Let’s have a throwback in time for a bit and start with the beginning. Because sometimes, after seeing 10+ tutorials, reviews, and videos ( please subscribe to my Youtube-Channel) and more on DIY dollhouse miniatures, you still might feel lost.
‘Now what, where do I even begin?’ or: ‘Help: I have a hobby!’
Let me share with you my thoughts on this. (it is a long read, but I wish I had been informed from the start!)
Do whatever you would like to do!
Our miniaturist hobby is so comprehensive that you could easily lose oversight. But as a matter of fact, anything is possible in the mini-world: from replicas of actually existing things to fantasy items. There are literally no rules.
But, if you are a rule-person, I can provide you with a few;-)
Rule number 1.
There is no: ‘I HAVE TO DO THIS ‘ in our hobby of DIY dollhouse miniatures because this is mostly a very nice hobby with so many aspects that everyone can do something. You can make miniature food, furniture, crochet, knit, build the dollhouse itself, or just use miniature kits, it is totally up to you! Be careful not to get addicted though 😉
Rule number 2.
You can NOT DO EVERYTHING yourself. You might be good at knitting and crocheting, someone else could be better with wood. ( I prefer the last one over knitting, not very typical ‘feminine’, I know, but that doesn’t matter at all ).
Literally, everything is for sale, at any stage of the process of making or decorating your dollhouse. From miniature kits to finished products. So you are not going to have a problem with finishing the complete dollhouse.
Rule number 3.
Do you know what the fun part is about our hobby? YOU CAN MAKE MISTAKES!
Basically, anything can be restored in DIY dollhouse miniatures. And remember, everyone has made mistakes in the beginning, at some point we all do. The most important thing is that you enjoy what you make, have fun with your hobby!
And that hobby is very extensive. Not only do I enjoy crafting at home, I indulge in sawing work for my treehouse, fairy garden or backyard shed, or my miniature kits, but It also affects my personal life.
First of all, wherever I go on holiday, I look on the internet if there are any dollhouses or miniature museums. Like the one in Lyon, France that I visited a few years ago:
When I walk around other museums (I love to visit castles and fortresses for example), I can sometimes take way too many pictures of the building or the furniture. Because ‘you never know’ if I would like to make a duplicate of it or at the least in the same architectural style. My real world has suddenly become much bigger because of the small world!
Where to start?
Just by DOING IT. Let your imagination run wild, don’t worry about failing at first attempts.
Look around you, you will find many examples on the internet. There are several sites or Facebook groups where you can get in touch with fellow miniaturists, and see photos and videos of other people’s projects. You can learn a lot from those. ‘AHA, that’s how they do it!’
There are also several DIY dollhouse miniatures magazines all over the world: I have talked about those here. ( there is even Dollhouse TV )
Many projects are described in those magazines, but also interviews with professional miniaturists, addresses of (web)shops, dates of exhibitions and fairs, etc..
Practice makes perfect.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the fantastic results of others. Everyone had to start at some point. You can see how someone else does it and then try it out for yourself.
Sometimes you can fail when you do something for the first time, but you can’t expect results without trying. When making your miniature vegetables, made in clay, fails, then take another piece of clay and try again. You usually don’t need a lot of material and you can reuse a lot of it.
The day that you will give everything a try, you will discover your strengths, skills, and likes. It will be different for everyone. Also: what does it even matter when your wallpaper is crooked? Just replace it with a new one. So your paint job didn’t work out as you wanted it? Just try again!
What you don’t see or know, will not hurt anyone… After all, it is about the end result and I wish you lots of fun with the process!
A dollhouse, basic knowledge.
Of course, you can indulge in making all kinds of miniatures, but at some point, you would still like to fill a room and bring a dollhouse to life?
Some people are very happy with a book nook in the bookcase for example, yet others fill entire (guest) rooms with their dollhouses. Nothing is impossible and everything is allowed.
How do I choose a dollhouse?
Once you are ready to go for it, the possibilities are so gigantic, that choosing becomes the most difficult part.
So then, ask yourself these questions:
– does the dollhouse have enough space in my real house?
– how much can the house cost?
– what do I want to do with it, how do I want to decorate the house?
The final choice is obviously taken by your eyes: you like the way it looks or you don’t. But even with a dollhouse that you immediately fall in love with, it is important to ask yourself these questions! So:
1 – How much will it cost you?
