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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Monday, April 2, 2012

Interior Design- Housekeeper Suite: Sunnybrook Farm

The housekeeper's bedroom--to rest after a day's work.
This is the housekeeper’s bedroom, one of the rooms in the “quiet spot” for staff members. The rooms include a sitting room, a bathroom, and two general purpose rooms, a laundry room and a storage room. Some of these rooms are still “not entirely” finished.

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

The ground level has 9 inch ceilings.

The earlier post Kitchen, Larder, and Wine Cellar  started the ground floor chronicles. This post describes the rooms away from the main hustle and bustle.

The Sitting Room: 
The sitting room.

The sitting room is 14 x 10 inches.

Any of the staff can find respite here: Maggie, Molly, and John MacGregor as well as Dinah and Fred. The Titchmarsh brothers: Giuseppe and Luigi, who are in charge of the landscaping, are always welcome and do come, but worry about their outdoor clothes messing up the room. Actually, the Titchmarsh brothers and Fred often relax in his workshop since they all work out-of-doors at lot.

As usual, this is a casually-appointed room: sofa and comfortable chairs made for collapsing into, TV and music to soothe, books to read, and a soft but tough carpet to withstand abuse. We found the sofa and matching chair in a dollhouse shop and then looked for items that fit in here and there. I am considering changing the carpeting. It never stays flat and I didn’t want to glue it down lest the glue show through.

The wall paper is scrapbook paper.

Also, I think a ceiling light would be nice and then I could put the second table lamp on a table! (It was never to stay on top the china cabinet, but as with real homes, a “temporary” spot often becomes permanent!)

Small crown moulding will be put in place.

--The Staff:
 Dinah Mullins, Giuseppe and Luigi Titchmarsh, Molly, Maggie, and John MacGregor, and Fred Mullins.
As you can see from their names, the staff is a family affair.

The Laundry Room:
Laundry room.
The laundry room is 6 x 10 inches.

For anyone in desperate need of clean clothes, the laundry is available with washer and dryer, a big sink for serious cleanup, and a drying rack for “drip-dry”. The drying rack is from DHE ; the other items from HBS.

This room also serves general household cleaning needs.

The laundry room linoleum floor is scrapbook paper sealed with two light coats of acrylic semi-gloss gel medium.

The Storage Room:
What to store in this 9 x 8 inch room?

The rear door goes to the housekeeper’s bedroom and bath, so perhaps the storage area should be walled off with a door to it. My sister thought this area could be for dry-goods, but we haven’t made up our minds. We have some nice steamer trunks that could be stored here. To be decided… 
Storage room for ????
 The bathroom:
Cheerful bathroom
The bathroom is 6 x 8 inches.

We put this room together after the bedroom was wired and wallpapered. No way was I going to cut into all of that to make a real doorway! Thus the door you see “goes” to the bedroom but is a faux door. The bedroom doesn’t even have a faux door. I debated about that but I decided that since you can’t see the bedroom and the bathroom at the same time, I wouldn’t glue one on the bedroom wall. My sister thought my reasoning was weird!

The bathroom is small and cheerful—a nice place to take a soothing bath. The walls are white and the door is yellow because when we decided on a faux door, I remembered that we had a leftover one in our stash. It was already painted bright yellow so it added a nice touch of color.

The furnishings also came from our stash.

The tile floor is scrapbook paper sealed with two light coats of acrylic semi-gloss gel medium.

The bathroom needs a few more finishing touches such as a ceiling light, a robe hanging on the door, and a shower head—of course then we will need a shower rod and curtain too!

The Housekeeper’s Bedroom:
Housekeeper's bedroom.
The bedroom is 15 x 14 inches.

Close the door here and Fred and Dinah close the world away. Sometimes one just has to be left alone!
Fred and Dinah "want to be alone"!
The lower walls are wallpapered from a book of authentic Victorian designs, Victorian Decorative Papers by Muncie Hendler. They are nice but small sheets. The upper walls are plain white. The door is stained MinWax Colonial Maple with two coats of MinWax gloss polyurethane.

Once again, the furnishings are things we picked up here and there but do make a cozy room. The chenille spread is made from a (new and clean) wash cloth and looked good to us. The brown rug was actually picked for this room and I think perhaps a colorful small rug should go in the sofa area.


There are two more work rooms on this floor: Fred’s workshop and the sewing room. Both are far from complete so I don’t know when they will be ready for viewing! But I did just buy Fred a table saw and he is very excited about this purchase.


