Posts Tagged ‘miniature dolls’ house’

The 'E' House completed - and outsize house plan

I am going to count this house as one of my notable failures.

The most glaring fault is the room divider between the kitchen and the hall. It isn’t wide enough to hold the full length of the ground floor securely. It is all right if you don’t wiggle the ground floor, but someone is almost certainly going to be tempted to do this at some point.

Added to which, I don’t like dolls’ houses with walls that are covered in pictures of furniture. (This is very narrow-minded of me.)

All in all it is an idea that needs more work than I have time to give it (at the moment).

That said, I still think that it was a fun idea. So if you would like to try making The ‘E’ House for yourself, the plans are at the end of this blog entry. There are also a list of the materials that I used and basic written instructions (sorry, no slideshow this time).

If you would like to know how I struggled with an idea that did not turn out as I hoped, read on (and avoid the pitfalls that I fell in to):

The Idea was:

  • A bright, modern dolls’ house
  • Slender so that could hang on a wall
  • With something ‘different’ about it

I ended up with this design:

The 'E' House - basic structure

– which is not what I call exciting, innovative or even encouraging – even though I daringly off-set the wall dividers.

With a nod to the distinctive, exciting and innovative house designed by Laurie Simmons and Peter Wheelwright for Bozart

The Kaleidescope House - conceived and designed by Laurie Simmons and architect Peter Wheelwright.

I had wondered about incorporating some plastic panels (the plastic came from the covers of a couple of ring binders)

The 'E' House - plastic panels

The second floor has an indent to accommodate the panel

– but looking at the panels, once they were in place, I wanted them to move – either to slide or to swing open and this would have meant framing the panels so that they could be hinged effectively.

So I abandoned the plastic panels – which I still think were a good idea – and decided to have an open plan house.

But what was I going to do with the inside?

I did try some tiny print wallpapers but, because you can see the whole house in a glance, they had to be very nearly identical or they clashed – horribly.

I must have been fairly desperate at this point because I considered a tried and trusted decorative style, which I truly dislike.

The 'E' House - interior papers (on card)

This is what I ended up with. Don’t ask how long it took. Just don’t.

I dislike ‘furniture wallpaper’ (as I call it) so much that I despaired and decided to try paint, and spray-painted the house with fast drying, spirit-based paint. It was supposed to be white paint, but it turned out to be cream, and it brought out the ‘grain’ of the cut edges. (This is avoidable; I had been lazy and hadn’t sealed the edges before painting).

The 'E' House - spray painted

I spray paint out of doors, in a box lined with removable paper. As a change from my usual problem with rain, it was so hot that the paint was almost dry as soon as it left the can.

Maybe more COLOUR was the answer ?!

The 'E' House - side view - painted roof

It was at this point, and feeling rather grim, that I decided to call this The ‘E’ House (‘E’ for Everlasting, not Elizabeth) and throw it away before I wasted any more time on it. Needless to say: I failed to throw it away.

The following day, the tricky manoeuvre of fitting the decorative papers into the house – which was already firmly glued together – was accomplished.

After which I really would have been happy to throw house away and never try to make anything like it ever again. Ever.

Luckily, shortly after this, a surprise visitor turned up and the house found a new home elsewhere – thank goodness !

The 'E' House - and new owner

Finished size:

Height: 1 and 3/4 inches (4.4 cm)

Width: just under 2 inches (5 cm)

Depth: just over 3/4 of an inch (2 cm)


pdf of the house plans – OHM_201809_’E’_House-plans

pdf of the interior decoration – OHM_201809_’E’_House-interior

  • Basic home printer
  • Mountboard (I used A4 Daler Rowney from Amazon)
    I think it is called ‘Matboard’ or ‘Mounting Board’ in the United States
  • Laminated printer paper (like this)
  • Basic printer paper
  • A very sharp knife (I use a craft knife with a blade that snaps off – like this)
  • A metal ruler
  • A solid surface on which to cut the mountboard
  • White wood-working glue (I used Evostick)
  • A small paintbrush
  • Paint (of your choice – I would avoid watercolour paint because it fades relatively quickly)
  • Varnish (of your choice)
  • I do not recommend using a hairdryer or heat gun to speed up the drying process. In my experience, the intense heat from both of these tends to warp the mountboard

Please remember that the materials that you use will affect the look of the house. For example: laminated printer paper gives a much crisper look than even good quality card (see below) and the thickness of card / board used will affect the overall appearance considerably.

