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Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Walls Go Up!

At the beginning of this project, I assumed that Bob would help me, but his level of engagement has exceeded my most optimistic expectations.  It really has been very interesting getting all these hundreds of parts ready to form into a house, like a giant complex puzzle, and he's been helpful every step of the way.

So today we really started to build!  The instructions called for using tape to hold the pieces together while the glue dried, adding just a few nails for strength. Well, Bob was having none of that.  He used clamps, and added so many extra nails that I think the house will be strong enough for me to actually live in when it's finished.

First the base had to be assembled:

Then the base was flipped over and the back wall nailed and glued into place:

The first side wall was nailed and glued:

The other side wall was nailed and glued:

The first floor wall liners were glued in place:

The second floor, resting on the wall liners, were glued and nailed in place:

The second floor wall liners were added:

The third floor, resting on the second floor wall liners, was glued and nailed into place.

Finally, the the roof base was added.

I was relieved once all the floors were added that my paint job was accurate - the floors covered the lines where the two colors meet perfectly.

I chose this house because it was a simple design but at this point in the construction, it is a little underwhelming.  Behold, I have built a book shelf! Still, now that it exists in three-dimensional form, I am even more obsessed - if possible - with finishing the house. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Interior Color Scheme and Room Decisions

I have painted all of the exterior walls and pieces in two coats of Pale Sagebrush.  It's getting close to the time when I can FINALLY start to assemble this into something that looks like a house.  But first I have to paint the interior walls.

Paint vs. Wallpaper

Most people seem to choose wallpaper for the interior of Miniature Houses, but I don't want to do that for several reasons.
  • First, I'm impatient.  If I wallpaper I have to wait until the whole house is assembled, then choose the wallpaper and then figure out how to install it, which seems like a tricky process. Bob has put up real wallpaper professionally, but I'm not sure his big giant hands would do so well in a miniature setting.  But if I paint, once the house is assembled the interior will be all finished and ready to decorate.
  • Second, when I see Miniature Houses that are all wallpapered, if it's not done really well it can look crappy.  Paint is much more forgiving. And sometimes I feel like the wallpaper pattern overwhelms the room.
  • Third, I'm trying to be thrifty.  Dollhouse wallpaper is around $4.00 a sheet, and I'd need three sheets per room, times six rooms.  The math is not pretty.  And I have all this leftover paint from when we painted our house that I can use for free.
So paint it is!

Laying Out the Rooms

Because I already have the paint, I didn't have to agonize so much over the color decisions.  But I did have to decide how the rooms would be used and then which room should be which color.  Here's what I decided:

Top Floor Left - Bathroom - Linen White
Top Floor Right - Bedroom - Pale Green

Middle Floor Left - Parlor - Pale Yellow
Middle Floor Right - Dining Room - Beige/Pink

Bottom Floor Left - Library - Terra Cotta
Bottom Floor Right - Kitchen - Linen White 

All the paint colors above are from Benjamin Moore and I no longer remember the actual names, although I was passionately interested at the time when we painted the house.

Before starting to paint, I had to assemble the room dividers together. Each room divider was made up of three pieces that had to be glued together.  Now the doorways from room to room can be seen.

Room dividers came in three separate pieces that had to be glued together
The next step was to measure and mark the walls.  I had to figure out where the floors will fall when the house is assembled, and also decide how big I wanted each room to be so I could mark the locations for the room dividers.

Walls are marked for painting
And now, paint!  It got a little confusing when I got close to the lines, but I'm optimistic that when the house is assembled the width of the floors and room dividers will cover any imperfections in the paint lines.

All the rooms are painted - looks messy but should be perfect
when the floors and walls are all in place.

Painting the room dividers was the hardest part, because obviously each side had to be painted a different color.
All the walls and room dividers are now painted

After all this paint dries, I think it's time to build!

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Great Road Trip...

... deserves a great road trip song.

My friend Sally, you may recall from my very first post, is the one who inadvertently got me started on this hobby and then declined to get obsessed along with me. But she's a good sport and has accompanied me on several trips to Michaels and Circus Dollhouse and other spots as deemed necessary by me to feed my addiction.

