Megan is a writer and mom of two. She enjoys cooking, running, and gardening.
Why I Decided to Get a Barbie Dream House for my Daughter
Since my daughter was three years old, she was asking for a Barbie house. Christmas came and went, and that year we decided to buy her other toys instead. She persisted for the next twelve months, however. Every time we would see Barbie dolls at the store, she would get a thoughtful look on her face and ask why Santa decided not to bring her a home for her Barbies that past Christmas.
Maybe because we also have a younger daughter, I had held off on purchasing too many Barbie things because of the small parts. But I felt bad holding out on the one thing my older daughter had not lost interest in—this Barbie house. For Christmas of 2016, we decided to give in and make this be her one big gift from Santa that year.
We visit my parents’ house in Indiana each year, so I had the package shipped ahead of time to Indiana so there would be no “evidence” here in Milwaukee, and no mysterious boxes that we had to transport on our trip. My dad graciously volunteered to assemble to Barbie Dreamhouse before we got there, and wrap it with a bow on top on Christmas Eve. (I consulted with him for this review on how difficult assembly was, how it came packaged, etc.).
Needless to say, on Christmas morning when my daughter raced downstairs and saw this huge, irregularly shaped present waiting for her, she was absolutely ecstatic. She knew what it was—the much-awaited Barbie house she had been begging and pleading for for over a year! She tore open the package before she was given permission to start opening gifts, but nobody stopped her. To my surprise, not only her, but her two-year-old baby cousin were playing with this gift for the rest of the time we were Indiana, which was an entire week.
When we got back to Milwaukee, the beloved Barbie Dreamhouse took the new spotlight in my daughter’s room that she shares. (It was not difficult to transport back—it separates easily into two pieces, and most of the little accessories snap into the house so they won’t move). It takes up about a three-foot-wide area along the wall, right in between another toy storage shelf and my stepson’s car collection. Now, all three kids (ages one, four, and five) enjoy hours of play with this thing every week. I would say the most popular features for them are the garage with a garage door that opens and closes (stepson loves), the real working elevator (older daughter loves), and toilet that makes flushing noises (baby loves). I have even found myself organizing the Barbie house and arranging furniture in there, even when my kids aren’t playing! I definitely think this gift was one of the most memorable and most utilized Christmas gifts so far for all of my kids.
The Benefits of Pretend Play with Dolls
Before purchasing the Dreamhouse, we had a few Barbies and other dolls, but not too many toys that really encouraged my daughter to use her imagination while playing. I know that kids are creative and can find ways to pretend and play without any toys at all, but I think there is something to be said about having a place that dolls can call “home.”
Pretending, particularly with Barbies or other small dolls, fosters a lot of beneficial skills in developing young kids. And while these toys are geared more toward girls, there is nothing wrong with boys playing, too. My stepson regularly participates in pretend play with my daughter when she is playing Barbies. He will usually play with Ken or other male dolls, but enjoys having them drive around in the car, changing their clothes, and making them pretend to talk to each other.
Some positives that come out of pretend play with Barbies include:
- Increased fine motor skills – Dressing and undressing dolls, bending them to sit and stand, and having them move throughout the house all involves using fine motor skills.
- Addressing strong emotions – When kids play Barbies, they may make them do or say mean things, and then turn around and be nice; this can allow them to release any negative emotions they have in a safe environment.
- Problem solving practice – If Barbie and her friends need to figure out how to make dinner, clean up their room, or use the toilet, kids enact problem-solving through pretend play.
- Socialization – When kids play with Barbies with their parents, siblings, or friends, they are forced to learn to share and collaboratively come up with the “storyline” together.
- Language skills – Kids almost always “make” Barbie talk when playing, and they usually act out familiar situations; this type of play allows them to talk about it from someone else's perspective.
- Ability to self-entertain – Only children, or kids with smaller siblings who can’t play yet, often need to learn to be able to keep themselves busy when Mom and Dad can’t be playing with them; getting involved in imaginary play helps.
Barbie Dreamhouses Throughout History
While purchasing this colossal doll house, I began reminiscing about how Barbie Dreamhouses were when I was a kid, and how they have evolved over the decades. A little bit of research satisfied my curiosity. It is safe to say Barbie has come a long way. Her living spaces have only become more and more spacious and luxurious over the years.
In the 1960s one of the first Barbie Dreamhouses was made out of cardboard, even the furniture. It was a smaller, rectangular layout with just a combined living and sleeping area. The interior decorating included bright hues and block patterns from the 60s.
