After the (small) disaster with the window and shutters, I decided to take a break from building and figured I should do more planning. Not that I hadn’t, but I’m learning that building a dollhouse from scratch takes a lot of thoughtful planning.
And, when I say planning, I don’t just mean “know what colors you want.” I mean, figuring out what wall you want where, and what kinds of alterations you want to make, and even where the furniture will go.
You can’t just wing this stuff. It does not end well.
Walls Are Optional
The Keeper’s House comes with two room dividers. One for the upstairs, one for the downstairs. Obviously, I don’t have to use either. And I can place the dividers anywhere I want. This leaves me with a lot of options. And, at the same time, narrows my choices.
Here’s what the dollhouse looks like without any room dividers.
As you can see, I was testing some color on the second floor.
And, here’s a shot of the dollhouse with just the upstairs divider but in three different places.
I was playing around with this because first of all, I should. Second of all, I realized my dollhouse has a fatal flaw.
Where do I put the bathroom?
I suppose that since this is a dollhouse and not a human house, that’s not a big deal. It’s not like anyone is going to really need to use the bathroom. But, I’m all for realism, so where does it go?
As I’ve been building the house, I started liking the idea of no divider upstairs. That creates a fun lofted space that’s open and can fit a lot of stuff. But, then there’s no bathroom upstairs. Which may not be a big deal.
With the divider all the way to the left, I could create a bathroom. But, I’d have less space for the bedroom. Is that a big deal? I can’t decide.
Downstairs Is Small
The downstairs space is (in my opinion) a little smaller. It’s got the stairs, the door, and the window. That leaves me with fewer options for divisions.
However, the advantage to the downstairs is that I can slide the room divider wherever I want. I can have it all the way toward the front of the dollhouse, or toward the back.
This creates various options for doors and passages. OK. One option. But you get my drift.
I can’t do that with the upstairs divider unless I create my own. Hmm…
I’m not there yet, so I’m going to stick with what I’ve got for room dividers from the dollhouse kit for right now.
Here’s a series of pictures with the downstairs divider in different places. As you can see, there’s not a ton of options.
Again, I like the idea of a big open space (even though I hate open concept floor plans in real life). But, an open floor plan means no bathroom downstairs. Or, a kitchen.
Once again, not a big deal. No one is eating. But I would love to have a kitchen.
Why It Matters
If you’re a miniature newbie, like me, you might wonder why I care so much about wall placement? The dividers are temporary (they slide in and out) and it’s nowhere near time to worry. I’ve still got to shingle the roof, find the stair stringer (it still hasn’t turned up!), and let’s not even talk about the door!
However, there are three reasons why figuring out where the walls go now is important. First, and this is the easy one, it may affect what colors I paint the walls. If I’m dividing the space and I make one space one color and another space the other color, I’ll need to paint the divider two different colors. Of course, that’s not a huge deal, just something to keep in mind.
Second, where I place the walls impacts what furniture I place in the space. How bit it is, what the room is, and so on. Again, you might be thinking, the walls are temporary. Change it later if you want. Or change it as you go.
And that leads me to the third, and most important reason why I need to figure this out.
The Floors Change Everything
One of the things the dollhouse kit does not include is floors. Well, it does, obviously, but it’s just some MDF. Actually, it’s a lot like subfloor. It holds things up, but it isn’t pretty.
That means I need floors. Like, nice floors. Floors you wouldn’t be embarrassed about.
Originally, I was going to do carpet, but I looked into that and decided against that. There’ll be another post later as to why not, but the TL:DR version is that carpets in a dollhouse are hard to clean (like in real life!), and they’re a pain to glue in (all though it can be done). Also, the furniture doesn’t sit as well on carpet as it does on wood floors.
So I’m going with wood floors for the dollhouse.
Cool. I like wood floors. However, that means creating and installing the wood floor myself. There are premade floors I can use. Or I can build my own. Either is fine. But, here’s the thing. Once you get the floors in the house, the walls won’t fit.
A little depth makes a huge difference.
