It is that time of year and with every Christmas season comes a new trend that you will see in stores when you are shopping.   This year you cannot help but see the cute ceramic gingerbread houses everywhere.  There are gingerbread house doormats, gingerbread house ornaments, and even gingerbread house plates and serving dishes.  You name it there is a gingerbread house in some shape or form this year.  My all-time favorite form of this trend is the Pottery Barn gingerbread houses so I decided to make my own gingerbread house diy.  Click here if you want to see what they look like.

At first, I thought of making them with balsa wood and then I thought I could just buy some pre-made house forms at the dollar store, but then I had an ingenious idea.  What about taking some of the Christmas houses that I have collected over the years and turn them in look-alikes for the Pottery Barn gingerbread houses?

Original Christmas house with deep red tile roof
Christmas house: Before

Come let me show you just how easy it is!


  • ceramic Christmas house
  • ceramic Christmas house accessories such as trees, bridges, signs, etc.
  • wood trees
  • DecoArt Crafter’s Acrylic paint in Tan
  • white acrylic paint
  • white sharpie marker or Trimbrite Tire Lettermate pen in white
  • Air-Dry Clay in white
  • flat paint brushes – 1 inch wide and 1/4″ inch wide
Air dry clay container, tan paint and tire lettering pen

​You can do this project with all the different sizes of Christmas houses or even the larger ones.  So get digging into all your old boxes of Christmas decor and see what you can find.

Original Christmas church
Christmas church: Before

I found a cute little bridge.

Ceramic bridge for Christmas village
Ceramic bridge: Before

Along with these trees.

Three wood trees
Wood trees: Before

Step 1:  Clean

Clean all items to be painted.  If they have a glossy surface, give them a light sanding and then wipe with a damp cloth until fully clean.

If you use wood trees like I did, make sure there are no loose pieces.  If there are, remove and sand that area until it is smooth.

Step 2:  Basecoat

Apply an even coat of tan acrylic paint to all of the pieces.  Leave to dry.

Painting Christmas house in tan paint
Base coating Christmas house

Apply a second coat if there are still original colors showing through.  Let dry.

Ceramic Christmas house painted tan

​With the trees, also completely cover the tree portion and whatever the base is in full coverage tan acrylic paint.  Let dry and set aside.

Green wood tree being painted tan
Base coating tree

Also paint any accessories tan.

Ceramic bridge being painted tan
Base coating bridge

Step 3:  Apply clay as snow to houses

My Christmas houses only had patches of snow on them and I wanted it to look like a heavy snowfall had just occurred so I applied a thick layer of Air-Dry Clay.

To apply the clay, break off pieces and push them into the roof and any areas where snow would naturally fall.  

You can have some snow hanging over the edges or if your Christmas house has details on the fascia (ie the wooden trim that is located just under the roof line) then have the snow end where the roof ends.  I looked at photos and snow on rooftops can droop over or be upright.

Dip your fingers in water often to make the clay easier to work with and to mold the pieces together for a smooth finish.

Clay being applied to ceramic Christmas house roof
Wetting the clay on the roof so that it becomes smooth
Wet clay on Christmas church roof

Follow the instructions for drying time on your particular clay.  Mine said 2 to 3 days.  Due to the thickness of most of my clay it took 3 days.

Step 4:  Paint snow

My clay when dry was not a pure white, so I painted it with pure white acrylic paint.  There were some cracks in my clay, so I put the paint on very thickly.  

Gingerbread Christmas house with snow on roof

You could also add white sparkles to the paint while it is still wet.  I wanted to follow the Pottery Barn style, so I did not add sprinkles.

Also paint any other areas where snow would sit such as the ground around the house, on top of any wreaths or other adornments on the outside of the house.  

My Christmas house and church had some very small rooftops.  I did not cover these in clay because it would have been over powering.  In these areas, just paint a few coats of white paint to look like freshly landed  snow.

Step 5:  Add gingerbread details

As you will see on the Pottery Barn gingerbread houses, they have lots of white details such as dots, swirls, etc.  My Christmas house and church had a lot of embossed details, so I followed those details and highlighted them with a white Tire Lettermate pen.  