Will this be the only house you’ll ever buy or will you get several ones? Because the first one somewhat limits the choice.
I would advise you not to buy a very large house immediately because then you are ‘stuck’ and limited to just one. Sometimes, later on, you can get different ideas, and head in different directions, and there you are: you end up with that big house.
But … if that house is the only thing you can ever get, then a big house might not be such a bad idea. After all, nobody forces you to complete it all at once. I have spent years on my backyard shed, as it was my first project. (and that’s just a small one).
2 – Where do you put the dollhouse?
Where will the house be placed? A large house can be very dominant in a living room. Do you have a separate hobby room for your DIY dollhouse miniatures, or do you have a room where everything else of your household goes into? Not everyone wants that, three years on the kitchen table is a very long time!
Always measure out also where you can put it (width/height/length), you could try it out with a large cardboard box for example.
Myself, I like to put it in a large bookshelf, for example, my treehouse is measured out to put it exactly in there later when it’s finished!
3 – Finding the right house.
Do you want to (re)build a modern house, farm, or rather something fancy like a Victorian-style house, or what about a Tudor-style house? Each person has their own preference when it comes to style. Of course, you can adjust everything to your taste, but doing that makes one house cheaper and easier than the other.
So, take a look at the shape and style of the house. If there are fewer fixed elements then it is easier to make it to your own taste. Also, think about what you want in the dollhouse: a kitchen, a living room ànd a bathroom ànd a nursery ànd a maid’s room may not all fit in a small cottage …
Think about the size of the rooms themselves as well. Because if for example, you would like to put a sofa + dinner table and chairs in one room, there might not be enough room for all of it!
4 – Get a closed or open house?
When a dollhouse is ‘open’, you can look straight into it, without a facade in front. The advantage is that you see everything, the disadvantage is well, the same: you see everything all the time.
Sometimes it is nice to be able to just “close” the house. Another disadvantage is that it gathers dust a lot faster, but you could put a glass wall in front of it.
Or something I saw on Facebook the other day and I thought that was a pretty good idea. Buy a plastic see-threw shower curtain and glue that on top of your room box or bookshelf etc and there you go. The best idea that I have seen in a long time because I can surely tell you, removing the dust from your dollhouse and miniatures is a drag!
5 – Quality.
As you might have noticed, there is a lot of choice in prices, sizes, but also in quality. There are houses made of plywood or MDF. Triplex can be way too thin, and those will warp as soon as you add wallpaper or paint it.
Plywood is thicker and will warp less. This must first be primed. Birch plywood (also in 9 mm thickness) is a lot smoother and is very light.
MDF these days is used a lot. You need to sand and prime the cheap type first as well, but you can process a good quality MDF board straight away.
MDF comes in all kinds of thicknesses but 9-10 mm is suitable for a dollhouse. Even more, because dollhouse windows and doors have an installation thickness of approximately 9 mm. It is strong and smooth, but fragile on the shorter side. This is the reason why there are special MDF hinges on the market.
6 – Description.
Remember that time when you were looking to buy or rent a house? The ad said: ‘rural, nice DIY house’.
==>Translation: you should know that it is very remote and that it has a lot of overdue maintenance.
The same goes for dollhouses: you have to read carefully between the lines. Because a “house with 9 rooms” can be a house that has: a middle staircase (3 “rooms” but filled with the stairs and little other space) and 2×2 rooms on either side, plus 2 rooms on the tiny attic (so that no big pieces of furniture can be placed there).
So what’s actually left is 4 rooms and a small attic! Just pay attention to the total package and think about how much space you actually have to put in your miniatures.
You can make the choice of a dollhouse easier by standing in front of the house and trying to imagine how you will furnish it.
I call it: “moving in”. ==> In that corner comes the kitchen, over there, next to the stairs, there will be a linen cupboard. Aha, and there will be a bedroom, etc.
Ask yourself if anything can be adjusted: the ornaments, the stairs. Can the window frames be easily removed? (easier to paint). Will that large chandelier and beloved sofa fit into the house?
When you don’t have enough rooms or the ‘moving in’-trick doesn’t work, you might want to consider looking elsewhere.
There is plenty of choice in the mini-world and almost every dollhouse or any DIY dollhouse miniatures can be adjusted to your own wishes.
I wish you much luck and especially FUN with choosing your dollhouse and decorating it!
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