Saturday, 26 March 2016

Much consideration

A lot of thought needs to be given to the kit you choose to work with.  I know most of us are immediately constrained by style, price, size before we even begin.  After that if you then have the choices whittled down to more than one.... consider this....

How fussy are you going to be about it when it is built?

Doing a straightforward build and painting the exterior and letting it be a dolls house won't make too many demands whatever kit you choose.  The second you cross over into 'I want this or that to look 'realistic', the problems begin.

My first build was a Dolls House Emporium kit - the Wentworth.  It was super easy to do and I loved the finish.  Having said that I did kit-bash the basement, even on this novice build, to make it more compact

nice neat trim covering the door join

My second project was a Lyddington Shop from Bromley Crafts and it also went together without problems and, again, I loved the end result.  

and again the use of quoins to cover the gap

My third project was a complete remake of an O'Rourkes Post Office which would have originally come from Dolls House Emporium.  This offered a different set of challenges as it was already built and I had to 'unmake' it first.

this had a single opening front

This current Dalton House is from Dolls House Direct and I have found a lot of small niggly issues as I have gone along.  To be fair to the maker it may very well be just as good as its predecessors and the problems are arising because because my needs and expectations have increased ten-fold. The house in this photo is built by the maker and was all I had to go on when choosing the house.

for starters I hadn't thought about the join at the front

So, this is why I am cautioning you to think carefully about what you want to achieve with your project and to find a build that will allow you to do that.

I think the quality of the finish on this house, such as the windows and trims etc, is what a reasonable person would expect to find at the price I paid but they do require more work than the other makes I mentioned.

The construction is not as easy as the others and I found I couldn't do a dry run which I have always done and would want to do to give me thinking time about what room will be what.  It also allows for some decorating in the flat state before construction.  This house won't stand up without gluing and pinning; mostly because it has a ply back pinned on, rather than an MDF grooved back supporting the floors. I am not comfortable with having to 'nail' things together as it isn't always easy to make sure the nail goes into the material accurately.  It is only too easy to have a pin coming through and showing.  Also the pin heads show - not so important on the back but I am not fond of them at the sides.

This house doesn't allow enough space for a set of stairs down into the area and a servant's door into the basement from there.  Someone will have to climb through the windows to keep the area clean.  It does actually happen with a few houses in real life but I would have liked a servants' entrance and I hadn't realised that it wasn't possible to construct that because the the height under the stairs isn't enough. 

Right now working on the front of the house I am fidgeting with things like a 3/16 inch gap between the two doors when they are closed and the windows in the right side being nearly 3/16 inch lower than the windows on the left side.  This has a knock on effect to the horizontal stone trims (for a perfectionist)

click to enlarge and see if you can see the issues

There were also several problems to solve to get the doorway to look 'real'.  This included having to make an extra step and shimming up the door when putting it in its cut- out space to ensure the pilasters had a proper contact with the ground.

a shaped shim added
As I said at the beginning of this post - absolutely none of this will matter for most people messing around with this hobby and I am in no way decrying the maker - they make for most people.  However, if you are pernickity and want to create a fairly realistic house it would be best to be able to see a fully constructed kit if you can rather than depend on photos.  While you are there, take lots of photos and lots and lots of measurements then and go away and have a long hard think about which house will work best for you.

All this assumes you want a kit.  Many people buy ready built or even commission houses. For me, building is probably the part of the journey I like best.  I am not really a collector as such.  Ironically, solving the sort of problems I have just outlined might also be something I actually like doing!


  1. I think you are doing a grand job with this and it looks pretty impressive at this stage of the build. I too like the problem solving part (I like the feeling of having cracked it even better!) You've certainly pointed out a few things to bear in mind when constructing an unseen kit - it's all very helpful.

  2. Thanks Irene. Thought it might just sound like a moan. Not meant to be. Just pointing out if you are fussy you will find issues and its best to try to eliminate some if you can before you buy.

  3. This is a great post, I am looking for my next project and know what I want but can't find it in kit form so I might have to either build it myself from scratch or commission one this time.

    1. Its that or endless compromises! I would love a space big enough to have a fully realised architectural 1/12th house rather than a dolls house front slice. That is never going to happen so I am already 'compromising' so I suppose I can make do with a kit and just keep tweaking bits and bobs. Loads of luck on the next project.... Be wonderful to have bespoke...... Marilyn