Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lafayette Renovations Near Completion

I absolutely love this little house. I have been working on it for several weeks now, mostly in the evenings. Right now the little house sits on my work table in my craft area in our basement. I have decided not paint the outside of the house, opting instead to leave it natural. First because I like the natural ginger bread look, but more importantly because I just don't think that I can do a decent job of painting the house without getting paint where it does not belong. I went through that frustration as I repainted Heather's house last spring. Painting the gingerbread trim on dollhouses works best during the building process so that each piece can be properly sanded, painted, sanded, and given a second coat. One house builder on one of the many sites that I have consulted made the point that a really fine paint job requires lots of sanding in between coats. I never thought that I would get so attached to this little house, but I have and I want it look nice.

Inside, the house still needs the trim glued in. I do have two concerns. As you can see the house originally had a stair way to the upper level which had a bit of a curve to it at the bottom. I have decided not try to rebuild the staircase; rather, I will place the bathroom flooring over the stair cutout. I don't think I will permanently install the floor at this point. The house originally had two walls. I decided not to put the wall in on the second level, but I think I will put the wall in on the first level to give the rooms better definition.
I thought that I would share with you the pieces that I have decided to put in the house, which by the way is now knows as Sonja's House. 

The Bathroom

While the house is 1:12 scale, I am finding that furniture and pieces at the that scale are too large, especially for little Sonja. I already had this little toilet. It had been one that the girls had when they were little. I found it a while back as I sorted through their old toy box so that the granddaughters could play with their mom and aunt's old toys. 

It is a perfect size, so I looked on eBay for similar pieces by searching for 1980s metal dollhouse furniture. I found several pieces and purchased the tub and the sink. These were made by Mattel in the 1980s for a play set called The Littles. My daughter gave me the rest of her pieces, but as it turns out the sink and the stove are too small.

The rug is a paper cut-out. By googling or searching Pinterest, you can find a nice selections of printables for dollhouses. Looks real, doesn't it?

Because I am not putting in a bathroom wall, I decided that I needed some sort of room divider, so I made a folding screen: 

The screen is two sided. The bathroom side has this pretty print which is actually scrap booking paper. The frame is made out of pop sickle sticks glued to a flat piece of balsa wood. 

The screen facing the bedroom side is covered with wall paper scraps. I barely had enough to cover the little panels. I stitched curtain panels, placed them on trimmed toothpicks for curtain rods, glued gold metal jewelry beads to hold the curtain on the rod, then glued them to the screen panels.

The Bedroom

Nicely shabby bedroom furniture.

Heather bought the little bedroom furniture for me on eBay. The set has another side table that I probably won't be using. I don't think these pieces are 1:12 and they fit perfectly in the little house.

I decided early in the renovation that I would make everything for house. Well, almost everything. Well, what I am able to make. So here is my bed. I really struggled with it. The headboard is cut from a piece of craft cardboard painted with craft acrylic paint with a little printable cutout decoupaged. 

I searched through my material stash, finding bits and pieces to make the bed linens. I made the pillows and pillow cases by hand stitching them. I could have used the sewing machine, but it just seemed like a lot of trouble to take it out and set it up. Besides I have all of work surfaces piled with construction supplies.

I have spent several hours creating perfume bottles using jewelry beads and findings, mostly things that I already had. Now I find myself at Hobby Lobby looking for more beads and different findings to see what new creations I can come up with. 

These little bottles can become quite addictive to created. And how pretty they are.

Today, I found a package of Spare Parts (product name) bezels in the scrap booking section. These are just right the size to use for framed wall art or vanity trays.

The Kitchen

Every kitchen needs a clock, right? I found this little jewelry piece on the sale wall at Hobby Lobby. Perfect. And while some dollhouse designers and builders have infinite talent and patience to make their own paper towel holder, I bought mine at Hobby Lobby. 

I am using 1950s Renwal style plastic dollhouse furniture for the kitchen. An antique dealer friend of mine gave the furniture to my granddaughter, but she gave it back to me to use in the Lafayette. It will work until I find something more suitable.  (A popular collector item, Renwal dollhouse furniture was used in the old metal style dollhouses of the '50s).

I love the fruit bowl. My oldest grand daughter who is 7 loves to craft with me and is very creative. She got use the glue gun for the first time and made this cute little fruit bowl by gluing bits and bobs of beads and a little button in a large button.

