DIY Houses by Night

January 12, 2012 | DIY

Ready for a bit of DIY love? :)

 A little town at night.. isn’t it sweet?!

There are a few tricks to making this DIY a success, all to do with finding the perfect image.

1. What you’re looking for is a picture of a house/castle/building that’s taken front-on (perspective works, but not as well). You could take it from your favourite magazine, an old calendar, or even print some from the internet. Up to you! In fact, you could even print a photo of your house if you have one!

2. The print needs to have a bit of space either side of the house to wrap around to the back of the votive.

3. It’s best to choose a picture that is higher in the middle than at the sides, and sides that are about the same height.

4. Choose a house that has some windows visible.

5. If possible, find a picture that has nothing printed on the back. If you can’t, not to worry – it could add a nice effect (like mine did)!

I was lucky enough to have found some old photo books at a market in Germany that hold some of the coolest black and white photos from the War era.. perfect for a project like this one!

Here’s what you’ll need:

**Note: Use only Battery powered tea lights! Because paper is highly flammable, it would be very dangerous to use real candles! If you’re set on using real candles, wrap and secure the paper cutout around the outside of a glass jar, and use the jar to hold your candle. Make sure no paper is overhanging the top of the jar, and make sure you keep an eye on it!** :)

Step 1: You want to start cutting and finish cutting at around the same height on either side of your picture. Use the scissors to cut straight in to where your house begins, cut around the top of the house, and cut straight back out to the edge at around the same height as you cut in. Make sense? Maybe this will help:

Step 2: Trim away any other areas you don’t want, but don’t trim the sides yet.

Step 3: Using your Xacto knife and a cutting mat, carefully cut out any windows you want the light to shine through. I found at this stage (because my paper was a bit fragile) it was easiest to press the knife in, rather than drag it.

Step 4: Wrap the image into a cylinder (size is up to you) and sticky tape it together. Trim around the top if it doesn’t quite match, as well as any excess where you joined it.

Step 5: Add your battery operated tea light, and wait until it gets dark!

**Note: Use only battery powered tea lights! Because paper is highly flammable, it would be very dangerous to use real candles! If you’re set on using real candles, wrap and secure the paper cutout around the outside of a glass jar, and use the jar to hold your candle. Make sure no paper is overhanging the top of the jar, and make sure you keep an eye on it!** :)


  1. How delightful. This gives a whole new meaning to “lighthouses” ;) Ok, I’ll quit it with the puns now.

    • ffadmin

      Haha Donaville! I liked that one.. hooray for puns! :)

  2. Such an adorable idea!

  3. Great DIY! Is it Château de Chillon that I see there? Did we manage to go there when you were in Switzerland? Very pretty, and one of a kind!Congratulations!

    • ffadmin

      Sure is Chateau de Chillon.. and yes we did go there :) I saw it and thought of you!

  4. […] Quelle […]

  5. Page

    This is such an amazing idea!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing!! <3

  6. […] 3. It’s best to choose a picture that is higher in the middle than at the sides, and sides that are about the same height. DIY Houses by Night […]

  7. What a terrific little project. I love it!

  8. I love this! It’s so romantic. Perfect for a gift. Very inspiring also, thank you

  9. […] These little light up buildings are really cool. Find out how to make your own here. […]

  10. Love this!
    I immediately recognized the castle as I pass it by twice a year when I go to the Alps…

  11. Thank you for great idea :)
    so creative…

  12. ffadmin

    Thanks guys, I’m so glad you like it! :)

  13. Great idea! And so suitable to do with kids too, because of the led-light. Well, apart from the x-acto knife then, an adult could help them with it. And ofcourse it would be an image of their choosing. For now I’ll just keep an eye out myself for nice pictures of buildings!

