Saturday, March 3, 2012

Modular stick built pack away dollhouse: Decorating


In the previous post the dollhouse shell was completed now I will put on my customer/kit-builder cap & pretend I just received my new Mike's Miniatures Dollhouse kit in the mail. 

We'll assume I've already assembled/disassembled the dollhouse & checked that all the parts are present & accounted for. (see previous post for assembly photos)

  1. I guess the 1st step would be to figure out what this little 8" x 12" house will become...hmmm? I'll skip this step for now & regret it later, LOL.
  2. All the window(s), door(s) & any other components related to cutouts should be available for measuring.
  3. Lets say you want two windows on the left (gable) side of the house.  Place the left wall section - frame side up, on a clean work surface. Place your 1st floor window, frame side down, on the wall where you would like it to go. With a pencil mark the outer corners of the window frame not the trim. Do the same with 2nd floor window. Note that the packaging usually has the cutout or fits opening dimensions which is exactly what we want. 

Window placement.
The great thing about this kit is - you can work on any section of the dollhouse, through to completion if you like, with easy access, flat (easy to cut) pieces & with a good light/magnifier - excellent working conditions that should enhance productivity & imagination!  And you can buy your own mat board & strip wood for added sections.
sorry for the commercial

Approximate pencil marks for 1st floor window.  Looks like I'll center this window all around. Also you could assemble the dollhouse to better configure your cutout placement - then disassemble the dollhouse & start here.
Math alert!

Okay the width between the studs is 7-1/2" & the height between floor supports is 9-3/8". The window's fits opening dimensions are: 2-9/16"w x 5-1/16"h. 

How far from left? 
1/2 - 2 9/16 = 4 15/16 / 2 = 15/32.

How far from the 1st floor support?
3/8 - 5 1/16 = 4 5/16 / 2 = 5/32. 

From the 5 pack of studs for the [left wall, 1st floor] take out 2.  They will be the vertical support for the window. They do not need to be cut.

From the extra strip wood pack take one of the 1/4" x 1/8" studs & cut (2) 2-9/16" pieces, this is the fits opening width. They are for the horizontal framing above & below the window.

Then from the 1st floor studs pack cut (2) 2-1/32" pieces, they are for the vertical studs above & below the window.  2 5/32 above & below window - 1/8 thickness of cross studs 1/32".

The frame should be glued as a unit separate from the wall - do not glue to mat board - use a gluing jig or at least a square to align framing.

The window fits in the stud frame !

As I said before if you glue together the window stud frame as a unit it can be moved anywhere on this wall or any wall on the 1st floor.  

Just a thought: All the pencil lines, glue & smudges will be sealed inside the walls - maybe we could put a time capsule in there?  Could be on a future episode of 'If Walls Could Talk' ! :)

If this is it for the cutouts in this area - then this is how the wall will look before the electrical & interior mat board are added.

Speaking of electrical: Say we want a outlet here, then the back of the 1st floor support needs to be dadoed or notched to accept the wiring. This is why the floor supports are not glued in place.  And do NOT glue them in yet - you might want a sconce, lantern or power to the 2nd floor!

Voilá !

I added a scratch-built basement window.  Its just some simple strip wood parts & a piece of Plexiglas or an old plastic CD/DVD jewel case.

2nd floor window vertical position: you must think ahead because you might have exterior trim near the roof or brackets, etc. that the window may interfere with.
Note: The 2nd floor studs are mitered - the 2 center ones need to be moved outward slightly for the window to fit correctly - they can be angle cut at the top or they can be cut squarely at bottom - don't have to get out the miter saw for the latter.  

I think I'll commit to this framing.  Next - I'll just glue the framing for around the windows to the mat board.  I'll let it dry then cut out the openings.  
See previous post for similar cut out instructions.
Cut-outs done on this wall.  The basement window doesn't have any trim because concrete, brick or stone will create the border, & the sill can be wood, stone or brick.

I wanted another outlet on the 2nd floor, so I added wiring.  Both floor supports are notched in back on the right side.

Let the decorating begin!

This thick, rough packing material was protecting an air conditioner.  I cut it into strips on my mini table saw at 45° angle to resemble cinder block.  The clamped board is temporary - it kept me inline.

Note: If I attached the front wall & continued gluing the cinder blocks around the corner I wouldn't be able to take the walls apart!  What I can do is wrap the cinder blocks around this left wall & only glue to the parts of the left wall, then do the same with the other walls.  So there will be a kind of interlocking seam. More on that later.

Added vertical siding & corner trim.  Divided the window panes. Just above the foundation is the 1st strip of siding.  But I need to add the gable trim, paint the corner, gable trim, vertical siding & paint/seal the cinder blocks. Then cut strips of 3/8" siding, paint them - then cut them to fit & glue in place..whew!

Exterior woodwork just about done...well on the left wall.
I finished the framing on this wall section.  I added some cross pieces on each side of the 1st floor window (notice the one on the far right is notched for the 2nd floor wire) - this is where the bead board & plaster (mat board) meet. That seam will be covered by the chair rail.  Then I will add a 3/8" x 1/6" piece of strip wood or mat board behind the base board - the base board is a 1/2" or 1/8" higher creating a rabbet for the bead board edge to hide behind.

Note: The wainscoting & mat board are both 1/16" thick so the window trim will fit evenly over both. Same goes for the chair rail.

I did a vignette where the bead board was flush with the window trim - had to do some filling, sanding & added molding to cover the gaps!

Interior wall covered with bead board, baseboard & mat board (plaster.) Need to wallpaper upper half of 1st floor wall before attaching chair rail & crown molding. Notice the bead board & the mat board are flush - window covers nicely...
I will attach a gingerbread board between the 1st & 2nd floor.  Then I need to paint all the woodwork - then glue all the siding down. 

