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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book Review: The Dollhouse Sourcebook

It was a challenge to find a song that related to today's post!  I went with this song because it's from "Back to the Future," an awesome movie about time travel :)

Since I'm in my annual state of PCBSC (Post-Christmas Borderline Sugar Coma) resulting from the 25 kinds of awesome cookies my sister always makes and my pathetic inability to resist them, I am feeling lazy today.  So I thought I would just post a review I wrote at  

I like reading books about dollhouses almost as much as I like checking out dollhouse blogs, and dollhouses themselves.  This is a hobby that gives on so many levels!

The Dollhouse Sourcebook, by Caroline Clifton-Mogg

I borrowed this from the library and loved it so much I had to buy it.

The book is organized by chapters that cover different rooms - drawing room, dining room, library, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, etc.  Each chapter describes how the function of that particular room, and the furniture used within it, evolved over the centuries. This information is well written and informative, and accompanied by beautiful full color photos of miniature rooms representing different periods and styles - Tudor, Georgian, Edwardian, Victorian, etc. I also love how the author includes excerpts from letters and diary entries to offer glimpses of how people actually living in that time period described the various rooms - it's like a little bit of time travel!

If you are on the fence about whether or not you want to get into this hobby, I would advise you to stay away from this book - because if I wasn't already obsessed, I would be after flipping through it. No matter what style you are interested in, this book will be a source of inspiration for decorating your dollhouse. I have owned it for months and I find something new and interesting every time I open it.


I also wanted to welcome to Ruth and Drora - thank you for following me and wishing you both all the best in 2013!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bed Makeover

I loved Squeeze!

Overall I like the bedroom set that I bought, even though it was cheap.  

But every time I opened the Mini House and saw the yucky pink gingham covering on the bed, it made me sad. So I knew I wanted to do something to it, but I can't sew - or to be more specific, I don't have the patience to sew. I purchased a sewing machine from Craigslist about a year ago, brand new, untouched, sealed in its box. And there it still sits. I'm kind of afraid of it. Back in junior high I knew my way around a sewing machine well enough to sew some of my own clothes. But sewing machines, like life, were much simpler then.

So anyway, the situation seemed to be at a standstill, until I happened upon this wonderful video at the Creating Dollhouse Miniatures site.  Here is a link:  "Dressing a Bed" Tutorial from Creating Dollhouse Miniatures 

This opened up a whole new world for me, in which a person doesn't NEED a sewing machine. A world in which lovely beds can be created using nothing but fabric and glue!

So that's how I went from this:

The bed:  Before
to this:
The bed:  After

This was only meant to be a practice attempt, but I'm pretty happy with it, especially considering how little effort it took. I used some satin fabric I already had; the lace is from an old pillowcase; the roses and ribbons are leftover from favors I made for my friend's bridal shower years ago.

So for an investment of very little in time or materials, the bed is now one of the many things that makes me happy when I look inside the Mini House.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

One of my favorite non-traditional Christmas songs: 

It was fun decorating the house for the holidays!

The window decorations evolved from three things - snowflake ornaments that I've had forever and didn't feel like putting on the tree this year; little wreaths that I got at Michael's; and tiny Hallmark mouse ornaments I got from my friend Sally. (Sally is mentioned frequently throughout this blog. She's kind of the dollhouse patroness.) Each mouse is doing some kind of building task, so I thought they would be cute on the newly built house.

I hot-glued everything together, and here's a close up of one of the resulting creations:

The front door decoration is also a mini Hallmark ornament, and also from Sally:

The Christmas stuff in the parlor is a mishmash of things.  The wreath and Christmas tree are from Michaels.

The beautiful miniature poinsettia was a gift from my friend Donna M; who brought it when I invited her over for a Christmas tea. She also gave me a REAL poinsettia and an adorable Christmas ornament!  (Note to self:  have Donna over more often.)

The items on the piano are more mini Hallmark ornaments from Sally!

In the dining room, we have yet more Hallmark mini ornaments, and another wreath from Michael's.

The tiny Christmas cards on the mantle are from the IGMA (International Guild of Miniature Artisans) show that I went to in Teaneck, NJ earlier this year. There were absolutely amazing things to be seen there, and all prohibitively expensive.  But at least I was able to purchase four of these adorable cards for the princely sum of $2.00.

The kitchen has evolved a bit since the first time I posted, but it is still my least favorite room in the house.  However, I do like the Christmas touch that I added here:

The gingerbread men and cookie cutters on the kitchen table!  Along with the spatula, rolling pin, and cutting board, they were a little package of buttons that I bought at Michael's. I just pried off the rings on the back with pliers.

Happy Holidays!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Move in Day!

Come on-a my house!

Today was the day I finally got to move in and arrange all the stuff I've been collecting - big fun!

This is very preliminary, but at least every room is furnished and has an obvious purpose. I can't stop opening the house and staring at it, and I'll probably move everything around around a million times. 

Here's a tour of what the rooms look like - for now.  Most of the furniture was described in the previous post so I'll just point out a few other things.