I had to build a kitchen table for Sonja. I will show you how I built it from scratch in another post. I found the little chairs at ARC, a thrift store. The one chair was missing a leg, so I fixed it. I have not yet decided if I will repaint the chairs. I rather like the  hap hazard decorating style that little Sonja has. 

The Living Room

 Sonja likes the shabby look. She doesn't seem to be too picky about little details. She is one of those decorators who can take an old piece of furniture and throw a piece of fabric over it and make look like a designer piece.

She likes thrift shop, too. She found the sofa and foot stool at ARC. What a find, too, because dollhouse furniture does not last on the shelves, nor is it often donated. You are more likely to find it on eBay or Craig's List.

I would imagine that when I wasn't looking she rummaged through my material scraps and found a hunk of white linen-like cloth that she just threw over the couch. I may have to tidy it up a bit. I had tried to make a slip cover for the footstool, but it is really hard to make things fit without a pattern and proper instructions.

The living room bay window will have have a wallpapered and lace valance.

The final touch for living room will be this beaded chandelier that I made.  This one is not lighted. The house will have one lighted lamp.

I still have some work left to do and then the Grand Reveal. I will also so you how I made some of the things for the little house. 

In The Beginning

Before I bought the Lafayette, I had planned on building a room in a box to practice my techniques for the Bellingham Farmhouse that I have to build. When my grand daughters saw what I was doing, they had to do a room too. I ended up giving my boxes to them. This one is Elinore's. At 7, she is a very creative child. She has finished her room and taken it home. The bed is made out of a box lid covered with material. I made a second table top, so when she decided that she needed a table for all of the perfume bottles that she was making, I gave her my table top and let her glue the legs on. Ellie wanted a light for her house, too, so I gave her my first  try at chandelier making. She likes it. 

Lucy, 6, actually got the box I had started to make. I had already cut out the scrap booking paper for wallpaper, but she wanted a box, so I just gave her mine. She received one my improved chandeliers. I am still working on how to make them better and trying to figure out to light them. I'll share how I make the jeweled lights in another post.

I am anxious to finish up the Lafayette and get to work on the Alpine Farmhouse. Give me a few days and I will be back with the completed little house. I think you will love it.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I need to spend more time on this blog and work to get more followers. As always,  I very much appreciate your visits and comments.

Drop by my gardening blog if you want to see what else I am up to: Welcome to Ann's Garden Spot.

Have a fabulous weekend.

And may all of your dollhouse daydreams come true.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Franklin

I have already admitted to my dollhouse obsession triggered as I worked on my daughter's childhood dollhouse featured in my first post for this blog, but I really jumped off of the deep end when I found the Franklin at a local antique shop.

I live in a very small town in northern Colorado. At one time it was a thriving farming community, but today it is more of a bedroom community because most residents work out of town. Heck, we don't even have a grocery store anymore. But we do have antique stores: 6 to be exact.

 Ideally situated at a crossroads of two major state highways, our little town gets a lot of traffic, so the antique stores do well. Sometimes I like to just stroll down main street, stopping by each of the little shops to see what's new.

And sometimes I get into a lot of trouble, like the day I wandered into Jen's Antique Mall, located in what used to an old  mercantile, in business for two generations.

Jen has had dollhouses in there before. I wanted to buy one for my little granddaughters, but I my daughter always says  "no." So this time I did not consult her. The more I listened to Jen tell me about this amazing house, the more intrigued I became. The story behind the house was actually very sad. An elderly lady brought it to Jen on consignment to sell because she was leaving her home, moving into assisted living and couldn't take her house with her. Her daughter didn't want it, so she was forced to give it up. At 87, she no longer had need for what obviously had been her passion.

The house was fully furnished with a price tag of $400. I told Jen I needed to consult my husband. And she replied that no I did not. And I thought. No. I don't. So I didn't. Instead I went home an asked him to go back to store to help me load the house.

Pretty pricey, you must be saying. Yes, it was a lot of money, but wait. It also had a companion piece, a   General Store; it, too, was fully furnished.

It took me a while to research the house to find out what it was. It is the Franklin made by the Artply Dollhouse Company, now out of business, once owned by Greenleaf Dollhouses. The kit was first sold in 1979. There are not very many photos of it in a google search, but it can identified from similar houses because it has the balcony with the second story window until I learned which model it was.