A wood floor is made of wood planks. Doesn’t matter if you get the premade kind or make your own. You’re using some sort of wood plank. Those planks will be thin (maybe only 1/16 of an inch tall or even 1/32 of an inch). But, that tiny bit of distance makes things, well, different.
If you look back at the picture of the bottom floor divider, you’ll notice it reaches from floor to ceiling. That’s by design (I’m assuming). For the record, I can slide it in the other way, but I’m not sure how it would stay up. Tacky glue is awesome, but not that awesome. I can’t imagine the divider holding without something anchoring it on the top. That means it only goes in one way.
It’s hard to tell in the picture, but trust me when I say it’s a snug fit. And it should be. It needs to go in and not fall down.
While I haven’t tested this theory yet, I’m going to assume that once I get the wood floors down, I won’t be able to get the divider in. That added depth will throw off the measurements and make it hard for the wall to slide in.
Why do I say that? Remember the paint drips from the window frame? That tiny bit of paint messed up my whole window assembly.
Yeah. That’s why I say that.
So, I need to plan everything out, so I know where the walls are going before I put the floor in, because I’m going to have to build the floors around the wall.
That said, I could shave the divider down later (and I might), but I’d rather take the time now to figure it all out, so I’m not stuck with a floor plan I hate that I have to redo.
Like the shutters.
Floors from Scratch
I decided I wanted to make my own floors from scratch. For whatever reason, I figured it would be easier to lay the planks in one by one rather than cutting a premade piece to fit. I’m probably wrong, but this is something I really want to try.
Out to the store to get balsa wood sticks.
I got two of these. It was all they had in stock. There were other bags, but the pieces were too thick or too wide. I know I can cut balsa wood, but I wanted something easy. Or, something I thought would be easy.
I’m such a newbie.
Playing with patterns
I started with a test run to see how the planks would fit. I went front to back first (just because) and found that two lengths are not as deep as the dollhouse.
OK. Well, good to know.
Then, I laid out the rest of the planks.
It looks like a tiki bar or a grass skirt. That’s fine, but not the look I’m going for. So, I lay them out the other way.
As you can see, three wide is a touch long, but that’s easy to fix.
What isn’t easy to fix is that I hate this look.
There are times I feel like I need to go back to school for an interior design degree for this stuff. Or I could just look around my house!
Inspiration is everywhere
As I looked the dollhouse floors over, I realized the problem was that the floor was so uniform. Too uniform. Real wood floors don’t look like that. They look like this.
Different lengths that meet at different points.
I laid out the sticks again, creating a randomish pattern.
Then made another row of them.
Cool. I figured out my floor.
But I’m going to need more sticks. I only used one bag (75 sticks) and didn’t get the whole upstairs. Which means I’ll never get the entire downstairs with just one more bag.
Next up, learning how to cut balsa wood, then dying it. But, I’ve got one more thing I want to deal with, first.
It’s Too Dark
One of the things I should do right now (meaning, before I shingle and do interior work) is add electrical stuff. Ha. No way. Glue and paint is one thing. Electrical current is another. I don’t care if it’s from a battery. Not happening.
But, and it’s hard to tell in the pictures, the house is really dark. Especially the upstairs. Yes, I know, lights would help. So would windows.
I can’t put any more windows downstairs. Well, I could on the door side wall, but I’d have to go through the clapboard, and I don’t see that happening just yet. I’ve looked into additions, but I feel like I should finish the Keeper’s House first, then worry about an addition.
Just like real life.
Upstairs, though, is a different issue. There are no windows. Is that a huge deal? No. But, I will point out that in real life, that would be illegal. Again, not really worried about it. But, it kind of bugs me.
So, I’m considering dormers for the upstairs. This is a decision I have to make soon because, to me, it makes more sense to add dormers before I shingle the roof. I know it can be done after, but why do that when I don’t have to?
It’s something I’m looking into, but am not there yet. However, I need to decide soon because adding dormers will affect where the divider goes.
So. Much. Planning.
You know, when I started pursuing this hobby, I thought it would be fun and easy. It’s fun. And it’s easy. But I had no idea it took this much planning.
Shout out to all of you experienced pros out there. I’ve got nothing but respect for what you do.
Thoughts on the dormer? Is it crazy to add them?