Thursday, 26 December 2013

Window improvements

Here is an example of how even a very small detail makes a difference. I have studied images of architectural features of functionalism such as the shape of windows. Plain square windows don't look natural (I realised it when I put in windows in my modern house). Remarkably, it was just enough to put in a partition.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Funkis bathroom, part 2

My initial intention was to put in a wall with a door in the bathroom. As I was considering how best to do it I realised that I was planning to re-introduce the famous fourth wall, which makes it possible to look into the miniature world. Was I going to seal off the room, especially when I was so proud with my renovation work, including the details?

I am not quite happy with the toilet seat and will probably make a better one. The toilet paper holder comes from an ebay lot, but I have borrowed my own idea for a towel rack from a different project. It is a cooking-oil bottle cap. The rubbish bin is a paint container, and the toilet brush is a makeup brush. The shelf is recycled from another project. Anyway, I really like this room and don't want to hide it behind a wall.

This is a trial, but I have decided to have a door frame without a wall. It is bluetacked so far, not very neat.

Use your imagination and see the non-existant wall. The people of the house can use the bathroom without being disturbed. After all, I don't have fourth walls in my other bathrooms. The frame is a left-over from another project, and there is no door to come with it. I made a door to fit the frame with the same technique I used in the Georgian house.

What bothers me now is that you cannot see my pretty towel rack. And I am not sure this works. Maybe you can imagine both the wall and the door? What do you think?

By the way, for lighting I used a led spot of the same kind I used for my Dutch roombox. I just fixed it with bluetack to take pictures, but actually I think I may leave it there. It gives a nice, strong, but aoft light, filtered through baking paper. A dollhouse led light would be far too dim.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Funkis bathroom

For some reason, I started the renovation of the funkis house with the bathroom. In fact, the ground floor of the house will be a shop. The yarn shop. It will fit in perfectly. And the little space by the stairs will be a bathroom, for the customers and the shop owner. It could be a pentry or a storeroom, but I just felt it had to be a bathroom, and after all, it's my project, and I can do whatever I want.

I chose tile wallpaper from my favourite printie site, and I photocopied black-and-white chequered floor that I had used for Helen Hall that is now gone, so it's ok to use the same pattern. After Helen Hall where I could easily dismantle the walls and put in wallpaper before I assembled them again, here I had to work in awkward spaces. But I am very pleased with the result. The toilet and the washbasin are from ebay (cheap, for the toilet seat and one tap are missing), and the mirror is from a Barbie house and had been used elsewhere all this time.

Of course I must put in a wall and a door (with a sign), and of course there will be more details: a towel rack, a shelf, a potted plant. So please come back soon.

Funkis house

A couple of weeks ago I found a very lonely dollhouse at a flea market. Alhtough it had obvioulsy been newly painted on the outside, it looked neglected on the inside. It begged to come to me and be converted into something stunning.

My husband and some of my dollhouse group friends noted that it looked like a prison.  I agree that it does, but I don't feel that prison will be a particularly cheerful project. And in fact on the inside it is not that bad, other than being squalid. The bottom floor has interesting features (although the staircase is out of scale and a bit weird). It is a homemade dollhouse and therefore unique. The rooms on the upper floor are narrow and deep. It does feel a bit crammed.

The first thing I did was of course remove the horrible carpet. You cannot use real carpets in a dollhouse, they are far too coarse. And this is what I discovered under the carpet:

I wish I knew something about this person. He put a lot of love and care into this house. I imagine that he made it for his granddaughter who spent many happy hours playing with it. In any case, he cared enough to sign it. 

Now I had to put on my thinking cap. I have a Tudor house, a Georgian house, a Victorian house and a modern/retro house. Tudor and Georgian houses are strictly period-correct. Victorian style is eclectic, and there are lots of details, and the owner of my retro house is a writer and artist and collects all kinds of interesting objects. So the question was what style I should choose for the new house that would allow me to try out new ideas, new techniques. Again, some people in my dollhouse group suggested funkis, functionalism. I must admit that I don't know much about this style although there are some remarkable examples of it in the two big cities where I have lived, Moscow and Stockholm. Here was an excellent opportunity to learn about something new. I spent hours on the internet browsing through images, and I now have a vague idea of what this new project will be. Watch this space.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Helen Hall, final

Helen Hall is moving to its new owner soon, and I am putting the finishing touches, such as door handles. You can buy doorhandles on ebay, but I just took some plastic beads. There are three doors, six handles, on the inside and outside.

