Thursday, December 19, 2013

Retrofit the Kit Tudor Dollhouse: Part 7 Stairway To Heaven (NOT, Just the Art Studio) - Real Good Toys Country Tudor CC15

Oye!!!!!! Once I finally made the "jump" to attach the stairs, it went pretty fast! With Thanksgiving and getting my wisdom teeth pulled, it just got put off. Dolly's gonna be living in an igloo at this rate!


Gettin' Ready


Figured I'd better set the back up to get just the right position for the stairs:


Earlier I centered and applied the wallpaper on the 2nd floor back. After taping the back securely on, I glued the stairs to the back, not the landing or ceiling. I still want to be able to take the back off for when I work on the inside front. Having thru and thru access has proved to be a smart idea.




Pulling the back off, I'm able to apply the paneling and chair rail to the back wall:

Left pic: Why even clamping is so important!!!!                   Right pic: Morticia Adams lent me Thing for hand "clamping".


Since I don't have an unobstructed back wall anymore (the stairs), I get a glass of wine and set to "clamping" each paneling piece by hand, until they they are firmly set, about 15 minutes each. OK, so I had more than one glass of wine!!! I then fitted and cut the chair rail and glued it on.




Attic Art Studio



Well, I've been bad girl. I went to the local home improvement store and sampled some of the laminate flooring samples, about four matching ones of each kind that I was interested in "installing in my home". And the attic's side walls of this Tudor seem perfect for the sandwashed look of "Alpine Elm". Luckily I could get two sections out of each sample! They're easy to cut with a utility knife and straight edge, though you have to score them a few times.


I had enough chair rail left to use on the raw top edges of the attic's side walls. I glued and clamped them in first, then glued and clamped my "flooring" panels on, snugging them up into the chair rail bottom.


Well, it can't be helped, I had to test the furniture pieces for the Attic Art Studio!!

Now I'm really glad I dropped the floor about an 1 1/2 ". This is fast becoming my favorite floor in the house (I say that about each of the floors I'm sure!).


Oh gosh! I can hardly wait, once again, to be done!!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Retrofit the Kit Tudor Dollhouse: Part 6 Leaps Of Faith, the Second Floor - Real Good Toys Country Tudor CC15

The second floor is problematic but exciting. Lowering the ceiling, adding a bay and moving the stairs to the back of the dollhouse all require a consortium of measurements, thought, much deviation, testing and patience. Thank goodness for Thanksgiving break. It increased my chance of getting a bunch done!



Preparing the Front's Components For Determining Ceiling Height and Bay Cut

INSTRUCTION DEVIATION: (This step actually comes later in the instructions but I figure I need to do this so I can get accurate measurements). As per the instructions, I glue the front peak parts together and install it to the front sides of the house.


I prop the front up into the peak so I can test where I want the ceiling height to be, making sure to include the height of the crown moldings with the height the bay components.


I glue the bay parts together, to insure accurate measurements and placement for the bay cutout.


INSTRUCTION DEVIATION: The second floor bay cutout.  



After placing the new bay component on the inside front, insuring it clears the floor and making my marks, I cut out the bay using a jig saw. Oh my!


The Stairs, Determining Their Height and Placement

I realize I have to construct the stairs to get an accurate measurement for the height of 2nd floor ceiling and the stair opening. Here are the original kit's stair parts and the added items used in constructing the stairs; stained and marked for cutting.

The pic shows:

  • stained wainscot panels.
  • the kit door, being repurposed for the landing, stained and marked for cutting.
  • the kit stairs, the upper marked for cutting.

INSTRUCTION DEVIATION: The kit's door is cut and repurposed into the landing and the stairs are cut for the shorter ceiling height.

Keep the stair cut parallel with the stair treads. This is very important to maintain the angle of the stairs and it's squareness.

The left pic shows:
  •  Fitting the landing and preparing to cut the base molding for it to fit properly.
Right pic shows:
  • the two stair sections glued together.
  • the stairs glued to the back panel, and the inside "stringer" glued to their side.
  • the work table face and it's side used as clamping stops to insure squareness.
  • the ruler clamped to the top, forcing the stairs into the back, insuring even pressure to insure there is no stair or panel bowing.
After drying I remove the clamps and check for squareness. I was lucky! That clamping concept worked out well! Now I cut the angle on the decorative stringer so it matches the tread angle. I glue and clamp it to the stair component.

