Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Kitchen

I personally LOVE Toile fabrics and trimmings. We currently have some in a bathroom of ours and my daughter actually picked this out without knowing what it would be for (the wallpaper). So I took cream colored appliances and painted them all black. The cream color got too washed out. Every door and drawer are working even on the fridge! I glued scrapbooking foil embossed stickers to the ceiling (One is hanging on the back wall for you to see the detail), Silk ribbon trim for the trim and YES-REAL TILE for the floor. Can you believe they make it so tiny! It was very hard to work with because the dimensions were off by millimeters. I used stamped leather in black for the landing at the bottom of the stairs and for a rug by the sink. Fake food and pewter dishes and actual silverware (will have to take a pictures of that another time) for the kitchen. This room was by far my MOST favorite to do because of the floor. The wallpaper was the easiest of them all to work with and I just HAD to accessorize it with a mini "Suzie" dog just like my in-laws at their house. My Daughter loved it! We even found mini-coke cans and food that looked so amazingly real. I am so impressed with the artists who do this, I would surely go blind! Can you believe that the toaster actually has toast that pops up and down in it. Muffin tins and pots and pans as well as a wisk and other fun items makes this kitchen full of life. My daughter is so organized she insists on cleaning and putting everything away before she finishes playing with the kitchen...I LOVE just to be sure she carrys over those habits into our real house HA! My husband told me just today he tried to play with her and help her clean up but she already had her way to do it and wouldn't let him even touch a thing. What a crackup! I had an extra Bombay dresser and couldn't find a hall coat tree or something to fit where it is so it looks a bit out of place but my daughter loves it and store her mini-chess and card games in it so it works for now. I hope you enjoy this room....I could move right in! Be sure to not miss the 4 mugs with our names on them I found for the room. My step-son Dallin's name was not found but my daughter calls him "D" so the single letter was just perfect! I plan on adding more to this room by way of little food and such, just found a small carton of milk and ice cream box that is a replica of Cream of Weber brand. I saw Reynolds wrap online the other day...what will they think of next!?! I have little curtains made for the window but like all the other rooms, I didn't have time to get them all up and so when I do I promise pictures!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Living Room

OK the time is here and all is finished! These pictures are of the dollhouse this Christmas Eve. My husband and I are so excited to see our daughter view it for the first time. It is too dark to show the colors I picked out and painted on the front of the house so more will be posted shortly from Christmas morning.

Here is the Living Room. I used tapestry fabric for the flooring, which was easier to work with than all the other flooring believe it or not. Moiré fabric for the ceiling with the lace paper to embellish it. I purchased this amazing wallpaper that resembles French painted walls of a palace and glued gold mini-ribbon around it, cut it out and pasted it on top of the other beautiful Deep Mauve embossed wallpaper. I bought brick print wallpaper and cut it to fit in the little stone mantle to look like the inside of a fireplace. I purchased this little glowing embers in a grate that really works! Glued them all to the wall and floor and they are pretty sturdy. Instead of wood moulding, which I did have access to as well as know how to use it, I used amazing trim from a fabric store. The one in this room has sequins to give it a kick. I found a piano which my daughter begged for on a trip to one of the hobby stores as well as a clock. The picture frame is from Michael's and I gold leafed it and placed a picture of a real painting in it yet done to scale. I sewed a little pillow and will finish the curtains at a later date. There was so much on my plate I actually didn't get to ANY of the curtains in the rooms, on the ones on the front door of the house. The chandelier is of the highest quality brass in miniature lighting and I added real french cut sswarovski crystals for the bling. The accessories in the room are all miniature to scale and I wanted this room to have a French feel to it. Actually a lot of the house has the French feel as I tend to be drawn to that style and there is a lot of Victorian based items readily available that blend in. I have French heritage so maybe it is in the genes or water as they say HA!

Many of the furniture is either new or antiques. I purchased a lot of the items through online auctions and dealers but also found a wonderful woman here who had a shop in her home. I credit her with getting me taught how to do the electrics and we hit it off. Her name is Kathi and her store is online and run out of the basement of her home. She is SOOO talented in miniatures! What would I ever have done without her as well as Linda from MRS Hobby. I hope they both know how making this helped me to also live a little in my childhood and they both made it so fun and enjoyable! Thank you so much Ladies!!!

I ended up with too much furniture for this room so either I will sell it or make another house at a later date. While some of the furniture may look fussy it is very sturdy and meant to be played with. I am so excited for my daughter to enjoy! I hope you love the pictures:

Santas Workshop

So I got my husband all geared up for this huge electrical project to start to add the lighting to the dollhouse. Turns out it was cake. Seriously my child could have figured it out! The only thing that was hard was getting the eyelets into the walls to make a positive/negative connection with the tape. I broke two tools and a nail file...ha!, could have been worse I am sure. The walls of this dollhouse are pretty thick compared to some. My fingers are pretty raw. I am an artist, NOT an electrician or a carpenter...I paint and sew and can glue and an occasion jig and song, I usually leave the technical stuff to the men. I mean they have to earn their keep too you know hehe.

