Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Doll House Renovation

Before the Christmas season began, I was brainstorming ideas of what to get the kids.  Ivan is fairly easy because a) he's a boy and b)  he loves anything with guns or video games.  Luci, on the other hand, is a little harder to buy for.  A little girl can only have so many baby dolls and Barbie's.  So, as I was trying to come up with idea and my mom mentioned that she still had my dollhouse in the basement if I wanted it for Luci.  The light bulb went off in my brain and I reeled with ideas.  

The dollhouse was given to me by my Grandpa B. who made it by hand when I was like 5 years old.  The dollhouse was my favorite thing to play with and my mom says I spent hours hosting dinner parties, weddings, and rearranging furniture in this dollhouse.  I remember how much I loved this dollhouse as a little girl and how special it would be if I could pass this down to Luci.  I know my grandparents put alot of time and love into making it, so, I decided this would be a great gift for Luci and crafty project for me!  When my mom brought the dollhouse over and placed it in the garage (my workspace) I came up with a whole designer motif.   
The before picture with the old wallpaper and exterior.

The front that needed some molding reattached.

Close up of the interior

Close up of the 'kitchen'
 I decided that I would re-wallpaper the interior and paint the exterior.  I promptly went to Hobby Lobby (my favorite store as most of you already know) and browsed all the dollhousing options.  I soon realized that dollhousing could easily become very expensive.  I left Hobby Lobby empty handed and a little defeated.  As I became obsessed with the idea of renovating this dollhouse, I searched eBay, dollhouse websites and craft sites for cheaper material options needed for the project.  I found a couple of great websites with DIY hints and cheap substitutions.  I felt more empowered to take on the project with my own creativity.

I went back to Hobby Lobby and scavenged through the 1.5 million choices of scrap booking paper, looking for cute, girly prints that would be small enough for the interior of the house.  I decided on a few funky, retro patterns that were still light and pastel enough but a bit more modern.  I picked out a pink pastel paint for the exterior and a purple for the trim.  I guess I was going for a Painted Lady Victorian look.

I was still in a dilemma about what to do with the roof because there were quite a few water stains and tears in it.  I looked all over for replacement roofing that was similar, but no luck.  I searched some more on the Internet and found another DIY site that showed how to paint it in a way to cover stains.  After another trip to Hobby Lobby I was finally ready to begin.

I started by painting the exterior with the pink and the purple trim. This was a painstaking task because it requires a steady hand.  After several coats of paint, the exterior was almost complete with the exception of a few trim pieces that needed free hand painting done.  (I had a friend in mind for that part!)

The next step was removing all the old wallpaper and trim so I could put on my new funky, fresh patterns.  The trim was so delicate that I used an Exacto knife, as not to break this 30 year old miniature trim.  I spent several evenings in the garage measuring, Exacto cutting and applying the new paper.  I used a crafter's glue the apply the paper and a plastic spatula thingy to smooth out the bubbles.  After roughly 30 hours worth of labor the house was almost done.

There was some exterior trim that needed attached so I got out the crafter's glue and reattached those as well.  A friend of Jake's is an amazing artist so I called him on Dec. 22 to help me finish the last minute details.   He free handed the front door trim and added a painted trellis on the side of the house with purple flowers. 

In the meantime, I was talking to Grandma C and telling her about the project.  She and grandpa were thrilled to hear that 1) the dollhouse was still around and 2) I was fixing it up for Luci.  She also told me about this box full of dollhouse furniture that she acquired.  A week later I received a huge box in the mail with enough furniture to decorate six dollhouses!  I had a blast going through it all and thinking of all the possibilities.  After careful consideration, I decided to put these very delicate pieces away for awhile. 

Afterall, Luci was not quite 3 and I was sure she would have them destroyed in about 2 hours.  So with that said, I needed an idea to furnish the house with non-breakable furniture.  Back to the Internet I went and found a line of inexpensive plastic furniture.  After several trips to several stores during the holiday season, I found  a living room, dining room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen set of furniture.  I also picked up a few more little people for the house. 

On Christmas Eve Jake, my mom and I brought the finished dollhouse into the house and set up all the new furniture.  I stood back, quite proud of myself and smiled.  I thought about how much time, effort and love went into renovating this 30- year old dollhouse.  I thought about how my grandparents must have felt when they did the same for me.  And lastly, I thought about the look on Luci's face when she would get to see it on Christmas morning. 

The finished product.

We carefully placed the dollhouse next to the tree and closed the door to the room where the tree was. (Our house is too small to put a big tree in the living room, so it's in a front entry way.) The next morning, I made the kids wait until I could get the FLIP and camera ready because I wanted to capture the look on her face. As I searched for the camera, Luci pounded and banged on the door, shouting "Let me in! Let me in!"
When I finally opened the door, she immediately ran to the dollhouse and this was the response:
She sees it for the first time and immediately starts playing with it.

Luci examining the contents.
I think she loves it!

Thanks Grandma C and Grandpa B for being so awesome in making the dollhouse to begin with.  I now realize the amount of work and effort it took.  I love every memory of my beloved dollhouse and now Luci can too!!  You rock!

1 comment:

  1. It looks great! This story makes me so happy; Grandpa B and Grandma Carol are the best!

    I have a vague memory of a similar dollhouse that I had when I was very small. If I did have one at one time, then I'm super jealous that you still have yours.