 The left pic shows:
  • the joint in the stairs where the stair parts are glued together.
  • the back panel glued in and sliced off to the outside stair side.
  • the outside decorative stringer, ready to be glued on.
The right pic shows:
  • the decorative stringer, glued and clamped to the outside stair side.

Voila! The stair component, finished with the exception of trimming top and the bottom. Goodness! That was a lot of thought and work!!

Upper pic: the top of the stairs. Bottom pic: under the stairs.

Determining The Stair's Opening Cut In the Second Floor Ceiling 

I cut spacers to test and set the floor/ceiling height and to figure where the stair opening will need to be. I clamp them in place and prop the back up to mark the stair and it's angle.

The baseboard has been cut for the landing and the landing is glued in.


INSTRUCTION DEVIATION: Stair placement and new floor piece.

Since I decided to move the stairs to the back of the home, my hubby had to cut me a new 3rd floor (2nd floor ceiling). The one that came with the kit has it's stair's opening cutout for the side of the house.

The left pic shows:
  • the "new" floor being prepared for the stair opening cut.
  • the original kit's floor stair opening used to determine the cuts on the new 3rd floor.
  • the difference in lengths of the back and the side of the dollhouse, necessitating the creation of a new 3rd floor.
The right pic shows:
  •  the new 3rd floor, stained.
  •  the new 3rd floor with the stair opening.

"Now Is the Time To...." Decision: the 2nd Floor Ceiling

Sometimes in a project you have to make exceptions. Now is the time, I realize, to do something with the 2nd floor ceiling. Less construction hassle if I do it now than with the home is completed!

 So I glue, paint and trim the ceiling. The stair opening is sliced out in the paper used for the ceiling.


With all these steps done, I glue and nail the 3rd floor/2nd floor ceiling in.

Crossing my fingers that this will all pan out when I  add the front and it's bay! Yiksees!!


Dreaming and Planning: Outside, Front Panel. Which One???

So, of course, one must play. Mind candy is extremely important!!

Since I've finished the bay component I'm going to experiment with a couple of thoughts for the outside of the front panel.  Here they are:

What do you think????

Friday, November 22, 2013

Retrofit the Kit Tudor Dollhouse: Part 5 Making Walls Out of Moehills - Real Good Toys Country Tudor CC15

Take a breath!!! 

Well, once again, uncharted territory. At least it includes fabric, clamps, glue and patience. Oh, and a glue rag, don't forget to have the nice, wet glue rag ready!

Breaking Down the Walls Of Unconfidence!

(or, Breaking Down the Wall Treatment Construction)


INSTRUCTIONS ALTERATION: Here I've strayed from the RGT CC15 directions (I think this will be an ongoing step!), I have not attached the back. In part 4 I decided to leave the home open, back and front, for now, so I can fit and clamp the wall treatments more accurately and successfully.

Straightening the design. The weave of the fabric is not square with the print. Oh well!! Gluin' up with Yes Paste.

Moment Of Truth:


I've made a few cuts with a craft blade to the wainscot panels and wall mullions and have done a dry test of position before adhering the pieces. I've used Aileen's Clear Gel Tacky Glue to glue down the crown, wainscot and wall mullions. Wood glue seemed to curl the edges of the 1/16" wainscot and mullions pieces too much. Aileen's Gel had a more consistent initial grip and quick drying time whilst clamped.

Clamping through the front and back of the assembled part of the home to hold the wainscot panels tightly while drying.

Clamping the wainscot panels of the back.



Ta Da!!!!


I've dry fitted and glued down the "chair rail" pieces to finish off the 1st floor wall treatment. Except for the front panel, the 1st floor inside is done. I'm still debating on a possible ceiling treatment...

INSTRUCTIONS ALTERATION: I left off the kit's "hinge blocks" along the inside front wall edges. They were used in Part 4's instructions to set the height of the ceiling. Upon measuring, I determined the depth the hinge screws will be taken up by the timber trim thickness on the outside of the home, so don't need em'. They protrude 1 1/2" into the wall area, taking up a lot of usable wall space. I think it looks better without them as well.