  14. This is so cool, I think I might be able to accomplish this. I love it!

  15. Hello, amazingly simple yet beautiful idea!

  16. Caro

    I love it!!
    Amazing and pretty easy idea :)

  17. So, so beautiful!!!!
    love it,Its a wonderful idea…:-)

  18. […] Claire of fellow fellow is giving an entirely new meaning to “lighthouses“ […]

  19. What a beautiful effect… and it looks like a simple enough project!
    I am inspired.
    Thank you!

  20. […] poppytalk via fellow fellow, full instructions and tips at […]

  21. […] ne dite di trasformare vecchie stampe di edifici in splendide lampade da comodino? Sul sito Fellow Fellow potete trovare tutte le istruzioni per costruire in modo sorprendentemente facile tante fantastiche […]

  22. fantastiko!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. LOVE IT!!!

    xo Kristin from Sweden

  24. JaneEllen Jones

    I followed a link from another blog to yours. What a fantastic project and boy are you a lucky one to travel and see such glorious things. My grandmother was born in Switzerland and she spoke German. I was told it tells what part of Switzerland somebody is from by what language they speak. Is that true? I’d so love to be able to go there. I had to save this project for another time. Thanks for sharing. This project could be done in different ways,my head is already buzzing.

  25. Such a fantastic idea! I love your blog :)

  26. Love this … can’t wait to make one!

  27. This is amazing, I make some lanterns with henna tattoo designs & its always cool to see this fun!!

  28. This blog is like sunshine.

  29. Magdalena

    I could see doing this with beautiful landscapes. Sunsets in color might be really cool for a tropical party or romantic evening. Nice idea!

  30. Camilla

    Soo beautiful! Hope someday to travel as you do. If the photos you have you don’t want to cut, or you pulled them out of a magazine, you could just make copies (I’d be less afraid to mess up)

  31. […] Houses by Night via Fellow Fellow […]

  32. linda ideia. muito criativo!

  33. urban_woodswalker

    I love this idea. One could have a set for many lovely places….Tuscany, Ireland, Paris, etc. Its a great way to recycle old books, but also one could print out their own photographs too. I imagine portraits of ancestors, and old baby pix …and the idea of sunsets in color are also great idea, as are light houses.

    My favorites though would be of old places like you have shown….and I love how they look sepia toned when lit up.

  34. […] warmth of the luminaries and twinkle lights I just packed away. These paper lanterns by Claire of fellowfellow are exactly what a winter interior needs. I can’t get over the cleverness of this idea: the […]

  35. Oh WOW! These are stunning! I would love to link to your tute and share this with my readers if you didn’t mind.

    • ffadmin

      I’m so happy to see the amazing response these little houses have received!! Thank you for all your wonderful comments :)
      Rachel – sure, feel free!

  36. Love, love, love this idea! Might do this with travel photos we’ve taken!

  37. These are so unique! I love them. Love, love, love, love them.

  38. Flippin Fantastic!! I bought a set of those little battery powered tea light’s weeks ago, knowing I had to find some a-typical use, and here it is! Bravo clever girl!

  39. Maribel

    This is awesome, fantastic for a party/wedding decor, love that you can include fun holiday photos. Thanks for the tutorial!

  40. […] Check out the full post here. […]

  41. […] DIY Houses by Night — My goodness, these lit-up houses charm me with their wee glow. I hope that I can remember this idea next December when I’m brightening up the house during the dark days of winter. […]

  42. What an absolutely lovely idea! I will have to try it out this weekend… perhaps with some old magazines?

  43. […] DIY to turn a drab room warm and cozy with little house […]

  44. […] A couple of DIY’s: DIY collars, also from Refinery29, and cute tealight holders that look like a fairytale town at […]

  45. […] these images with candles or bulbs and see and instant glow! See more of this tutorial here at .gplus #___plusone_0, .gplus #___plusone_1,.gplus #___plusone_2, .gplus #___plusone_3, […]

  46. Ok, so I saw this and instantly ran to my printer. I never go do a project that quickly! It’s worked SO great! I love these and will definatley make more. We have an apartment in Bamburgh Castle for holidays and weekends, and I used an image of the castle to make one for my mother in law for a Valentines Day gift!! Thanks LOADS!

  47. Christy Horton

    I was thinking that you could just copy the photos and then you wouldn’t have to cut up a book. I hate cutting up books, unless they are already destroyed…..

  48. These are so cute!

  49. […] placed for an outdoor party to add just a touch of mystical flair. This enchanting DIY was found on fellow fellow among other cute little […]

  50. I saved this I was so excited to go back and share the link! Thanks for a very inspiring post. In digital times its still nice to have photos, or at least digital prints of them. Love! MissionHillsLifedotcom

  51. […] genius DIY find: these tea light candle covers. I will be making these […]

  52. These are so lovely. They look amazing

  53. […] — DIY photo lamps. Inspired by old buildings that look even greater when lit at night, Claire from FellowFellow has come up with these awesome lamps that deliver that special warmth of the luminaries and twinkle […]

  54. This is probably one of the most amazing and cute diy’s i’ve ever seen, i’m gonna try to do this this weekend with my sister and nephew. I was wondering if i could share this on my blog of course giving all the credits to you, and directing the diy to this page of you.
    Thank you for all the inspiration. Have a lovely day.

