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, February 24, 2012

Interior Design- The Living Room: Sunnybrook Farm

The living room looking back toward the Palladian Doors to the terrace.
After the excitement of the curved staircase bash in the Foyer posts, and the elegant Chinese Chippendale Dining room post, the Living room post is positively calm!

We are still looking for the right items, here and there, for this room. It is complete but I want a few more “somethings”. Let’s see, both the dining and living rooms were started (according to my notes) October 2003 and almost completed by mid-2005. It took until now to make the dining room “complete”, so hopefully we can also “complete” the living room shortly?

Plan of this floor:
We are in the starred room

To Begin:
The living room is 15 x 25 with 11 inch ceilings. The living room is done in a Chinese and Chippendale style. This is basically an “orange” room with a number of soft oranges in use: the scrapbook and foil papers, and the paints: Gidden Peach Pavilion (Home Depot real house paint) for the walls, Delta Creamcoat Dunes Beige, Eggshell, Copper, and Gold for the accents. The ceiling and medallion are painted white!

This room opens front and back which added complexity to the build. It also makes it interesting to run tape wire, which ended up being a long run from the living room through to the dining room with cross pieces at desired points to go to the walls.

I like to continue the wall treatments onto the end of the walls and onto the exterior doors of the dollhouse.

Room treatment continues to the exterior door
Why doors opening front and back:
We made the room open front and back mainly because it’s fun to open the front and look to the rear French doors, and then opening the back and looking through to the front Palladian windows. I guess I worked so hard making these windows I wanted to look at them every which way! And, of course, it is easier to fix things at the rear of a 25” deep room if you can easily get to it.

Looking back toward the Palladian doors to the terrace.
Looking front to the Palladian windows.
Orange is my favorite color so we decided that Rebecca and Derek would have an orange living room. My sister found the gorgeous coppery foil (not so easy to work with) paper and we decided that it would make a wonderful wainscot.

Copper foil "paper".
Thus the paint colors are Gidden wall paint “Peach Pavilion” (Home Depot), Delta Creamcoat Dunes Beige, Eggshell, Copper, and Gold. The paint color to “match” the foil paper is a Copper base with a Gold overcoat and is used in the crown moulding and the baseboard. The chair rail is painted Dunes Beige. The chair rail is actually one of the HBS small picture frame mouldings. I simply liked it better than “official” chair rails for this and the dining rooms.

Chair rail from picture frame moulding
The baseboards are HBS standard baseboards.

 Fireplace and Mirror:
I love the fireplace in my real living room – so classic Georgian: dentil and dog-ears. I decided to copy it in miniature for the living room. It went fairly smoothly except when I had to concoct some trim moulding because it didn’t exist in miniature. It is a composed of UM resin and HBS wood mouldings, and a curved piece under the dentil that I had to create. The fireplace was constructed flat and then placed in the room.

Rebecca's fireplace on the left; mine on the right was the inspiration.
The fireplace is painted Eggshell.

The “marble” is a varnished orange and white marbled scrapbook paper.

The firebox was deepened by cutting a hole in the plywood and the hole was covered on the exterior of the house with a piece of thin plywood. The bricks are a plasticized brick paper from Noch. We found a very nice fire fender (and less expensive than the one in the dining room).

Oh yes, it is a very nice fire fender, but ... hmm....  Do you think we could have an upgrade?
Surprise, the mirror above the fireplace is not a Christmas ornament! It is a beveled mirror from Michaels and it fits perfectly in the space above the fireplace. I love mirrors above fireplaces.

Flooring and rug:
The flooring is HSB red oak stained MinWax Provincial and then sealed with two coats of gloss MinWax polyurethane with a light sanding between coats. I cut the sheets into 1 ½ inch squares and glued them at an angle to a brown poster board template. This was time consuming but fun, and let us has a parquet floor without the pain.

Parquet flooring and "antique" rug.
We found this wonderful old rug that is supposed to be a copy of an antique. I am trusting, so I believe it, but it doesn’t matter—wonderful is wonderful! The flooring is not permanently glued down because the ceiling lights on the ground (basement) floor are bradded (if there is such a word) into the tape wire on the living room floor.

The chandelier is from HBS and the medallion is from Unique Miniatures. The ceiling medallion is painted Eggshell.
Chandelier and ceiling medalion.
 The two fireside table lamps are from Miniature House.

Crown moulding:

Custom crown moulding.
It was really fun to make up our own composite design for the crown moulding using various available mouldings: Unique Miniatures medium Egg and Dart, HBS Dentil, and a simple HBS chair rail moulding at the bottom.The moulding is painted in Dunes Beige and Peach Pavilion, with an extra-interest moulding (an HBS window casing) painted Copper overcoated with gold and glued against the ceiling:

The extra-interest moulding glued onto the ceiling.
This was a late addition when I decided that I liked the crown moulding colors but that the color looked a “little flat” at the ceiling. Now we have pizzazz!

I love “dogs-eared” moulding around doors, and it goes well with the fireplace’s dog-ears. I made the casing from various stripwood and trims. Both the double entry doors and the hallway to the music room have it. (Do you know what it was like to miter the tiny moulding when I was doing the dog-ear part?). At least I did one smart thing in making the door trim outside the house and then glue it around the doors.

Entry double doors on left; doorway to music room on right.
The double doors are HBS double entry doors. I removed them from their frame and put them into my own with hinges. The appliqués are by Unique Miniatures.

