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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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Abigail's Teashop & Bakery, Williamsburg, Virginia

Abigail Spencer and Anna Rowbottom: Biographical Information


The teashop is owned by Abigail Spencer and Anna Rowbottom. The staff, Chef Louis , Sous Chef Arthur [pic needed], Polly and Gerald O’Malley – waitress and waiter, Peggy Jean Jensen who runs the bakery , and host Charlie O’Malley with daughter Jane as hostess, help keep things running smoothly.

Abigail Spencer and Anna Rowbottom are long-time friends. Early in their married lives, they convinced their husbands that it would be nice to own a small “colonial” teashop and bakery just outside of the Williamsburg Historic District, and hopefully, not too far from their homes. Samuel Spencer and Reginald Rowbottom didn’t think it was a bad idea -- but they weren’t sure it was a good idea either.

Anna and Abigail did a lot of research, soul-searching, and financial calculations. They presented their findings to their families, and everyone started to get excited about this venture. It was also decided to offer catering for small events. After many more machinations, they got a loan from the bank and bought property. Fortunately, Reginald owned an architectural firm that would design the building and the grounds, and oversee the construction; while Spencer had a law firm that would kept the project out of trouble!

The teashop and bakery is a small, nicely situated, and nicely appointed building. It is quite popular, including its outdoor dining area, and a petting zoo is nearby [pic]. Through the years, Anna and Abigail have put in a lot of work getting and keeping the teashop running smoothly. Fortunately, they have managed to keep a loyal staff -- some of whom are now junior partners -- who are eager to take on more and more responsibility. This allows Anna, Abigail, and their families to relax and have time to themselves without worry.

Behind The Build: Abigail's Teashop & Bakery. (Octagonal Shop -Scratch-build)

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

I have always been fascinated by octagonal houses, and I had toyed with the idea of building an octagonal dollhouse. About the same time as I was thinking about this, I got an urge to build a shop of some kind. I have always liked teashops, so I merged both interests and set out to design and build an octagonal teashop. This project started around mid-2002.

I wanted a “Colonial” feel for the present-day building. The first plan I developed was based on a regular octagon. Then I realized that for the purpose of this shop, a regular octagon did not put the interior space where I needed it. Thus I elongated the octagon and found that 30” wide x 24” deep was the answer.

After I finished the design, my husband cut the wood, and my sister furnished this octagonal, front opening, teashop and bakery. The front section is held on by a magnet and just lifts off. Amazingly, the two side doors swung open & closed properly on my husband’s first attempt at beveling door edges and my first try at installing hinges! The building is about 31’’ long x 28 ‘’ deep x 28 ‘’ high (without cupola).

The teashop is built of 3/8’’ cabinet-grade birch plywood. The teashop rests on a plywood base, and on that is a Styrofoam layer around the teashop. The Styrofoam makes “planting” easier.

The siding was put on with clapboard sections glued to the plywood. The slate roof is made from 12 x 12” vinyl flooring tiles, cut into 1” strips and then cut ¾” deep to simulate individual tiles. They are glued on with contact cement. The cupola is a Michael’s Lemax Christmas Village gazebo. The front section of the roof lifts off to view the attic.

The teashop and bakery are on the first floor; the office and a “short-order” kitchen are on the second . Obviously, more cooking area is needed and is set up in a large well-appointed basement cooking, scullery, and storage area (not built).The teashop has a ‘dumb-waiter’ and a service elevator to get items from floor to floor. I did install staircases all the way to the attic; unfortunately these can only be seen by looking in the back windows!

The first floor flooring is walnut grained Con-Tact glued onto card, cut into ¼” to ¾” strips, and then glued to the floor to simulate random planks. The kitchen has a cork floor. The windows are Timberbrook Tudor on the first floor & HBS 9/9 on the second. The curtains on the first floor are on bamboo skewer “rods” hung on cinched brass nails. The curtains on the second floor are made from “wired” ribbon cut at the bottom with pinking shears and then folded like Roman shades.

There is also an outdoor dining area . The area around the shop is packed dirt -- coffee grinds, tea leaves, and sand sprinkled onto glue on the brown-painted Styrofoam base. Planting areas are shaped from Styrofoam, painted brown, and covered with coffee grinds. Flowers are made from pieces of silk and dried flowers. The trees are purchased.

The “lattice” fencing along the sides and back is vinyl gutter guard (comes in brown and white). There will also be a waist-high fence in the front.

A petting zoo is adjacent (still evolving)


The teashop also decorates for Christmas and is open for parties .

At some point, the shop will be electrified with Colonial style lights. It will be electrified by pulling the lamp wires through the wall to the outside back of the shop, and then plugged into a “Power strip with on/off Switch” wired to a transformer.

I had to make some things up as I went along. I had an original plan, but there were holes in some of my ideas and some things just did not work out, so I had to find alternate ways. Abigail and Anna, the owners, are pleased with my results and are happy that they are open for business.