I bought several little lights and have been toying with them to make sure they all work. In the photo you see the room that will be the kitchen. There is a light above and a little light on the table as well as the fire embers are lit. So look at me go. Santas workshop has been VERY busy! I also have found with my back not being 100% yet I can paint. I took the cream colored kitchen set and painted it black as well as painted one set of stairs and almost the whole outside of the front of the dollhouse. My progress below. Since my injury (my back again) I really have lost almost a whole week. I see several late nights ahead, ugg! Still looking for dolls that I like. Found the most horrid set where the Dad looks like he took a teen bride, he actually has wrinkles, deep ones, on his forehead. Linda from MRS Hobby and I had a good laugh over it! I did find this little plastic set with hair. They are by Mattel and called The Loving Family. Pretty popular, just like Barbie but smaller of course. They do have their own house and now seeing it I should have done that but I decided to purchase a set of dolls and while I search for some pretty porcelain ones my daughter can play with those. I will have to take a pic, they really are kid friendly and adorable. Perhaps the more fragile dolls when she gets older. Oh this is getting so exciting. I have the whole "workshop" set up in my guest bedroom. The door has a lock and my daughter has not caught on quite yet. She actually asked my husband if she could look for dollhouses on eBay HA! We passed by the eBay building here in town and she asked if Santa kept the dollhouses inside. I had to be clever to think how to answer her about the internet. Ah to be so innocent! She really is adorable with all this dollhouse business. She has afterall been asking for one for over a year now. I almost forgot to mention that the pic of the front of the house is the beginning of the paint job, I just had to share.

The color Blue?

I have one dilemma, I had not even thought of the color to paint the house I had been so focused on the interior. My daughters favorite color has been light blue for a long time. It matches nothing in her bedroom (where I would like the dollhouse to finally reside.! I was even thinking on hand painting the outside, either before or after Christmas to give it that authentic Row House look or even paint it a brick color and draw in the veins to give it more detail, but she wants it blue and that is all she talks about. I have the bedroom and dining room in blues as well as some accents throughout and I had hoped that would be enough. I just think it will look a bit out of place in blue...CAN YOU TELL I DISLIKE THE COLOR BLUE? Haha! I was even planning on replicating the blue and chocolate guest room in my own home to satisfy her craving.

So today's purchase was a clever one, not that I'm bragging ha! I found this amazing lace paper. You know the paper doilies popular at Valentines, well it is the same just in the gold and VERY detailed. I thought since I am wallpapering some of the rooms, and putting fabric on them, I could use this as ceiling pediments and ornamentation as well as to highlight the moulding etc...should be fun. I actually bought out the store of their stock. Well the Lady DID say they may not restock it so I took advantage and stocked up myself. She did give me a strange look for purchasing it all. I guess I would too if the purchase consisted of roughly 12 of each pattern of fancy cut doilies. Those strange dollhouse designers (wink!)
I have also still not found a bed I like for the master bedroom so my Dad has agreed to help me put one together. He has woodworking connections so this will be a fun project with some great wood to work with. I do have so much on my plate however that I will have to finish the bed after Christmas. I am hoping for a new Sewing Machine (as that is what I asked Santa for) to be able to finish the bedding and curtains. My old one broke and it is not worth the repair. I am borrowing a friends right now. I think that will take the pressure off me for one of the major projects. Since I am in a crunch to get this completed before Christmas I would be able to enjoy a project with my daughter as well as take my time. Anyone know where I can purchase more time? :)

Look what I can do....

Before I purchased the dollhouse I purchased a few items of furniture. I think part of the reason to purchase it prior to getting the house was to get myself both psyched up to do it as well as get so many items for the rooms I could not back out. HA, I am laughing now because the first little item of furniture I made sure I threw away the reciept. Oh well, we all need our motivation somehow! My first item was a beautiful little Victorian couch. It is the style I find is easiest to locate and purchase on the market. Looks frail but is really well made and very sturdy.

The second item I purchase looked like this before I gave it a makeover:

It was very inexpensive and the fabric was very cheap!! I figured if I screwed it up then it was not much of a loss and I could purchase another if needed. This is where the "good bones" term Interior Designers used would come into play as well as the finished item. the Fabric is the same as on the Master Bedroom Bed my Dad and I are going to build together. I hope you enjoy. It was tedious to do but rewarding. I think Miniature craftsman/designers don't get paid enough! Took me almost 2 hours to do!

Flower Lady

I purchased several more items for the Dollhouse. By this time I had paid for the dollhouse yet paid for it to have windows added to the rear of the rooms so it was not at my house to actually start on yet. The thought of the whole project also had not overwhelmed me yet. I think this gave me a magical outlook on the tiny projects I came up with and let me creativity flow a little easier.

At one of my favorite stores MRS Hobby, I struck up a friendship with Linda one of the owners. She is such a warm hearted person and was so educated in all fields of Hobbys I was impressed! She took joy in this magical world I could tell and I just knew I could trust and count on her for anything I needed. I just hoped I didn't burden her with all my questions and requests.

