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, December 9, 2013

Santa Claus is coming to town ... ho, ho, ho

Eat, drink, and be merry!
I have been doing very little with the Montclaire – real life has a hold on me for the rest of the year—this time of year is very hectic.

I have been try to figure out what, and then how to do whatever I should do for the Montclaire front exterior. I have some things, such as the bricking, worked out, but the window and the porch designs are a little “iffy” right now. Well, that’s a next year project! No sense doing something today if you can put it off until tomorrow!
I have managed to get the party underway and everyone seems to be having a good time and the house looks very festive.

~~Pictures of the Montclaire party:
Dining room
Living room
Music room
Game room

~~We have added another dollhouse video to YouTube:

… Hawthorne’s Rare Books …


May your holidays be the merriest of merry for you all, and may Santa make all your dreams come true.

Many hugs and kisses from my family to yours.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Montclaire House & other laggards

Grumble, grumble, grumble …

Well, this year is too rapidly rushing into the holiday season and then it will be New Year’s Eve and there I will come face to face with the resolutions of 2013 that didn’t happen. For example, Montclaire House was supposed to be a one-year project! Unfortunately, with my “this way, that way life”, most things don’t make the deadline!

I did promise the Leaphorns that they could have a Christmas party—and they will—but it will be in a house under construction … oh well …. I will get the kitchen finished and the bar stocked so everyone can party on.

The other area that I was going to get done was to finish up all the loose ends in the houses that needed them. I did get some things moving along, but only for the Wells House: the Original Rowbottom Manse and the Rumford’s 2004 Oddjob Lane. Others still on the list are Sunnybrook Farm (started in spring 2001 no less!), La Malcontenta, MacPherson Farm, Abigail’s Teashop & Bakery, and Casa Lobo.

Fortunately, due to its size, only Sunnybrook needs the most things done—if I would just concentrate on doing one house at a time… The problem is that I get all these wonderful ideas for a different house and off I run hither, thither, and yon!

~~At least we had a wedding—
Max de Winter (Toad Hall) finally popped the question and he and his long-time girlfriend Emmeline di Pietro got married this summer. It was a beautiful wedding at Toad Hall amid the flower gardens. I cried and threw rice and had a wonderful time.

A summer wedding amid the flowers.
Finally, the happy day!!!

Montclaire House—
~~The addition
The addition is coming along and is much larger than the official RGT Montclair 2-story-with-attic addition. I finally decided on the roof line–sloping in front only, and a flat roof with a railing. Now that I could plan the attic room, I couldn’t come up with any room that I wanted, but since I had room, I should do something!

Finally, a FINAL decision for the addition attic!
The addition is taking forever and Joe is still trying to get a cup of coffee!
 ~~ Decision: Bathroom and an Office
The rooms will be simple and I won’t have to buy anything for them since there is still a ton of stuff that I inherited with the house. The back wall of the rooms will have clerestory windows; the bathroom will have a window on the exterior wall. The roof will have a wide front dormer window.

Narrow rooms, but I think it will work out. (Photo crooked, not house!)
~~The kitchen
The room is 12” x 18” X 9“.

The kitchen is finished except for the lights and the endless amount of small items that kitchens need.

This was my first experience with putting together the DIY cabinets sold by HBS—not my greatest accomplishment. At the end, they looked ok but what a job getting there. I have put together House of Miniatures furniture and was pleased with those experiences, but not with this brand. Fortunately, I only had to do the stove top with cabinet and the wall oven. The rest of the cabinets, appliances, and table and chairs came “put-together”! I think they are Concord but the sink looks like a custom-made item.
The flooring is a vinyl tile sheet from HBS. The wallpaper is Dutch Tile by Jackson Miniatures (UK). The window is made by the late, much lamented Timberbrook company. It really is a vertical window but I made it into a faux horizontal sliding window which fit perfectly over the sink. The trim and the “split” door are from HBS.

