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Monday, July 11, 2011


Wow!  So did I ever think keeping up and posting to this blog would be so tough?

To answer my own I did not!  But now is the busy-busy season for me, and as they must make hey while the sun shines!  (Even if it's raining!)

So while I have not actually been posting on this blog...I have been busy with my dollhouse.  Sorta.  I've made some fun purchases in the last few months, done some work on the Brownstone, and even worked on a doll for the house, which I purchased from a kit (and will be featuring later!)

For now, I really wanted to share this very COOL DOLL I purchased a few months ago on  She is exquisite!  Though I have no current plans to use her in the Brownstone.

I do think she is just gorgeous...all white and dead looking, as she is.  She seems to be an interesting combination of "Interview with a Vampire" meets "Marie Antoinette."  And as I write just occurred to me that Kirsten Dunst had a major roll in both of these films.

So here's Kirsten just lounging around as Marie!  And another as that scary kid from "IWAV"

The doll artist goes by the name of Sarangela on etsy.  And here is a direct link.  It seems she only has one doll available right now, and has not been real active since I bought this one back in April or it appears we've both been busy with other things.  (For me, that would be called...'making a living!')

She is a ball-jointed doll and made from cast resin. looks like it took a lot of work to me.  But I am glad someone had the time to do all the fussy little detail stuff.  She is one of my favorite purchases so far, and stands about 6 inches tall...including her poofy hair.  So perfect doll house size!  She would look really fab dressed in some Versaille-type garb.  But the truth is...I kinda dig her naked.  Ha!

Like I said...not sure what I plan to do with her yet.  Perhaps a room box of some sort.  Maybe with a haunted theme.  She definitely has a haunting sort of appeal...but in a very cool way!  The photos came directly from the they are the property of the artist.  But I am assuming she won't mind a bit of free advertising.  I think the dolls she makes totally ROCK!  For a larger image, just click on the photo.

Friday, April 29, 2011


It's been a while since I apologies to my ONE loyal follower! (Whom I appreciate very much!!)  I have been busy.  As a self-employed's been tough to work on my doll house when I have to make a living.  (Pesky reality!)  FYI - I just came back from a REAL New York Brownstone on the Upper West Side in Manhattan!  Got it ready to was a HOOT!  Turned out GORGEOUS!  (Photos to follow!)

But I am now back to doing a little work on my own teeny-tiny deli.  So far, the floor is 'almost' done, I have gotten the wallpaper up, and I fashioned a counter to hold my little cash register, painted the deli cases, table, and chairs...they were formerly bright white and black, respectively, and I even figured out something fabulous for my ceiling tiles!

It's too dark to take good photos this week...been dreary and raining here.  But I will post new pics as soon as the sun decides to show itself!  In the meantime, please enjoy the REAL NEW YORK BROWNSTONE I worked on last week!  (Currently on-sale for $2M!!)  You may click on the photos to enlarge!

Monday, January 3, 2011


Coming up with a the color for the tiles that mimicked the sample (last photo featured in the post directly below) took a little experimenting.  I first mixed about ½ tsp. of green liquid food coloring with 2 cups of warm water, then submerged a few tiles for about 10 minutes.  As the tiles are made of real wood, they each take on dye differently and did come out in various shades of green, but too bright for my liking.  To tone it down, I stirred in 3 tbsp. of instant coffee crystals and put it in the microwave for about a minute to ensure the water was hot enough for the grains to dissolve.  That mix turned out almost too brown, so I added another ½ tsp. of green food coloring and stirred.  This seemed to be the right recipe to create the shading and patina I was looking for.


I stained about 30 tiles at a time, fully submerging each, then removing them and rinsing them thoroughly under warm water.  To dry, the tiles were placed in a single layer on cookie sheets lined with paper towel to soak up the excess.  I repeated this process several times using the same dye bath before changing it out for a fresh solution.  The dry tiles do have a grainy sawdust on them but dry tiles tend to take the dye better than wet tiles.  Because of this,  I didn’t want to rinse them beforehand, though I did wipe off as much of the dust as I could before submerging.  Whatever didn’t come off originally did come off in the coloring, thus making it a little mucky to work with after a while.   This is why you should change the dye bath after every 100 tiles or so, to ensure you have an even coating of coloring with a similar tone. 