  55. Oh wow…..I love this idea and we kinda have a mini chateau (well a ruined monastery in France where we run art and craft holidays) so this would work perfectly….I may run this along a shelf with the whole image in one piece….I’ll post if it works….Nice one Fellow fellow and Curbly (where I found the link) B

  56. Thank You for sharing… Absolutely Beautiful. I am going to try making “The Alhambra”

  57. […] < SOURCE HERE […]

  58. […] fellowfellow – DIY Houses by Night. […]

  59. Theresa M

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful creation. I will definitely do this!

  60. […] batteridrivna värmeljus, som finns hos bland annat Clas Ohlson. Hela steg-för-steg-beskrivningen hittar du här, och så här fint blir det om man är tålmodig och noggrann: Tjusigt och […]

  61. […] Se quiser aprender a fazer essas lindas luminárias da Fellow Fellow clique aqui! […]

  62. this is lovely. i will have to try it with a photo of my home…take that Thomas Kinkade!!

  63. […] to visit or print off a picture of your own home!  Visit fellowfellow for the full tutorial. DIY Backlit Houses on fellowfellow /* […]

  64. This is really rather wonderful! Fabulous, simple and so effective – perfection! x

  65. It is amazing to come up the creation like this. love it

  66. […] içinde yaşanılan bir ev gibi görünüyor. Evinde fazlaca ışıkları söndürülenler bu görüntüye bayılacaklar yapması zaten çok kolay, eski bir şato ya da  bir ev fotoğrafı maket bıçağı […]

  67. This is awesome. I love it. The light really makes the picture pop. Thanks for sharing.

  68. […] Houses by Night Source/Photo Credit: –  by ffadmin – Reposted with […]

  69. […] It is easy to do, thanks to Claire of fellowfellow on this wonderful idea. See the full tutorial. […]

  70. […] jag denna sida som har massa coola DIY-projekt. Som tex dessa ljuslyktor. Billig heminredning.. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:GillaBli först att gilla denna post. Det här inlägget […]

  71. Tori

    Would regular white card stock paper work for this project?

    • ffadmin

      Hi Tori.. I guess so, depending on how thick it is. If you printed a picture onto it and then cut it out, I’m sure it would be fine :)

  72. […] hitting the town for a night out. Here is a great DIY project we love, brought to us by Claire of Fellow Fellow. It’s a great idea to add a little home decor in a creative way. So once the sweeping and […]

  73. […] Simple, scenic DIY […]

  74. […] DIY Houses by Night Ready for a bit of DIY love? :) DIY Houses by Night […]

  75. […] Este tutorial ensina como fazer “luminárias” com fotos. Apesar de ainda não ter tentado fazer, parece simples. Sem contar que é uma forma bacana de dar um “up” na decoração.  Você só vai precisar de: tesoura de ponta fina, fita adesiva, uma lampada com bateria (pode ser vela, mas muito cuidado), estilete (acho que a tesoura já resolve) e uma foto de sua preferência. Clica no link do tutorial para ver o passo a passo. […]

  76. What a GRAND idea! Love it! I immediately thought of a big picture of the inside of an old barn, lit up like that, and then put Manger figurines in front of it for a lovely Christmas decoration!

  77. Wow.. I am glad I found your blog.. such an amazing blog you have and I am going to try this idea right now..

  78. Fran

    What a uinque idea. I have made luminaries from paper before, but never from an actual photo. I have a photo of my Clan’s castle in Scotland and am definitely doing this!!!! Love this idea!!!

  79. […] Vía | fellowfellow […]

  80. […] Source: […]

  81. WOW very cool, I want to do a collection of pics from Barcelona! :)


    I am so happy to find these directions. The first time I saw this, someone had done a bad Pinterest job and the link was missing. I just hoped that someone else would lead me here and today it happened! This is genius.