The areas I added the white detailing to were:

  • door and window frames
  • door knobs
  • pillars
  • roof details
  • edging on signs
  • wreaths
Gingerbread Christmas house transformation

My pen did not give thick enough coverage on the first round so I let it dry for a day and then came back and added another layer to make it a crispy white.

Side view of gingerbread Christmas house
Back view of gingerbread Christmas house

If you use a lettermate pen like I did, remember to shake often and depress the tip on a separate piece of paper.  If the ink flows out quickly, make sure to wipe with a paper towel.

Side view of gingerbread Christmas house

​There are so many different options in how to finish them so take some time to think about what would work the best in your home and add all the intricate detail you love.

Step 6:  Re-touch tan areas

If you got clay, white paint or white ink on any of the tan areas, be sure to go back and re-apply tan paint to cover the white so it does not look messy.  Also make sure that you apply the tan in a smooth fashion so that it is not lumpy.

Step 7:  Turning the wood trees into gingerbread trees

​My trees had a thick bark base, so I felt that snow would naturally gather on top of the base.  Once again we will be using the quick dry clay in the same manner above, however, I did allow the snow to cascade over the edges to add some interest.  Let dry thoroughly.

​Paint the snow and fill in any cracks with white paint.  Let dry.

​Now it is time to add the white details to the trees.  Of course this will depend on style of tree you have.  Mine are thick but flat so I am just adding simple details.  If yours are more 3D you can simply add white paint to where the snow would land and stick to branches.  This would be the ends and the more level areas or the very top of the tree.

Painting edge of wood tree with white paint

​For trees such as my flat one dimensional kind, start by painting the edges in a bright white acrylic paint.  Let fully dry.

​Next outline the front face of the tree with white paint and swoop inward and upwards at the end of each branch.

Three wood trees painted to look like gingerbread

​Step 8:  Accessories

​My accessory is the cutest stone bridge and I simply painted the areas that would get snow such as the ground and top railing in white.  I glopped the paint on so that it had texture.

Snowy ceramic bridge painted to look like gingerbread

​Step 9:  Style

​Now for the fun part – styling.  Find a fun spot to display your beautiful creations such as a bookshelf, china cabinet, entrance or coffee table, etc.

Gingerbread Christmas House Village inspired by Pottery Barn

​My trees were quite large, so I set them in the background.  Set the houses up in a pleasing manner in the foreground.   Add in your accessories.  I made a little frozen creek out of tinfoil.

Gingerbread Christmas house transformation

​Sprinkle all items with faux snow.

Gingerbread Christmas Church DIY inspired by Pottery Barn


​These Pottery Barn dupes are going to be one of your favorite transformations.  How wonderful to pull something out of a box that you once loved and transform it into the similar look of something from a high-end store at a fraction of the price!  Simply the cost of the paint and clay and now you have the most lovely new holiday decor.  

Gingerbread Christmas village with trees and a bridge

Not everyone can chase every trend and always have the latest Christmas decor – I know I sure can’t!  When I can save money that makes me and my husband very, very happy.  In fact, these little houses are now making my whole family happy not just because they are saving us money but because we have always loved these houses.  Unfortunately, they were looking a little old and out of style but with this paint technique they are right back in style.

​If you are short on money, but blessed with many houses that are sitting in boxes, consider giving the updated houses as gifts.  You are bound to make a friend or family member very, very happy!

​These Pottery Barn gingerbread houses are my absolute favorite diy dupe to date!  I hope they will be yours too!

Thank you!

Thank you for staying until the end. I appreciate your support and hope you enjoyed the project.

Looking for more inspo?

This Christmas I changed up my decor and embraced gold. It turned out better than I could have imagined. Click here for the post.

Elegant Christmas tree with mirror in the background

If you are looking for something unique to hang on the back of your chairs, this easy project is fun and inexpensive. Click here for the project.

Mini wreath on back of chair that is in the shape of a tree with red bells hanging from it.

Looking for something sweet and beautiful? These Christmas cookies fulfil both requirements. Just click here.

Glazed snowflake cookies on a crystal platter

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