The kitchen with a window to look out to see the sunshine while doing the dishes!

~~The Guest Bedroom
The room is 12” x 18” X 9“.

I took the color scheme for the bedroom from the bed linens on the designated guest bedroom bed. The furniture is vintage Shackman except for the vintage Sonia Messer chair.

The carpet is Seafoam Green from Mini Graphics. I love the green wallpaper but the pattern just over-powered the room so I used white-on-white stripe wallpaper for the "wainscot”. I think the wallpapers are New Creations. The window is made by the late, much lamented Timberbrook company. The crown mouldings, the chair rail, and the door are from HBS.

Lighting is to be done.

The guest bedroom

We have another dollhouse video on YouTube:

....... 2004 Oddjob Lane .....

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Montclaire House - Library update & other things

The Library - some new comments and photos

The Bespaq revolving library table—
I found this wonderful table on eBay. The only setback was that the room for the books on the shelves required books that were smaller than I had on hand. Thus I had to make a few dozen custom-sized books! I don't mind making books, just not a lot of them at once, but since I wanted to see table AND books, I had no choice.

A closer look at the "custom" bookcase
As I mentioned previously, this a combination of the best parts of two commercial bookcases from HBS. I turned the not-so-exciting bottom into a nicer piece of furniture by adding some narrow trim to "make" drawers and doors. The handles are just jewelry findings, the raised panels are wood wainscot panels #326 from HBS.

To light the books directly, I installed three wall sconces (#2541) from HBS. The room has a 3-Arm Inverted Tulip Chandelier (#78512) from HBS, also.

Finding chairs to complement the Bespaq sofa—
Bespaq did make club chairs to match the sofa, but the material has been discontinued and Bespaq had none, thus no matching chairs. (In retrospect, this was a good thing.) This was a setback because I had wanted that red brocade sofa and that red and gold wallpaper!

I looked at a lot of chairs and none looked right. I also insisted that the chairs look comfortable—the kind a person could fall into with a good book and read or daydream. Finally, I looked at the Bespaq Monticello Campeachy chairs (from HBS) once again and EUREKA— I don't know why I discarded them in the first place! The black upholstery and walnut wood go perfectly in that very distinctive room.


The Addition—

The addition is on the dining room side. It has one room per floor: kitchen, guest bedroom, and an unknown room, perhaps a bathroom.

The kitchen and guest bedroom are coming along nicely, albeit slowly as I have not been doing to much "mini-ing", but have been caught up in real life stuff.

Main house and addition

More on this next time.

We have added more videos on YOUTUBE
...............................Badger's Hollow...........................

..................................  Toad Hall ........................................

We hope you like them!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Montclaire House - Party on dude!

The Game Room
I have been working on the attic rooms in the main house (when I have been working on minis). The attic has two rooms: a game room and a music room.
The main house attic rooms
The stairs to the attic are boxed in and the doors to the rooms are off the “attic hallway” (unseen and non-existent).

The Game Room
I wasn’t sure how this room was going to develop until I thought of the Bespaq Bar and two chairs. After I saw the price, I still wasn’t sure how this room was going to develop. Then fortune smiled. I found one on eBay with a starting price of $99.00! I bid $101 and I won it! For some reason, it wasn’t popular that day. I couldn’t believe my luck.
Bespaq bar
It was also a good thing that I had decided to bash the attic into a large area with 9 inch ceilings since the bar is 6 x 6 x 8 ½ inches tall! Actually, I always expand the attic on kits as they are always too small and unrealistic if you want to place any furniture.
The expanded attic.
I wasn’t sure what to do for the walls until I remembered a real house exotic wallpaper border remnant that I had. The remnant wasn’t very long thus it was a good thing that I didn’t need to put any behind the bar. The “solid” real house wallpaper at the front ends of the room is just a soft beige-white swirl texture. The rest of the room just fell into place with the other furnishings that came with the house.