In one of her cases she pointed out to me little flower boxes. I decided to purchase 5 of them for the outside windows and glue in flowers. My daughter picked out the flowers at the wholesaler. When she asked what it was for I told her that if she was good Santa would bring her a dollhouse, BUT Mommy would help with littlle projects for Santa to put together because he was so busy. She seemed to understand and helped me with this and a few other projects. I could tell she was getting both excited and enjoying the frequent visits to both MRS Hobby and a few other places along the projects journey.

Here is a finished flower box in the cream with periwinkle flowers glued in. It is a webcam shot so not the clearest but you get the idea!:

Where the idea began

It all started when I decided that I would see if my daughter wanted to upgrade her Little People dollhouse to a larger version. The "Dollhouse" was used with her as an end reward to her fully potty training. This was back in 2006. It was brilliant idea however it didn't come about until nearly a year later. Had I known the amount of work and detail involved in the time frame I set for myself (an insane 4 month window) I would have thrown in the towel and decided to do it at a later date. I decided for Christmas 2007 she would be surprised at what "Santa" had brought. THIS Santa was in over her head!

I searched high and low on every website out there (as mentioned in the blog entry below) as well as in several stores. I didn't see anything that caught my eye or my budget. This was to be a fully functioning dollhouse and would be played with by a 4 year old. I have a house full of fancy things with the invisible label of "DO NOT TOUCH" attached. I would not make this be one of the dust collectors and allow my daughter to freely express herself in my little masterpiece. One day after an internet search for a local shop I walked in and was taken by this beautiful house they had already made. It was a design imported form England I was told. Not sure if that was correct or not (the actually being imported part, could have been the design style of the house itself, who cares ha!) but I went back home and looked into the style. I found numerous houses all the same style and with the same amazing detail. Most WERE imported from England and VERY Expensive. I was sticker shocked. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into or the world I was stepping into. Magical as it is the marvelous world of miniatures seems to be a black hole with no end. With the internet at my fingertips and two amazing local stores and an expert locally I was set.

The dollhouse is quite large. Most dollhouses are made of flimsy particle board. This one is of both solid and MDF pressed board making it VERY durable and it will last a very long time. I decided to create an heirloom that would be played with by all my children and I could be proud to display in my house when it's playdates came to an end. Here it is as I had first seen it in the store:

The fence outside is made of metal custom to fit the house. It looks like a large "Row House" in London and is quite charming with the moulding that give the period details to make it authentic. Being an Interior Designer I like detail and things to be refined. This house is so handsome and well made. Even the interior had arched doorways that gave the way for detail to be extended indoors. The house sits right below my waist level and is quite large and VERY heavy! It is a any hobbyists dream for a fresh slate waiting for the creativity to begin. I was so excited!

My frist Dollhouse Experience

My dear friend Linda from AZ and I took a trip one time with my other friend Tracy (from here) to Santa Monica. I think this was the start of my Birthday trips I annually take with friends. I have so so many friends who live out of state and the country I think I started the tradition to get those who could not make my birthday parties here to have a fun place to meet up. I have made many other friends along the way and will continue this fun adventure forever I imagine. On this such trip Linda had a very long wait until her plane home. She told me about this Miniature Dollhouse Museum she had been to many years before she wanted to treat me to while we had a few hours to kill. I was not too keen on the idea and thought it a little musky inside as of course a lot of the items and houses were very old but there was such a unique charm to many and quite impressive details. I could have stayed in there for days and never seen it all. Once such house I saw was detailed right to the likeness of Versailles. WOW it was amazing! Even the dolls were fashioned to match their opulant residence. The bedroom of Marie Antoinette was exact. It was amazing...have a look for yourself:

So what I wanted to do this Christmas is plan a dollhouse for my little girl. I wanted to make a large one that even has electricity for lights and add wallpaper or hand paint each room to match whatever design we choose for the overal project. I started looking online to see what my options were and WOW I am blown away by the world of miniatures! The market is so vast I can barely keep my eyes focused. There is everything out there from running water appliances to handmade pianos that cost almost as much as a house! I think I will keep it more simple, perhaps do a Victorian house as they seem to be everywhere here, or a Federal style one. Who knows, maybe my Dad will have time to help me build one. So just a fun project that I can perhaps reach into my inner child and have fun wtih it. I am so out of my element, but will see how I do.

Check out this site that shows a bathroom out of real gold and marble and handpainting. Can you even play with that? I wonder if these people live in a hell hole because that doll castle cost more than they make in a year? Just a thought :) Here is

  • their site
  • to check out the whole castle. Impressive! My Mom has this book I would read when I was like 10. It was called Within the Fairy Castle. It is a real dollhouse that some famous movie star had built and used all her connections in the Hollywood production world as well as her own diamonds to furnish the project. I never looked into the book until now. I Googled
  • the LINK
  • and they have the castle in Chicago at a museum to see. Perhaps one day I will visit to see what was so magical in that book I read over 20 years ago. I am off to purchase the book for myself as my Mother doesn't know where her copy is. This stuff is starting to overwhelm me! I need to have a break as it make my head spin haha!