Friday, May 28, 2010

Then The "Lightbulb" Went On!

Improvements on the Lovely Old Dollhouse were now well underway. There was something needing to be done, and being done in every room and wall and ceiling, inside and out. It was as if, once the first step had been taken, an AVALANCHE of steps followed! I would start on a project, simple enough in itself, but to finish it, I would first have to work on another area... and so on, and so on...I am sure most of you have experienced this dilemma! And still being new to this re-building world (at least in miniature scale) I was more than happy to start project after project after project without finishing ANY of them right away. This is something I am good at anyway, but it is even MORE fun in dollhouse land. And sometimes , once the project was started, all sorts of good ideas would show up that just HAD to be added and eventually will make the project better than originally planned.....but meanwhile require a CHANGE of plans!

So you may recall that in order to complete the new staircases, I realized I would first need to complete everything in the room behind them, including the front door. In my mind I was thinking I would just re-build it the way it was originally. It had been just a plain, unadorned piece of plywood with two floor to ceiling openings, one on either side for "windows" (as with all the windows there was no glass), set beneath a beautiful "fan light". This resembled a commonly found design in Colonial houses of this region. The door itself had been painted a beautiful bright blue. The only part remaining was the "fan light" which was firmly attached to the front of the house. But of course, I couldn't re-build it JUST the way it had been! I was going to make the windows glass (eventually) so I needed to build frames for them. And in researching this style of doorway (in that beautiful book full of pictures of old Vermont doorways) I saw that the windows never went all the way to the ground, but stopped at wainscoting height. So I would need to build panels beneath them. And the door itself would need to be a paneled door, not just plain....and the trim at the top would need to be improved in order to balance the new panels at the bottom.... So you can see, it got quite involved.....but this is what it is looking like now.

And then the new fireplaces in the house had all made the original one look just a little too PLAIN to be the parlor fireplace! It surely needed to be the grandest one in the house! After all, that is the way it would have been back in the times the house was built (presuming that this is a very old house as its design suggests)! So, after browsing that old book I was able to come up with some authentic design ideas to copy on my parlor fireplace that would make it grander and balance the wainscoting (which has by now been replaced) and now looks like this.....

But don't hold your breath because it is NOT all done yet!

And the stairs that need to remain removable for the time being, now have the walnut stain on the upstairs flight too, and the upstairs wainscoting has been partly finished. To the right you can see the beginnings of the bathroom wall tiles too.

As you can see, I have been busy and the projects are expanding at a great rate! And you may remember, dear readers, what got me started in the first place... that lovely flickering fire in the fireplace of that dollhouse in the museum exhibit. I have not forgotten, and now that I have my fireplaces started, I planned a trip to the miniatures shop to look for flickering bulbs. I think I was truly NOT planning to "electrify" the whole house. I was thinking that I might do as that exhibit house had done and "light" the rooms with a single low watt light bulb for each room strung at ceiling level behind a section of trim. I thought that since it was an old house - they wouldn't have had electricity back then it was really just about being able to see well in each room....or so I thought! Until I went in search of flickering fire light bulbs.

I went to my nearby miniatures shop and found some flickering light bulbs. And some "glowing coals". And the switch and the transformer that they would need to work right. And they would also need a little strip to plug their tiny plugs into...... which came in a set with a whole BUNCH of tiny plugs and wires....all waiting for little lights to plug into them.....and then there were some REALLY CUTE tiny lights that hardly cost anything at all because they were second hand.....

So I came home with the whole package and a whole new set of ideas!

Here's the kitchen fireplace with the glowing coals lit (sorry the photo is so dark.....I wanted it to really show the coals). I haven't hooked up the flickering lights yet ...I'll need to "build" the log fire part first to hide the lights behind...(amazing the parts you don't think about until you're in the middle of the project!) and the fireplace needs to have the bricks painted etc., etc...

But the part that REALLY made me smile was attaching a tiny light to the ceiling of the downstairs hallway to light the front hall! I just can't explain the magical feeling when that light went on! Something so simple as a little light could make so much difference in the feeling of the tiny world I am just became so REAL! Just like magic.

Of course, it was right about then that I realized that I was going to have to "electrify" the whole house! I was going to have to figure out WHERE to run the wires to the plugs. I was going to have to figure out HOW to run the wires through the old walls..... and how MANY lights and plugs I would need...... but that was all part of the excitement. I didn't care how long it would take, or how difficult it would be.....the lightbulb had gone ON in my head, and there would be no going back.

Little tiny real lights in dollhouses are just plain MAGICAL

and I wouldn't dream of not having them!

So, the "Lightbulb" went on!


  1. this is a very dangerous path that you are heading down... i hope you know that there's no turning back! one thing leads to another and just when you think you're done, another house will catch your eye...... its looking good, christine:)

  2. Let me begin from the beginning , dear Betsy :). Firstly that door frame is just F-A-B-U-L-o-U-S! I know I may have used that word a lot but can you tell I mean every single letter?

    I don't know what you did but I love the way your freshly painted fixtures still manage to retain an old and vintage feel. Exactly like how my pre-war house look after being given a fresh coat of paint. So keep doing what you are doing.

    That stairs is looking so fabulous, it makes your house look really stately now :). Now I see why you said you had no choice but to bash the exterior as well.

    Lights, o yes, the magic of lights. I too found some flickering light which I dismantled from a fixture. I am using that for hurricane lamps. But I can totally understand why you say you could not go back to those dark days anymore .

    Now those bathroom tiles baffle me a little. So your bathroom is there? Right next to the stairs? Is it a , erm, a very "progressive" household where they don't need doors for their bathrooms? :) Just joking.:)

  3. Thank you Christine! If I didn't know before....I certainly know now how dangerous the path is.....I'm currently "working" on four dollhouses! And then there is the "List" of ones I want to do! I'm frolicing down that path...and we will never again use the dining room to eat in.....:)

  4. Thank you Sans! I am very pleased with the way the front door turned out.....but it does make the REST of the front of the house look like it needs you will be seeing more about that! I, too, absolutely love that old look in houses...I think it is working because I am using the old materials and they are hand made and not perfect scale and a bit rough cut. But there is also just a "look" that is familiar to me because I grew up in old houses and I'm trying to capture that feeling. The old book of Vermont houses really helps too!
    And as for the IS a problem I have been wrestling with! I have a few ideas that will hopefully allow the tiny people some privacy! But you can see that the original design has left me with few choices! Besides, how much privacy do they expect with us big people peering in their windows all the time anyway? :)!

  5. Ha ha! This is just like renovating my real old house. One project leads to another!

    Your work is wonderful and thoughtful, the light is fantastic and makes the dollhouse look so real. CM