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, February 11, 2012

Interior Design- The Foyer Complete!: Sunnybrook Farm

 Doors to the right go to the living room; rear doors open to terrace.
After the excitement of building the curved "flying" staircase as described in the previous post, the rest of the foyer will seem almost "dull". I hope you all did not miss the excitement!

After the staircase, my helpers were exhausted and left the rest of the foyer to me. Fortunately it went well. We wanted a foyer that was quiet elegance because we had colorful plans (hopefully still elegant) for the dining, living, and music rooms.

The flooring:
Since the staircase was already in place, I had a bit of work to make a floor template.

I decided I wanted a marble floor and found a roll of shelf lining paper that had the colorations I wanted: a mottled creamy blend with a slight surface sheen.

"Marble" colorations are almost right.
I kept the design simple—1 inch squares of “marble” laid in a regular pattern. I marked a grid on the poster board and glued down the squares. I did all the squares except around the stairs. I did this last when I put the flooring in place to do as good a fit as possible in that area. Since then, I have been putting the flooring down first and the staircase on top.

Wallpaper and Paint:
The wallpaper is dollhouse wallpaper, MiniGraphics, I think. I picked a white on white stripe for the greatest effect (I hoped). Here too, I had made the mistake of gluing the staircase in place without at least wallpapering that section first.

The trim paint is Delta Creamcoat Eggshell.

I found a wonderful “swag” moulding by Unique Miniatures, and it came in two smaller “sizes”, which turned out to be needed.

The three swag mouldings
The largest looked great on the long walls but the swags were too wide for the rear wall and did not look good. The second size was just right. It took a long time to find a trim for the ceiling edge above the stairs. Then I found the smallest “swag” and that was it! I glued it “on-edge” around the opening.

Finally, matching mouldings
Actually, here was a bit of a problem. I bought the double doors to the dining room and living room from HBS (Houseworks). I planned to remove from their frame and hinge into my own frame.

The problem was that the wood was rather odd with “imperfections”. I don’t know what wood was used, but even with a filler-sealer, the wood did not stain well with the mahogany MinWax stain I used. I put on a couple of coats, trying to even it out. It finally looked “reasonable”. I would really like to replace them at some time. (The doors do look better in “real-life” than in the photo, though.)

The hinging went well except I had to first sand off the curve on the edge of the door (the “pins” side). I even managed to mortise-in the hinges! Of course, I kept losing the brads for the hinges.

The doors and their moulding: Ionic half-columns and a classic pediment.
Door Trim:
I had a lot of fun here. Two Ionic half columns hold up a pediment made from Unique Miniatures “Classic” moulding. Cutting the two end “turn-around” pieces was a pain because the pieces needed were small.

 The Ionic columns are from a local craft shop (baking section). I cut them in half with my band saw.

12-Arm Grand Chandelier by Cir-Kit Concepts.

Brass chandelier
The foyer didn’t need much furniture. The chair, settee, and tables are Bespaq. The magnificent Chinese mahogany mother-of-pearl screen was found by my sister. My sister had the knack of finding the most wonderful things.

Bespaq furniture
Chinese mother-of-pearl inlay screen.
The foyer is finished! Hallelujah!
And a preview of the next room to be discussed: the Chinese and Chippendale Dining Room:
View into the dining room.


  1. Your foyer is great, Iris!! You did a great job. I like the Chinese mother of pearl inlay screen.
    Kind regards, Ilona

  2. Ilona,
    Thanks. I don't know where my sister found that screen, but I am glad she did. I have never seen another like it.

  3. Simon,

    Thank you. I am glad you like it.

  4. I love this post and especially the previous one where you describe building that great staircase. A foyer to die for! I can't wait to see the dining room.

  5. Iris, The scale of this house is IMPRESSIVE! You have done a Magnificent job putting it all together!
    I look forward to seeing more!

  6. Hi Daydreamer,

    Glad you like it. I don't know if I mentioned, but we started this house mid to late 2001 and are still working on it! In fact, my husband and I are considering a "slight" addition to it!

    Thank you for your comments-they are appreciated.

  7. GAW-JESS! I love this room, Iris! Great job with the half columns. I'm remembering now that I have to re-hinge my Houseworks door in my Drawing Room. (BTW I have the same problem with staining them and have decided from now on to do a faux-bois paint effect instead). The staircase turned out DIVOON!
    --John xo

  8. Hi John,
    I agree, staining those doors does not work and the faux finish is the way to do it. The staircase was fun to do. I wish I had one like that in my real house -- oh well, I guess I will live through my little people!