You also may recall that I mentioned in that same post that my original plan was to buy a finished dollhouse from Craigslist.  One person with whom I engaged in negotiations was a lovely woman named Amy.  Although I did not end up buying her dollhouse, we struck up a nice email friendship of the satisfying kind that happens between people who are totally enthralled by the same, somewhat offbeat hobby.  Amy alerted me to a shop that I didn't know existed, having somehow missed it in my online exploration.

The Dollhouse Factory

So today Sally and I ventured south on a road trip to The Dollhouse Factory in Lebanon, New Jersey.  Here is their website.

It's an overused expression but it works here:  O. M. G. !!!  This place is nirvana for dollhouse enthusiasts.  It's an entire HOUSE full of the most wonderful miniatures of every possible type and description.  I would really challenge you to come up with something that they don't have a miniature of.  The Dollhouse Factory, as you can imagine also has a huge assortment of finished dollhouses to drool over.  The place is run by two really nice guys.  They are so helpful and friendly, they talk and laugh with you and don't seem to care if you hang out there all day, which Sally and I practically did.  You feel like you are at your friend's house.  As if all this wouldn't make it my happy place anyway, when you walk up to the door there is a sign that says, "Please don't let the cat out."  They have a cat that wanders around at will amidst the dollhouses - Ah, bliss!

[The next time I go back there, I am going to see if they mind if I take some pictures to add here.]

The other great thing about this place is that you can get some really good bargains.  They have tons of dollhouses as I mentioned, and instead of just having empty rooms, they have them partially furnished.  You can buy the furniture in these houses at very good prices, since it has all been gently used.  I scored two corner bookshelves, a little end table, and a really nice dresser for the bedroom - all for $5.00 or less.  I won't mention all the other money I managed to spend there, in case Bob ever reads this blog.  

Now last but not least, here is the final bit of awesomeness about The Dollhouse Factory.  As I was checking out, I mentioned to the guys (I didn't catch their names, or did but immediately forgot them, as I am wont to do) that I was working on the Strawberry Patch dollhouse, but that my dream house is Grosvenor Hall, which you can't seem to get in the United States but only in the U.K.  (I found out much later that I am wrong about this, you can get a whole selection of awesome British style dollhouses at this site:

Grosvenor Hall is, as far as I am concerned, the Holy Grail of dollhouses.  It is absolutely gorgeous and stands over five feet tall:

Grosvenor Hall, the Grand Poobah of dollhouses.
From the website
When I mentioned it, I was ushered into their private office where before my dazzled eyes appeared - Grosvenor Hall!  Apparently a wealthy client had custom ordered it and then traded it in or something, so they were finishing it off as a labor of love, with the best of everything.  The thing is truly awesome.  They said at some point when it's done they might try to display it in the main shop, but it would be tricky because of the size and expense.  But I got to see it, so I am very grateful for that!

Nearby - A Great Place for Lunch!

Well, you wouldn't think the day could get any better from here, but when Sally and I staggered back out into the light of the parking lot, after hours of hunching over little bins of miniatures, we realized we were hungry.  So we drove right down the street to a cute little place we passed called the Fox and the Hound Tavern.

It is a beautiful, historic inn, circa 1820, and it serves absolutely wonderful food.  I had this...

Spinach Ravioli sun dried tomatoes, mascarpone cheese, toasted pine nuts, asparagus and plum tomato ragout

...which earns the second, overused "O.M.G!!!" of this blog post.

As a last final good thing of the day, when we got home from our trip, I found a little tube of replacement parts that I had requested from Real Good Toys, so now nothing stands in the way of me finishing my Miniature House.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Ceilings!  Woh, woh, woh, ceilings!

With the floors of the house all beautifully stained, I could move on to the next step.

The two finished boards below are shown with tape on the front edge.  I painted the side below this edge, and the reverse sides of the floors, in Linen White, because they will become the ceilings of the second and third floors. The front edges will show when you open the dollhouse.  Again, all this is much easier to do now than after the house is built.  

The tape allowed a nice clean line of paint on the edge below.
Linen White in flat finish - my husband
always has a gallon of this stuff around

The finished ceilings.
Unfortunately, during this process I screwed up, and got some paint on my nice finished floors.  So I had to do a fourth round of sanding and polyurethane.  I'm sure that won't be the last mistake I make. But lesson learned: make sure there is no wet paint on the table when I'm moving pieces around.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Choosing the Exterior Color Scheme

Today's musical selection:

If I ever get done priming and sanding all the pieces in my lifetime, I will need to paint them.  Pretty much everything needs to be painted before the house is assembled.  So to make any progress, I had to decide on an exterior color scheme, a project that resulted in almost as much endless waffling on my part as the original decision of what to build.