  83. Wonderful idea! Have to try!

  84. […] cute DIY that can be found here. It would be really nice for a party, I […]

  85. […] I was inspired by this pin from […]

  86. […] Photo by Claire of Fellow Fellow […]

  87. Debbie

    I love this. I am doing a *MAINE ROOM* in my house. This will be awesome! I can do this with some pictures of Maines beautiful lighthouses.Thanks for this I love love love it!!!

  88. […] Make // A village of night lights […]

  89. Denise E Morris

    Way cool!

  90. Rachael

    Where can I get these pictures of the castle/towns? They’re so pretty and I can’t find them online :/

    • ffadmin

      Hi Rachael, these pictures came out of an old book I bought at a market, so unfortunately you won’t be able to find them online.

  91. […] Houses by Night | fellow […]

  92. These are so beautiful–one of the most inspiring DIY projects I’ve seen. Thanks!

  93. Virginia B.

    These are beautiful!! I would suggest that scanning and re-printing onto a sturdy, somewhat translucent paper would be another idea – save the original image for more projects. Hmmm…. I wonder if my Yupo paper would run through the printer if I trimmed it to size??

  94. I made them with pictures I took on my trip to Europe and they look gorgeous!

  95. […] Fellow Fellow made these amazing paper house votives. So magical! […]

  96. omg such a great and easy idea! must try this soon >_<

  97. […] being a little craftier, but the outcome will be worth it! Follow the steps found on the blog Fellow Fellow to create your very own “lighthouses” using battery operated candles from Smart […]

  98. […] er det udklip af husbilleder sat omkring lys, det anbefales af bruge små elektriske lys, som jeg også allerede har købt 9 stk. af for en […]

  99. […] Kaynak Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:BeğenBe the first to like this. Temmuz 18, 2012 by mumsever | Tags: dekorasyon, DIY, ev, fener, mum | Yorum yapın […]

  100. What a clever idea – those are beautiful!

  101. Echt klasse !

    Greetings from Germany !

  102. How clever is that?! So cool! Thanks =)

  103. This is such a great idea!!! I absolutely love it! Thank you so much for sharing – I can’t wait to try this.

  104. Thank you so much for this great idea! I think this is going to be my weekend project and I have you to thank!

  105. Great idea! Was thinking of drawing the design from scratch, great for Halloween!
    Just wondering what make of LED tea light you used? They look nice and bright.
    Looked for some straight away online but lots of mixed reviews.
    Many thanks! :)

    • ffadmin

      Hi Laura! The photos were taken using candles. If you want to use candles too, i’d recommend wrapping the paper cut-out around the outside of a glass votif first, then putting the candle inside the glass (there should be no way the paper can come close to the flame)… Otherwise it’s too dangerous. :)

  106. […] I was inspired by this pin from […]

  107. […] Candle Holders from DIY Houses By Night from fellowfellow Gold Dipped Feathers from RyanMichelleandEllieMae Lace Princess Crowns from […]

  108. […] lack of craft related talent and motivation. Lamps made from pictures of old houses: by Fellow Fellow, found on […]

  109. Raluca

    What a nice coincidence! i found this lights today after i visited Chateau Chillon :) Your idea is lovely, i brought some postcards and i may try this DIY project.

  110. Lorna C.

    How creative you are! This is one of the neatest things I’ve ever seen. Thanks for sharing!

  111. […] Houses by Night (this is really lovely) […]

  112. What a beautifull presentation!

  113. I have pinned many a things and they never actually get done unless they are food related, but pinned this yesterday and I LOVED the idea and now have a village for under my Christmas tree for under $10 that looks adorable. My kids are loving it and so am I!

  114. […] herb markers | 11. color block planters | 12. chalkboard spice jars  | 13. votive houses  | 14. faux staghorns | 15. vanilla salt in a jar | 16. simple carved […]

  115. […] Paper by Day – DIY Night Lights by Night Posted on November 29, 2012 by Lightopia You can almost imagine a miniature town filled with people, just the thing to induce imagination for yourself or your children on the brim of rest. DIY’er Fellow Fellow used old books found in a German market to build this illuminating town. Although most flea markets, garage sales or even thrift stores should be able to meet your paper lighting needs. Images courtesy of Fellow Fellow […]

  116. Mimi

    Um …I kind of love you for this. Can’t wait to try!!!