The Game Room--just need to install the lights and stock the bar.
The HBS Palladian double door will have stained glass windows as will the upper “windows” on the bar.

The floor is Random Plank from HBS and the “baseboard” is basswood stripwood.

The floor and the wood trim are stained MinWax Puritan Pine and varnished.
I just have to install the lights and stock the bar and then the parties can begin!

The Music Room
Music Room, some day
I have lots of furnishings and musical instruments, but need inspiration for placement.

I am thinking of a soft, muted pinkish multi-color wallpaper (don’t know the brand or name). The muted pattern reminds me of music by Debussy—if that makes any sense!
Wallpaper "something" like this
I think I’ll use a soft rose or white carpet on the floor, or maybe just wood flooring … still thinking.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Montclaire House -- Meet the Owners

Who lives at Montclaire House?
It took quite a while before I had an inkling of the family who lived in this house. Usually, we build knowing all sorts of details about the “little people”. This was building in the dark.
Finally, a thought came by way of a friend—“a retired, elder-statesman couple whose children are grown and off somewhere”.  As I was going through Ellen Scofield’ s (Ellensworld) catalog for an elder statesman couple, I fell in love with her N.A.Chief and New Miss Pitty Pat porcelain doll kits which I then purchased, put together, and dressed. I knew immediately that they were my couple, but how did they fit in?
But how do they fit into Montclaire House?
Then I remembered how much I loved the late Tony Hillerman’s mystery novels concerning the Navajo in and around the Four Corners area. Thus the husband became Joe Leaphorn (Navajo Tribal Policeman in the book)—except that this Joe Leaphorn is the Director of the Museum of the American Indian 
Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian
t the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and resides in Georgetown with his wife Louisa Montclaire Leaphorn, director of the Ethnographic Collections.

Well, they are not a “retired” elder-statesman couple but otherwise a good fit for the house. From experience, I know that keeping a museum running smoothly (and surviving the process) certainly requires the same elder-statesman-like abilities that running governments require. Some of Louisa’s family were statesmen, and they did live in this house, and the furnishings in the “public” rooms have “always” been there (and have scars to show). Joe’s family have been elder statesmen also—helping to maintain the well-being of the Navajo “res” internally and versus US bureaucracy when necessary, and keeping the Navajo culture alive.
One thing nice about houses that are passed down through generations is that one can furnish “with impunity”. Things don’t all have to match; they just have to have been loved. I did keep the foyer and the living and dining rooms  “as they always have been” as befitting this couple who do a lot of entertaining in the interests of getting resources for the museum and smoothing ruffled feathers.
Louisa and Joe’s children are grown and have left the nest (thank heavens).

Louisa Patricia Montclaire and Joseph Henry Leaphorn: Biographical Information ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 Montclaire House has been in the Montclaire family since it was built by Benjamin Montclaire
when he became Woodrow Wilson’s (1912-1920) Under Secretary of State. It eventually passed on to Louisa’s father Gilbert.  Gilbert, his wife Evangeline,
and their daughter Louisa are prominent Wyoming natives who became Washington-based when Gilbert was elected US Senator and then later when he became Secretary of the Interior. They have always considered Wyoming “home” though.
Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, state of many awesome landscapes.
Louisa preferred the “west” and went to the University of Wyoming and majored in Geology with a minor in Anthropology. She loved studying dinosaurs but at some point she realized that studying indigenous cultures was more interesting—you could talk to the present-day practitioners! Ever try talking to a dinosaur? She stayed at Wyoming for her doctorate, but changed direction and concentrated on anthropology and archaeology. After graduation, she talked to people at the Smithsonian (her favorite museums) to see what help she could be and was delighted when they offered her a grant for ethnographic studies of southwestern cultures!
Joe’s parents are Anna
and Henry
He was raised on the reservation where his parents still live. His early education was “modern”, taught in English by Navajo and non-Navajo. Since his parents speak both Navajo and English, he does too. He thinks of himself as a realist like his father the “legendary lieutenant” of the Navajo Tribal Police (his father rolls his eyes when he hears that phrase, but the family just laughs). He has learned the culture (mostly from his mother), respects it, and works to preserve it, but he also lives in, what he says is the “real world”: a combination of Navajo and non-Navajo ideologies.
The Navajo Nation
From early on he was fascinated by the Anasazi culture and its disappearance. He dreamed of going to college to become an archaeologist specializing in Southwestern cultures. He did very well in school and received a scholarship from the University of Arizona. There he received a BA in anthropology and then a PhD.  He was living his dream! His parents were thrilled for him, but his mother worried a little that he might somehow drift away.  But this wasn’t so—he still came back to help out anybody at anytime. Of course, that blue-eyed, non-Indian ethnographer from the Smithsonian (Louisa somebody?) who was so enthusiastic about the Navajo, helped seal his fate.
They meet

