Dolls’ house renovation: The Library

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house renovation

 

The thing I love the most about the library is that it wasn’t a library when we began. It wasn’t an anything. In the time the dolls’ house had been played with it was simply a landing. No furniture, rarely used in play, just there. I’m not sure what inspired the library, probably the desk that came in the raw wood set from eBay. Here’s the nothing room before we began…

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If you know me, if you’ve been reading along – you’ll get the library straight away. This was all Mama. If Big Poppa had his way this would probably be a music studio. If Little Fearse was designing it? I dunno…a zoo? A museum? But it was up to me and I made a library.

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house renovation (The Library)

I pretty much love everything about the library. The bookshelf is simply a printed out picture of a bookshelf from the ‘net modge podged to the wall. If I had time to be fiddly would I customise the books? Chuck in my favourites? You know I would. Maybe a future labour of love. When Little Fearse unveiled the dolls’ house Marge was sitting drinking a cup of coffee. The first thing Little Fearse said was “Ooooh, coffee!” It just struck me as a place Marge would enjoy, hidden away from her needy family.

I made the chair. I had grand plans to make a whole lounge suite, but I ran out of time and fortunately our friend donated the suite for the living room. I used the material from some old curtains that hung in my parents’ first house. This chair is not perfect, but I kind of love it. I wish I had a full sized one to lounge in (in my own study, of course). I got the pattern from one of the books referenced in our first post. Big Poppa cut the wood, my brother Loc helped file them down to size. The rest was done by me. It was exceptionally fiddly and took a lot of glue and a surprising amount of material, but I enjoyed (almost) every moment of it.

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The table came with the lounge suite and the lamp with the bath and second toilet (see in the background of the lower level – I kind of figure a household of 8 needs more than one toilet).

The desk is one of the secrets of the dolls’ house. It was raw wood with blue shelves (you can see from my dodgy paint job some of the blue coming through). I painted it with some of the guache paints we got at the Reverse Art Truck. It’s not ideal, but it was the best I could do. The map on the desk part is the block BP and I lived on when we stayed in Brooklyn for a month in 2009/2010. I am kind of annoyed at how the desk turned out, but I still love that it bears that map and that I managed to find a way to memorialise the map without having it hanging around, useless forever, with a bunch of other sentimental paper bits and pieces.

The gorgeous brass pot was found at the market with the two photo frames (in the bedroom and living room). I think it’s beautiful.

For those who’ve stuck with me throughout the tour – thanks. I wish I’d been more organised and published the whole series at once, but we live, we learn. This really has been a labour of love (the house and this ‘blog tour). I appreciate you coming along on the journey.

Mama xo

Dolls’ house renovation: The Bedroom

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house make over

 

The bedroom was a pretty unimpressive shade of 50s pale green before the makeover. Like a less dazzling version of our new bathroom green.

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Someone who has had the in person tour of the dolls’ house asked us why Marge and Homer sleep in the same room as the kids. Well, aside from relegating the kids (or the parents) to a cupboard under the stairs we didn’t really have many options here. This room is our designated bedroom for all types. Grandpa Simpson sleeps here, Krusty the Clown sleeps here, Doctor Hibbert sleeps here. Everyone sleeps in this room. This has, so far, caused no major problems in the dolls’ house. I’ll let you know if any arise. (Let’s also note that it isn’t that dissimilar to our own house where Little Fearse’s bed is in the part of our bedroom probably designed as a dressing room…)

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house renovation (The Bedroom)

 

The best features of this room come from the same angel who gave us the best features for all the other rooms; the gorgeous fireplace and the double bed. The bed needed a bit of work. One end was detached and the mattress as covered in a faded striped fabric that was fairly heavily marked from years of play. I reglued the bed head and searched through my fabric stash to find this gorgeous vintage material featuring kids and cats in silhouette. I wish we had a bed spread like this on our bed!

The double bed mattress before updating the material.

The double bed mattress before updating the material.

We found the beautiful vintage photo frame at the market with the one in the living room. The photo was taken at our nephew’s school fete in the photo booth. We both really loved this picture of Little Fearse and thought it would make a very cute addition to the house. Lil Fearse was pretty stoked to find herself on the mantle.