I looked on the web for pictures of "Painted Ladies" because I wanted my house to have a Victorian look. Pinterest is a great source for this, just go there and type in Painted Ladies and you'll hit the jackpot. This was a good site also:

It also happened that we had a vacation planned, and we went to Cape May during this period. Cape May is one of my favorite place on earth, and yet I ams so obsessed with working on this Miniature House that I was borderline annoyed by the interruption the trip presented. While we were there I had lots of Victorian architecture to look at for inspiration, and I also found a little fireplace in an antique shop, so the trip was satisfying on many levels.

I took this picture on Gurney Street, both for color schemes and because the design of the houses kind of reminded me of the Strawberry Patch:

Victorian Houses in Cape May, New Jersey

I took the picture of the Delsea House below because of the fancy wood trim.  The Strawberry Patch kit came with some trims that I thought were kind of unrealistic, but as it turns out they are taken from actual Victorian style houses:

The Delsea House, Cape May NJ

Curlicue Trim from the Delsea
Curlicue Trim from the Strawberry Patch

Porch Balusters from the Delsea
Porch Balusters from the Strawberry Patch

But I digress, because I was talking about picking a color scheme.  So all of this research was interesting but didn't get me anywhere in terms of making a decision. What I finally did, at the advice of my wonderful husband Bob, was to take a trip to the Home Depot to get paint brochures.  They do the work! Here is the Behr brochure I picked up.  It contained dozens of designer-approved color schemes all mapped out for me:

The brochure is many pages long, so it didn't completely eliminate the angst and indecision, but at least I knew that whatever colors I finally picked would look good together.  So after much consideration, I settled on the color scheme at the bottom right on the page above, because it is similar to a real house that I see and admire on the way to church every Sunday.

I record the colors here for my future reference:

Walls:  Behr Pale Sagebrush - No. ECC-38-1
Shutters:   Behr Sea Fern - No. ECC-38-3
Trim:  Behr Ultra Pure White - this is different from the color scheme, but I preferred the pure white

You can buy little sample pots of all these paints for $2.99 each at Home Depot, so you don't have to spend a fortune on full size cans.  I bought two pots of the Sagebrush and one of each color for the shutters and trim, which should be enough.

Behr paint sample pots have screw tops, which is so
much nicer than dealing with traditional paint can lids.
Naturally, as soon as I got the sample pots home I realized that I totally should have picked one of the other color schemes.  But I am going to try not to be so crazy and stick with what I chose.  So now I can start painting!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Priming, Priming, and More Priming

Priming all of the pieces of wood that came with the kit may take the rest of my life.  Not really, I'm making progress.  Today I did the reverse side of all the pieces I primed yesterday, and the front of the wall liners, and various miscellaneous small pieces.
Primed Mini House pieces cover every available surface

After priming each piece, it has to be sanded to create a nice smooth surface to receive the paint.  The exterior walls are especially challenging, because they have milled clapboard siding, and each board has to be sanded separately.

Each "clapboard" needs to be sanded
You would think this would be tedious - I certainly would if you described it to me.  But somehow I enjoyed it. I sat outside on a folding chair, happily sanding away, listening to old cassette tapes of Styx and Boston and Billy Squier on the crappy boom box that my husband keeps in the garage that gets no radio reception and has a broken CD player. (Long overdue shout out to an old college boyfriend, who tried in vain to convince me that cassettes were crap and I should be buying CD's instead:  Mike, you were right!)

Today's musical selection is a song from the boom box today that I haven't heard in years:

Moving On to the Floors

Bob found plywood at Home Depot that was finished on both sides, so he cut the two replacement floors I needed.  The new floors are thicker than the original ones - I think Bob said it was about 1/16th of an inch.  Depending on how precise this whole kit is, the difference might possibly cause problems later in the building process.  Bob doesn't think it will be an issue. It doesn't matter, he can fix anything.

