Glue house first, then glue house to base- always use a square or align house on your cutting mat before gluing to base. Attach roofs last. * You will need to put in your window panes (acetate, cellophane, or vellum) or your window scape (in my finished house it’s a painting of a boy with a Christmas tree) BEFORE attaching house to base. This is because you will need to attach these from the inside of the house. And that is my least favorite step and I always use a colourful string of words before it’s over.
STEP 6: When everything is dry, coat the house exterior with a thin layer of matte mod podge. This is to prep for painting. Let dry thoroughly, then paint your house and roof. Let dry for at least an hour, then give it a second coat of paint. Don’t fret if at this point your house looks less than perfect. You may see a stray glue thread, or perhaps a bump from the glue seeping out a crack. Don’t worry. If you can easily remove with tweezers or an xacto knife, give it a try. If not, embellishments and the faux snow will cover it.
STEP 7: Now the embellishments! First, attach trims to the windows and doors. Glitter the trims or entire house, according to how you want it. Attach any big features, like trees, porches/stepping stones, to the base. With Snow-Tex or by using DIY faux snow, add snow to ground, roof tops, trees, etc. Add garland, wreaths, beads, etc. with fine tip glue bottle or glue gun. Lastly, when everything is dry, glitter any snow or icy patches that have been missed.
I’m glad if you followed through this tutorial and made your own glitter house. I would love to see it!
A great website to find vintage pictures for your own personal use is The Graphics Fairy. This link will take you to her collection of ‘100 free Christmas images’, like the one shown above in the blue house.
I make textural faux snow by mixing equal parts of white acrylic paint, school glue, and cornstarch. You can spread this on with a spatula or Popsicle stick.