It All Starts Here

Sometimes our ideas flow from an existing kit to bash, a house style to scratch (aka custom) build, or from an interesting doll who needs a place to live. Our settings are always modern-day (ca. 2001 when we started this hobby). We try to create things that will make people smile and feel good.

We think that if we had to build the same house twice, we literally could not do it! Fortunately, we have very unique little people who have definite opinions and so far, no one has wanted a house “like so-and-so” has.

We work as a family unit: my wonderful husband, my beautiful sister, and I. We don't always agree as to the direction of the build, but I think that we end up with a better dollhouse because of all our grumblings -- and we do have a lot of fun!

The Purpose of this Blog

We needed a place for all we wanted to say about the background of the build and the nuts and bolts of the design and build process. Thus this blog.

All our dolls' homes have families living in them and a story is built around their personalities and lifestyles. This story is an integral part of our building process. We would like to share these stories -- actually, the little people insist upon it!

Many of our houses are located in Fredericksburg, Virginia because that is my sister's favorite place.

Also, we have started a Rouges' Gallery with photos of our little people and information about the dolls.

If you would like to start with the dollhouse that "started it all", it is the Original Rowbottom Manse; if you would like to see the scratch-built Georgian that our first build gave us the confidence (or fool-hardiness) to do, it is Sunnybrook Farm.

Let the stories begin!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Behind The Build: Casa Lobo. (Kit bash and scratch)

(For a complete pictorial chronicle, see the Webshots album listed on the left.)

We started this build September 2006. I really don’t know how we came up with the Pueblo Revival idea or that Grace and Graham were retiring, but all of a sudden Grace and Graham were going to the high desert! (I like the Santa Fe area and it must have rubbed off on them.)
I looked in real house books and decided on a Pueblo Revival. I found a minimalist-look home from the 1930s in Santa Fe (from A Field Guide to American Houses by V. & L. McAlester) and immediately knew that was what I wanted .

Now, the search for a front-opening structure was on – could we find a commercial kit or would we have to scratch build? I looked at an Earth & Tree kit, the Ellsworth. It was very nice but it wasn't quite right. I also looked at the one room Adobe Room and Patio kit from HBS . The family said that this kit would be the place to start and we would scratch build on to it. The HBS kit was made from ½ inch MDF but the additional parts would be built from 3/8 inch Baltic Birch since we couldn’t get MDF .

We did not want many rooms and wanted large flow-through rooms on the first floor. The second floor would have a master bedroom and bath, and an entrance to a porch. From that porch, a Pueblo-style ladder would lead to an observatory on the bedroom roof. House guests would stay in a guest cabin (not to be built). This was not a difficult house to build, except for the U-turn staircase. This was a problem mainly due to the design I wanted (no floor support after the turn) and where I wanted to put it. We kept the minimalist look for the exterior but we did soften it. Also, we added some pizzazz to the interior.

All except one of the windows are simply-styled opening casements; some are from the kit and some we had to make. The window in the rear wall of the bedroom is a sash window. That window was an afterthought, and I just happened to have a spare tall, narrow sash window that looked good there.

The first floor has two 15” x 16” rooms: the living room with a U-turn stairway to the second floor, and the dining room-kitchen though an arched opening and down a step. The living room has all the original windows and the front door from the kit. We keep the scored floor and simply put a clear stain on it. The stone fireplace was made on a Styrofoam base with the firebox going through the wall to give it more depth, and is faced with cut up vinyl flooring tiles . The dining room-kitchen has tile-look real house wallpaper for the floor . The walls in both rooms are finished with a soft stucco-look real house wallpaper. The ceilings are painted white.

The second floor has the bedroom, bathroom, stairwell, and door to the porch . The U-turn staircase was a pain to make. The bedroom section has black walnut wood flooring, the bath and hallway have the tile wallpaper flooring. The second floor walls are painted. There was only room for a small bathroom. Thus the room has a “pocket” door and the front wall is removable to better see the bathroom and to decorate it.

We never could decide if the house should have beamed ceilings with or without the “vigas” through the walls to the outside. The real house we were copying didn’t have any beams showing outside, so we felt ok not having any, but of course, we still occasionally re-think it! The rooms do have thick rounded crown mouldings stained clear.

The exterior of the house is spray painted with Fleckstone Canyon Rock. The entry patio has real house vinyl flooring tiles cut up to make paving tiles. The kit came with two fireplaces which we used to make corner fireplaces for the entry patio and the second floor porch. The fireplaces were stuccoed. We didn’t add any exposed “vigas” to the house but we did add wooden water spouts from the roofs.

Windows and doors were painted Delta Nutmeg Brown. The second floor porch has the tile-look real house wallpaper for the flooring. Railings were added to the porch and the observatory to keep the little people safe. The front wall pulls away from the house in two sections.

The Observatory needs to be furnished.

The house is electrified by pulling the wires through the back wall and into power strips connected to a transformer.

Much of the furniture in the house is Shackman. We found a lot of Shackman pieces that looked well in this style house and also many Shackman pieces are scaled down a bit and fit well in a small (but still 1 inch scale) dollhouse.

What’s in a name, Casa Lobo? As we were building this house, I suddenly thought of “loco” and I started to call the house Casa Loco as a joke of sorts. This would never do since this wasn’t a difficult build however “loco” it might have been to build another dollhouse. So keeping with the Southwest spirit, the house became Casa Lobo and we even added a resident wolf .

1 comment:

  1. I like the name! I also like the house. You don't see too many pueblo style dollhouses.
    Nice work.