Some time ago, my parents had put together a wooden dollhouse that failed to survive the move across the country that followed. For many years, my mom wanted a dollhouse to decorate again, but seeing as you usually had to build them yourself, we never really wanted to commit to such a big job. Several months ago, however, my mom and I were exploring an antique store just for the good, old fun of it. Little did we know at the time that these places are great for finding dollhouses and dollhouse furniture that are already put together. And what did we find during this particular outing? Why, a tin dollhouse, already assembled. The price wasn’t bad, so after some thought, we brought it home.
The first thing we did was research our dollhouse on the Internet. It turns out we had found a Marx tin dollhouse from the 1950’s, one of its unique features being that the walls and floors are already decorated. It’s also very important to find out the scale of one’s dollhouse so you know what size furniture to buy for it. This one is 1:24 scale. If you are considering buying a dollhouse, keep in mind that 1:12 scale is much easier to find furniture for. You will have many more options with this scale, though 1:24 is cuter because, well, it’s smaller.
As we got to work gathering furniture for the dollhouse, we also found what places were best to visit for one’s dollhouse-ing endeavors (aside from the aforementioned antique store, of course, which has tons of dollhouse furniture of varying sizes if you know where to look). Craft stores are one good place to check out. Michael’s has a decent selection of dollhouse furniture and accessories, though you will have to guess which items are the correct size, as none of them are labelled for any specific scale. Many of their items are also unfinished wood and will need to be painted. Hobby Lobby has an even greater selection, and I think their items are better quality, as well. Again, the scale for any of this is unknown, though keep in mind that you have some freedom when it comes to certain items. For example, if you have a 1:24 scale dollhouse, you can buy 1:12 scale plates and just use the saucers as actual plates, and many of the fireplaces we have found can work with any scale, provided you are fine with a larger-than-normal fireplace or vice versa. You can also find dollhouse furniture online, where you can much more easily look for the proper scales. As for flooring and wallpaper, felt, particularly textured felt, makes great carpet, and scrapbook paper is perfect for wallpaper. Though, you will see no examples of wallpaper in this post. Perhaps another time…
So, enough of my rambling. Now that we are largely satisfied with the furnishings in this dollhouse, I took some photos to share with you all. We had a lot of fun decorating, and some of the items were actually made by us or were simple objects we already owned that work just fine in a dollhouse. Let’s begin on the outside. As you can see, this dollhouse is two stories tall and five rooms, though the chimney on the roof is missing. It also has cut-out windows on the front, so you can see the furniture within. It almost feels as if you’re looking into a real house.
Inside, the most logical place to start would be the living room. The couch, chairs, and the table all came as a set, and the cabinet on the left came with the dining room set, which we stocked with plates and cups. (As a side note, almost all cabinets and drawers are working and can be opened and closed. The only thing that doesn’t work is the drawers on the oven.) I really like the orange tree, which I think is one of the nicest plants we were able to find. On the right wall is a rather nice fireplace, “painted” right onto the wall. I suppose it saves space that way. Oh, and it was necessary the house had a Bible. It’s clearly not intended for this scale, but maybe it’s just big because it has large font…. It’s interesting to note that, on closer inspection, the Bible is merely a small block of wood painted to look like a Bible, though you wouldn’t know just by looking at it. We didn’t like the color of the original flooring, so we covered it with some felt.
Next up is the kitchen, which contains a plate of cookies and some rather adorable cups, and a pitcher, of orange juice. The sink illustrates one instance when even buying furniture of the proper scale can be a problem. We bought the sink online, and though it had no measurements, the web site said it was 1:24 scale. Obviously this is not true. We actually wrapped some cardboard in leftover suede from my Vanille cosplay to place below the sink to make it a bit higher so it wouldn’t look quite as miniscule. What a shame. Oh, and the tiny stand holding four blue cups was a rather lucky find we made at the same antique store that sold the dollhouse. The table the cups are sitting on was an unfinished wooden table that we painted.
Now that the first floor is done, let’s go upstairs. Above the living room is the master bedroom, which also has a fireplace right there on the wall, along with a bundle of wood made from twigs we found in our yard, tied together with some tan string. Even though the bedroom set was supposed to be the same scale as the house, it suffered the same fate as the sink, for it was also a bit smaller than it should have been. I guess you can’t always trust that all dollhouse furniture of the same scale is, well, actually the same scale. Argh, bamboozled again! The floor is actually some fabric we bought. We got it for very cheap because it was just a leftover scrap they were selling at a discounted price. Scrap or no, it was a good deal more than we needed and worked just nicely.
The bathroom is nestled between both bedrooms, and it has some special furniture. The main items here came in a set, but a lot of it was bought separately. The little porcelain cabinet on the left wall was bought at the antique store, while the rubber ducky was bought at the craft store. The trash bin is actually a thimble with string wrapped around the top. And the two pictures on the wall were bought online. We got those to fix up what was otherwise a boring, plain wall.
And last of all, the kids’ room. As you can clearly see, there’s a lot going on here. The butterfly on the left wall is a pin. (Since this dollhouse is made of tin, you can attach magnets to the back of items in order to hang them on the walls.) The “stained glass” on the window is an earring. Most of the toys were store-bought, but the metal rocking horse is a random item I had been holding on to for years. It worked perfectly for the dollhouse, so it is here that it has been donated. The tiny shoes were actually something I just happened to spot at the antique store. They were so little, I’m surprised I saw them, so I can only imagine it was fate that brought us together. ‘Twas fate! Beside the shoes is another wooden table we painted, and atop that is a goldfish, who is supposed to represent my dear goldfish Peepers. May she rest in peace. In the shrine I made for her in the backyard. The bed on the right was made out of spare fabric from my Vanille and Kefka cosplays, craft foam, and upholstery foam. And the carpet is purple felt.
It was a blast decorating this dollhouse. I’m sure there are little details we can add in the future (curtains, perhaps?), but for now, it’s largely finished. We actually bought another dollhouse at the antique store since purchasing this one, which I shall discuss in a future post. That one is far larger (to give you an idea, it has ten rooms rather than five) and may span a couple posts, but for now, relish in the lovely photos I took here. I hope you enjoyed them. G’day, everyone!
The Duckhouse, But I Need No Decorating