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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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Interior Design- The Sunroom and Butler's Hall: Sunnybrook Farm

Sunroom and Butler's Hall.
 Surprise! … No Chinese Chippendale ... no glitz ... no artwork-- we just wanted an ordinary sunroom and butler’s pantry! This did not turn out as we originally thought it would.

We never completely thought out how much room a sunroom and butler’s pantry would need before we built the wing structure. This led to a lot of rethinking of these two rooms, and to some disappointments.

We wanted a sunroom this in space, and butler’s pantry since the kitchen is on the ground level. 
Kitchen is on the ground (basement) floor.
Floor Plan:
1st Floor Plan
To remind us where we are--* marks the spot.

The problems begin:
No matter how we tried to arrange it, the room (14 x 22 with 11 inch ceilings) was just not big enough for two good-looking rooms. We did not want to modify the room size so we had to adjust our plans. After a lot of soul-searching, it was decided that the rooms had to go front to back, and that a staircase to the ground level was not possible in this area. Then we had an inspiration--we decided on a faux elevator to get the little people from one floor to the next.

The butler’s pantry became a “butler’s hall”, literally—a small place to keep china and silverware, dinner dishes coming and going, and the faux elevator. This area has swinging double doors to the dining room and a doorway to the sunroom. This room is 5 ½ x 22 inches.

Now, the sunroom just did not have enough space, so I had to bump out a 3 ½ inch wide floor-to-ceiling 17 inch long “bay” window. I suppose this odd shape looks interesting—or maybe not. This room has a double door to a balcony (when it’s finished).

One benefit of the build was that I got to use a lot of remnants of wood and acrylic.

The Butler’s Hall:
I tried to give this area the look of a plant room since it was so close to the sunroom: the ceiling paper is a blue sky scrapbook paper, the wallpaper is a woodsy scrapbook paper, and the flooring is a yellow pine flooring sheet. The elevator door has a wood surround. The elevator needs its floor dial yet. That’s Betty waiting for the elevator.

The only furniture that could fit here (only 5 ½ inch wide) is a narrow long table near the dining room door to hold things coming and going, and two glass shelf units at the other end to hold some china, glasses, etc.(still to be worked out). I have two simple ceiling lights but they are not installed yet. They will probably attach into the floor above.

Butler's Hall--that's Betty waiting for the elevator.
The Sunroom:
The tile floor is real-house wallpaper from Home Depot. The ceiling is real-house blue sky wallpaper. There are two interesting architectural features in this room: the wall between the butler’s hall and this room, and the bump-out window.

--The wall:
Since these two rooms are so squashed looking, I wanted to give the feeling of light and space. I had some clear double-walled acrylic left over from replacing a greenhouse window. It had the extra “interest” of having clear channels inside the acrylic. This made a very nice pattern and kept it from being a plain acrylic. I then decided to alternate pieces of this material to make an extra pattern by putting the “channels” in different directions. This is a heavy duty piece of acrylic but cut easily with my band saw. (This stuff is not hand-cut-able.)

I then cased the pieces with narrow channel moulding and made a wall!
Wall from greenhouse window acrylic remnants.
--The window:
Opening cut for window.
First I cut out the window opening.

Then I used 1/8 inch thick clear acrylic I had left over from another project for the window. This too, was cut with my band saw. I cut many narrow windows, cased them in narrow channel moulding, and then glued them all in place. This took a while!
View from front.
View from back.
Since I wanted a sloped roof, I had to cut angled pieces of the clear acrylic for the sides at the top.

I cut a piece of the double-wall acrylic for the roof. This roof had to be removable since it is almost impossible to arrange plants in the ”window” otherwise. The acrylic roof sits on the window, and has a small fancy nail for extra hold. 
Window all ready for plants!
The ceiling lights are not yet in place--in fact, I don’t even know what I want to use.

The Furnishings:
The furniture in this room is just pieces we found here-and-there. The orange wicker set is delightful. We also found black and white “wrought iron” pieces, and other wicker chairs. All-in-all, an eclectic mix—just right for a sunroom!
Love that orange and white wicker set!
Another view, the back door is in place, and poor Betty is still waiting for the elevator!
Then we added lots of plants.
Very nice after all is said and done! What an experience!
The back exterior wall of this room was the last thing put into place.

All things considered, the two rooms came out reasonably well. In retrospect, I think that when we all realized that our plans needed more space, I should have just moved the exterior side wall out 3-4 inches (just for this and the ground floor beneath). Oh well….


  1. This so cool! I love how you come up with new ideas. Very pretty!

  2. Hi Iris!

    Some clever solutions to some daunting dilemmas. I have been thinking for years about bumping out a bay window in my 'RL' house, but it's so much easier to remodel the dollhouse, not to mention quicker and cheaper. Well, SORT of cheaper.

    The glass wall treatment is especially inspired.

    An elevator! How posh!

    You have SO MANY wonderful dolls in your photos. It's like 'Occupy Sunnybrook.'

  3. Again a great job..
    The orange and white wicker set,
    its looking cool...

    Kind regards,

  4. Iris, it's been a true inspiration, gorgeous sunroom.Very clever arrangement, Rosanna

  5. What wonderful ideas. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Hello Iris March!
    Love the idea of a "Butler's Pantry". Even though you say small, you were able to get many great things into the space. Love the "Greenhouse" window in the sunroom side and the light finishes you chose. Well done!
    Also, thank you for adding pictures of all the Dollshouses on the side bar. They all look wonderful and I don't know how in the world you were able to do so many. Looking forward to continued peeks at what you do!
    Warm wishes from Ray

  7. Good morning Iris!
    I think the rooms look perfect. Great idea using the acrylic devider. It might not be exactly what you wanted, but the small butlers area looks functional and in many houses, even the great big ones, people did not want to sacrifice too much space for the servants. THe elevator was a great idea and i think the floor tiles look very realistic. Once again you did a terrific job. Just beautiful.

  8. Hi Iris, This room looks fun, I like the extended window, filled with plants, I've seen some houses here in the UK with similar style balcony windows.

    The furniture you've chosen adds real character to the room too.

    The butler's hall is inspired, and a lift to get to the kitchen very clever thinking!

    I like the kitchen too, it's full of life!

    Andy x

  9. Wow, so many wonderful comments about our sunroom and hall. It’s nice to know that you all don’t think that is “squashed” looking.

    It is rather amusing that we purposely built a large house and then ended up with a problem trying to get a decent size sunroom and butler’s pantry. Well, I guess “cozy” size is good, too! I guess trying to get around problems does stretch the brain and cause headaches, but actually resolving them is a good feeling.

    I’m glad the pictures of our dollhouses on the blog look OK. Unfortunately, I am using the “old template” and I don’t have much room. I keep thinking of trying to change to one of the new templates but I am deathly afraid of somehow destroying my blog. Know anyone who has done it successfully?

    John: “Occupy Sunnybrook” !!!! I fell over with laughter with your comment!

    Well, it’s after 5pm here so I think it’s time for a drink.
    Cheers, my friends!

  10. I've got a million of them, Iris!

    I think I'll join you in a little drinky, darling!

    Cheers, ma chérie,

  11. Hi Iris! You are SO Inventive! The Bay window is Perfect! And the Elevator is inspired! I am always glad that the mini worlds don't have to ACTUALLY work!!! Sometimes the Suggestion is enough! And I think that we ALWAYS get more ideas After we start the project.... requiring the retro-fitting! I had to add buttresses to my Castle Dollhouse once I realized that No-one would be happy with No "Bathrooms"!
    I look forward to seeing more!