  1. They have definitely more space than I have in my real flat!!
    So ggod till now :o)) Rosanna

  2. Iris! Sunnybrook Farm just goes on and on! It's astounding. The servant's areas have a very home-y feeling.

    I totally 'get' your bathroom door reasoning. In dollhouses, you have to be willing, as in the theater, or at the movies even, to 'suspend belief,' to some extent. In my house, the stairway goes to nowhere, but I think (hope)! the eye fills in where the steps leave off.

    Fred is so lucky to get a new table saw --I'm jealous!

    Well, bottoms up! Lol, it's 5:00 AM! All the same: Cheers, my dear!

  3. All COOL! Could you try double sided tape or spray adhesive for the carpet? I use a lot of Tack It Over by Alleens, but that's hard to get off if you ever want to make changes.

  4. Good morning Iris,
    I just love it when I sign in and see you have put up a new post. The rooms look beutiful. Your house is so well thought out...nothing is missing for it to run like a real home.
    First off I think the scrapebook papaer looks terrific. The door that leads to nowhere is a great idea. I think miniature houses are all about illusion. If everything looks right when you look at it then I think "cheating" is perfectly acceptable, and often necessary.
    I love the way you furnish your rooms. Everything works so well together...but the one item in these pictures that I really love is the looks beautiful!
    You should be VERY proud of your work Iris. It looks beautiful and is a great source of inspiration to me and many other. Great work!
    Big hugs,

  5. Thanks, all for your nice comments.

    Rosanna -- the nice thing about doing minis is that it is so easy to give them at lot of room. In real life, we have a problwm!

    John -- I'm glad you like the homey look--it's certainly fun and relaxing (except when the electricity doesn't work). It just dawned on me that I need some bar stools for the bar -- I guess the little people are used to drinking standing up!

    Karolyn -- I use a lot of that glue but I didn't think of it for the carpet. It's great glue, but as you said, it does come with a removal problem.

    Giac--Glad you like to "start" your day at Sunnybrook. The ground floor worked out well -- giving the feeling that we wanted for it. I love faux doors-- they and other faux items really add a lot where anything else could not work out. Thanks about the bedspread--that was definitely a fun item.

    Cheers and lots of hugs to you all.

  6. Judith (RavensWing)April 4, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    I love your housekeeper’s suite. The detail is fantastic, right down to the little slippers at the side of the bed. I peeked at the other rooms, I love them, and I have a ton of questions. First, did you draw the floor plan yourself or did the pic come with the house? The drying rack is wonderful, and something that I’ve only seen in photos or films of homes in the UK. Love how you let the flooring run up the wall so it becomes the baseboard. I haven’t seen that since I was a kid, but that sure is the way it used to be done. I love grandma and grandpa having a lie down in the bedroom, especially him with his book. And is that bedspread what I think it is? If it is, I won’t give away the secret here, but if it is…that’s ingenious, perfect size, and wish I’d thought of it. Love that you didn’t overdo as we sometimes do when we find all those little goodies. Raise your hand if you’re guilty – (consider mine raised). It looks lived in, like a real home. Reading further into the blog I see that my old eyes haven’t failed me, it is a washcloth! As you can tell I’m not that good with the obvious, (obvious has to hit me in the head a few times before I see it) I would have searched forever for fabric, or a ready-made spread, I never would have thought of that.

  7. Thanks, Judith, for your comments. It's nice that you caught some of my "throwback" touches. The ideas for the rooms for this floor are all about being comfy and homey and somewhat nostalgic. I haven't seen a drying rack in years, but my maternal grandparents had one, so I had to have one and found this at the Dolls House Emporium (UK).

    I like using wash/dish cloths for things -- especially the inexpensive ones because the thinner material drapes well for minis. I also found that the "proper" trouser sock (new and clean) patterned section makes very nice fisherman knit sweaters! It's amazing the amount of "real-world" items that can be modified to give the illusion of something "mini".

    Sunnybrook Farm is a scratch-built house built by my husband, my sister, and me. I drew the floor plans and then we built.

    Thanks again for the comments.

  8. Hi Iris! Sorry I am so Late to comment! (I have been a Little Pre-occupied!)
    I really like the contrast between the Upstairs and Downstairs worlds in this house! These rooms look more like what we are ALL familiar with LOL! Your staff has plenty of room! I agree with you that doors don't have to be real.... but ..... I always wish they would open! Just like I WISH all my mini books were Really printed! LOL!
    I'm looking forward to seeing the workshop...!

  9. Hi Iris,

    You have been busy, every thing looks wonderful and i can't believe how many lovely items you have collected and made. I love that you have a whole story of people for your house. The bathroom does look fresh - a lovely place to take a bath and relax, and the bedroom looks really cosy.

    Fantastic work!

    ML Fi x

  10. Just found your wonderful blog and I will be back soon to have a good look round : D Love these rooms.
    Hugs Maria