The Plan

by brae  

To help keep track of the ideas in my head, I created a simple mockup of the Newport as it stands currently (this is the third or fourth draft).  I do have a version that is more detailed, but this is the teaser page I am posting for now.  :D  I am still working out some ideas (and I am sure to continue doing so as I build and things turn out contrary to plan), but I don't want to give away all of the surprises just yet!

The first floor will have a study, living room, kitchen/dining room and a room to be announced later.  The second floor will have two bedrooms and a bathroom.  The third floor will have a sewing room, powder room and an art studio.

The last of the addition kits should be here shortly...I am very excited!  Now, who wants to join me and the cat for a glass of wine in the study?

Window upgrades

by brae  

The Newport kit came with window inserts with white lines printed on the acrylic.  Right away I planned to replace the window inserts with clear unlined plastic since I didn't like the look of the white lines.  Initially, I looked into getting working windows, and I loved the look of the Yorktown style by Houseworks.  There were two problems with replacing the existing windows with the Yorktown working windows.  First, the working windows fit an opening 1/2" deep.  The walls are 3/8" thick.  The gap would have to be addressed either on the inside or out.  Second, and more importantly, there was the cost of replacing 16 windows (including the 2-story addition).  Since I don't plan to sit around opening and closing the windows anyway and it is more about the overall look for me, I decided to go with a more economical solution.

I purchased Yorktown window pediments to use with the existing windows.  I then cut a piece of 1/8" x 1/4" scrap wood to fit the inner width of the window.  With the existing acrylic window inserted, I lined up the new mullion piece with the middle horizontal line on the acrylic.  I will also cut a mullion piece for the interior side of the acrylic.

click image to enlarge

Upgrading with the Yorktown window pediments was no problem for the main house windows, but the dormers are constructed with the pediment as part of the overall structure - not just placed on the exterior surface as decoration.  The Yorktown pediment is taller than the one that came in the kit, and this difference created a large gap between the top of the dormer walls and the dormer roof; it also pushed the peak of the dormer too close to the top edge of the mansard roof.  To fix this, I carefully disassembled the dormer windows and cut off the amount equal to the height difference between the pediments.  I then glued the window back together.  Since I planned to replace the acrylic anyway, it didn't matter that the provided insert no longer fit properly.

Good read before the build

by brae  

I've spent a lot of time online looking at what other miniaturists have done and have read quite a few tutorials on everything from making my own furniture to basic building and decorating techniques.  After a quick search on, I quickly discovered just how many books there are on the subject.  Since I really don't know what books I'll want to add to my collection permanently, I finally got around to signing up for a library card.  :]  My local library has a drive-up window and a bookmobile that stops right by my house once a week.  The library has certainly changed since the last time I visited!

I checked out five books that seemed promising, though only one was devoted exclusively to building and decorating techniques.  She used a number of houses with different features to illustrate her points, so it has universal application.  This is a "must read" for any dollhouse builder, but in my opinion you have to get to it before you do anything.

The ABC's of Dollhouse Finishing by Barbara Warner

One thing I especially liked was her commentary on windows in brick houses, that they are recessed into the brick and not installed on top the way windows are on a sided house.  Of course, then I found myself eyeing all the brick houses on the way to work and found she was right.  But, I also saw windows with cast stone surrounds that mimic the look of a 'regular' window.

I want a more realistic look to my dollhouse, but since the Newport is prefinished, there really isn't a way for me to recess the windows in the typical fashion and be able to match the exterior around the edges of the window.  I thought about installing the windows in reverse, making them flush with the outer wall, with the pediment and sill as finishing (this would have the decorative trim on the interior, which didn't look bad at all).

But, I like the decorative trim on the outside, so we'll just say they're cast stone.  ;]

The Newport

by brae  

Following the renovation of my childhood dollhouse, I got the bug for the hobby again.  I used to build model cars, though my specialty was to make them look like junkers (photos to come soon).  I had also started a large wood dollhouse kit probably twenty-some years ago, a Dura-Craft, but it was overwhelming to me at the time and many of the pieces just didn't cooperate with me.  :D

For this year's birthday, mom bought me a new kit to build: The Newport in brick by Real Good Toys.

I started planning before the kit even arrived, and I have some great ideas in mind.  I plan to add the two-story addition as well as another surprise addition (actually, I want to be sure I can accomplish it before I get ahead of myself and announce it here).

I've started with some of the preliminary work while I wait for certain pieces to arrive.  My plan is to eventually create a "build how-to" with photos, but I will share some tips along the way.  When I first started looking into this hobby, the wealth of other blogs out there inspired and helped me and I wish to return the favor.

My first impression is that this is a quality kit with some challenges, and fun, ahead.  The brick looked different from what I expected from the above kit photo, but it wasn't a disappointment.  It's a great color and texture.  I am going to stick close to the overall color scheme in the kit photo, but there will definitely be changes and upgrades.

So, now I wait eagerly for the UPS man to arrive so the real work can begin...

Flip that Dollhouse!

by brae  

This was my childhood dollhouse, and I renovated it so my mom could give it to my young cousin for her birthday.  It originally had loud wallpaper throughout, which I had painted over rather sloppily when I was younger. Most of the carpet throughout the house was stained.  I found some free printable wallpaper online (I love the internet) and ordered new carpeting from a dollhouse supply place (also online).  I had to prime most of the walls in the house since the paint was so dark, and I painted all of the ceilings white to brighten the rooms.  All the furniture shown was purchased on eBay before I realized this house was not 1:12 scale - ah well.  :D  click images to enlarge

The house had electric originally, but the transformer was long gone and the wiring was old – so we decided to make it a non-electric dollhouse.  I removed the stairs and plugged the transformer hole with heavy cardboard (there had been a plain paper patch) before wallpapering and new carpeting was put in.  I also used double-sided tape instead of paste to install the wallpaper just in case the family wanted to work on the electric in the future.

Entrance Before

Entrance After


Yes, that orange carpet is original.  Apparently, I thought adding orange paint was a good idea at the time. Eek!

Kitchen Before

As I was looking for new carpeting online, I stumbled across something new to me: a sheet of mini tiles.  The wallpaper has a design made from tiny ears of corn.  I love this hand painted furniture; the pieces have workable drawers and doors.

Kitchen After

Again, with the orange carpet!  I don’t know if the gloss pink paint was worse than the orange paint I had used in the kitchen.  This room has the only remaining light fixture since it was so firmly affixed to the ceiling; it would have done more damage to remove it.

Bath Before

I used the same tile as in the kitchen.  The bathroom set is ceramic.

Bath After

These walls were in especially poor condition due to tape removal, but none of the damage showed after the walls were primed and wallpapered.

bedroom before

The bed looks huge, but the room is pretty small.

Living Room
The carpet in this room and the adjoining porch was mostly salvageable, mainly because it was dark brown and didn’t show any stains.  The wallpaper here was more challenging since there is a change in level toward the porch and the living room connects to the entrance room directly below.

Living Room Before


I opted for brick wallpaper for the porch and used some leftover carpet scraps to cover some bad places in the original brown carpet.

Porch Before

Porch Wallpaper

The kitchen wasn’t big enough for all four chairs that came with the table, so I moved two of them to the porch.  What a view!

Porch After

The completed house!
House After

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