In the 1970s, Barbie Dreamhouses as we know them today were born. The first multi-story homes for Barbie began being sold. The designs inside remind me of the Foreman’s kitchen wallpaper in That 70s Show: lots of florals, stripes, and checkers. It looks like Barbie had an oceanfront view from the painted window scenery, too. This was the last decade that the Barbie House would resemble normal houses, with its use of more neutral and varied colors and realistic interior decorations.
Throughout the 1980s, Barbie houses became more and more pink, until in the 1990s almost everything inside of the current Dreamhouse was various shades of pink. By this time, almost all Barbie houses had working accessories like telephones that really ring, and light up fireplaces or stoves.
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Into the 2000s and 2010s, the biggest changes I see in Barbie’s house is the addition of architectural details, like more open airy spaces, more ornate decorations on the outside of the home, and working elevators. Elevators, in particular, seem to have become a very popular feature, with many modern Dreamhouses having two (or more!) working elevators.
Barbie Dreamhouses seem to be getting more and more elaborate--I can't wait to see what the next one looks like!
This Barbie Dreamhouse comes in a large brown cardboard box. The one that I ordered was unlabeled except for a small black print on the front of the box, which was fine since it was a present that would be assembled before my daughter saw it anyway. It is also available in a branded box.
The box is several feet tall (more than three), so if you plan on transporting it in a car, if you have a smaller trunk like I do (I have a Chevy Cruze), it may be better to assemble it before moving it. That’s what we decided to do.
The box arrived with all of the plastic parts completely unassembled. The instructions came with black and white pictures that clearly labeled each part and showed which direction they should go, which part should be inserted where, etc. Very little printed words were on the instructions, just pictures. My dad, who is of average to advanced mechanical ability, said it took him roughly 45 minutes to assemble the Barbie Dreamhouse—and play with it to make sure everything worked!
The Dreamhouse has three floors when fully assembled. Upstairs from left to right is Barbie’s bedroom, closet, and living area. The bedroom and closet area have cute little black railings, as if Barbie had an open, airy, seaside home. I especially love the pink canopy that drapes over the bed. The middle floor has a bathroom, a little hallway, and a dining area. The bathroom and hallway also have black railings. The bathroom is so versatile—you can connect the sink that makes a bubbling noise, or you can move that vanity to another room and connect the fan or fishbowl, which also make noises. The dining area comes with a realistic wood-topped table with two turquoise chairs. A bright pink chandelier hangs down in true Barbie fashion.
The bottom floor has the pool (you can snap this up to hide it and safe space), the garage, an elegant front door, and a kitchen complete with a refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, sink, and oven. The appliances are so realistic. If you open up the refrigerator you’d think you’re looking at a shrunken down, real one.
The elevator runs along the right side of the Barbie House. Barbie can go from the kitchen, dining area, living area, and back. There are swinging white decorative doors that secure shut. These doors only go up to Barbie’s midsection, so she can still look out as she rides up and down.
This toy comes with batteries for the accessories that involve sound effects, so no need to purchase those separately. It also comes with some hangers and smaller accessories.
• The elevator—so fun to make Barbie go up and down, up and down!
• Has a slot to insert a smartphone as a TV
• Sound effects of the toilet, fish bowl, and fan
• Food and smaller accessories snap down so they don’t fall out of place
• Storage room for Barbie’s clothes (sold separately), including a rod you can put hangers on
• Lots of pretend food and cooking accessories included
• The elevator and garage door get stuck sometimes, and an adult has to help put them back on the plastic track
• The pool extends from the garage, requiring additional space for an already pretty big doll house .
Why I Recommend the Barbie Dreamhouse
Overall, I would recommend this toy to any girl between the ages of three years old and eight or nine who already show an interest in Barbies, and is looking to continue their hobby. For me, this toy has been a lifesaver when I need my older daughter to entertain herself for a while. I have also really enjoyed playing with this toy, and I usually don’t really like to play pretend. This Barbie house is a trip down memory lane for me when I used to have one when I was little.
My daughter has now made up her own little storylines for everyone who “lives” in this Barbie Dreamhouse. If you were to ask her, she would quickly fill you in on the fact that Barbie is a doctor, and has to soak in the pool since she’s had a long day. Her little sister has to watch Moana on the TV every night. Ken does all the cooking!
If you decide to purchase this product, I hope you enjoy it as much as we have. I don’t make big purchases such as this one on a regular basis, and I really put a lot of thought into it before I decided to get it. I hope this review allows you to do the same.