  117. […] Fuente […]

  118. […] sepia), knip het mooi uit en rol het papiertje over een waxinelichthouder of een glazen potje. Klik hier voor meer foto’s en het volledige […]

  119. […] votives | candle in jar #1 | candle in jar #2 | candles in lavender | making candles | candle houses […]

  120. […] Fotocopias en color de monumentos iluminados de Fellowfellow […]

  121. I love it! I will absolutly do it!!

  122. […] oude afbeeldingen, aan een koord, van gewoon wit papier of omgesmolten […]

  123. These are absolutely stunning. It’s impressive how cool these look and that they are relatively easy to make. Well done!

  124. I am so going to attempt to do this! I’ve seen something similar in shops, but rather make it myself, the result looks better to me!

  125. […] Fun Night Light Project […]

  126. Sarah

    I’m not sure if anyone has told you, but I saw this on pinterest and the link sent me to this site
    I can’t translate the page and I’m not sure if they give you the credit for it, but thought you might want to know. I suspected they got it from somewhere else, so I Googled and found your awesome tutorial and pinned from here. These are beautiful!

  127. plum

    Great idea! Definately trying it!

  128. So much love! Echt toll! xx Alles Liebe!

  129. Ida

    I really want to make this for my mom (and myself :P)
    Could you maybe give a link to some good pictures I can use? Maybe some of those you used yourself? :)

  130. […] DIY Houses by Night, I’d love to take pictures of houses that are special to us and use those (I’m thinking grandparents’ homes) […]

  131. […] 7. lampiony ze zdjęć […]

  132. […] Cutting and trimming will be a hard work, but you can enjoy the process as you progress. There are also special tools which you can use to cut through details and show off the beauty of these pictures. After all the trimming and bending, light these images with candles or bulbs and see and instant glow! See more of this tutorial here at […]

  133. Ive already made a diorama using a similar tecnique but im looking for ideas to exhibit sindy dolls …. I love this idea and id love to expand on it using led lights email me lets chat! Kind regards ruthie


    I have sat here with my mouth open, with sheer delight, for once I was quiet..this idea is so wonderful and so beautiful, I was wondering, because that is what I do best..I think, I just can’t DO, but using a glass jar, and battery operated lights, coloured or white led, this would look stunning..I am very impressed, and if I was capable I would do it myself, but as a disabled person, I take great pleasure is seeing other people’s fanastic ideas come to life..just a bit like me many many years ago..Thank you, so much for being so talented. Love Su. x

  135. Beautiful idea. Thank you for sharing.

  136. […] Fun Night Light Project […]

  137. […] Image Credit: […]

  138. […] Wat super bedacht, deze lantaarntjes van oude foto’s! […]

  139. I found you while I was on Pinterest. What a fabulous idea! I can’t wait to try it. I was thinking that this could be wonderful for any holiday or even birthdays. And how about Halloween?? A haunted castle with lights. Oh my! Thanks again for sharing.
    Janet ;)

  140. Simple with a great efect. Cool.

  141. Mel

    I love this so much! You’re pictures are in black and white would you suggest black and white house photos? And what type of paper would you suggest using to print a picture onto?

  142. Wow! These are really beautiful and seems pretty straightforward to make. I love the idea of how you can make a little paper village with them. They would look amazing at Christmas or anytime really. Glad I found this :)

  143. […] Cute, cute, cute! With some cutting, taping, and a little work-pictures of house and castles can be transformed into a little light up village. What a simple DIY to light up any space! Thanks to the people of Fellow Fellow […]

  144. Jeni

    This is amazing. I only found this now. Go girl. I want to try using battery operated led strings – who knows where that is lead. Thanks

  145. very cool i like it

  146. Poes

    Soooo cute! Well done u! Thank u for sharing! I was thinking about using pics of the previous houses were I lived (quite a lot!) in different countries to make a kind of True Life Street…Or using pics taken in cities where I ve been on holiday this year to create a Holiday Souvenirs Road….By the way, I live in Switzerland now, not far from the Chateau de Chillon. It’s really an amazing place to visit, also the interiors are quite impressive.

  147. These are just gorgeous, so planning to make some – thanks for the idea, looking forward to checking out the rest of your site.

  148. just found this and really love the finished products!


    It’s amazing, so creative. Great idea, inspiring. Thank you for sharing. Loved it.

  150. Roxy

    Love this – may try it at my daughter’s art party – will print photos that are suitable ahead of time. Think that both boys and girls will love it and could give it as a Christmas gift if they wanted to.

  151. I can’t wait to make it. I really love it!!!!!