Third Floor

The Bathroom

The blue chair (which I kind of hate) as well as the little table and the picture above it were liberated from an estate sale room box that I bought on clearance from the Circus Dollhouse store.  I also bought the shelf above the bathtub from Circus Dollhouse.

The Bedroom

I don't like the bed but I am pretty sure I can do something with it.  The bundle of linens under the dressing table and the pitcher and bowl are from Circus Dollhouse.  The little cat is my favorite thing in the room!  I bought him on that first visit to the Dollhouse Factory.

Close up of the cute little cat, inspired my boy, Voodoo.
Voodoo - who spends most of his life asleep on my bed,
much like his dollhouse counterpart

Second Floor

The Parlor

The birdcage, candle fixture and the little pot on the fireplace (from Circus Dollhouse) and the tea set from the Dollhouse Factory.  I think the tea set is too big but I've noticed that notation ("slightly larger than 1/12") in catalogs regarding other tea sets. I'd like to find a nice one that is the right scale at some point.  The little bird in the cage at the back left corner is no longer sitting in his swing, I'll have to see if I can fix that at some point!

The Dining Room

The fireplace is the one I bought at an antique store during my trip to Cape May.  The rug is a doily from another antique store.  The mirror and pictures on the wall were from the same vintage room box as the items in the bathroom.

First Floor

The Library

The desk, chair and plant are all from a different vintage room box.  The desk is not in perfect shape but came with all these cool little desk doo-dads.  I will add a picture at some point.  The table between the bookcase was from the dollar store!  It's kind of ugly but I plan to put a little sofa in front of it when I find one.

The little cat is inspired by the newest member of our
household, Kato, who was born last Christmas Eve.  
The real Kato is also a known plant molester

The Kitchen

This room needs a lot of work. The only thing I'm happy with is the stove.  The table was from the dollar store.  Originally it was oval and had the same ugly red stain as the little table in the library.  I cut off the round edges to make the top square, and threw a coat of primer on it till I figure out what else to do.  The hutch is from Michael's.  I found many articles online about how to "bash" these hutches and make them into nicer things, so I wanted to have a bunch of them - but unfortunately, they don't sell them anymore.  I lucked out and found a stash of them - mostly broken - at a Michael's near me and bought them all!  They were only $1.29 each.

Here is a link to the site that inspired me:   Michael's Hutch Bash ideas

So that's it, the whole house!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Finished Building!!

The song choice for today:

Finished at Last!

I enjoyed every step of the process, and now that the Miniature House is finally finished, I am really glad that I decided to build it instead of buying one that someone else made. Every time I look at it, I'll remember  how much fun I had working on this project with Bob. Plus, by building it I was able to customize it a little. Besides the color scheme, changes we made to the original design include:
  1. Added chimneys
  2. Changed the design of the front porch
  3. Eliminated some of the exterior trim
  4. Eliminated the flower boxes
  5. Eliminated the staircases from the inside
The model:  Strawberry Patch by Real Good Toys,
from their website,

The finished product:  Ange's Miniature House,
by Ange and Bob

Here is another view from the front, where I have already added the front door knob, door knocker and two plants.

The inside of the house, all painted and without staircases - lots of room for furniture!

Now that I am done building, I'm kind of let down. It reminds me of the feeling I had after planning my wedding - it was all I thought about for months, and then it was over. But Bob and I are going on vacation next week, and when we get back I can start working on the interior decorating. I feel pretty certain - and a little afraid - that will take me to a whole new level of obsession.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

How to Spend an Amazon Gift Certificate Quickly

Today's song!

What's better than an Amazon Gift Certificate?

I received a generous AGC last Christmas, and I didn't want to spend it on books or in dribs and drabs, so I decided to wait until there was one big thing that I wanted to treat myself to. This strategy paid off, since now I have an entire dollhouse to furnish and the stuff is not cheap. The items I picked out below helped me blow right through the whole amount in a hurry. Below is a review of the products and some of the Amazon sellers I dealt with. LLC

The bedroom and dining sets below were purchased directly through Amazon and are made by a company called Melissa and Doug. They don't make fine miniatures - these are really toys.  But both were very inexpensive and free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime, so I gave it a shot.

When the bedroom set arrived, I was really pleased with it.  All the little doors open, the finish is uniform, no glue showing, etc. So I will keep this set - and at some point I will try to do something to glam up the bed.
The dining room set below I was not quite as thrilled with.  The little table is very nice, and the hutch is also nicely made, although a little small.  But the chairs seem a bit too large, there are places where the glue is visible, and I hate the red velvet upholstery. I opted to keep this set, mostly because it was so inexpensive and I hate returning things through the mail. But I probably should have waited to find something I like better. I will try to reupholster the chairs and if it turns out to be a disaster, not that big of a deal.
I purchased both of the items above from the same seller through Amazon Prime, but I noticed a very big variation in prices, even among "Prime" sellers.  In one case the difference was $10! That is something to keep in mind for all Amazon purchases, not just dollhouse stuff.