The 'E' House - difference in printing results

What I suggest doing:

Print the decorative papers on the laminated printer paper and set them aside to dry

The 'E' House - wall panels

Print the house plan on basic printer paper

Stick the basic paper to the mountboard
Let this dry completely (under a book or other heavy weight to keep it flat, if necessary)

Cut out the house pieces carefully – it is up to you whether you would like an indented second floor or not

Check that the floors and back wall match in length exactly

Measure the width of the dividing walls and cut strips of mountboard of the required width

Seal all the cut edges of the mountboard with a thin layer of glue (this should give you a better finish that my spray painted effort)
Let the glue dry completely

Paint the mountboard with paint of your choice – top tip: don’t use very watery paint. If you do it will un-stick the glue and make the mount-board swell up
Let the paint dry completely

Glue the Ground Floor to the bottom edge of the Back Wall.

The 'E' House - back view

The roof sits on top of the back wall and the ground floor is in front of the back wall.
Always let the glue dry completely

Glue the decorative paper for the back of the rooms to the back of the house – you will probably need to trim the kitchen and hall floor, so that it looks ‘right’

Alternatively, you can glue each room down individually.
Let this dry completely

While it is drying, glue the decorative panels to the strips of mountboard that you have cut. The panels do not have to be cut to an exact height at this point, but they do have to have the ‘correct’ panels in place e.g. nursery/ bedroom, bedroom / bathroom, kitchen / hall.
Let these dry completely

Then cut the kitchen / hall room divider so that it fits the space between the Ground Floor and the Second Floor and glue it in place
Let it dry completely

Glue the second floor into place
Let it dry completely

Cut the remaining room dividers so that they reach ceiling height – cut the top at the angle of the roof if you wish – and glue them in place
Let them dry completely

Glue the roof in place. I didn’t cut angles for the apex of the roof. Angled joints seem to be out of fashion of at the moment, so I simply left a small gully.
NB Working with the back of the house on a flat surface will make it easier to get a neat join at the back
Let the glue dry completely

Repaint the roof and the back of the house. Re-touch any other paint work that needs it.

(optional) When the paint is dry, seal the surfaces with a varnish of your choice – the varnish used for finishing does depend on what paint you have used. I used a mixture of acrylic paints for the red. The off-white colour was fast-drying spray paint. The spray paint was a bad choice because it raised the grain on the cut edges of the board, but it does have a nice shiny finish on the surface of the mountboard

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As with all the projects that are freely available on this blog: Please don’t sell the plans for this house, or the interior decoration.

If you would like to sell the house that you make, please think about the ground floor and find a way to make it more stable : )

If you decide to make a replica / tribute to the Bozart Kaleidoscope House in miniature, a credit to the designers would be appreciated:


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About the adverts:

WordPress sometimes places advertisments on the blogs that they host: they need the money to keep WordPress on-line.

By paying a small amount of money I could have these advertisements removed. I choose not to do this – I need every penny for paint, and glue, and card, and paper, and wood, and all sorts of other things too.




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Sandford House

Open House Miniatures - Sandford Miniature Dolls' House (front)

This little two storey house was inspired by an Irish Baby House that I saw illustrated in an exhibition catalogue.

It is traditional in design and decorated in soft, clear colours on the outside, with boldly patterned papers on the inside.

There is a large range on the ground floor and a substantial fireplace on the first floor.

The front is fully hinged and the front door is fixed shut.

My houses are entirely handmade and they all vary slightly.



2 and 7/16th inches tall (to the top of the chimneys) – (6.3cm)

Just under 2 inches to the top of the roof – (5cm)

The base is 7/8th inches wide – (3.3cm x 3.6cm)  x 1 and 5/16th inches deep

The rooms are 7/8th inches deep inside (to the back wall) and just under 1 and 5/8th inches wide (2.3cm x 4cm)



The original “Sandford” was built in Dublin, Ireland in the 1790 and it was quite an extensive building with side wings.

Copy of Page 33 from Dolls' House Show Catalogue circa 1989

My version reflects the architecture of the 1700s / early 1800s, and is evocative of the solid, square villas in St. Johns Wood, London that I have always loved for their understated elegance and subtle exterior decoration.



This miniature house is not a “toy” – it is a “collector’s item”

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We had a gleam of sunshine earlier this week, so I tried to take some photographs of a Christian Hacker House that I had just finished.

They were not entirely successful, but they were not bad and the colours were …  nearly right … mostly…

If I sound grudging, it is because the house is very delicately  coloured and I don’t think I have managed to capture this very well.