Much Thinkin' and Planning To Do

Well, here is a look at the final 4 of the 8 contenders for the 2nd floor, bedroom wall paper. I'm using the Barton Tudor bed, a Napoleon and Josephine porcelain table set and a slipper tub to compare my choices. Not having a wallpaper figured out has really slowed down my progress!


UL: Banburry  UR: Palais  LL: Gold Ring  LR: Gold Leaf

 So, what do you think? Be my guest and leave me a comment with what you think is best!!


Beware thoughts!!

I know the 1st floor, especially, will be very dark so I'm toying with wiring for lights. Oh, that seems like it could be a big waste of money and time!!!! What am I thinking!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Retrofit the Kit Tudor Dollhouse: Part 4 Gettin' Down To Bizness - Real Good Toys Country Tudor CC15


The panels and trim from Manchester Woodworks, have arrived, and I've sanded, applied two different stain colors and polyed the whole lot!


1st stain coat: Minwax Provincial. 2nd stain coat: Dark Walnut. I always start with the lightest stain first.


The Floors

I've decided try some staining experimentation on the wood floors since I'm planning to cover them anyway. I wanted a checkerboard on the diagonal pattern. Creating the checkerboard pattern is trickier than it looks!

The first time I tried it I didn't score lines. It didn't work very well but it still had a nice, subtle effect. That experiment is now the 2nd floor floor (am I saying that right?).

Here is the technique that worked best for a lovely, stained, checkerboard floor:

              Step 1  Scoring the lines.                                                 Step 2 Taping alternate lines of squares.

Step 1: Scoring the lines (I used painter's tape to evenly space my lines. The width of the tape is the width of a square). You'll have to figure out your first diagonal so you'll have squares or elongated diamonds. Don't draw lines, let the width of tape be your guide and start with a tape spanning each end of your first and only diagonal markings.

  1. Lay out the tape on your first diagonal on your prestained board.
  2. Lay the metal straightedge just a smidgen past the tape edge. Hold down tightly!
  3. Using the back edge of a butter knife, press to score a line between the straightedge and the tape. (I have taped off a border). Score a couple of times to insure a good indentation.
  4. Lift the tape and place it up against the "fresh" score line. Continue scoring until all the "warp" scores are made.
  5. Perform the same scoring technique for the "weft" lines. They will be 180° to your previous lines.
Step 2: Staining the squares (3 stains total for this (you could use 2 - the initial board prestained, the 1st set of squares' stain and the 2nd set of squares' stain). I used pine for the prestain, provincial for the 2nd stain and dark walnut for the 3rd.
  1. Every other line of squares, tape off between the scores. Do this for both the warp and weft of the lines of squares so that there is a crisscross of tape with little open squares in between.
  2. Stain this first set of squares with your second color. Blot the stain on, gently.
  3. Remove the tape.
  4. Tape over these stained lines of squares, both the warp and weft, betwen the lines' scores. Only our prestain background color should be seen (with a bit of bleed over of course!).
  5. Stain this second set of squares with your third color (or if you want the squares to be all the same color, the same stain as your first set). Blot gently.
  6. Remove the tape and voila! Let dry and polyurethane the whole board (you can use waterbased poly).

Step 2 con't. The first stained squares.                                                                 Step 3 Finished!                   

Beginning To Assemble: The 1st and 2nd Floors


I've read all the instructions and have decided to assemble only the 1st and 2nd floors to the sides at this point. The instructions are pretty clever for this part, they have you use other parts of the home to support and get correct heights and such. I'm leaving the back off for now as I want good access to the interior sides when I apply the wainscot paneling.

Here, one side of the house has been glued and nailed to the 1st floor and sits flat on the table. Another floor is propped up at an angle to support the opposite side's attachment to the 1st floor.

In this photo two of the hinge blocks are taped and used as spacers to get the 9" ceiling height for the 2nd floor. I'm using the square to make sure the floor is square to the side before I glue and nail the other side onto the two floors.

I don't think I'll be covering the floors. I really like them stained!
And goody(!) a look at the sides installed with the front propped up behind. The 2nd floor floor shows my first attempt at staining a checkerboard pattern. I've installed the two pieces of stained basswood that act as the baseboard on both floors' walls. The fireplace and bookcase are put in just to dream!!!