Got to go buy some paint & wiring...& maybe print some wallpaper!!

B&W photo closeup showing wallpaper, chair rail & bead board.

Paint & wallpaper...

The darker shade is a grayish-olive, the lighter is the same hue but lighten with white.

need to put some kind of block type decoration on the corner trim where the two colors meet.

I used the lighter exterior color on the interior woodwork & printed the B&W wallpaper design on cream colored paper - added a grey stripe behind some of the pattern to soften it a bit?

1st floor, made from a real life size floor board, gum wood, I think.  Sliced into 1/16" thick strips.  The floor boards are 1/4" wide @ 1/12 scale = 3", staggered @ 2" or 24" scale.  I used wood glue then set weight on overnight.  And finally I sanded .

Added 3 coats butcher's block wax/condition.  Won't be quite as shiny when it dries.

Wallpaper glued.  Window casing, crown molding & chair rail dry fitted.  I made the corner blocks  out of wood with a molded flower design made from polymer clay.

I'm thinking of adding a faux tin ceiling??

Some staging: I guess this will be some kind of office with a spiral staircase in the corner to save some space (paint can.)  Behind the figure is an archway that will lead to an entry with a door facing to the left - as the left side of the office will be facing the street.

I finished the left wall, except for outlets - waiting for wiring.

Started front wall: 

The archway is cut out. Above arch added 5.5mm plywood + poster board to = 1/4" thickness, cut on band saw, will finish with inside trim (veneer or poster board.) String between window & archway for outdoor & entry wiring.

2nd floor:  
Did an old painted floor upstairs - needs more sanding tho. 

Opening on the right is for spiral staircase.

Framing & windows done in main section.  Need to do entry addition & wrought iron spiral staircase.  Thats all, LOL...

Inspirational photo.  elite spiral stairs  
Now all I need to do is make some kind of mold to cast each of the 15 steps I'll need :) The railing can be made from a heavy gauge wire & the balusters maybe twisted wire, solder it all together & presto - Victorian staircase!

This is only a mock up of the spiral staircase.  Cut mat board treads (wedges), used hole punch to fit them over 3/16" dowel... Its not as big & intrusive as I thought it might be...

Testing electrical connections...

Back roof shingles done, need to do edge trim around cut-out & ridge.

All electrical connections working.

Back of house...need to paint windows & finish foundation...

Front roof...ridge board not glued down yet...

Finished siding on main house, starting entry

Finally got some sun here in Rhode Island! Wall to the right almost done. Started entryway (background through arch)
Front door will face (photo-right) with lantern on wall, maybe with a window on side & window seat inside.  Might do an all bead board interior, not too dark. Underneath will be posts & lattice, wooden steps in front.  Maybe some paver bricks connecting to the city sidewalk... 
Not sure what type of roof yet??

Finished lattice, framing & windowStill playing around with colors - will probably do the posts, trim & lattice the darker shade? Might do a copper verdigris hip roof?

Inspirational floor photo. designs courtesy of Amtico® Tile - All rights reserved. 

I drew this floor in CorelDraw. I'll have this floor copied at Staples, draw some embossed lines on it, then seal it. I'm think'n of doing the entryway with bead board from floor to ceiling & on the ceiling - in an a light to medium oak.

Door & steps just for placement (not using either.)  Foundation done. Will have Mansard roof.

City sidewalk. Corner lot...

Possible front door design - frosted glass - black area will be clear after cleaning.

Mansard roof work up.

Roof will be faux copper/verdigris & ribbed. Moldings will be faux copper also.
Dollhouse handmade scratch scratch-built scratch-build 

...On the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough...

All photos & images created by Mike's Miniatures on this blog are the property of Mike's Miniatures - copyright 2012


  1. This is fascinating! Think about a modern dollhouse- or have you already?

  2. Thanks Jennifer! Yes I have thought of a modern house - it could have a flat or low pitched roof & the kit builder [maybe you] could put large windows & skylights where ever you wanted!!

  3. Mike, your kit is awesome! Your finished house is going pack a lot of style in a small space!

  4. Great blog! Love all of your detailed photos and tips! I will be using the "speaking of electrical" tip to run wiring to my second floor and "the butcher block wax" as a final finish. Thanks so much for sharing your build. It looks amazing!

  5. Thanks iseecerulean & Kathi !

  6. Whew I am exhausted thinking about how much work you have put into this Mike. Wonder what it looks like now??

  7. Thanks Margaret - unfortunately it still looks the same sitting there on the back burner...

  8. I keep coming back to your blog, hoping for more photos, wondering what the house looks like now and if you have started another one???

  9. Hi Idske - Thanks for the interest & support. The stick house is still the same.

    Lets see - I started 3 roomboxes, 2 small house shells & some component parts, but nothing is coming together so far? I'm just in a big fat slump [sigh]...

    I got a Dremel Trio for Xmas - thinking of doing a demo / building a dollhouse shell using, mainly, the Trio??

  10. Hi,

    This is such a brilliant idea - much better than MDF or ply. You have inspired me. Please could you tell me where you got your matboard from?

    1. Thanks Sapphire,

      Matboard is so expensive I buy 16x20 sheets by the case online from Golden State Art. Seems like the assorted case of 50 is the cheapest right now. About $1.14 per sheet. This is the best price I could find :)

      Copy this address into your browsers:


  11. Unfortunately I'm in the UK and it is difficult to find - but I will persevere. At the moment I am thinking of using white card 480 gsm using your method of "stud walls". Do you think you will do anymore houses using this method?


    1. You could use poster board - just beef up the framing.

      Yes I will be using this construction method in the future! The pack away house still seems to be holding up very well :)

  12. I will have a look at the poster board. Thanks for the idea! :o)