To prepare the dollhouse for tiling, I sanded, then painted the interior with a flat latex primer, then sanded some more.  After prepping, the trim was painted in a shade called ‘Green Pasture’ using a satin finish by Valspar Paint.  The medium green tone actually was my second choice as I had originally planned to paint the trim a soft creamy white.  But because the wood trim already in place in the dollhouse was not of high quality, the lighter color showed all the flaws that could not be sanded out.  On the other hand, the darker shade of green helped to camouflage all the issues a little better.  I do like the green though, so I think it all worked out nicely, in the end!  Before tiling, I also painted the floor of the deli with two coats of craft paint in a dark shade of spruce green.  I chose the darker green knowing that the color between the tiles would show through and I thought it might look a little more like grout.  Not sure at this point how I plan to finish the floors yet, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and go with the dark green. 


To give myself an idea of the design, I began to lay down a test run for the tiles using a parquet-style pattern on the diagonal and alternating tones from dark to light.  To keep it looking more realistic, I didn't always stick to this pattern and would knock it off a little by throwing in the odd-ball bright green or deep olive to give it a casual feel.  Once I got an idea for the overall style, I started gluing down the tiles one by one using Elmer's wood glue and a small paint brush.  To keep the ends from curling up, I could only glue about 10 tiles in place at a time, then had to lay a large ceramic tile over the top, and one of my 5 lb. hand weights on the tile to keep everything underneath pressed flat.

As I get a little further along, I will post more pictures and show you my progress.  So far, I am really liking the look and am already thinking ahead.  I have decided it would be awesome to try this same technique using different pigments and tones in the future.  I could really see doing something with the more jeweled tones without the coffee coloring added, or perhaps creating a white-washed feel that would take on the appearance of real marble!  Or simply dying them with coffee to bring out the wood tones!  One of the best features of this method I think is that the wood grain is allowed to show through and adds to the natural effect.    

OK, so I’ve been converted!  I honestly do believe the possibilities with these tiles are endless, and am now very excited about a product that at one time disappointed me. 

Don’t you love it when a negative turns into a positive?

Saturday, December 11, 2010


After sanding, prepping, then sanding the entire doll house again, I decided I might like to tackle the deli floor.  Truth be known, while I do plan to electrify the entire doll house, I thought at least getting something done before I threw myself into all the trials and tribulations of electrifying the thing would keep me motivated!  And since none of the wiring would be running across the lower-level floor, it seemed like a good place to start!

As I plan to install wood floors on the upper levels, I was interested in doing tile floors in the deli, just to mix it up and give it some contrast.  There too, almost every deli I have personally encountered in NYC has tile floors, and I really thought it would give the place an authentic look.  So I went in search of something different.  But deciding exactly what to do was perplexing.

There are so many tile floor options on the market for the doll house miniature enthusiast, and that includes sheets of paper tiles, molds to make your own, individual linoleum and ceramic squares, and wood.  I had even considered cutting down a couple of self-adhesive life size linoleum squares into 1" pieces, but thought it would take me a month of Sundays just to get enough to cover the large main floor! 

And then I stumbled upon these wood parquet tiles that seemed  ideal.

Check out these sample photos from!  Doesn't this look like the perfect solution?  I eagerly ordered not one, but two bags of these things...just in case...and then just as eagerly tracked their route on-line while waiting for the UPS truck!

Which makes my disappointment upon their arrival even more heartbreaking.  Based on the above photo, I thought they were going to look like a less polished version of Scrabble tiles.  What I got instead was a bag full of wood chips!  They were almost paper thin, not even cut remotely even, and the bag was full of saw dust!  Quite honestly...I hated them.  I had spent almost $30 (plus postage!) to cover 800 square inches...far more than I would actually need...only to find myself headed right back to the drawing board. 

And then an amazing idea came to me out of nowhere!

I remembered one of the many botanical gardens I had visited on one of my many road trips, but I couldn't remember in what city I had seen it.  What I did recall was the feeling invoked by the old tile floors that adorned the main conservatory.  They had an inviting appeal,  imperfect as they were, that gave the space lots and lots of patina.  I remember thinking they must have held up for years, and they still looked incredibly current and so full of character.  Maybe they were slate.  Or perhaps they were concrete. Whatever they were, I liked their style and it made an impression...apparently not enough to remember where I saw them (ha!), but enough to still hold a place in my memory.

After doing a bit of research, I found my inspiration!  While not an exact duplicate of my personal conservatory experience, it does come awfully darned close. I absolutely LOVE this look!  I LOVE the different tones in the tile!  I LOVE the feeling of the squares not quite matching up!  And I LOVE the color!  With that in mind, I set out to see if perhaps I could salvage my bag of wood chips and turn them into something truly unique and beautiful!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Maybe it's my background in interior design, or maybe it's the fact that I spent SOOO much time on-line over the past year, checking out what other people have done with their doll houses...but I decided, you just can't design one room at a time.  I know this is not a professional opinion, it's just my own...but it seems to me that just like a real have to have a plan.