The camera came from the container of bits and pieces from the op shop. There is also a camera case somewhere that hasn’t yet made it into the house. The wardrobe and bunk bed came from one of the eBay lots. I stained the wardrobe slightly to make it less raw. There is a cradle somewhere that went missing somewhere between purchase and putting the furniture in the house. I’m sure it will show up one day. The pram and tiny baby (Little Fearse’s absolute favourite thing in the house…she loses it constantly, though) came from the same set.

The map on the back wall is another secret of the dolls’ house. It is from a map of Geneva that my parents used on their trip there in the late 60s. Don’t look too closely, I accidentally cut it out upside down!

The other secret of the dolls’ house in this room is the Mos Def poster (I can say that, because he wasn’t Yasiin Bey when this photo was taken). This photo was on a gig flyer. It came from our pretend honeymoon (pre-actual honeymoon) in New York when we booked out a suite in the Hotel Chelsea and went to see Mos Def play at midnight in the Highline Ballroom. I can say with certainty that it was the best gig I have ever been to. I love that we can commemorate that in the dolls’ house.

I hope to one day add a rug, some curtains, maybe more pictures to the walls. I’d like to add some clothes to the wardrobe, too. Future endeavours.

The last room will be one that is very close to my heart, the library.

Mama xo

Dolls’ House renovation: The Bathroom

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house renovation

 

You’ll now be accustomed to our drab before shots. Here’s this one.

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house renovation

It has been been pointed out to us that the bathroom in the dolls’ house is ridiculously large. This is not unlike the bathroom in our actual house, which is the size of a single bedroom. Not only is the bathroom ridiculously large, but it is also absurdly non-private. I kind of like this about the bathroom, but maybe one day I’ll make some little folding screens to go around the toilet and bath. I’d also like to add a shower one day. Here she is, all jazzed up.

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house renovation (Bathroom)

The bathroom (slash laundry) was painted with some green paint left over from a side table we did up for Little Fearse’s bedroom before she was born. (You know, the one she still doesn’t sleep in.) Admittedly the paint job is a bit rushed. We decided against adding curtains due to time restraints, but I’d like to add a sheer curtain some time that can stay across the window. Just to add a bit of privacy, you know? 😉

The ironing board, vacuum, washing machine, mop, bucket and broom all came from a set Little Fearse’s Nan bought for her at Aldi. You never know what you’re going to find in that place.

The toilet was from our dolls’ house angel (the piano and table and lounge suite friend…I think she really needs more credit for this house than we do at this point). It’s a very cute toilet actually – I love the chain and the fact that it’s porcelain. The bath was bought with a set of random things on eBay. It was a simple raw wood bath. BP painted it white and added the hook for a tap. I found the rubber ducky, soap, shampoo bottle and a small hair dryer that is in one of the vanity drawers in amongst the container of things I found at the op shop.

The vanity is one of the things I am most proud of designing. It is also the thing that Little Fearse likes destroying the most and I have had to reglue the sink and mirror several times already. This started off as a baby change table purchased with other nursery stuff on eBay. It was raw wood with red handles. I painted it with the wall paint and the handles with the gold paint we got from the Reverse Art Truck. BP screwed a hook into the top for the tap. I glued one of the bowls from the kitchen on top for the sink and glued a mirror from an old purse to the back (it’s plastic but quite reflective).

As well as curtains and some screens we plan to frame some small paintings from a MoMA guide to hang on the bathroom walls.

Next room: The Bedroom.

Mama xo

Dolls’ House renovation: The Living Room

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Our living room has a lot less detail than the kitchen, but it is still a very charming room (we think!). This room is even more influenced by the wonderful presents from my bagel-gifting, E.T.-contributing, kitchen table-donating friend. But before we get into the finer details. The before shot…

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This is a very blah shade of pink. Of course it is grubby, too, adding to the dreariness of this picture. It was a very not-wow room. Although it isn’t my favourite room in the house, I’m pretty fond of the newer version..

