Saturday, February 27, 2016

the tinkered dollhouse

Thanks to the information on digital photos, I know that it was September of 2012 when my husband and boys raced in through our backdoor to tell me about the air-hockey table they scored a few streets over on "Trash Eve." And there was a dollhouse left on the curb, too!

I think I'd always wanted a "real" wooden dollhouse, even if one never made it onto Santa's list. I did have a metal dollhouse complete with a bay window and molded single-colored plastic furnishings; there was also Barbie's van, if that counts.

But just like my Liddle Kiddles 3-Story, most of the decorating choices weren't mine to make, groovy as they may be.
Click to enlarge all photos
The trash-picked cornflower blue Victorian sat in the basement until recently when I began to give it double-takes as I passed by with laundry. Ideas began to form. Then just weeks ago on a snowy day -- the most perfect kind of day for a creative project -- I brought the dollhouse upstairs and into the Girlie Office.
The dollhouse was a bit grimy and so I gave it a gentle scrub inside and out with a soapy sponge, using an old toothbrush for detail areas. Next I painted the interior from top to bottom with whatever white paint was around, from Chalk Paint to craft paint.

And just like with my life-sized house, I wasn't quite sure where to begin so I turned to my pinboards at Pinterest.

I love working with paper and making collages and so that's where I started.

Like a blank canvas, the dollhouse was primed and ready for experimenting without worries of practicality or cost! I could "install" a white-washed brick wall, I could hang expensive wallpaper ... With a little trompe l'oeil ... design intended to trick the eye.

I began to search online for patterns and prints and rugs and clocks. I measured the approximate size each item needed to be, downloaded images, re-sized, and printed them.

Not one to worry about scale, I began to size-up things around me for their small possibilities. See the little London calendar in the lower-right corner? It's from the thumbnail page of an actual calendar. I gathered things like ornaments, toys, doilies, jewelry charms, and more. 
In keeping with my tinkering-ethics, most furnishings needed to be handmade and as simply as possible. Three flat toothpicks and a small craft stick were fused with glue into an easel shown above. Paintings were found online, printed to size, and backed with card stock; I even painted over them for an authentic look (but mostly because it was fun). The ice cream parlor chair is a Martha Stewart/K-Mart ornament from years ago.
The bed was made from craft sticks, first painted brown, then white-washed with craft paint for a shabby look; a small hole-punched rose adorns the rustic headboard. The pillow is fabric folded and glued over a stretched cotton ball; the bed was "made" by affixing layers of fabric to the frame.

All original windows have been replaced (for now?) with dotted vellum scrapbook paper.
A couch was also built from craft sticks and all very trial-and-error. Once a frame was constructed, it was wrapped with soft fabric secured beneath folds with hot glue; small cotton-filled seat cushions and pillows were hand-sewn or glued together to top the couch. A band of tiny ball fringe hot-glued along the base of the "slipcover" hides imperfections and gives a finished look.
How could I tinker a dollhouse and not include a bottle cap? 
Gosh, I could go on and on and this is already a lengthy post. If you click on the photo above, you will see the inspiration pics (first and third columns) and how each translated into the design of the dollhouse (second and fourth columns).

More peeks inside:
An image of my parents on their wedding day, sized to fit a charm, makes a meaningful little accent.

The eat-in kitchen includes a table, hutch, wooden bowls and buttons-as-dishes from Wood Items and More painted and then decoupaged with floral paper. The lantern is a project from my first book done on a smaller scale. Actual miniatures are from Michaels, Playmobil, or childhood. A scrap of fabric serves as a roller shade.

Every home has things that need fixing so I didn't bother to repair the missing step! Ha!

A chandelier fashioned from twist-ties is finished with cabochons and beaded trimming.

An ironing board from Michaels is treated to a new (paper) cover.

Cabbages & Roses wallpaper and bunting, and a Laurence Amelie painting are printed-out features that take this interior from dollhouse to dreamhouse. Note the treasured reading material on the chair.

Scale-schmale ... obviously I'm decorating this house as a tinkerer and not a miniaturist.

And I haven't even started on the exterior!

Find updates at my tinkered treasures pages on Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you for reading and happy tinkering, always!