Puttzin' and Thinkin': Checking Scale and Ideas

Testing the placement of the components for the bay window.
Testing the scale of the bay window components with the 3/4 scale furniture pieces.













Well, I've made some good headway but soooo much more to go. But I'm very happy how the wee Tudor has come together so far.  Hope to see you soon for the next part of this ongoing odyssey!

Mock up and scale test of house 3/4 scale furniture and the possible stair placement.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Retrofit the Kit Tudor Dollhouse: Part 3 It Arrives - Real Good Toys Country Tudor CC15

It has arrived!

A present arrived in the mail in a large box, from myself. Gee, I hope I will be happy!

So now there are no excuses, as in doing and inventory...

Using painter's tape to label the parts listed in the instructions.
Oh my! A lot of parts but labeling gave me a good sense of control! All the little like parts are bagged together, so I just labeled and kept them in their bags.

I learned the door was missing, but that worked out well. I contacted Real Good Toys© by email and they more than promptly sent one out. Now that's service!! They did appreciate I had done inventory. Let that be a lesson to us all!

You can see the instructions with their inventory list at

Testing the floors, their changes and measurements...

I've already decided I'm lowering the ceiling of the 2nd floor. Even at full scale (1:1), it will still be believable and 1" scale furniture will fit. So I draw preliminary lines that I'm sure will change as I continue the process!


Testing the plan for a bay window...

These will be the pieces for the bay window, two Concord room dividers (in different colors) for windows and a disassembled thimble display that will act as a bookcase between them. The bay will jet out from the outside wall about an inch. I'll have to strip the finishes and try to stain them all the same color.

Disappointment: Two different plywood wood types and ...

Since I have limited fabric to use as wallpaper, I was hoping to emulate wainscotting using the kit's wood veneer inside surfaces of the sides, front and back. Unfortunately, the inside front and side panels have different veneers and the back is masonite. Oh well, now I have plan on buying something to create the uniform wainscotting I'm looking for.
Left: front inside panel stained. Center: side inside panel stained. Right: masonite and peak backs.




The last panel is the new back, now one piece instead of two.
Straying from the directions and parts components, I bought a half sheet of 1/4" aspen plywood that my husband cut a new back panel from. It incorporates the kit's 3/8" plywood peak back and it's back 1/4" masonite panel. Since I'm lowering the 2nd floor ceiling, the kit's back peak will come up short anyway. Keep your fingers crossed it will all work out!

I've taped off the areas the new wainscot panels will go and painted the remaining areas an off-white satin finish. I'm toying with removable wallpaper panels.

...waiting (again!)

So, after much calculation and price configurations, I've ordered 4 sets of precut paneling with chair rail from my favorite dollhouse supply vendor, Manchester Woodworks at Good prices, quick, combined shipping and great communication. Very dependable too.

A #WC1/4 set description from Manchester Woodworks:
  • Seven pieces wainscot panels and one chair rail per order.
  • Each panel measures 1/16"t x 3-1/2"w x 2-7/8" h. (2mm x 88mm x 73mm).
  • Chair rail measures 1/8 x 1/4 x 24" (3mm x 6mm x 609mm).
  • 7 panels end to end equal 24-1/2" in length.
  • Made of unfinished basswood.

That gives me 28 pieces of precut paneling and 4 pieces of chair rail. Plus I ordered some lovely "Lace Weave" molding (CLA78173), I'm going to use for crown on the 1st floor ceiling.

Retrofitting thoughts:

1) Move the stairs from the 1st floor to the 2nd. More space on the first floor.
2) Some sort of treatment of the floors (even though I have planned paper tile for the 1st (it is removable anyway)).
3) The attic space will be an art studio (oh boy! What am I thinking??).

Oh! I can hardly wait, again!! Get here soon wainscoting and trim!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Retrofit the Kit Tudor Dollhouse: Part 2 Create While You Wait - Real Good Toys Country Tudor CC15

It's hard to wait. So I dream and work on little projects I hope will work in the house. I've retrofitted a kitchen fireplace and a living room fireplace to pass the time and played with floor ideas using my computer...