Superior Dollhouse Miniatures

The little bathroom set is nicer than it looks in the picture, I really like it.  It was purchased from Superior Dollhouse Miniatures through Amazon.  The shipping was a little high ($9.99), but I would purchase from them again. One of the pieces arrived with a chip in it, and their customer service was excellent. They responded to my email immediately and replaced the broken item quickly. 

Hobby Builder's Supply

All of the items below are from Hobby Builders Supply.  I like this company because shipping was only $6.95, they gave 10% off, plus the items came with a great catalog from which I have been enjoying ever since.  

I was thrilled with this little fireplace, which for some reason cost much less through this company - I have seen what seems to be the identical fireplace for twice as much elsewhere. I just checked and it's not available anymore, so I wonder if the price was an error. Oh well, one of the few times in life that was in my favor!

I liked the globe, too, but it's a little too new looking for the Victorian feel I want.  Again, too much of a pain to return it, but I wonder if I can age it somehow? A project for another day.
I was completely disappointed with the piano - at first. From the front it is chunky and lacking in detail and really BIG. So it was definitely going back, but then I put it in the room just to see what it looks like, and when viewed from the side rather than head on, it just works. 


I was happy with the items from Craftbargain, but the shipping was also high - $9.98.  I noticed recently that all the items on their site say "unavailable" so they may not be in business anymore. 

The set below is gorgeous.  The only thing I don't like is the armchairs have a little piece of the green fabric glued to the arms, and it's not done well.  That's a shame because the rest of the items are great quality.  
I also loved the stove, it is nicely detailed.  The burners come with lids, which are wrapped separately in tissue paper.  I mention this because I didn't know about the lids until a few days later, when I found the cat swatting a wad of tissue around the kitchen and almost threw it out. It must have fallen on the floor when I opened the box.

Dollhouse and More LLC

The dishes were purchased from Dollhouse and More LLC.  The shipping was $6.95 and the set came quickly and well packaged.  The plates are nicely detailed, with gold edging.
So that's everything - not a bad haul for "free!"  The next post will show how all this stuff looks inside the Mini House.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Get Shingles

The kind for the roof, of course.

I needed another roof song for today's post.  Here's a classic by the Drifters:

I mentioned on another post that the Strawberry Patch kit was relatively inexpensive. Shingles for the roof might be included in a more costly kit, but I had to purchase them separately. 

The instructions for dying the shingles said to cut a plastic milk carton in half and use the bottom as a tub for the dye, and the top as a strainer. That worked pretty well, but it was a messy job.  I wore gloves and old clothes.

A plastic milk carton cut in half serves as dye tub and strainer
The double thick cardboard of a packing box
worked perfectly for this messy job

I did a handful at a time and eventually they were all done.  Then they needed a day or so to dry.

I stained the roof panels the same color so the pale wood wouldn't show through.  I also decided at this point that the house would look better with chimneys.  So Bob cut holes in the panels where the roof would be, and then made the chimneys for me.  I love him.

Thee roof panels prior to staining

The roof panels stained, attached, and
with custom chimney openings 

After painting and installing the chimneys, I could finally start the shingle process.  First we had to mark the lines on the roof.  Then each shingle is glued on individually.  Yet another task that should have been tedious, but wasn't.

Shingles must be glued on one at a time, row by row.

Shingling around the chimney was tricky, I had to cut the
shingles to fit.

I didn't want to use the strange looking trim that came with the kit, so I had to figure out some other way to finish the peak of the roof, which otherwise would have a gap.

Original design calls for this weird stegosaurus-like trim to
close the gap at the peak of the roof, but I didn't like it.

I found a piece of molding at Circus Dollhouse and stained it to match, which I like much better.  (It seems like every time I leave the house, I have to buy something for the Mini House!)

The finished roof with shingles, custom chimneys, and custom roof peak. 

At this point there is really not much left to do.  A few more steps to finish up, and then I can finally start the part I've really been looking forward to - decorating the inside!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Assembling and Installing the Windows

Today's musical selection, a lesser known Beatle's song:

One thing I have realized during this process is that you get what you pay for.  The Strawberry Patch Kit was quite inexpensive compared to other models.  In a more expensive kit, for example, all the windows are pre-assembled.

But my windows were most definitely NOT pre-asssembled. There are eight windows in the house, and each window consists of 15 separate parts - so 120 little pieces had to be painted and then put together!  The painting part was tedious, but I didn't really mind assembling them.

The pictures below show the process for each window.  In the last picture you can also see how the redesigned porch (see previous post) turned out.

All these tiny pieces had to be painted for the windows
The 15 different parts that make up each window

Interior trim pieces glued together

Spacers glued to the reverse side of interior trim

Spacers glued to reverse side of shutters

Assembled window - exterior view 
Assembled windows - interior view.   (The little fireplace
is the one I picked up at an antique store in Cape May.)

Below, the Mini House with all windows and doors installed.  Also pictured is the finished porch - I was able to get the additional posts and railing I needed from Circus Dollhouse.  I'm really happy with the way it came out.