Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Dollhouse--Part Three

The library was shaping up to be my favorite room in the house. I was inspired by a swatch of Scalamandre wallpaper, and decided to give the room a chinoiserie sort of feeling. I did some online searching for more ideas and found some very cool rooms:

I love this wallpaper against that warm white of the trim and fireplace.

I love the photos of Adam Wallacavage's house! Not strictly chinoiserie per se, but I love the overall feeling of it.

This is sort of the direction I wanted to go: classic red and glossy black.

Scalamandre "Ming Circus" wallpaper. This is the paper that sparked my chinoserie library madness.

I took the shelving and fireplace out of the library and painted everything a dark, glossy brownish black. Ricky cut down an old metal frame to use as a fireplace insert (not pictured here) and I started thinking of fireplaces and grates...



I wanted to give the kitchen a 1930's look, with white wainscot and a cheerful floral paper above. It's time to prime.

Painting the back of the bookshelves in the library.

Holes got patched and gaps were smoothed over. This is the bathroom. One of Esther's favorite colors is purple, so I made some purple "tiled" wallpaper to put up in here.

Starting to paint the windows a bright glossy white (except for the library).

And I discovered an awesome dollhouse and miniature shop in town called Mini Temptations. It's just chock full of cool stuff and the owner is incredibly friendly and helpful. I found all the trim pieces I needed for baseboards, doors, chair rails, etc. The prices were very reasonable, too. I already had a razor saw, so I was ready for some trimming after the paint and wallpaper were done!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Dollhouse--Part Two

So the deconstruction began with removing the windows (my friend said his mother had made them from cellophane boxes and tiny bits of balsa wood, but sadly, they were pretty much destroyed). I found some working double-hung windows on Ebay for super-cheap (only $1.99 each! The other ones I found were at least $7 each, and since we're always broke, well, you can figure out the rest...). The new windows were an inch too wide, but that's an easy fix.

The exterior "before".

Next I had to address the sagging floors. I delicately removed the right-hand first and third story interior walls. I stripped the wallpaper from them and sanded them, then replaced them further to the right, so the interior walls more or less line up. It really helped alleviate the problem. You can see where I have the floors and ceilings braced to position the walls. You can also see the old windows have mostly been removed.


The hallway, looking into the bedroom and bathroom beyond.

The living room, looking through the second floor hallway at the front door.

The library must have been carpeted at some point--there was a thin layer of cork glued down and that was a MONSTER to remove. If I had known how much trouble it would eventually give me, I would have just left it there. But I had big plans for the library...

The bathroom, stripped and sanded. I began to paint the ceilings and get ready for the next steps...

Now I really had to start thinking of paint colors and wallpaper colors. Getting sucked into this project was just way too easy--I can understand how people can go completely overboard with something like this. You could literally spend a fortune renovating and decorating a dollhouse. Unfortunately, I don't have a fortune, so I spent quite a bit of time doing research on the good old interwebs, finding tips and tricks for making this house look good on the cheap. There's a lot of great information out there. For instance, it never occurred to me to just print up my own wallpaper. And it just so happens I have a stash of awesome patterns and designs in my digital reference morgue. Just a few little adjustments for scale and such in Photoshop, and I was ready to go...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Dollhouse--Part One

My little girl loves dollhouses and miniatures---loves loves loves them. And I can get behind that, no problem. One of my favorite books as a kid was Colleen Moore's Dollhouse. I would pore over that book for hours, imagining I was a wee little person wandering through the rooms. When we got a copy of that book into the auction house several months ago (autographed, no less!) I showed it to Esther and she was riveted. She talked about that book for weeks! I bought it for her on the sly and hid it away for her next birthday. A friend and regular bidder at our auctions noticed my purchasing of the book and asked why. I mentioned Esther and he said he had something I should take a look at. It turns out that his mother built dollhouses and miniature rooms, and he had a huge dollhouse that she had built in 1963. No one in the family was interested in keeping it and he wondered if maybe Esther might like it.

I think I shrieked "Yes!" before the words were completely out of his mouth. He said,"Um, don't you want to see it first? You might want to see it first. It's a bit of a project."

Well, suffice to say, it WAS a bit of a project and consumed me (and my husband) for more than a month. But it's awesome! For a 12 pack of beer I got a huge fabulous dollhouse!

Day One

Ricky and I moved the house into the basement and set up a sort of work space. I started cleaning the house that afternoon. It had been in storage a long time and smelled a bit like mice and must.

The bathroom

A spooky glimpse at the dining room


The attic

The next day I began ripping out torn and stained wallpaper and priming the walls. We have a lot of house paint left over from our own house's renovations and projects, so that came in quite handy.

I had only a month to get the house together in time for Esther's 7th birthday.

Stay tuned for part deux!