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house living room renovation

As I mentioned, this room is mostly furnished with gifts from my friend’s childhood dolls’ house. The lounge suite, coffee table, piano and piano stool are all from her miniature house. I was going to make a lounge suite to go with the comfy chair I made for the study. I was so relieved to be gifted these as I was fast running out of time and I had a strong feeling I wasn’t going to finish them in time. Next thing I know I have a shoe box in my hands full of these gorgeous mini things.

The piano. Swoon! This is another of the dolls’ house secrets. The piano plays! It has a music box inside. This is one of the best features of the house and sometimes while Little Fearse is playing with the house I pull the piano out and set it playing next to the house just for my own aural pleasure. It is just gorgeous.

The curtains I cut from some vintage fabric I had in my sewing box. I’d purchased it on eBay years ago. I sewed these on my machine. They’re a bit wonky and rough, but tied up you’d never know. I tied the bows with a ribbon that I cut off a shirt. They were the little ribbons that are sewn inside the shoulder and used for hanging the clothing on hangers in the shop. I always keep these. They’re often handy! The curtain rod, like the kitchen rod, was a poorly painted plastic rod from our spare room blinds. Big Poppa screwed little eyelets in for the rod to slide through. I found them in the shed looking very rusty. I painted them with gold paint, too.

BP printed off a picture of some brick work and glued some of these inside the fire place. It used to be painted red, but got a few white streaks on it when BP painted the room, so he decided to add the brickwork to cover it. I think it’s really charming and also goes with the brickwork he glued to the chimney outside the house. This is one of my favourite new things about the house and it was so easy to do.

The big backed TV with all its vintage charm comes from the Simpsons set BP was given in 1992. There is also a purple plastic couch somewhere, but we didn’t use this in the house. You can change the picture, there is a slot on the side. We’d like to add some different television shows over time, probably mostly Play School at this stage, as that’s Little Fearse’s favourite.

The picture frame on the mantle piece we found from a kooky vintage stall at the market. The photo of us is from our honeymoon in New York. We sought out all the photo booths we could find throughout New York and have a whole series of photos which we have so far done nothing with. We thought this photo was kind of fun hoped Little Fearse would think it was silly, which she did. Eventually I’d like to mount this on the wall, too, but I need to figure a way of doing it without gluing it to the wall, so that can wait for now.

Next up, the bathroom.

Mama xo

Dolls’ house renovation: The Kitchen

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I’ve been writing this post in my head all day (do you do that?) and what I keep wanting to start with are the words “The kitchen is my favourite room in the house”. But, actually, I feel that way about all the rooms. They just came together so beautifully. I think that the kitchen is the most “together” room in the house. Most of the furniture in there kind of matches and looks vibrant and lovely. Since the furniture and decorations for our house were sourced from all over the shop there was never any real intention for things to go together, so that was a nice surprise.

When I was a kid the kitchen had a contacted floor. The grey and white checks looked very smart and gave it a real kitchen-y vibe, but somewhere along the way half the contact was pulled up and the kitchen was left looking pretty ratty.

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The paint job left a bit to be desired. I did like how you could see stencilled writing coming through from the original wood on the floor. I wonder what my Papa used to make the house in the first place. Anyway, it’s gone now, hidden beneath a layer of shiny white paint. We hope to update the floor of the kitchen one day with tiling or floor boards, but for now the paint will suffice. So…time to unveil.

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house kitchen renovation

 

Ta-da!*

The kitchen is the life-blood of most homes. Yes, it bugs me that not all the Simpsons can fit around the kitchen table. This will probably be something I rectify in the future. The adorable little red table and chairs were a beautiful gift from a friend’s childhood dolls’ house. I think they are very charming. The other red chair (with Marge’s apron draped over it) came from a set of things we bought on eBay. The child’s high chair came from the same set. They just happen to (sort of) match the other furniture.

The long bench we made from items purchased from the Reverse Art Truck. This is a not for profit organisation that collects items from businesses that would otherwise go into landfill and recycles them for arts and crafts. They offer it by the bag load to customers. We bought a garbage bag full of paints, varnish, paper goods, wooden bits and pieces, plastic, foam, material etc etc etc for $30, which was our major expense. We have a lot of this stuff left for other craft projects. The bench is made from a piece of Venetian blind with dowels for legs.  It actually caused us quite a bit of trouble putting this together as we had lots of different ideas about how to make it. As it turned out the most simple method (literally gluing dowelling to the bottom of the blind) was the best one. It is so easy to over-think things sometimes.

