Funky Frugal: Miniature DIY renovation

by Tanner Cangelosi

For Christmas, my eldest daughter, Zuzu, received a precious 18-inch doll from her Mimi. It was hands down the best gift given, and Zuzu fell in love with her. She named her Alana. She spends hours brushing her hair and fixing her little bed.  

I realized that we had a storage closet in her room that I could convert into a miniature bedroom for her doll. I’ve always loved miniature things, so the project was truly fun for me and a great surprise to my daughter.  

To begin, I grabbed some chalkboard paint and painted a small wall that she could decorate herself and change the pictures as she liked. Next, I hit the garage sales, flea markets and all my old closets! I love hunting for treasures, particularly small ones.

I started by hanging a shoe organizer from a door to hold extra dresses and accessories for Alana. We ordered the bed from Amazon for $20. Old boxes were then recovered with stained pillowcases to make couches. I found extra pillows for both of these pieces at Salvation Army, and I made a few from the scraps of pillowcase I had left. I also purchased a small mirror at Salvation Army along with a few miniature things such as a creamer and a jewelry box we used as a table. I had a few pieces of my artwork made into cards a few years ago, and I hung a few of those on the walls as Alana’s artwork. Using felt and thread, I made s’mores and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Alana (I know, I need to find a new hobby when my kids are sleeping).  

Formula cans (which we have a lot of) and a bowl were painted and covered with paper to make more tables. The best table was made by my husband and Zuzu out of scrap wood we had in the garage. It is precious to see a daddy and daughter building a table for her doll together. Zuzu then painted it herself, and I couldn’t be prouder of her.  

Now I am trained to look for small items that might be used for Alana. Zuzu even has me make small pancakes for her when I make them! So, because of my new found “tiny things radar” I purchased dishes and a pretend cake at the Dollar Tree for a grand total of $2.

I used every free moment at nap times and nighttime to work on surprising her. With four small daughters, I knew the investment of my time would pay off in the years to come. It was worth it.  

Don’t tell, but this month my newly 5-year-old little girl will receive a doll of her own! Happy birthday, Coco!


A graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, Tanner Cangelosi owns
her own business – – and has done a variety of projects, from individual home décor items to painting murals in private residences. For more information, Tanner can be reached at 501.908.1338 or [email protected].