I found the first information on Nancy's World, a dollhouse blog that helped my discover the company's history. There was a short discussion on Greenleaf's web site. The kit is no longer in production.

Here is the full view of the house as I was playing it with right after I bought it. It stayed in the dining room for a few weeks then I moved it downstairs because it is so large and takes up a lot of room.

First let's visit the Taft General Store that was "free." If you visit Green Leaf's web site, you will see that the Taft has been re-issued.

My intent for the house and the store is to leave them as the original builder created them.

Some of the accessories had been displayed when the buildings were on display in the antique store, but I was so overwhelmed by the detail to which the lady went to to create a realistic setting for her little store and the house, too.

Each canned good had been created by cutting out tiny little labels and gluing them onto the bland cans.

Candies in the apothecary jars. I added the gum ball machine purchased at Hobby Lobby.

The pets even have a place in the store.

The upstairs apartment has a bedroom and a sitting room. I added the sewing machine, thinking that a young single woman, a seamstress lives upstairs. I may go ahead and finish this room for a seamstress.

The seamstress' room provides a simple living: a chamber pot by the bed, a wash stand in the far corner, and a pitcher  and bowl on the dresser (which I added) The hot water bottle on the bed to keep her feet warm on those cold nights, even her tiny boots.

Both buildings are wired for electricity. On the roof of the general store you can see the exposed wiring. While most of the lights in the house work, I have not yet tried lighting the store.

The house, itself, surely took hours to build with all of intricate wood work on the outside.

I added the chair.

In searching the Internet, I looked for a house with the balcony on the second story bedroom. The Franklin seems to be the only house with such a balcony.

Let's begin our tour on the 3 rd floor. 

Traditionally in the Victorian Era homes, the children were housed on the third floor. This children's play room is full of toys, even a crying naked baby that I added.

I added the little doll who might be playing in the Nanny's room.

The bathroom could use some help, but I intend to keep this house original to honor the original builder so I won't be doing any repairs or fix-ups.

On the second floor, the Man of the House takes a nap in his skivvies. I added the lace, a piece that my friend brought me from Belgium years ago.

I was so surprised to see that the lights work. One downstairs does not. It may just need a new bulb.

The study also on the second floor has an old pump organ in the far corner.  The house was really hard to photograph because it sits on a library table in a bedroom close to the wall, the photographs are not the greatest.

The upstairs foyer needs an easy chair to make it the perfect corner to spend the afternoon reading.  From this view, you can see the organ in the back with its little round stool.

I love the formal living room. I added the tea set to the coffee table and the crocheted rug.

 Can you imagine how excited I was to finally light the fireplace?

The entryway needs to be vacuumed. Wonder where the maid is?

I think the kitchen is my favorite room because of all of the great detail and little accessories.

The kitchen is so much fun. You can almost smell the roasted turkey.

The house has two lighting systems. Most of the house is wired using the copper tape that you saw on the roof of the general store. This system is neatly tucked away under the house behind the little hinged door and plugs into a transformer. I had to buy a new transformer, as seen in the next photo. Then two lights are plugged into the strip that I purchased at Hobby Lobby, a lamp and the fireplace. There were stray wires with plug ins attached, so after doing some reading on the Internet I realized that I needed a power strip which I hooked up to the existing transformer. And WaLa, the fire place lit.

So this is the Franklin, a grand old Victorian house. I will do little with it. I will probably add a family to give it character, but I see little reason to remodel of update. The original builder, I was told, took the house to local fairs where it won prizes. I just like looking at it, re arranging furniture and pondering How did she do that?

She built much of the furniture from kits and even from scratch. She made several pieces of wicker furniture that sit out front of the General Store. There are three unfinished kits in the boxes of stuff that came with the house. I will try my hand once the snow flies perhaps to weave the pieces that she did not get to.

So this is the Franklin, circa 1979. The kit built by Artply. 

I am finishing the Lafayette. I don't know just how much I will do with it. I could add so many little touches, but I am anxious to move on to the Alpine Farm House. Next time I will have the Lafayette ready for its final viewing. 

Thanks for stopping by. Sent me your comments. I'd love read what your thoughts on the Franklin.

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