Sunday, 29 November 2015

New phase in lighting

My clever son-in-law is visiting, and we have started working on our project of fixing display lights in the house. Display lights are lights that you can switch on to illuminate every little detail in your house, even at the back of the rooms. This is how dollhouses are displayed in museums: there may be "real" lights inside rooms to create atmosphere, but there are also lights that provide soft, even illumination for the best viewing effect. Display lights can be dimmed to the desired brightness.

Quite a long time ago I decided that I didn't want conventional lights in Womble Hall, because they are so much trouble, and you can typically not have more than twenty bulbs on one transformer. I had conventional lights in my first dollhouse, and after that I never want anything to do with them. These days there are many better solutions. One is battery lights which I thought were great when they came: no wiring, can be placed anywhere. But the first generation battery lights were very dim and very expensive. They are better now but still expensive. They can be used as complement to main lighting, but not on their own. 

My solution, after lengthy conversation with my film-making son, is LED strips. I am not good with electricity, but together we came up with a possible layout. The LED strip is 5 meters long and should be enough for the main floors and basement. It will be hidden behind moulding, for smooth and even light. However, between rooms it will need to be cut and connected with wire. (This is what I would never dare try on my own).

I had bought snap connectors recommended for under-cabinet kitchen lighting. But P tried and said it wasn't neat enough. Instead he insisted that he would solder the wires. I didn't object because I know he is enjoying this kind of play. So P is doing the cutting and soldering. I am very proud that I own a soldering iron, although I have only used it once.

Meanwhile, I made a groove in the wall for the wires (where the arrow is). It doesn't look very neat right now, but I will fill and paint it when everything is done.

Then we had to make some major decisions about whether the cord should go: on the inside or outside. For some reason I hadn't considered having it outside and had been pondering how to conceal it along the kitchen ceiling. I had even drilled a hole in the back wall. But suddenly it became clear that it was much less disturbing on the outside where I could simply cover it with plaster or make a draining pipe. I will still have to fill that hole, but I drilled another one to pull through the cord, and then we started fixing the strips. They have a self-adhesive surface, and I fixed them on the inside of the L-shaped moulding, facing the back wall. You see also how the connecting wire goes into the groove.

We managed to finish the basement yesterday. The glue was left to dry overnight, supported by masking tape. But you can already see the effect.

In the morning, I filled the grooves and the seems. They are still drying, but I will paint them later.

Then, while P went on soldering for the other floors, I worked on the main cord. It goes out in the upper left corner of the basement, and it doesn't look neat that way.

Therefore I fixed it all the way to the back of the house. It almost looks like part of the drainage system so maybe I will just leave it like that, or probably paint black. 

We hope to finish the whole project by tomorrow afternoon. Come back!


  1. This is excellent, I'm trying to learn about using LEDs but am not into soldering. Good idea to use the L shape moulding.

  2. You don't have to solder if you use snap connectors. It's just my son-in-law who is perfectionist

  3. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing!

  4. Thank you so much for posting this! This is exactly what I want to do to my dollhouse! How did you do the wiring between floors? Fabulous doll house!

  5. Elaine, if you read my subsequent posts, I explain exactly how we did it. I hope you find it helpful.