The next step was to stain and polyurethane all three floors.  It would be very difficult to do this properly after the house is built. I planned to do two coats of stain on the floor, but one coat of Min Wax in "Cherry" finish gave me the color I wanted - rich and not too dark.  I applied the stain with a piece of cheesecloth, and when it dried, I used a roller to coat the floors with polyurethane.     

After the polyurethane dried, I sanded the surfaces lightly with a fine sandpaper...

...then wiped the surface with a paper towel dampened with paint thinner to remove the dust and bring back the shine.

I repeated the process two more times, and was really happy with the result.  This will be one shiny, snazzy dollhouse floor!
New floors replace the floors that came with the kit - no stair holes!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Let's Get it Started!

Today's inspirational music:

With the boring inventory behind me and the missing parts on the way - according to a prompt email response from Jennifer at Real Good Toys - I could finally start building!

The very first step, per the directions, was as follows:
"Square the corners of the window, door, and stair holes with a utility knife - each cutout has a rounded corner left over from the tool that made it - so the window, door, or stairs will fit."
The question that immediately sprang to my mind was, "Why the hell didn't THEY square the corners of the damn holes?" I mentioned this to my husband Bob. He immediately volunteered to tackle this job for me, probably envisioning a frantic ride to the emergency room with one or more of my severed fingers in a zip-loc bag full of ice on the seat between us. The milled plywood pieces are really hard and dense, and even Bob found the cuts difficult to make, but now the windows can be recessed into the holes as they should be, like this:

Squaring the opening allows the window to fit properly

At least I was able to spare Bob from having to square the stair holes. I don't want stairs in my Miniature House.  Some models have a hallway to contain the staircases, which looks right.  Here is an example:

Real Good Toys "Foxhall Manor"  with stairs contained
in a hallway, as God intended. From

But in my model, like many others, the stairs rise unnaturally from within the rooms.  Did you ever walk across your bedroom and descend through a hole in the floor right into your dining room?  Me either.

Real Good Toys "Strawberry Patch" with oddly
situated stairs and landings. From 
So I hate the stairs, plus they take up valuable real estate that could otherwise be filled with furniture and cool miniature things, and they must be eliminated.  I was amused by Bob's strongly negative reaction to the idea. "How could you not have stairs? A house has to have stairs." I guess he was concerned about how the nonexistent dolls would navigate between the floors. But he promised to get plywood and cut two replacement boards for me. We both agreed this is the best way to solve the problem of gaping holes that would otherwise be left in the second and third floors.

Here are the boards that needed to be
replaced, showing the stairholes.
Bob rejected - with much ridicule - my suggestion of filling in the holes with spackle. Okay, maybe it was a dopey idea but in my defense, I thought I could cover them over with flooring and ceiling materials. I didn't plan to leave big white wads of dried spackle in the middle of the house.

In the meantime, I had LOTS of priming to do, so I got to it.  At the suggestion of the nice ladies at Circus Dollhouse, I went to the dollar store and bought a whole bunch of these kits, which include roller, brush, and tray and are an amazing deal.

Dollar store painting kit

The foam roller is perfect for painting the larger pieces of a Miniature House. Since latex paint is water-based, the rollers can be easily rinsed cleaned and used over and over again, or until they fall apart - what do you want for a dollar?  The paintbrush turned out to be worthless for painting, but I found an excellent use for it - whisking off any dust from the parts prior to painting. 

Armed with my cheap gear and a gallon of primer, I primed the fronts of all the clapoard pieces, the underframe, the attic gable, and back top and bottom walls.

I am grateful now that Bob has stoically withstood my years of nagging him to finish the basement. Otherwise I don't know how I would possibly be able to build this Miniature House. Our basement is big, and the project has already expanded to fill almost all available space. And since it's already a  mess, I can fling my tools around and gleefully splatter primer everywhere without worrying.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Arrival

Musical inspiration from one of my all time favorite bands:

It's here, huzzah!  The Strawberry Patch Miniature House has arrived.  And in only four days.  Kudos to Real Good Toys!