With her grant from the Smithsonian, Louisa went to the University of Arizona looking for native people who would like to be part of her ethnographic studies to be exhibited at the Smithsonian. This led to a meeting with archaeologist Joe Leaphorn whose mother Anna was a modern “traditionalist” heavily involved in Navajo culture and whose father was Henry Leaphorn, the “legendary lieutenant” of the Navajo Tribal Police. Henry considered himself a realist who while not as culturally knowledgeable as his wife, realized that Navajo tradition permeated everything and had to be considered.

Joe’s extended family, capably “directed” by his grandmother Emma Chee

had access to oral and written histories; and his parents could offer insights into the “past vs. present “ conundrum. This was quite a find for Louisa who then decided to concentrate on the Navajo. And as these things sometimes go, before long Joe and Louisa found time to concentrate on each other. He fell into her big, blue eyes and was knocked over by her enthusiasm for her project; she thought he had the most wonderful smile and easy laughter and was knocked over by his enthusiasm for his project!

When Louisa’s parents retired, they gave Montclaire House to her. This thrilled Louisa since by then she and Joe were married, and both were working for the Smithsonian--dividing their time between Washington and the Four Corners area. Louisa’s parents moved back to their Wyoming ranch.

Joe’s parents are retired also and still live on the reservation,

and although they visit Washington, they really do enjoy visiting Wyoming!

Before long, all of Joe’s and Louisa’s dedication was rewarded and they became well-respected members of the Smithsonian and earning them elder-statesman status!
Somewhere in their hectic lifestyle, they raised two children: Henry
and Bernadette (sorry, camera-shy).

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Montclaire House creeps forward ...

Library--almost completed
I know that it has been a dog's age since I posted, but the days have just been tumbling by here and I haven't been getting as much done with the dollhouse as I had planned. I had hoped to finish it by year's end, but I don't think that's going to happen ... Oh well, another missed deadline!

Also, just when things were calming down and I started again, I came down with a throat infection and a cough, etc. Then as I was taking the antibiotic, I developed a reaction to it! The medicine was changed, but now I had to recover from the infection and now also from the adverse effects of the first antibiotic!

Life is never simple …


The following rooms did manage to get some things done—not finished, but at least some progress.

The Library--
The room is 13 x 18 with 10" ceiling.

The fireplace (Concord), the sofa, wallpaper, rug, crown moulding, wood for flooring, and the interior door came with the house, but it still needed quite a bit of furnishings.