Not much else to be done, so here are the final pictures.


And yes, of course it feels a bit sad to part with it, but I never intended to keep it, just wanted to see whether I could make something interesting with it. It's done, and I am pleased.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Helen Hall, part 4

For the previous instalments, see here.

The final room that needed redecoration was the attic, and I left the roof as it was, but because it is so dark I wanted something light for the floor. I had a bit of paper flooring from another project that I copied and patched together, but I don't think it matters because real floors are also made of small bits, and there are so many things in this room that you almost cannot see the floor anyway. I have moved everything from the nursery room box to the attic, and it feels just right.

Mirror frames

This is a very simple project. I always buy small cheap picture frames, and today I found some good ones at a flea market. 

These can be used both for pictures and mirrors, and I needed some mirrrors for my Georgian house. I use tin foil for mirrors, and for a period house it's just as well that they are darkish.

My usual problem with heavy frames is that you cannot fix them with blue tack or sticky dots. But these frames had fixture for standing which I used to attach a piece of wire. 

This is what it looks like in the interior:


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Window boxes

Helen Hall has window boxes so of course I must have flowers. The flowers that come with the house (I got a set as a bonus when I bought some spares) are hideous.

I learned how to make roses when I made the market stall, so I made some from fimo, the kind of clay you have to bake afterwards. I don't work a lot with fimo so I don't know how to mix it to get the right colour. Most of my roses turned out dark, except when I took plain orange. I used garden wire for stems. When they were baked, I took small plastic beads for flower pots and fixed them with sticky dots.

A whole evening of flower-making, and they were just enough for three windows! But I may want to try some other flowers for the rest.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Bay trees

A very small project: I made two bay trees. The dollhouse books recommend to use green powder (the kind used for model railways), but I didn't have any, so I frayed and cut a bit of green fabric. Then I rolled a green wooden bead covered with glue in the cuttings.

 I think they look nice.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Helen Hall, part 3

For the previous instalment, see here.

I didn't take any step-by-step pictures of the first-floor decoration because it was pretty straighforward. I had practiced on the ground floor so I could avoid some mistakes. I knew, for instance, that I had to paint skirtings and cornices before I put in wallpaper (obvious, isn't it?). I started with the study, which has a door onto the balcony.

The flooring is complicated since there is a stairwell, and everything needs to be in place on the ground floor before I can do anything here.

Then I did the bedroom, which has four windows and a door onto the terrace. The blue curtains would be better here, but there are two sets of blue and four of pink. I may eventually make complete new curtains, but for the time beings this is it. The floor is for once a sheet from a shop.

Here are the two rooms together:

Then I put on the ceiling - tentatively, since there is more work to do before it can be fixed. But it gives a better sence of space.

And both floors, with some furniture:

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Helen Hall, part 2

I have now dismantled Helen Hall once again to embark on interior decoration. I have never before decorated a house that can be dismantled, and if I ever get the house of my dreams I will be well prepared. It really makes sense to decorate a dollhouse before you assemble it, but it is frustrating because it takes ages before you have results worth boasting of. Moreover, since I had never done it before I kept making mistakes and had to go back to paint a skirting board I had forgotten. This house is not meant to be painted and decorated; it is not meant to be assembled and stay so. It has basic colours - beige and brown. It has awkward angles. I didn't know where to start.

I had to start somewhere, so I started in the bottom left corner, which is the entrance hall. I had found flooring that I wanted to use in this room, but when I began to look at wallpaper, none went well with the floor. You cannot have both floors and wallpaper in bright colours and conspicuous details in a dollhouse because it will feel too much (you can't have it in a 1:1 room either). Finally I found what I wanted and wallpapered the most difficult wall, the one with a door and two windows.


Fortunately, there were still original templates on some walls. I didn't like the patterns, and there was only wallpaper on walls with windows. All the wallpaper I use comes from a great printie site which I happily acknowledge. I used the template, and it was easy to cut the paper. I had to resize it because the 1:12 pattern felt too clumsy. 

By the way, the door handle - temporarily green, will be painted - is a bead. All door handles were missing. You can get them from ebay for £3 a pair, but I was sure I'd find something suitable in my collection of rubbish, and I did.