Open House Miniatures - Christian Hacker dolls' house for a doll's house

The very little that I know about Christian Hacker boils down to a meagre 6 facts

  1. The Christian Hacker factory was founded in Nuremberg in 1835.
  2. They made many sorts of wooden toys – stables,  dolls’ houses, room sets, shops and castles (and many, many more).
  3. The toys were very high quality, often highly decorated and very expensive.
  4. The company twice won medals in Paris at the Great Exhibition.
  5. The company closed in 1927.
  6. If you are lucky the toy may be identified by a stamp, or  label, showing the company insignia of CH on a shield, under a crown

I have never found an old company catalogue for any of the Christian Hacker toys, and the most I have been able to find out about the house that I make in miniature, comes from Faith Eaton’s excellent – The Ultimate Dolls’ House Book (published by Dorling Kindersley).

This house , made in Nuremberg c1900, is typical of those created by Christian Hacker. Although some aspects varied to some extent, other features, such as the lift off mansard roof and the “French” look illustrated here, were invariably maintained.

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In my miniature version the mansard roof is fixed in place, but otherwise I feel it is very close to the spirit of the original.

Christian Hacker House from Faith Eaton's The Ultimate Dolls' House Book

From Faith Eaton's The Ultimate Dolls' House Book

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I am feeling very pleased and excited.

I think I have finally, positively, identified the original maker of my miniature Whiteley’s Catalogue House

And they are … G & J Lines

The house below is currently on eBay – with an asking price of £400

G and J Lines Dolls' House

One of the joys of eBay – for me at least – is reading the descriptions –

G & J Lines Dolls House c1900’s requiring restoration

Original interior papers, original fireplaces ( one grill missing), exterior original papers, but has been overpainted at sometime.

There is dormant woodworm in the roof and floor.

Bought with the intention of restoring but no time

Approx size Base 241/2 inches wide by 17 inches deep. Height 30 inches.

Please see pictures.

Cash on collection.  COLLECTION ONLY

There is dormant woodworm in the roof and floor !!! – is it asleep, or merely biding its time before leaping forth to devour everthing in sight?

Woodworm aside, and even without chimneys, it is a remarkable match for the one used as an illustration in What a Life!

What a Life! Chapter 1

For anyone interested, there is a good article on the Musuem of Childhood webpage about G & J Lines, who were important British toy makers of the late 19th and whose production continued well in to the 20th Century.

The Museum have also, very generously, made available the Tri-ang Toys Catalogue (Lines Bros), 1937-8

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Open House Miniatures - Never Again House - Number 18

It has been a long while since I made one of these houses and so timed myself  during the construction of this one – Number 18

Now I know why I used to call it the Never Again House

It took 17 hours from start to finish – not including the time taken to create the wallpaper designs from old fabric samples –  and I had managed to forget exactly how fiddly every single bit of it is

  • 13 windows – with glazing bars
  • 4 floors – with a fireplace on each floor
  • steps
  • decorative moulding

I could go on and on – and the end result is something that stands just under 4 inches (9.8cm) high

So, Never, Ever Again !

… till next time

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What a Life! - and autobiography  (authors E.V.L. & G.M.)

One day in 1911 two Edwardian gentleman sat down with scissors and paste and created a masterpiece – using illustrations from Whiteley’s Catalogue.

It was published under the title What a Life !  – (an autobiography E.V.L. & G.M.) – and I find it  surreal, inventive and very funny.

It also provided the inspiration for my Whiteley’s Catalogue House –

so called because at the bottom of the first page…

What a Life! Chapter 1

there is the picture of a dolls’ house that is, to me, the absolute epitome of late Victorian suburban architecture,

I wanted one, in miniature, quite desperately the minute I saw it.

OPen House Miniatures - Whiteley's catalogue Dolls Houses, August 2011

I made the first one at least 15 years ago now and I have just completed numbers 19 and 20.

Over the years they have changed a little bit here and there, but they are still one of my favourite houses to make.

Size wise they have remained pretty much the same – the base is 1 and 1/4 inches (3.15cm) wide by 1 inch (2.5cm) deep and from the base to the top of the chimney pots is approximately 2 and 1/5 inches (6.3cm).

I do not know who made the original house, or what size it was, or what colours it was painted in, so you could say that these are mostly my own invention, but they would never have been made if  E.V.L. & G.M. had not sat down with scissors and paste and created What a Life !

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What A Life! – (an autobiography E.V.L. & G.M.) , Collins edition 1987, ISBN 00 217796 X (possibly out of print)

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