Also, I had a dry spell for a while with the Library. It’s funny how I can have ideas in my head but just can’t make them work out. Part of the problem was the wallpaper that was specified to go into the library. It’s gorgeous paper but not wallpaper—it’s printed on glossy magazine stock! I don’t think that wallpaper should be glossy but I was willing to live with that if the paper didn’t have a problem being handled! It creases easily (and the creases don’t come out), it rips, and the color comes off on your hands when you try to smooth out the pasted paper! Yuk!!! The wallpaper is “Gold Peacocks on Red” from HBSgorgeous in the package, but deadly as wallpaper!
Wallpaper and tears...
I bought the triple bookshelf from HBS (#5011) and stained it MinWax Provincial. It looked ok but a little “blah”, so I gave it a coat of MinWax Golden Pecan. This brought it to life. Then it got 2 coats of MinWax Satin varnish with sanding between coats. I didn’t want to use up floor space in the room for the bookcase, so I cut a hole in the back wall so I could push the bookcase flush with the interior wall.
Original bookcase
Now I still wasn’t happy with the back wall, the wallpaper didn’t look “right” and the bookcase looked too short for a room with 10” ceilings. So I adjusted the only thing possible –the bookcase. I bought another bookcase from HBS (#5009), the triple bookcase with the faux cabinet bottom. I cut off the “arched top” of the original and I am using the original one upside down.  I cut the faux cabinet off the bottom of the second cabinet and finished it to match the original and glued it as the new bottom of the original bookcase. Then I added some trim and knobs to the bottom to complete the look of faux drawers and cabinets.  Then I had to make the rear wall opening larger for the now 9-inch tall bookcase.
Combining these two made the "perfect" bookcase!!
The next problem was that the flooring decided to “unglue” here and there. So I had to redo the flooring. I sanded the flooring, stained it with MinWax Provincial, sanded it again, and varnished it with MinWax Semi-Gloss varnish. I just love having to do jobs twice! The flooring has an edging row of 1“ square Black Walnut parquet from Handley House and HBS Red Oak in the center.

The crown moulding is UM #UMM4 with a bottom strip of trim #4190 from HBS, both painted Delta Creamcoat Ivory.
The doorway to the addition (which will be a guest bedroom) is cased with trim #4191 from HBS.
The trim in the room is painted a red combo to be harmonious with the red background in the wallpaper. I could not duplicate that color, so I came up with a base coat of Americana Heritage Brick, and then while still wet, a coat of Delta Creamcoat Red Iron Oxide.
In between all the problems, we found happiness in finding lights and the rest of the furnishings for the library. Andrew can’t wait to shelve the books.
The problems this room had could bring a person to tears!

The Second Floor Hall—
Now came the careful and time-consuming fudging to make the circular staircase match up with its place in the second floor hall (all of 8 1/2” wide here!). Then it was pretty straight forward (but boring) to make the staircase and railings to the attic. The bullnose for the stairs is just front-rounded 1/8” square basswood. The staircase did not come with the holes drilled into the treads for the spindles, so I drilled my own: 1/8” deep with a 3/16” drill bit.
The flooring is HBS Random Plank, stained with Delta Creamcoat Walnut varnish (two coats) and varnished with MinWax Satin.
The arched window is an eBay find.
The wallpaper is vinyl, sand-color textured real house wallpaper. The crown molding is small detail trim from Home Depot and stained, yes, you guessed it: MinWax Provincial!
2nd floor hall
The Master Bedroom—
The room is 13 x 18 with 10” ceilings.
This room was pretty much set. I just had to glue the wallpaper (Mini-Graphics Raffina in pink), glue the crown moulding (painted Delta Creamcoat Magnolia White), lay down the carpet, and hinge the door. The crown moulding is interesting in that it mitered at the ends. It is sold by Dolls House Emporium. The loveseat is Bespaq but the rest if the furniture is Concord.
Master Bedroom


The Doors on the Second Floor—
The doors are HBS #6025 Traditional Block and Trim doors; I wanted to stain them dark walnut but I have not been able to get this wood to stain well so I painted the doors a combo of Delta Creamcoat Burnt Umber and Delta Creamcoat Walnut. I removed the doors’ pins and then hinged them with HBS #1131- H Hinges.

I am trying to get back to normal and I also want to make more YouTube videos ... good intentions ... we shall see ...