4 Things to Know Before Building a Dollhouse
Failure to plan in dollhouse building happens. Let’s face it, we all fail at something from time to time. Here are 4 things to know before building a dollhouse.
Whether you’re building an entire dollhouse, tiny food, miniature plants, furniture for your dollhouse, or any of the millions of things, I’m sure most of us have had more failures than we care to admit.
Sometimes our failures are because we didn’t measure quite right. Sometimes it is because the clay didn’t harden, the resin didn’t set, or there were bubbles, or the paint color was wrong; there are lots of reasons for mini failures, and some are out of our control, but then there are the others.
These are the failures I want to talk about when building your dollhouse.
Having a Plan with Dollhouse Building Can Save you Grief
I know from talking to so many people who do miniatures of all kinds, we get excited, jump right in, and sometimes that works great, and then there are the other times. Like when, “if I had only made a plan for my kitchen before making all the appliances and cabinets, only to realize my stove couldn’t open because it was too close to the spiral staircase,” it would have saved me a lot of grief.
I started my Covid-project dollhouse (that still isn’t finished) with no plans at all. It still has no plans. I can’t begin to tell you how many “failures” I have had because of that. Flying by the seat of my pants is fun; I have also been angry at the stupid things that didn’t work because I didn’t have a plan.
I had to figure out how to hide electrical wiring when I forgot that I realized I needed an outlet in the game room and didn’t have one.
I had to remove the spiral staircase from the wine cellar to the kitchen because of the aforementioned “lack of planning.” Which meant I had to patch the hole in the kitchen floor, patch the hole in the ceiling of the wine cellar and try to make the ceiling not look patchy. Thankfully I hadn’t put the kitchen floor down yet, or I might have set the whole thing on fire.
It’s enjoyable just to start building something with no plans, having some ideas in your head. I highly recommend it for many things; that is how some of the best “happy accidents” happen. When I was painting full time, I rarely had any sort of plan. I started putting paint on and let whatever it was to become happen. Having no goals is how some of the most ingenious ideas happen, how people have come up with new ideas, using unusual things to make something that looks just like the real thing.
My New Dollhouse and My Plan
I have started a new massive dollhouse. And it may take me years to complete it because it is so large, but mostly because I have plans. I have the actual building plans from a life-size house that I am recreating. Of course, I can’t make it just like the real house, it’s too big and has way too many rooms, but I am trying to stay true to the existing ceiling heights, window sizes, and how it looks on the outside as I can. It has made me extremely cautious.
I have remade the base for the dollhouse three times. I felt like Goldilocks; the first one was too big, the second one was too heavy, and hopefully, the third one is just right.
I also redid the outside first-floor walls several times. I didn’t like the first finish I put on the walls, so I sanded and started again. This redo would have been the perfect time for me to try it out on a scrap piece of wood and see how I liked it before putting it on 120 linear inches of wood, but sometimes that is just not how I roll.
I remade both sides of the house a second time because I had not paid attention to the window sizes and made them the same size as the front windows, though they aren’t the same size.
I wish I could say I was doing better at planning or at least thinking ahead, maybe just a step or two. I’m not. I am very good at planning everything else in my life, but not when it comes to something creative. I dive in headfirst. Maybe I believe in “leap, and the net will appear” a little too much.
Four Important Dollhouse Building Plans That Are Helpful
Here are four important dollhouse building plans you can make ahead that can be helpful. These plans will save you a lot of screaming, cursing, and throwing things (mostly throwing stuff in the trash).
1. Build Where Your Dollhouse Will Live.
I almost made this mistake with my new house with the first base I built. Make sure your dollhouse will easily go into the room you want it to reside.
I built my first dollhouse from a kit my father had started for my sister in the late 70s. We had intended to put it in the bedroom our granddaughter sleeps in when she visits. Not only could we not get it in her room, but we also couldn’t get it in any room besides the dining room. The dollhouse is 31.5 inches wide, while the doorway is 32 inches wide. We took it out the french doors in my studio. We even had to take the door off the hinges to squeak it through.
When I started this new house, I knew not to make it wider than 30 inc; however, I wanted to keep it proportionally. Keeping it in proportion meant the house needed to be a little over seven feet long. So, I made the base eight feet long. Thankfully, I decided to try and maneuver it through the large opening out of the dining room (the only room big enough for me to build it in) through the front door. It wouldn’t make the turn. There was no scenario where the dollhouse was getting out of the room.
So back to the drawing board. I am just so glad I tried that before I built the whole house and had no way to get it out of my house.
2. Measure Measure Measure
The next big plan is to measure. And measure again.
I am horrible at math; my measuring is something like this: instead of 2 and 7/8, it is two plus the little one past the next big one right after the 3/4 mark. Nothing has caused me more failures than not measuring correctly, including cabinets that don’t fit, doors and windows that are too big or too small and don’t even get me started on crown molding.
3. Plan Electrical Wiring
Plan your electrical wiring if you are using an adaptor. Be sure to determine where your electrical wiring will exit the dollhouse and where each wire will go in each room.
If you are using batteries for lighting, plan how to hide your wiring and the battery holder.
Finding ways to hide writing is pretty simple. You can hide your electrical wires under flooring, on top of wood above ceilings, or behind wallpaper. Before you finish the outside of your dollhouse, you can hide the wiring under the exterior walls.
4. Plan Your Decor Ahead of Time
You will thank me for this one, but try to think out some of your dollhouse decor ideas ahead of time.
Ask yourself if all of the flooring, paint colors or wallpapers will look good together. Because, unlike a real home, you can see it all at once, and that might end up being an assault on the eyes.
Always Be Learning
Honestly, I don’t think in terms of “failure.” I think of all those things as learning experiences. I will never forget to make sure a dollhouse can get through a door. I’m learning, every day, all the time. Yes, I make mistakes. I throw many things away. I have taken cursing to new levels and at decibels so loud that my husband left the house one day. I’m not sure if he was scared or just annoyed, but he did go for a bit.
But, I’m learning, always, always learning.
So don’t beat yourself up for those things that don’t turn out exactly right. Learn from it, make it again, correct it, remeasure, repaint, rebuild, make it right. In the end, you will have learned from your mistakes, and you will be happy with the results. And, all those things that you thought were “failures” were just learning experiences along the way.
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