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: La Malcontenta. (RGT Thornhill bash)

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

Early in 2004, we started to think about the next family of little people who should have a home of their own. We chose the Daniel MacPhersons. Now we just had to find a house style we had not built before (we don't like to build the same house again).

I perused the HBS catalog and I saw the Thornhill. I then remembered how much I had liked this house. If fact--and this was too much after the fact--but this house would have been a great start to the Georgian and would have saved considerable work since it has the same dimensions as I used for the Georgian main house! Oh well, too late now… but this definitely meant that its time had come!

Before we started to build, the usual search was on to find a style we hadn’t built before. Serious discussions with the MacPhersons and amongst ourselves, and reviewing house styles was the order of the day, I have a large library of real house books, but the one that usually gets my ideas focused is A Field Guide to American Houses by V. & L. McAlester.

Exterior Design Features:
By early June 2004, we had a style: a spectacular 1920s - 30s Spanish Eclectic – Art Deco look for the exterior and interior . (The Thornhill is a house with great “bones” – very adaptable to many looks.) Now, the building was ready to begin. As with all our houses, we like to stay flexible so that if a good idea suddenly appears, we can incorporate it into our plans. This does make for extra work and expense, but we don’t seem to be able to build any other way.

The design we came up with was to only have seven rooms: living room, dining room, and kitchen on the first floor, and on the second floor: den, library nook in the front part of the second floor hall, and master bedroom -bath suite. We also decided to divide the attic into halves. One half would be a pied-a-tier for Arabella’s brother Thomas (who works at the American Embassy in Rome but somtimes likes to stay in DC when he visits the States). The other half would be a nursery playroom and bedroom combination for the MacPherson daughters. Our interior design meant a “bit” of reworking from the manufacturer’s design.

We also wanted the house to open from the front for the living room, have a pull-away front door section, and open longwise on the dining room side. Also, the attic roof would flip up. (The living room had to open in the front because the room would have French doors leading to a wonderful Spanish style patio on the side.) We removed the front gable and made a continuous roof with three dormers across the front and one on each side of the house.

The front door was given an arched, covered entry porch with a second story balcony in a Spanish Mission style. All windows and doors in the house open and were custom made. All the first and second floor windows are casements. The attic has casement dormers and skylights. The second story windows in the front and the bedroom French door have black wrought iron rail balconies.

We wanted a large dining room and master bedroom. This resulted in the kitchen and bath being too narrow for comfort. Thus both rooms were bumped out— for the kitchen appliances and for a nice bathtub area. In retrospect, I should have made the width wider for the whole length of the rooms.

The house is stucco and has a red barrel tile roof (vinyl sheets).

Interior Design Features:
To be added

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