and Tutu too.

and Tutu too.
2nd Floor of my ballet studio townhouse.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The In-the-round Dollhouse

After a six-month hiatus from all things dollhouse due to settling into our new apartment in Miami Beach, I'm back in the game.   I just completed a dollhouse rehab for a client, who had picked up this unusual dollhouse and wanted to use it for her feng shui workshops.  It is a two-story round dollhouse that is open, with a handle on the top to turn it around.   Emma the cat checks it out.

In process:

Another company, Eagle, put out a similar type round dollhouse in the 1950s-60s which was made of tin.  This particular one is made out of particle board and plastic.  There is a label on it but unfortunately part of it is torn away so I can't make out the name of the dollhouse or the manufacturer, only that it was made in Seattle.  Any guesses?

The client wanted a neutral palette.  She had several bags of plastic Renwal 1:16 furniture to go along with the house, so I did my best to come up with wall and floor coverings that would work with the furniture colors.   The downstairs has a foyer/entryway, kitchen, and living room:

I tiled the floor in the entryway.  The staircase was set in there solidly so I did a white swirl paint on the walls and added a tile surround to the doorways to pull in the colors from the floor for a true neutral pallette.  I added frames to all the doors throughout the dollhouse.

I put in a popsicle stick floor for the living room over what was threadbare red 'carpet'.  I left the wall color as is, as it was a nice beige color and in good shape.

The kitchen furniture was an off-white color, so I put in a new floor, beige wall coverings and a few coffee stirrer sticks for a border.

The second floor houses a master bedroom, child's bedroom, bathroom and bonus room.  The bathroom was the most fun.  It was originally this, the second floor room with the red floor and the two pieces of red painted wood attached to the wall:

Now it is this:

Painted it a silver color, added a wainscotting effect to the bottom part of the wall with paint and sticks, framed the doorway, used mini cupcake holders for the scallop above the door with a Miami Beach shell in the middle:

I added this new removable flooring but also painted the floor beneath it white for a more muted look as desired.

In these last two pics above you can see into the second floor hallway that adjoins the rooms.  I left the red carpet intact but re-papered the walls and framed the doors.

The master bedroom.   The furniture to go with this is beige and dark brown.  The original walls were green and in good shape, so I decided to leave them, and added this cool flooring which matched the furniture and walls, and framed the doorways.

The children's room has lots of blue and pink plastic furniture, and originally had blue walls, but I decided to go with a more neutral palette with this very sweet dollhouse wallpaper with a border I had purchased a few years ago, and a new floor - it originally had threadbare dark blue 'carpet' underneath.

One of the challenges with this dollhouse rehab was the flimsiness of the original materials.  The top floor rooms were all out of their 'grooves' in the ceiling and I couldn't quite get the joins together in the rehab.  There was a very real danger of destroying the dollhouse trying to fix it, so I was more conservative in fixing it than I would be with one of my own dollhouses..  You can see it the most in this room where the right wall meets the center wall, but once you have the furniture in it should not be obvious.

 There is a bonus room on the second floor which could be used as a sitting room, another bedroom, a meditation room, etc.  I covered it with this lovely blue textured wallpaper and a flooring made from vinyl shelf covering that matched the wallpaper perfectly.

You can also see above the room the new terrace/deck I created with cork 'flooring' and a picket fence.

A few last views:

This was a lot of fun to work on, and I hope it helps out the client with her workshops!  Now back to the Key West dollhouse.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

It's So Sad When the Houses Sell

In anticipation of our upcoming relocation to South Florida, and not knowing what kind of space we are moving into - and how much space - I've been selling off some dollhouses over the past few months.  Gone to new owners are the Hofco Country Manor with Extension, the Real Good Toys Foxhall Manor, The Artply Granville, The LeMoyne House, the Fred & Ginger House, the Lundby Stockholm....and I've donated the Lasertech Designs Beachfront Bungalow to my local arts organization - they are raffling it off as part of the "Noisy Paintbox" art show this month.

They have all gone to new owners that will love and cherish them...but it's still sad to see them go.

Hofco Victorian Classic

Finally getting around to demo-ing this Hofco  Victorian Classic.   Janie Rose claims it for her own.

I'm inspired to paint it somewhat like this really cool retail building on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, Florida, one of my favorite towns.  I will probably make this into an arts building.

Continuing work on the Key West House (Hofco Americana early model)

After a long hiatus while I was selling some dollhouses (more on that later) and dealing with real life stuff, I've started work again on the Hofco Americana  "Key West" house.  This is going to be a house based in Key West that is owned by a famous jazz guitarist and his singer-songwriter wife - probably based just a little bit on my friends Tuck and Patti, great performers - check out their website at

Recent work included repainting the porch floors, making the holes for the electrical, and starting on the living room floor, which is simply oaktag with music note stickers all over it.  

Trying it out in the room with some of the instruments.

You've heard of the cats of Key West - here's Emma exploring.  "MY house".