The wall paper was also found at the Reverse Art Truck. It was gift wrapping and I thought it was perfect for vintage-style wall paper. I attached this with modge podge. I think it turned out really well. The paper itself is very thin and I was worried it would tear, but it adhered beautifully.

The fridge was purchased from eBay with some other random things you’ll see throughout the house. The door opens. There is a small slice of pizza in there that came with an E.T. doll a friend gave me years ago. The same friend (actually, the same one who gave me the table and chairs, too!) gave me bagel and cream cheese earrings after a trip to New York. I lost the cream cheese earring somewhere along the way, but the bagel was removed from the earring to join the pizza in the kitchen.

When I was hunting for things for the dolls’ house I found a round take away container, sealed with tape, in the op shop for $1.25. It was full of Barbie clothes, but amongst them I could see little bits of plastic here and there. I wasn’t able to open it to check what they were, so I decided to risk the $1.25 and see what I could find. It was filled with great stuff for the house, including the champagne glasses, bowls, plates, orange juice and cereal you can see here. It was a really lucky find.

The stove was made by Big Poppa. It took us a while to come up with this idea. The painted block was left over from an abandoned project for Little Fearse’s first birthday. BP drew the details on the front of the stove, including the time 8:00. This is one of the “secrets” of the dolls’ house as whenever we ask Little Fearse what time it is she says “8 o’clock, tick tock”. I borrowed the idea of using buttons for hotplates from my favourite dolls’ house tour. I plan to add a sink one day.

The small pictorial plate was my Mum’s as a child. When she had to clear her parents’ house out she gave me a sewing basket from her old bedroom full of random bits and pieces. This was in there. I really like that something she had as a child is in the house, since it was originally hers.

The final feature of the kitchen is the curtain. The rod is actually a piece of strong plastic that came out of some blinds we removed from the spare bedroom in our house. I cut off a small piece and painted it (poorly) with gold paint I found at the Reverse Art Truck. I used a scrap of material left over from my Mum’s 70s sewing fabrics to make the cafe style curtain. I attached this to a scrap of calico I usually use for practising stitches on my sewing machine. I really love the curtain – it turned out exactly as I hoped it would.

Stay tuned for room 2, the living room.

Mama xo

*For those of you that, like me, enjoy continuity you will notice these photos were taken from two different shoots. It definitely irritates me that the bagel turns up in different spots in different pictures. I hope you can cope with this, my fellow anally retentive persons.

Little Fearse turns 2! (The dolls’ house renovation edition)

The Fearse Family: Dolls' house make over

Over the past month Big Poppa and I have delighted in this dolls’ house renovation project. It was an adventure very close to my heart. My grandfather build this simple house for my mother in the cramped little shed at the end of his garden in the 1950s. My Mum played with it as a child and then it was passed on to me in my childhood in the ’80s. Now in the twenty-tens (discussion has ensued regarding what we call this era, Little Fearse rejected the “teenies”, so 2010s is the best I’ve got) my daughter has been gifted this gorgeous house made by her great grandfather. It’s the kind of continuity that really delights me, being a sentimental kind of lass. My grandfather, who I called Papa, was a gentle, industrious and humorous man who I adored and admired as a child. It gives me such a thrill to see my daughter, who never knew him, playing with the house he designed and built with his own hands. Now Big Poppa and I have had the opportunity to make our mark on the house, giving it extra sentimental credit if it ever gets handed on to future Fearse generations. Or, you know, Little Fearse may have been taught the skill of decluttering so well that she turfs it first opportunity she gets.

The original dolls’ house had a frontage the slid along the runner at the front. This was present in my childhood but has since disappeared. We may make another one day, or maybe unearth the original one in my parents’ shed, but for now we’re not worried – it’s just for appearance anyway, and would hamper play. The lid of the house comes off. As Little Fearse grows she will be able to play through the roof space as well as the front.

