What We Like
Pretty and minimalist
Easy to keep tidy
Made to last
What We Don't Like
Not enough furniture included
Much like the homes she designed on HGTV’s Fixer Upper alongside husband Chip, Joanna Gaines’s dollhouse through her Target line is timeless. The toy can blend in with any decor and is sturdy enough to become an heirloom piece. But can it keep kids entertained? We tested the Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Toy Doll Farmhouse, modeled after the TV host’s own Texas abode, to find out. See if its construction, durability, and features met our expectations.
Sure, my husband and I are no Chip and Jo, but building this farmhouse was not a piece of cake. Target doesn’t provide a hardcopy of the manual—only a how-to video on the website. It’s a 20-step process overall. The included hardware was well-labeled, and the house pieces were lettered. But the process felt like building an IKEA bookshelf. We needed to use our own screwdriver, and the little locks that we had to put in the holes to avoid splitting the wood were very tedious to maneuver (where’s Clint Harp when you need him, am I right?). My husband ended up using a power screwdriver (on a very low setting) to speed up the process. All in all, it took one hour and 30 minutes.
Design: Too minimalist
The Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Toy Doll Farmhouse is basically what I’d imagine my home would look like if I lived in the countryside—and it makes sense, considering its creator. It’s homey, rustic, and timeless. It’s also very well made. Constructed completely of wood, it feels and looks sturdy. It would make for a great heirloom piece.
Though I don’t mind the 24 x 36 x 17-inch country home taking over my tiny New York City living room, it was simply too minimalist to keep my kids excited and interested. Nevermind that Joanna has five children of her own and frequently designs properties with kids in mind: The aesthetic of this dollhouse feels catered more to adults than to children.
I loved that kids could access and play in the house from the back, as opposed to the front.
Sure, it’s open in the back, so it was easy for my kids to access, but there are only four rooms: three on the first floor and one on the second floor. Each room is very bare, with white walls and no decorative elements. The house came with only ten pieces of furniture, which were very minimalist as well. Other dollhouse furniture and accessories—for both indoors and outdoors—are sold separately, but that requires an additional expense.
Characters aren’t included, but the manufacturer says 6-inch or smaller dolls are the ideal sizes. Granted, one could argue that this dollhouse allows plenty of room for creativity and customization. However, as is, it didn’t seem to bring much excitement to either of my children, and they quickly lost interest.
Again, while this toy may be appealing to adults—and particularly fans of the show—it may not resonate with toddlers, especially if it doesn’t come with farm animals (though those can also be purchased separately).
Entertainment Value: Not a lot to hold kids’ interest
I thought this minimalist farmhouse would provide the perfect backdrop to a doll family’s world, but alas, I was wrong. It lacks the colorful and playful details that tend to attract children’s eyes and is missing core elements needed to stimulate imaginative play and storytelling. Overall, it looks like a piece that you’d want to display, not necessarily play with—and I feel like both my children picked up on that vibe.
For example, the windows are stationary, which means you cannot open or close them. This alone was a disappointment to my sons, and for good reason: windows in a dollhouse play a central part in toddlers’ storylines.
Overall, it looks like a piece that you’d want to display, not necessarily play with—and I feel like both my children picked up on that vibe.
The lack of details in the furniture and the absence of characters leave very little room to learn new vocabulary and domestic situations. Overall, the house, though easy on the eyes, felt very underwhelming to my children and ended up being left unused.
It’s worth noting that there are opportunities to add more entertainment value via the aforementioned accessories. You could also add on to the “property” with the brand’s other sets, such as the toy barn, treehouse, and even a greenhouse. Of course, this would require more of an investment and a whole lot of space.
Age Range: 3 years and up
Hearth & Hand recommends this house for kids who are 3 years old and older. I would agree, as there are small furniture parts that can be choking hazards.
Cleaning: Very simple
Since all the pieces of this dollhouse are made of wood and there isn’t any fabric, all you have to do is wipe it clean with a damp cloth. Easy peasy!
I loved that kids could access and play in the house from the back, as opposed to the front. At the end of the day, I was able to put all the furniture and other accessories back in the house, turn the house so the front faces out, and voila! The mess was hiding in the back, and it was like no children had played with it. This is particularly great if you live in a small home and need quick, easy tricks to tidy up and keep your place looking good.
Since all the pieces of this dollhouse are made of wood, all you have to do is wipe it clean with a damp cloth. Easy peasy!
Price: Somewhat expensive
Retailing around $150, the Hearth & Hand Toy Doll Farmhouse seems like a steep price to pay for a toy that doesn’t provide much entertainment. Sure, it is sturdy and clearly made to last (possibly even generations), but if children aren’t going to play with it, is it really worth it?
Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Toy Doll Farmhouse vs. KidKraft Chelsea Cottage House
I tested both of these dollhouses and definitely have a favorite. If you’re design-conscious, the Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Toy Doll Farmhouse is your clear pick. It’s minimalist, rustic, and timeless. But it’s also too “serious,” so to speak, for children to really want to play and engage with for a while. The KidKraft Chelsea Doll Cottage, on the other hand, has a lot going on. It has too many decorative elements (a lot of pink and wallpapers in different colors) for my taste, but my kids loved it and ended up playing with it for hours on end. At the end of the day, that’s what mattered to me.
What’s more, the KidKraft Chelsea Doll Cottage was easier to build, and it’s cheaper. So if you’re after a playful, engaging (albeit a bit of an eyesore) dollhouse, the one from KidKraft is the way to go. If what you care about most is what your living room will look like with a dollhouse in it, then go with the Hearth & Hand one.
- Product Name Toy Doll Farmhouse
- Product Brand Hearth & Hand with Magnolia
- UPC 647069385893
- Price $149.99
- Weight 24.2 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 23.42 x 36.02 x 16.92 in.
- Age Range 3+
- What’s Included House, 10 pieces of furniture, and assembly hardware