 This weekend I hope to work on the ceiling light for the living room, which will be handmade.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Superlative Dollhouses Backstory (The San Franciscan Townhome - Ballet Studio dollhouse)

I received this message today.  It's wonderful to hear the stories of the designers of the dollhouses.  See this link below to see the house she is referring to:

"Every once in a while, I google Superlative Doll House(s). Today I got a hit. You might wonder why. My father was the person behind superlative doll houses. Started in the 1970's from our house. He did the designs at our kitchen table. Someone else did the big cutting for us, but everything else was done at home. So happy to see one out in circulation. We have several of the doll house fronts amongst the family (smaller wall versions), and I have one SF victorian like this one. Good luck selling it. As I said, you have made my day!   You may certainly share the info. Based on the address on the sticker this one was actually probably made between 1979 and 1980, give or take a few months. We worked out of our home in Los Altos from 1973-74 until about 1979 when someone (maybe in our neighborhood) 'ratted us out' to the town and it had to be moved. There was another move in 1980 ish to another location after the Weddell Dr. site (my brother and I are trying to work out the actual dates). My father had the killer work ethic/pride and had been laid off. Went to the local hobby store and was astounded at the crappy doll houses that were being offered, thought, I could do that, and off we went. We started out making houses and some furniture, switched to just houses and went from there. There are other models that we did, but this was by far the most popular/recognized. We have the Better Homes and Gardens (I think) magazine cover that it was in as part of the cover shoot, and one was in an episode of Murder She Wrote (something was hidden in the doll house). Unfortunately, the downturn in the economy in the early 80s hit the miniatures collectors market hard and that combined with the cost of a separate location led to doing other woodwork and eventually the demise of 'Superlative'. The name was my father's idea too. He actually used it while we were grown up - sometimes seriously and sometimes in fun, but it was what he wanted them to be. I am hoping that somewhere we still have at least one of the drawings he did. My brother posted about this on facebook yesterday for TBT and it has been fun to have all the old friends/neighbors chiming in. – Joanne "

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Completed Fred & Ginger Art Deco Bungalow (alessio miniatures bungalow bash)

I spent this weekend finishing up on the bash of the Alessio Miniatures Bungalow house, which I have turned into an art deco Fred and Ginger type suite.  I love them, love their movies and wanted to pay homage to some of their sets.  I wanted to wait till I had a more rounded dollhouse, but if not now, when?  This two room dollhouse seemed perfect to have a Hollywood cabana like feel.

Here are some pics of sets from the Fred and Ginger movies from RKO in the 1930's:

 I was inspired by this round bed for my dollhouse.

  I love the colors of white, black, silver.

 Many furniture pieces were up on platforms.

Love the curves of the Art Deco period.

I used the Alessio miniatures Bungalow kit to start:
The Bungalow, #830
A one room bungalow, with an attic sleeping room, like the ones out
east on Long Island in the early 40s. It measures 18" wide by 15" deep by 19" tall.
Comes with windows and door.
Retail   $154.00

Although for some weird reason my floor divider did not have an opening for a staircase, nor a set of stairs.  So I used another set of stairs and cut a hole for the staircase.

My husband then built a foundation/front porch for the house to extend it.

Here's the exterior my dollhouse:

I love the design of the windows and doors - very Craftsman.  They are painted irridescent silver (Golden Acrylics).  I added some battery mini-lights under the overhang as well as some silver beads.  The front "clamshells" are plastic pieces from a Darice Seashell lights.  I removed the "seashells",added a rhineston beading on the bottom and glued them to a white 'brick' which was then glued to the porch floor.  I wanted a surrealistic Hollywood cabana type look.

I'm just a rhinestone cowboy when it comes to side trim.

 The trim on this side covers up the wires from the battery pack.

 Looking inside to the living room.  The door does open and close.

Full interior shot.  On top is a picture of Fred and Ginger from Follow the Fleet.

Ground floor.  The furniture is not attached to the floor and can be moved around.  Eventually I'd like to add a white or acrylic grand piano, and a bar.

Fred has been in the room - his top hat and cane lie atop the coffee table (which is a coaster glued to several acrylic squares.)  A framed picture of a Fred and Ginger dance and some champagne flutes are also on the coffee table.

I've been saving the chaise lounge for a while.  It's perfect for this bungalow, don't you think?

I painted the stairs white with a silver bannister and added the stair riser decoration - those are brads picked up at Michael's Craft Stores.  I removed the 'brad' part on the back and glued them into place.

 Another sofa I've been saving for this house.  Removed the feet, and glued together two acrylic circles for a platform effect.  The light is one of those acrylic table placeholders for a placecard - instead mine clasps a mirror ball to imitate a floor lamp.

The ground floor uses two battery-powered tap-on lights.  I painted the rim silver, attached rhinestones to the bottom part.  They can easily be unscrewed to replace the batteries.

 2nd floor.  The circular bed, made from cardboard, duct tape, double-stick tape, a headband, and fabric.  I made the white pillows with the lace ruffles on the side - the other pillows were an Ebay miniatures find.

A string of crystal beads hands down over the bedroom suite.  another tap-on light is under the eaves.  It swivels.

 Acrylic gate around the stair hole, and a full-length mirror.  Plenty of room to add a chair or desk if you like.

 The bedroom vanity.  A chair, made from a faucet tap cover and thread spool, covered with glass and rhinestones.  The table, acrylic squares, rhinestones, and plastic feet.  A custom-made mirror hangs on the wall above it.

Below are some closer looks at the furniture pieces in the house:

The house devoid of furnishings.

Happy art deco-ing to you!