I did notice that on a personal level, I was drawn to the finished doll houses that had some kind of continuity in style. They had a theme going on that made all the rooms feel connected.  I think I am especially drawn to this because unlike a life-sized home, when you look at a doll house, you can actually see all the rooms...or most of the rooms, depending on the style of your doll once.  For this reason, I made a conscious decision to coordinate my rooms from the start.  But I needed to find that common thread to be used as a spring board for the design.

Because this is the first doll house I have ever had to finish and style, I knew I would need to go with wallpaper for probably most, if not all, of the rooms.  While there are certainly many patterns to choose from, I had previously discovered from all that research that 1)  There's a lot of really cheesy country mini-wallpaper out there, and I am not all that keen on cheesy country.  2)  A lot of the mini-wallpaper is shiny!  I don't even like shiny wallpaper in real-life, and I think it would be especially horrid in mini-life!  And 3) Doll house wallpaper can be very expensive!

At the same time I was looking for a pattern to inspire me, I was also looking for something embossed to put on the ceilings.  I knew I wanted something that would look like tin or tile, but I also knew I didn't want to pay $6.00 a sheet for the opportunity.  So I went looking for some real-life wallpaper that would mimic that.  Finding an entire roll was my goal, so I if I screwed up, I would have plenty to replace it.  And what I found was a roll of anaglypta wallpaper from Fred's Decorating in Chicago.  Here it is...

I like this wallpaper a lot!  It has a deep embossed design, it's paintable, and the little squares will mimic a real tin ceiling nicely, I think!

Personally, I don't know why tin ceilings ever went out of style.  They are so beautiful to look at...but now,  much more expensive to install than they use to be.

Above is a photo of the white painted ceiling tile in designer Windsor Smith's kitchen!  Now who wouldn't rather look at that than plain old sheet rock?  So as long as I had found the perfect embossed wallpaper for the ceiling at (and at a darned good price, I might add!)  I decided to see what else this website might have to offer.   


Not exactly what I had originally thought I wanted, but I fell in love with it immediately!  Since I already kind of had a color scheme for the exterior in mind (we'll discuss that later) this wallpaper not only seemed to enhance my vision, but was the right scale for what I had in mind. 

There too, I had just visited Andrew Jackson's historic home, "The Hermitage", and was probably still a little under the influence of the wallpaper that had been imported from Paris for the entrance hall.

There is a definite grandness about this style of wallpaper that I wanted to insert into the brownstone.  I've seen it in historic old homes before.  I've even seen it in grand old brownstones in New York and Philly.  So it seemed fitting to me.  Plus...I really like the colors and pattern.

So maybe the teeny tiny couple who own the deli and live here will have to be Italian!  The wallpaper most definitely has a Tuscan feel.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


When I decided to install a deli on the first floor of my doll house, I had to think about what I was going to do on the upper levels, too.   It wasn't a tough decision.  I envisioned the tiny couple that owned the shop on the first floor would probably be the same tiny couple residing above.  And because this is a New York brownstone and New York is a melting pot of cultures, I envisioned immigrants from the old country.  

While I was not really sure what 'old country' they should actually hail from, I imagine they probably came here with nothing, built up their business, raised their family, and are soon to retire...but their work ethics won't allow it.  

With that in mind, I decided I needed to give the residential rooms a more elegant European-style decor.  My imaginary mini-couple have built a life together, worked hard, invested wisely, and live well, but not beyond their means.  They are more inclined to purchase quality items...classic and timeless...and take good care of them.

After being a part of the Upper West Side for decades, they are now considered pillars in their community and enjoy a quiet, more traditional lifestyle at home.

Ok.  So I admit it...planning for this doll house has so far been half the fun!


Many of the brownstones in New York house a business on the lower-level and tenants or office space in the upper stories.  Because the first floor ceiling in my brownstone doll house is about an inch lower than it is on the upper floors, I decided to create my own little deli, just like you might see in New York...only much, much smaller!  

Of course, I don't have near as much room to work with, but my goal is to add a couple of display cases filled with sandwiches and salads out front, and maybe another case with sweet treats, coffee, and a little cafe table and chairs in the back.  PS - I don't know where exactly the photo below came from, but I really do like the tiles!  They were a real inspiration for the floor I plan to install in the doll house deli.

Because space is as limited in New York as it is in my doll house, I might consider giving it some real deli-style by hanging sausages, meats, and cheeses from above, just like they do at Zabar's, pictured below.  I totally dig the tin-ceiling!

The fun will be inserting my own style, just like opening my very own little shop!  

...and of course, adding all the teeny-tiny details!