Diane Pham

Barbie's First Dream House Was a Tiny Studio Apartment Made from Cardboard

by , 07/29/12

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Before Barbie went platinum blonde and traded up for a mega-mansion made from pink plastic, she was just like many of us city dwellers living it up in a modest apartment with minimal furnishings. Spotted at MoMA’s new exhibit, Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000, this 1960s design is in fact Barbie’s first ever Dream House. With its modern furniture and surprisingly efficient use of a small space (ok, so it doesn’t have a kitchen… or bathroom), it definitely caught our eye, and our curiosity for this relic was piqued — check out what we learned ahead.


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Barbie‘s first Dream House was designed in 1962 by Barbie’s creator Ruth Handler. The home was constructed entirely from cardboard and was designed in a flat-pack style so that little girls could be fold it up and carry it around anywhere like a suitcase. Amazingly, the tiny apartment took on the style of the day, incorporating a hi-fi TV, bed with bedside, sofa, coffee table, paintings, side chair with footstool and a sideboard, all in a hip minimalist form. This is a far cry from the Tudor-styled Dream Houses that followed years later, and continue on even to this day.

As this was the first ever Barbie dollhouse, it was every little girls dream to own one, but unfortunately the home was reserved for the the lucky few able to afford it. But we must say, not much has changed today — while checking out Barbie’s dream houses (yes, more than one – she has quite the real estate portfolio) we found that the average dollhouse retails at about $150, and you can even find houses approaching $500.

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1 Comment

  1. bjdee July 9, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I had the first Barbie house. Wish I still had it! Are there any still around?

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