The dolls’ house is filled with items sourced from here and there and everywhere. You may recognise the family living there. The old school Simpsons family have been gathered by Big Poppa since childhood. They are the perfect size for the house and since he doesn’t want to part with them, we thought we might as well give them a purpose and a home. Each room in the house holds its secrets, which we will reveal in a room-by-room series.

Our dolls’ house isn’t finished – we have lots of plans for additions and improvements (including doing up the roof, which wasn’t done in time). We’ll keep you updated as we make changes.

Part 1: The Kitchen

Part 2: The Living Room

Part 3: The Bathroom

Part 4: The Bedroom

Part 5: The Library

Mama xo

 

There are a number of resources we’ve used throughout the project. Most of these are web based, but we have also learned a lot from a number of books we borrowed from the local library. These were:

Making period dolls’ house accessories. Andrea Barham.

Dolls’ house furniture : easy to make projects in 1/12 scale / Freida Gray.

Finishing touches / Jane Harrop.

Creating dolls’ house period style / Lionel & Ann Barnard.

If you are setting out on your own dolls’ house renovation here are a few of our favourite websites we turned to for inspiration:

Modern DIY dollhouse with wooden furniture – this was my absolute favourite and most inspirational tutorial. I just love how Erin used only things around the house. Our own stove is inspired by Erin’s.

Seven Thirty Three – an adorable dolls house renovation tutorial.

How to: Make a modern doll house – this is a great little house. I’m actually quite envious of the kitchen and the window planters!

My froggy stuff – tutorials for everything dolls house related! Great pics and printables, too.

Creatively content – DIY from building the house to decorating and creating furniture.

Dollshouse decorating – I found this page a little confusing to navigate, but the ideas are endless and usually quite simple.

Kathy’s Miniatures – this gorgeous Irish cottage is themed down to the bathroom towels. Lots of adorable ideas. I particularly liked the little knitted blankets and plan to add some of these to Little Fearse’s house one day.

 

Sentimental paper gifts: DIY Memorabilia Mini book


Minibooks edit

For Big Poppa’s 30th birthday this week I wanted to make him something special, which also reflected his new status as an “old man”. BP is affectionately thought of by many who know him as a grumpy old man. At the age of 24 he did start saying things like “I don’t understand young people any more”. Now that he’s officially tipped over into his 30s we have joked that he can now really start his decent into grumpy old man territory.

This project included finding a use for some of the paper memorabilia I’ve saved from our honeymoon in New York, as well as creating a mini book explaining the dice game Farkle. I found a gorgeous set of dice at the market in a little leather case. I couldn’t resist buying them for my-young-old man, but we’ve never played dice games, so I thought I’d better find a game we could enjoy. Farkle seems to be a popular and fun game we can play with just the two of us.

[I have also made a mini book comic about how we met for BP for our first wedding anniversary (paper) and last year I made a friend a mini book from a gorgeous old raggedy 70s picture book that was falling apart. The possibilities are endless really.]

Step 1 Minibook edit

1. You can use any paper of any size to make these books. If you want to use some paper from a special holiday or event, you can choose bits and pieces, like I did, and glue them on to a larger piece of paper. I glued these papers onto an A4 page. As well as the paper you will need scissors.
2. So here is my paper to start with (each side is different).

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3. Fold the page in half.

4. Fold the page in half again.

5. Fold the page in half a third time. By this stage you will need to apply quite a bit of pressure to get a good crease.

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6. Unfold your page to step 4.

7. With the fold towards you, cut up the middle crease to the centre of the page.

8. When you unfold your page it should look like this, with a slit up the centre of the middle four rectangles.

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9. Fold the page in half lengthways and open the slit out like a diamond.

10. Push the top and bottom points of the diamond together and press the pages into a booklet. This is where you might have to readjust your creases to ensure the pages are even.

11. Voila! Mini book.

I used the pages from a tiny note pad inside my booklet and hand wrote the information. You can do whatever you like inside yours – use photos, stickers, lined pages, sketch paper…be creative!

If you do make a mini book using these instructions I’d love to see it! Please leave a link in comments or pop a photo up on our Facebook page.

Happy birthday to my beautiful beardy man. xo

Mama xo