Kitchen Fireplace

I bought an a little fireplace off eBay, but it was just not tall enough to be at all believable in a 1:1 scale dollhouse. Using my hubby's paint stripper heat gun (my newest favorite tool!), I took it apart by melting it's glue. Then I flipped the hearth and the mantle and cut the back in half to make larger sides out of, glued it back together and voila! The chimney wasn't thick enough so I added some scraps on it's side and added some brick paper for the back of the fireplace.



Living Room Fireplace


The center pict shows the comparison of the old and new mantles and hearths.

I started out with a little 1:1 scale fireplace called the James Town by Houseworks. The mantle and the floor were a bit too fancy and large so, once again, I used the heat gun to melt glue and take them off. I made the surround bone white to try and emulate stone and used shoe polish to smoke up the inside.




"Tile" Floor



Retrofitting thoughts:

1)  Make the 2nd floor shorter to have more useable space in the attic.

2) Blow out the 2nd floor windows and create a bay window.

3) Brick paper the outside 1st floor.

4) Find or make a dutch door for the entrance.


Hmmmm....Hurry up and get here kit!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Retrofit the Kit Tudor Dollhouse: Part 1 The Waiting - Real Good Toys© Country Tudor CC15

In the beginning....

I can't remember what came first, the half yard of cute medieval fabric or the 3/4 scale Barton Tudor furniture, 



but I realized I had a hankerin' to put the two together in a dollhouse and experiment with the Tudor style.


Eventually, after much research and cost considerations, I decided on the pre-fab kit, the Real Good Toys' Country Tudor CC15 (I'm still too chicken to start a dollhouse from scratch!). It's 1:12 scale, so I hope I can make it span between the three quarter scale and one to one scale worlds. You can find it at, though I bought mine through


Real Good Toy's Country Tudor CC15.

It has that front opening wall feature which keeps the dust out and eliminates the question, "What side of the dollhouse should I display?". It has a small profile, 29"h x 14"w x 12 1/2"d, which fits well in my small home and with my fledgling dollhouse construction abilities!


So whilst waiting for the wee kit to arrive....


I entertain myself with possible plans for retrofitting it, using some of the other cool Tudor type stuff I have accumulated.

Oh! I can hardly wait for it to arrive!

Monday, October 28, 2013

An Ugly Duckling UK Dolly Mixture

I bought this poor thing right after my lovely Dolly Mixture/Pennine arrived from the UK. A 1/2 to 3/4 scale, homemade, two room dollhouse, it's kind of a little shack, but there was something very endearing about it. It has the Romside windows and door, however beat up, and a large chimney, which serves as a battery holder for the one light that used to light up!



Welcome little Ugly Duckling. We'll take care of you! 

After all, you're just a little thing at 17" l x 9" w x 6.5" h (9.5" with chimney).

Torn paper brick and roof tiles and a bit of grime.

Battery pack chimney and on and off switch. Very primitive!



The two quaint little rooms and their opening wall front.

Two little names, Akinos and Alma, one on each room's wallpaper. Hence the AA on the battery chimney.



A Gentle Face-Lift 

Well, never leaving well enough alone, I set out to remodel the little shack a bit, hoping to keep it's rather charming, unpretentious feeling!

  I polyurethaned the whole outside, hoping to preserve it's "used" patina, and made flower boxes and a porch roof, just to give it a little extra welcome.




I made a fireplace wall for it out of an old beat up Strombecker fireplace, scrap booking paper and a cheap compact mirror. I like to think it looks a little shabby deco!



Living Room 

Here's the fireplace wall, "installed" with it's matching Strombecker radio and a cute little rattan etargere. The ceiling and the floor have been treated with scrap booking paper, of course!

 More beat up Strombecker furniture with it's simple lines, yet quite stylish in this little abode. That's me, as a scottie dog. I've always wanted to be one since I was four!




This room seemed a natural as a kitchen. The little shelf was already installed by it's previous owners.


Scrap booking paper on the ceiling and floor.

Another case of shabby Strombecker and Kage furniture. I committed the cardinal sin, I painted the stove red (it was green) and added the little splash on the back of it. The little sink and table were already painted.






Kage chairs and a scottie's eye view!


Well, hopefully this little rag tag family is happy in their rag-tag home. It's and odd one, but I think very sweet.