The Palladian doors to the terrace are made by bashing HBS Palladian doors with Timberbrook French doors. (Timberbrook seems to be out-of-business which is too bad because they made wonderful doors and windows.) Making these doors was a time-consuming task and I thought I would not finish them with my sanity intact. (The house needed six of them.) And yes, I now know there is a better way.
Take one HBS Palladian door.
and one Timberbrook French door

The result -- one custom Palladian door!
The windows are bashed HBS Palladian doors with Classics 12-light standard windows. Actually, the windows really weren’t too bad to make—it was the Palladian doors that caused one of the work stoppages on this house. The windows and doors are painted Dune Beige.

The furniture is mostly Bespaq and whatever other pieces struck our fancy. We are not purists—what we like, we like. Two of our favorite Chinese pieces are a “prayer or ancestor” table and the white chinoiserie cabinet:

"Prayer" table

Derek and Rebecca love this entire room and we do too. I am a Chippendale and Chinese “nut” and I wish I had as much as Derek and Rebecca. Sigh …..

My sister found the Chinese emperor and empress pictures. The Buddha picture is by Jim Coates.

Emperor and Empress paintings.
I found the horse painting as a freebie download on the internet and framed it with an HBS frame moulding painted Delta Creamcoat Gleams Metallic Gold. I love this gold paint – it glistens! I would like something on both sides of the horse painting, but I can’t think of exactly what, perhaps just two long but narrow hangings?

Horses and groom.
 Also, I like Monet’s Sunflowers, and the color is right, but I don’t know if it’s in the right place over the white chinoiserie cabinet (shown in a previous photo). (A discussion of creating artwork and frames was given in the previous Dining Room post.)
Rebecca and friends discuss where to hang this picture.
The room is almost “just right”, but to paraphrase Sherlock Holmes: “Come Derek and Rebecca, the game’s still afoot!”

Well, that’s all for now. When Derek and Rebecca find the finishing touches, I will give an update.


  1. Hello Iris,
    Once again, you've made a lovely room.I lobve the structure itself. You did a terrific job with the moulding, doors...the fireplace is a triumph!
    As for the furniture it looks great in the room. I love that you take the time to go over each element in the room. It's very useful!
    Also, very smart making it open at both end...I've had to get into very awkward positions to reach the back of ceratin rooms.
    Keep up the great work. All we've seen so far is in perfect harmony. VERY well done.
    Happy weeknd,

  2. Wow Iris! Felt like i was walking though a real life house! Such attention to detail!
    Hugz J xx

  3. Hi Giac,
    Thank you for the nice comments. I am trying to do a good blog so that others can avoid my mistakes and hopefully learn something from my successes.

    I have to admit, I am very proud of the fireplace! --And it certainly helps to be able to get to the back of rooms without having to try to reach from the front!

  4. Hi Jazzi,

    I am glad you enjoyed your visit! Do come again. The Rowbottoms love company.

  5. Hi Iris!

    OMG, what a stunning room! You've outdone yourself with all the attention to detail. I really like how you combined windows and doors to make them uniquely yours. And what a great idea to open up the house on both sides!

    I think a pair of sconces would be lovely on either side of the horse painting.

    I have the same fender (from HBS)? But I think the knobs are supposed to be finials and not feet --otherwise the ashes would get under the fender. But what do i know?

    I did not know they were called 'dog ears!' Love that!

    You should be very proud, Iris --your work is gorgeous!

    John xo

  6. I love this post. It is great how you pointed out nearly everything in the room and explained your methods and reasons. The room looks great, very detailed. I especially like how you changed out the doors - brilliant! Looking forward to future posts. Keep up the good work!

  7. OH, I Love the Art you have found for this room! And I Love the Palladian doors and Windows! You have done an AMAZING amount of work on this house! No Wonder it has taken you so long! You have come up with very creative adaptations too... like copying your own mantlepiece... It's fun to put a mini version of a beloved thing into the doll world! Great work! I look forward to seeing more!

  8. Hi John,

    Great to see you! Well, I fell over with laughter at my thinking that the finals were feet! Thanks for setting me "right side up". This has to be a great hobby if it can make one laugh -- even at myself!

    I like the idea of sconces-- and since the chandelier is traditional brass, I could use brass to match.

  9. Troy,
    I love those doors, but my oh my... I think that by by time I got to the last of the six that the house needed, I finally figured out how to do the bash efficiently. I really liked using the Timberbrook French doors--it's too bad the company is gone.

    Thank you for the nice comments.

  10. Daydreamer,
    I loved making the mantlepiece and I am glad I pulled it off. It's great fun looking into that room and seeing something very personal! I appreciate you very nice comments.

  11. Its so awesome..
    I had a great time through
    ur blog

    Regards from India,

  12. Hi Jaice John,
    Welcome! How nice to have to you find my blog. I am glad you enjoyed it.

  13. Hi Iris
    I love the work you have done n the fireplace and doors, and the colour is lovely. Doesn't it work well with the copper paper!
    I love the double aspect of this room, as in the Dining Room, it's almost like two rooms for the price of one - and you get to see the windows again ;-)
    Keep up the great work
    Simon xx

  14. Hi, Iris! Is a great, great work!! I'm a new follower of your blog...Hugs

  15. hi! iris...
    i don't have words for your blog, it's not just about beautiful miniatures or dolls, it's something more, it's about your family and how you feel and think while you work on those little houses.
    thanks for share this whole experience.
    congratulations and regards.
    cris :)

  16. I'm so happy to found your blog. Your work is so beautiful. I'm a new follower.
    Hugs from Craftland

  17. Your houses are wonderful!!Very, very pretty!

  18. WOW, thank you all, What wonderful comments from my new friends. I am so glad you found my blog.

  19. That's a huge room! It's a great idea making both ends opening. I love orange, too! :D Excellent job recreating the fireplace in mini. Isn't it wonderful to built one from more "if only it had this or that." You can make it precisely the size, shape and colors you want. Beautiful room!