I carefully opened the large box so that it would create a work tray, a tidbit I picked up in one of the articles I've read about building dollhouses. Inside were approximately a skajillion tightly packed pieces of wood of all shapes and sizes, and a 16 page instruction booklet. I forgot to take a picture of the box when it was full but here are just a few of the smaller pieces inside the box/work tray:


The booklet advised that the first thing to do is take a careful inventory and match every single piece of wood in the box to the parts list - a LONG list that takes up two whole pages of the instructions. I emptied the box, spread the pieces all around me as far as the eye could see, and got down to it. Many of the pieces are very similar, differing from each other only by fractions of an inch, so I had to measure each part and confirm that the dimensions and number of pieces matched the list. When I identified a part or parts, I was instructed to label it with a sticky note and check it off on the list. This took a couple of hours, because I am easily distracted when performing a task that is this boring. Also, in my opinion using sticky notes is a stupid idea, they fall off immediately. For years to come I will be finding little pieces of yellow paper around the house with incomprehensible notes like "307A - Side Facia Left."

When I was finally done, I realized that there were some errors on the parts list.  For example, it listed one side wall, whereas a house obviously needs two side walls. Also, a few of the smaller pieces on the list were missing, so as per the instructions I emailed Real Good Toys with the part number and measurements.

After the long process of inventory and a first daunting read through the instructions, I decided to call it a day. But with this part behind me, I can move on to the actual building phase!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How Did I Get Here?

Today's musical inspiration:

While waiting for my Miniature House kit to arrive, I decided to delve into the past, to see if I could figure out why this dollhouse fever hit me like a ton of bricks.  Could there have been some long-buried dollhouse incident in my past?  Did I yearn for one and never receive it?  Did I have a cherished dollhouse that was run over by a bus while I watched? I called my mother.

"Hi Mom!"

"So, you remembered how to use the phone?" she asked.

"I believe your phone has a dial on it." I replied.

These formalities behind us, we got down to the subject at hand.  In response to my question, I expected her standard response, "Are you kidding? I don't remember what I had for lunch."  But in fact, she recalled that yes, maybe I had a dollhouse.  She thinks.  She couldn't provide any details and quickly lost interest in the subject. I decided to investigate further.

I contacted my brother, who is seven years younger than I am.  To my email entitled,  "A Question of Great Social and Historical Import," he replied that no, he did not remember me having a dollhouse, but    we were both really into the Weebles Treehouse.

Weebles wobble but they don't fall down
Boy did THAT bring back memories!  I haven't thought of weebles in decades. I forgot they existed, never mind lived in a tree.  But thanks to the awesomeness that is YouTube, I could experience them like it was yesterday, and I invite you to view:  A 1970's Weebles Treehouse Commercial.

My brother also noted for the record that he still recalls how disappointed he was that he never got the Weebles Haunted House with the groovy glow-in-the-dark ghost weeble.  Note to self:  search eBay for possible funny Christmas present.

I enjoyed this blast from the past, and I guess the Weebles treehouse technically qualifies as a dollhouse, but I'm not sure it has any bearing on my current obsession. I had one other theory to explore. When I was a kid, I believed that my cousins, Ronnie and Terry, were the epitome of everything that was awesome. I still kind of do. They responded to my puppy-like worship by treating me with disdain, which of course only made me adore them even more.  So maybe they had a dollhouse, and wouldn't let me play with it, leaving me with a lifelong yearning that I am only now seeking to fulfill?

I called my cousin Terry.  She is no stranger to obsessive hobbies. Every time I see her, she is festooned with new, beautiful beaded jewelry creations - earrings, necklaces, bracelets, ankle bracelets, eyeglass holders, etc.  Here are some lovely earrings that Terry made for  me:

Now that I think of it, her sister Ronnie - she lives in Pennsylvania and I don't see her as often - also has one of these hobbies.  As Terry's husband Ken puts it, if you go to Ronnie's house and stand still for too long, she will paint you. Here are two beautiful painted pieces that Ronnie sent to me:

To sum up, my cousins, as grown ups, are both very nice to me and also very talented.  And now back to my point, which is that I called Terry and not only is she positive that she and Ronnie never had a dollhouse, but she is pretty sure that I never had one, either.  Oh well, so much for that theory! Since I can't find anything in my history to explain my Miniature House mania, I will just have to accept it.  Or I can just blame Sally.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Deciding What to Build

Today's song inspiration, by the Lovin' Spoonful:

Being this obsessed with dollhouses is exhausting. The websites and online stores devoted to this hobby are endless, as is my interest, so I have learned a lot about what kind of kits are available.  


