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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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Interior Design- RecRoom and Hall: Sunnybrook Farm

The rec room -- a place for friends to gather.
The ground floor is always the busiest place in the house. The work rooms are here, all deliveries come through the ground entrance, and the children enter here after school, drop their books and head into the kitchen for home-baked munchies.

Floor plan of ground level:
Discussing the starred rooms.
The rooms we will discuss today have the red stars.

The ground level has 9 inch ceilings. The previous post Kitchen, Larder, and Wine Cellar started the ground floor chronicles. This post describes the hall and the rec room.

The Hallway:
Jeremy and Bertie have after school snacks.
The hall is 9 x 24 inches and runs front to back with exterior doors, and a staircase to the foyer. The staircase is the Classic #7000 from HBS.

The hall is in the process of an update. I guess because of all the use it gets from the little people it is looking its age, and is in need of a repainting. Also it had an electrical problem.

The flooring is slate made from a vinyl self-stick shelving paper. I glued the vinyl onto poster board in 12-inch squares, cut them into 1-inch squares, glued the squares onto a poster board floor template, and then glued the template in place. The slate was then sealed with two coats of MinWax clear gloss polyurethane. The staircase was placed on top of the slates. The Rowbottoms had the back of the staircase left open for storage of oddly-shaped items, for instance bicycles!

The walls are painted white and any stained woodwork was done with MinWax Colonial Maple and then sealed with two coats of MinWax clear gloss polyurethane. We added some comfy furniture, storage units, items coming and going, and a large table always set with food so that one could eat in peace and avoid the heat and bustle in the kitchen. This place is user and dog friendly.

 --Electricity: Oh, Thomas Edison:
The electricity enters the ground floor from outside and through the rec room (right) and into the hall to the back. There are two tape wire branches crossing the hall under the slate to light the rooms on the left. Somehow one of the tape wires got damaged and no longer lit the kitchen. I had to carefully tear up a six-inch portion of the slate. I cut the tape wire to make sure it stayed “broken”. Then I used lamp wire and bradded it into the tape wire on the right wall, laid it along the floor and bradded it into the tape wire on the left wall—et voila-- lights in the kitchen! I then replaced the slate, putting the wire under it, and tacked in down lightly in case I have to fix any more problems.

The ground floor was the first floor we wired and it has always been problematic as to which lights “light”. Also, I am using some “pound-in” lights. Well, they don’t pound in easily, some not all all, and then they fall out! Even if they stay in, they may not light.
Pound-in lights.
The Rec room:

A nicely set up rec room.
The rec room is 20 x 13 inches.

This room is entered though stained glass swinging doors. The stained glass is commercial "stained glass" printed on velum that my sister found somewhere. The doors are stained with MinWax Colonial Maple and then sealed with two coats of MinWax clear gloss polyurethane.
Swinging stained glass doors.
The walls are painted white above, and wallpapered below with MiniGraphics “Jake”, as is the bar. The swag lamps are from HBS and the pool table light from DHE.

The flooring is a wood parquet made from a vinyl self-stick shelf paper. I glued the vinyl onto poster board in 12-inch squares, cut that into wood strips, and then glued these directly onto the plywood floor with Elmer’s glue. The flooring was then sealed with two coats of MinWax clear gloss polyurethane. I used these strips for the baseboard and the chair rail, also.

Parquet flooring
This room has all the proper things: a well-stocked bar, a large cooler for soft drinks, a complete audio-visual system, an upright piano, a pool table, the requisite dart board, two cigar store Indians, and food. Festive posters line the walls.

Dart board -- spectators stand clear!

Cigar store Indian
The bar is a pine armoire, turned on its side, with some pieces removed and some added!
A bashed cheap, pine amoire becomes the perfect bar.

Thus ends today's visit with the Rowbottoms.


 The Housekeeper’s suite will be discussed in the next post ... I hope. Some of this is v-e-r-y slow going.


  1. I love what you've done with the rec room and stained glass. I have the same tin of "Nippa and the Gramophone" in life size. Wish I had one for my mini music room. (mine is too big to scan). I'm off to hunt one down on the internet. Like I NEED more time on the net NOT!!! LOL. Have a great day. Mini On!

  2. Hello Iris,
    Another lovely post. First off I have to say I am impressed with your floors. I would not have guessed that they were made using the vynil sheets. It looks very good and I think the marble is especially succesful.
    Once again I just love the way you put your rooms together. Your house has such a lived in feel it.
    I share your pain about the wiring. I've completely banished the words "Tape Wire" from my vocabulary.
    Keep up the great work and keep the posts coming, I always look forward to them.

  3. Hi, Iris,

    OMG, Iris, these spaces fondly remind me of the home-y family rooms I haunted in my childhood! (Well, minus the cigar-store Indian)... Bummer about the electrical --I remember agonizing over which method to use in lighting my house and guess I made the right choice with hard-wiring? Great job, my dear!

  4. Me hates tape wire and that strange invention the "junction splice". I have wasted more money and time in this area-- except that when the lights light --it's magical!

    Glad you all like the "homey" aspect of these rooms. That's what I was trying to express.

  5. Hi Iris,

    The dolls in your house sure know how to have fun!! Great little rooms, I love the bar!! The armchair looks very comfy too!

    I know just what you mean about wiring and electricity, I had so much trouble with lighting in my big dolls house, some lights still don't work! In my latest house I have combined hard wiring and tapewire (sorry Giac!! LOL) but have yet to finish it, hopefully it will all work OK when I'm done, but if not, I might have to find something hard to bang my head against!!

    BTW. have you used MDF for your walls? it might explain why the pound-in lights won't go in.


  6. Don't you just love electrical gremlins? :D And, pound-in lights just sound like they're troublemakers. I love the swag lamps...I need one of these in the Heritage bedroom. Looks great!