Next, I wallpapered the left wall thar has no doors or windows, but I had to figure out how to deal with corners. Eventually, I will glue the overlapping bits together, but who knows how many times I will need to dismantle the structure because of some minor error. I kept testing the walls about twenty times. The right wall has a door, and there is no template, but I managed it.

The floor in the first picture is only a sheet of paper, and this is where I had to go back. There are natural skirting boards on the walls that I painted white, but I wasn't sure how to put in flooring to make it neat. So I began from the beginning. 


I left a 3mm border of the sheet and folded around the edges. Then I put back the walls so that they held the sheet in place. It wasn't easy, but I am pleased with the result.

I tested how it would look with a ceiling and a staircase. 

I had painted just one ceiling panel white, and since there were already beams on it, I painted them dark, to look like... well, beams. The staicase looks very plastic, but the colour is fine, so perhaps I'll just give it a coat of similar paint. 

Then I had to take the right wall down again to put wallpaper on the other side. I had been looking for a suitable wallpaper for a while as well, and I really like this one. Wallpapering the wall with windows was again easy with a template, and with each wall I got better and better. The living room opens into the conservatory, so there was just one interior wall with a door. 

I believe I need to stop here for a while. From now on, I won't be able to go back, at least not if I put in the floors in the living room and conservatory the way I want. Like this - just temporarily:

This will do for this weekend which has been highly productive. I have also painted the conservatory frames, because the plastic had grown old and yellow. I still have to paint all window frames. 

I have bought the spares I need from ebay; hope they arrive in the next few days, although it will be some time before I will come to that part of the house. I very much enjoy this project because it has a completely new set of challenges. Although I believe I learned a lot from remaking the small plastic house.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Helen Hall

This weekend has been a typical dollhouse weather, and I started my renovation work on the Playmobil house which I have called Helen Hall, after the friend who gave me the ruins.

I wasn't at all sure what exactly I wanted to do, but I knew that painting the ceiling was imperative so that's where I started, dismantling the house and testing one floor/ceiling panel. While it was drying I painted the basement with sand paint to make it less plastic-y and more stony.

And suddenly the plastic wall became totally unbearable. I had thought that I might leave it as it was, since it is sort of right Victorian dirty yellow, but now I knew it wouldn't work. I had considered covering it with brick paper, but it has this nice surface, and I have another house with brick walls. So I put the ceilings aside and started mixing paint. I have in the past five years used the same can of all-purpose white paint, originally bought for some minor 1:1 decoration. I have occasionally mixed it with other paint, including gouache and acrylic. I tried to make an interesting blue colour, but it was too pale and dull. Then I tried bright red hobby paint, and it turned quite interesting.

I peeled off all exterior details and painted each panel separately. (Although here they are re-assembled again).

Then I painted all the cornices, door posts (three) and external windows (ten) white. It is quite clear that the old plastic has grown yellow so I will have to paint all windows and doors as well.

 I painted dormer windows.

All the time I discovered that I had missed a detail; that something I had painted red should be white or the other way round. There were two external windows missing from the kit. I had bought spares from ebay, but failed to notice that the frames were missing as well. There are lots of spares on ebay.

On the whole, I am really pleased with the result. I put the house together for the moment since I won't have time to work on it during the week, and it looks so fine. I will then have to dismantle it again to put in floors and wallpaper, paint the ceilings, skirting and cornices, and I am sure there will be interesting problems to solve.

Saturday, 5 October 2013


I fished up two plastic suitcases from a junk basket in a charity shop, together with a set of plastic garden furniture.

The furniture went straight into the Playmobil house where it fits nicely on the upper terrace. The suitcases can go into any house or room box, but they aren't particularly pretty,

This is what I did with them. First of all I gave them a more leathery and worn-out look. I painted them with dark brown acrylic paint, and when it was almost dry I covered it with a coat of matt white which I immediately wiped with a cloth. You can see the difference. The inside of an expensive suitcase would be lined with red silk, so I painted the inside red. 

For the belts, I took a small ribbon (of the kind you cut off from newly purchased clothes) and made loops from a bit of champagne wire.

I also added a piece of metal foil for a lock and hotel labels from all the travels. And some clothes inside. I am very pleased with the result.