Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dollhouse Demystified--Part 1

In time for the holidays, I thought I'd share with you a tutorial-of-sorts {although it's not much of a tutorial, because I didn't photograph the steps} of how I made my girls' Christmas dollhouse. I had as much fun -- or more? -- in making this dollhouse as they do playing with it. I think you will, too.

**sources will be listed at bottom of post

I started with these Foremost brand modular shelving units. I purchased 3 in white (exactly like the top picture), without any dividers. If I were doing it again, I think I'd choose the honey color (bottom). Then I could've left some of the floors plain for the wood look. I also might have chosen to use a divided one for the top floor (again, bottom). But maybe not.....I built my own divider, which I think works well for flow (they don't go all the way to the edge, so there's a Barbie "walkway" in between spaces).

These modular shelves are a cinch to put together (my husband did three in 1/2 hour or less). I didn't connect them together (there is a peg system to attach them to each other) until Christmas Eve, when I assembled/staged it.

But before I started mod-podging, wallpapering, carpeting, flooring, etc, I worked on a lot of my furnishings and accessories. This was actually my favorite part of the whole process. I scoured thrift stores, dollar stores, ebay, and craft stores for things I could use; a huge portion of the dollhouse accessories were items not intended for dollhouses. I had to really expand my brain every time I went somewhere to think outside the box.

Example of thinking-outside-the-box: My bathroom sink is made from a tiny cut crystal dish (a little salt dish?) from the thrift store, glued to a "crystal" candlestick from the dollar store. I then glued a clip-earring post to the sink for a faucet, and used regular metal earrings backs on each side of the faucet for faucet handles. That just may have been my most glorious moment.

Let's talk about flooring:

I tried to use as many things as I already had to economize. On the bottom floor, I used papers from my favorite company, SassafrasLass. I'm not much of a scrapbooker anymore (at all), but I had picked up some paper because I found it positively lovely. That was mod-podged to the floor. On the second floor, in the kitchen, I had a scrap of Black Paradise Lace oilcloth and decided to put it to good use. I first tried to transform some bamboo placemats into flooring for the dining area, but that didn't work out so well, so I scrapped it and remembered I had some real cork paper with gold flecks from my book-binding days. That was perfect! For the top floor (bedroom and bathroom), I wanted it to be cush and fun. I knew that my girls would LOVE carpeting, even though it's not my first choice of flooring. So, I went to a local carpet store and bought a small sample. I also got some wood-floor-looking linoleum. Combined total? $10.00. They were very friendly and happy to help with the project. I am especially thrilled with the carpet. So are my girls.

Now, wallpaper: I went again with favorite scrapbook supplier, SassafrasLas for most of my papers. I also used some SEI and American Crafts. It's a bit tricky because a scrapbook paper is 12x12" and the house was 15" deep by 30" wide. So there was a fair amount of patching, figuring out borders to add to make the space work. Look at the bottom of this photo. You'll see that there's a coordinating color of graphic floral-print paper filling in the space between the bottom of the trike girls and the line of the floor. You can leave that just white, but I really wanted to have full coverage.
You can see in the picture, that there are seams that don't match and a whole lot of pattern going on for one space. Obviously you wouldn't overlook these things for a real house; but that's why I think it's so incredibly fun to decorate a can totally go over the top! This wallpaper is particularly fun because I have three girls, and there are three little girls on the trikes....

A word on Mod Podge here: There are websites and blogs devoted to its use . . . and it's really quite simple. Apply a small amount to both the wall or floor and to the paper. Carefully hang paper on wall or lay on floor. The trickiest and most crucial part is to get as many air bubbles out at this stage. I used a dry dishtowel to try and wipe them out. Apply a layer of Mod Podge on top of the wallpaper. Let dry. Apply at least one more, if not two more layers for the strongest and most durable finish. Mine could literally be wiped off with a very damp cloth and there would be no problem.

Foremost Modular Cube Storage System

Divided Foremost Storage Cube

Paper from the bottom floor flooring

Lace Oilcloth Floor
Cork Floor from Dining Room
Bedroom Wallpaper

Darling paper for wallpaper

Other great wallpaper

*Thanks to my friend Jennifer, for giving me the inspiration and basic idea of how to build this beauty.

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