The most popular size for dollhouses is 1:12 scale, which means that 1 inch equals 12 inches.  There are also 1:24 or half scale houses, where 1 inch equals 24 inches. They're really cute,  but there isn't a big selection of furniture and things to decorate them with, so I am not interested in that size.

Tab and Slot Kits vs. Plywood Kits

There are two basic types of kits to choose from: a.) tab and slot kits; and b.) cabinet grade plywood kits.  A really excellent description of each type of kit and the associated pros and cons can be found at this great blog:

The tab and slot kits seem to be an enormous pain in the ass to build, based on everything I have read.  They come in sheets of thin plywood, and you have to punch out each piece as you need it, and it seems that often the pieces are flimsy and break, or you have to fart around with the pieces by sanding them and filling them to make them fit properly. They are assembled only with glue.  The major manufacturer of tab and slot dollhouses is the Greenleaf Company.  

I am lucky enough to have a few stores close enough to drive to that sell dollhouses, and neither of them carry this kind of kit, so I've never seen one in person. In pictures on line, the rooms in this type of house can be small and irregular, and seem challenging to decorate.  The advantage of these kits, if you succeed in building one, is that they are just really beautiful and detailed, as seen here in the Beacon Hill model, which is the one I would want!  

Beacon Hill - Tab and Slot Dollhouse - by the Greenleaf Company,
from their website,

With cabinet grade plywood kits, the wood is much thicker and heavier. Assembly requires glue and nails, and the process is more straightforward - but some of the steps can be a two-person job due to the weight of the pieces. I was able to see many examples of completed plywood dollhouses at Circus Dollhouse in Pompton Plains, New Jersey.  They carry the full line by the major manufacturer of this type, Real Good Toys CompanyIn the example below, the final product is also beautiful:

Harborside Mansion - Cabinet Grade Plywood Dollhouse - by the Real Good Toys
Company, from their website,

I decided to go with a plywood kit vs. a tab and slot for the reasons described above, plus I am married to a carpenter and I know he'll be able to help me with the plywood kit if I run into trouble, but would probably be just as clueless as I am with the other type.

American Style (Rear Opening) vs. British Style (Front Opening)

Although Real Good Toys makes both types, I have learned that the rear opening style of dollhouse is much more popular in America.  For example, here is the back of the Harborside Mansion shown above.  The front is positioned away from the viewer:

Rear Opening Style
American Style:  Harborside Mansion - Rear Opening - by the
Real Good Toys Company, from their website,

In Britain, where the hobby is enormously popular, the front-opening type is the norm.  Below is an example, the Country Victorian by Real Good Toys.  In this style, the back is plain and can be positioned against the wall, while the fully detailed front faces the viewer.  The rooms are accessed by opening hinged panels.

Front Opening Style

So to me, the Brits have it right.  The finished dollhouses can be really big, and I doubt most people have enough room in their homes to position them where you can walk around and appreciate both sides.  After doing all that work, why push the front of the dollhouse up against a wall where no one can see it?  Turntables are available, but again you'd need more room than most people probably have to make this practical.

Another advantage of the front opening style is that the closed house is protected from dust.  And if you are very interested in the interior decoration, as I am, the front opening style gives you more wall space, as the rear walls won't have windows.

Monsters in the House

But for me, probably the biggest deciding factor in choosing this style is the presence in my house of two furry monsters - Voodoo and Kato, pictured below.  If I got a rear opening dollhouse, their interest in it would probably be almost as intense as mine, but we would be approaching it differently: my goal would be to build and create; theirs to pillage and destroy.  I would spend a good part of each day retrieving broken pieces of dollhouse crap from under the sofa.

This website has some great pictures that back me up:

Voodoo surveys the world from his throne
Kato strikes a thoughtful pose on the
 counter he's not allowed to be on.

The Final Decision

After considering all the options, I decided to build the Strawberry Patch dollhouse from Real Good Toys "Liliput" line, pictured below from their website.

These dollhouses are slightly less complex and good for a beginner.  The Strawberry Patch has all the qualities I was looking for:  it is front opening; seems relatively easy to build; and has six nice, large rooms with no funny angles and lots of room to decorate.  I'm not crazy about the front porch but I have an idea of how I can modify it more to my liking.  I have ordered it from the manufacturer, and it should arrive in a few days.  So - we'll see how it all works out!