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How to Paint Nesting Dolls the Easy Way

Learn how to paint nesting dolls with spray paint and some acrylic paint details. These got a revamp, and I’ll show you how it’s done!

Skills Required: Beginner. You’ll be doing a lot of painting – but it’s simple painting, so don’t worry if you’re not Van Gogh. This is a great starter project for getting handy with brushes.

DIY Modern Stacking Dolls You Decorate Yourself

Well, hello again!  It’s Jennifer of Brave New Home here to share a refresh project today. I love taking once loved items, breathing new life into them and falling in love with them all over again.

At Brave New Home, I blog about home design, decorating and create lots of thrifty DIY projects in the process. I invite you to stop on over whenever you have a chance! On to today’s project.

3 - set of three nesting dolls

I have a set of nesting dolls that I received as a present from my mother when I was a little girl. There used to be five of them total but they somehow got into my four-year-old’s hands and two went missing.

2 - repairing nesting doll

A third got broken. These dolls have sentimental meaning to me and try as I might, I could never find a way to work them into my home decor. So rather than safely store them away, I decided to breathe new life into them to display and enjoy them.

For this project, you will need a set of wooden nesting dolls (you can buy unfinished wooden ones so you don’t have to paint over a design), primer, acrylic paints, and clear acrylic spray paint.

DIY Stacking Dolls

4 - priming nesting dolls

I started by giving them a coat of primer. It felt wrong spray painting over a beautiful design, but I assured myself that in the end this would actually lead to these objects being better enjoyed.

5 - sanding nesting dolls

I got some spray paint on the part of the wood where the top and bottom parts meet so I sanded it off. Any paint in this area will make it excessively difficult to open and close your nesting dolls.

Because the wood is thin, you’ll want to be gentle when opening and closing your dolls.

6 - making a pencil outline on nesting dolls

Next, I penciled in my design. I wanted them to look recognizable yet modernized.

7 - painting nesting dolls

I painted on  my design with acrylic paints.

8 - painting nesting dolls with acyrlic paint

Think about layering the paints for the neatest finish possible. This means you’ll want to start with the paints that cover the largest area then work your way in. I had so much fun painting my dolls I lost all track of time!

9 - adding details with permanent markers

After my dolls were completely dried, I went in with a permanent marker to add the details of their faces.

10 - applying a coat of clear acrylic to nesting dolls

Finally, I gave the dolls a spray of clear acrylic coating.

set of three grey black white modern nesting dolls

Looking at my images (which are actually larger than the dolls themselves) I see now that I could have mixed my paint a little more thoroughly. Having said that, it just adds to the uniqueness of the project!

Sidebar: don’t ever be too hard on yourself when it comes to painted crafts.

front of modern nesting dolls

I think these stacking dolls could work with everyday decor, but could also have a place in holiday decorating.

back of modern nesting dolls

I wish I would have included some hearts from the front view. They up the sweet factor just a bit more.

three modern nesting dolls with pom pom garland

While looking for some other wood pieces, I coincidentally found out you can actually buy unfinished nesting dolls to paint yourself in case you don’t have an unused set you’re willing to paint on.

Yield: 3 dolls

Paint Nesting Dolls

Paint Nesting Dolls

Learn how to paint stacking dolls using modern colors! This is a really easy craft idea for holiday or beyond.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Active Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $5



  • Pencil
  • Paintbrushes
  • Sandpaper (optional)


  1. Sand the unfinished wood or painted surface if necessary. Remove sanding dust.
  2. Add a coat of primer. Let dry.
  3. Pencil in the design.
  4. Paint the design with acrylic paint and let dry.
  5. Draw in additional details and faces with the Sharpie.
  6. Seal all of the stacking dolls with clear acrylic sealer. Let dry before using.

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Did you make this project?

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If you are interested in a buying a set of stacking dolls that are unpainted, just click on the image below:

Unfinished Stacking dolls

For other painted projects we love, check out the following posts:

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