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  • Restoring Childhood Dolls House

    Hi

    Im usually making jewellery, with just a passng interest in Dolls Houses. I got an ex-display Mimosa Cottage from work, and toyed for over a year with the idea of changing the interior (structure, something I know nothing about) and paintwork, etc. I wasnt happy with a lot of it as Im a stickler for detail and realism, and its a VERY basic kit, more suited to a young child. Plastic windows, etc, nice but not really for me.

    Ive moved into my dads for a few months, and found my old dolls house-and fallen in love with it again. He made it for me over twenty years ago from ply, its three storeys, with proper stairs and windows in the sides (always annoyed me how dolls houses only have them at the front!) and have decided to restore it.
    Its pretty beaten up, Ive removed all the carepts as they're ruined, also the wallpaper's been stripped off. My dad didnt cut channels for wiring, just drilled holes and ran the wires under paper and carpets, so thats somethin Id like to do, but I cant take the house apart, it has to stay in one peice.
    Ive also done some measuring, and my doors and windows dont really match the 1/12th dimensions of most ready-made accessories (I cant make them as Im not that great with a saw) so am hoping that I can cut the plywood to make it larger, or use strips of foamboard to take off 2-3cm, and use wallpaper and polyfilla to conceal this.
    Has anyone ever taken on a project like this? And if you have, do you have any tips, lol-I have a pretty good idea what the house will look like in my head, its shape lends itself to an Edwardian facade, and Ive done a bit of research there, its just the structure of the dolls house itself where Ive got a lot of work to do.
    Any good websites that you've used to help you? Or books?

    Ill try to post some pics of the shell soon-Its a bit scruffy looking right now as all the papers stripped and the carpets have come up, but its very dear to me and Id love to make it really shine

    Thanks,

    Nat

  • #2
    Hi Nat, I've got a few houses in pieces, on my to do list with other things. Although i used to get my bits & pieces from the local model shops I did send away for the Dolls House Emporium catalogue. Not sure if they are still about as I haven't really looked at them for years. Your local library may have some reference books, or how about Interior Design books or history books showing the inside of period houses, so that you get the look just right, William Morris era maybe? When I used to do shadow boxes (dolls house rooms) I used to have a look through wallpaper sample books and pick out papers with small patterns...there was one sample book I managed to get, they had some piled up just to throw out that specifically had tiny patterns, not sure of the brand now though sorry. I also enjoyed mooching around little 2nd hand or antique shops as some of them had very old dolls house pieces tucked away. Good luck with your project, I'm looking forward to seeing your photos
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    • #3
      The man who made my bookcases and filing cabinets (they are posh looking) was making dolls' houses on the side at the time. One happened to be in Tudor style and my potter friend was making tiny Tudor pottery using a cocktail stick instead of fingers, so I gave him some for a thank you present. That's by the by but just to say customised doll's houses can be gorgeous.
      Like Nettie, I was going to say, hobby shops that cater for the miniture railway and glue together aeroplane people have display stands full of thin strips and sheets of wood (and metal and plastic), just the job for DIY doll's house renovating and making of not the common scale furniture.
      My next door neighbour does Miniature Fairs. Maybe seek them out and become addicted? (She tried to give up but I noticed that didn't last long .)

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      • #4
        You can get free printable wall paper from all era's here. Lots to choose from. Hope this helps.
        http://www.jennifersprintables.com/printables1.html


        Folksy shop http://www.folksy.com/shops/Fairyweb

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        • #5
          Hi again, i was just thinking, if you fancy a drive down here, the model shop in Hereford has a section and front window display dedicated to dolls houses, there's also a dolls house shop in Ross-on-Wye...if you pop down send me a message, perhaps you'd like to call in for a cuppa?
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          • #6
            I make dolls house things (1/12th scale) and originally had children in mind, just using up smaller bits of wood. I have yet to sell any to children. I hadn't realised that there was such a big market among collectors for these things. Seems to be quite a cult following on researching it. Crazy prices for some things as well.

            Pete
            "Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art" ... Leonardo Da Vinci
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            • #7
              The packs of wooden furniture are pretty good but some I found I needed to dismantle and reglue the joints. Some of the old/antique furniture and quality pieces at the fairs can be expensive but there again, if it's something you want... Pete, I remember you showing some of your tiny makes, they were lovely.
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              • #8
                Hi

                Wow thanks for your responses-a lot of people enthusiastic about dolls houses out there! I google like crazy when Im looking for images to draw inspiration (or take a bus ride through an old part of town and look at the houses there) but the actual DIY side has always eluded me, lol. I see a lot of 'restoring a dolls house' features in magazines and on Blogs, but it seems to be vintage dolls houses, restored exactly to how they were when they were new. If I did that my dolls house would look very interesting as I recall it being a mis-mash of carpets and balsa furniture put together by most of my family! Pete, I clicked on your web link, but it appeared to be down-loving the things on your Folksy site, I have been thinking of commissioning one or two peices for the house so will keep trying.

                I missed a miniature show in York earlier this year-has anyone been, and is it good? The customers in my store keep raving about it, so it must be big!

                The Dolls House Emporium is still going-I got their catalogue, but a lot of the stuff in there is either modern, circa 1960's style, or Victorian-by which I mean the dark red mahogany style. I had a bit of that furniture already, never really been 'in love' with it, but I bought a single little table at a Sale a while back, which even though it has no chairs, is just crying out for someone to play cards on it, or to be used in a doll seance or something, and its that Edwardian walnut shade, so thats kind of what dictated my period for the house.
                Im not a stickler for detail though-Im a Harry Potter fan so there's bound to be a travelling trunk underneath a childs bed with a wand, and some sweets from Honeydukes stuffed into it, an owl in a birdcage somewhere, maybe aodragon lurkin in the cuboard under the stairs! Will post some pics as soon as I sort out my internet connection-Ive taken some of the front panels before and after stripping and priming. Hopefully I can string them together to make some sort of cohesive, and hopefully, interesting blog? Or at least just a stopryboard.

                Thanks for your help-I'l post pics as soon as I get the chance (when Im not at work, asleep, or working on the house )

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by NatSiddle View Post
                  Hi

                  Pete, I clicked on your web link, but it appeared to be down-loving the things on your Folksy site, I have been thinking of commissioning one or two pieces for the house so will keep trying.
                  Sorry about that, now sorted.

                  Pete
                  "Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art" ... Leonardo Da Vinci
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