Remodeling and Restoration

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Height of Dollhouse Ceilings: If you're doing your own design, why let the dollhouse manufacturer's decisions affect yours? When I toured the Garth Mansion in Hannibal, Missouri, I asked what the ceiling heights were. They told me it went as follows:
Bottom floor - 14', Second Floor - 12, Third Floor - 10', and the ceiling in the tower room was 8'. (Really big house!) However, I've been in other Victorian houses where the ceilings are 10' or 12' on the first floor. The taller the rooms, the more spacious they'll feel, unless you're going to make the rooms quite narrow, in which case the higher ceilings would look a bit odd.

George Held

Replacement Glencroft windows. Get some acetate (carryout salad containers are great) and cut it to fit over both an intact window and the exterior molding around it. Masking tape in place and carefully trace over the painted pane pattern (say that 3 times fast!) with acrylic paint. Let it dry, untape, trim to fit the empty window, and your house is on its way to a budget restoration.


Hard Fimo - I haven't tried this myself but did watch a friend do it. She broke the hard Fimo into pieces as small as she could with just her hands and put it into an electric coffee bean grinder. Then added -just a drop at a time - mineral oil and turned on the grinder. After just a few minutes of this the Fimo was soft enough to use. As I said, I haven't tried this and have no idea if the mineral oil would damage the clay in any way, but it sure did work for my friend's project.


Removing siding. It turned out to be quite easy.   Put a thin spatula (or something like that) under a corner and slowly pry it off.   Hopefully it won't splinter as you do it.   If it does you can scrape it off with a razor.


Ungluing: I tried the tip that was posted on the SSD about ungluing furniture in the microwave. It works and it takes only 1 minute in the microwave to soften the glue. What I found out though, is that it melts the varnish also, so be prepare to sand. I didn't mind since I needed to sand   the piece anyway.

Gisele Nadeau

Ungluing: I have used this procedure to unglue doors and windows for painting.
1. Pour a small amount of alcohol in a jar that you can reseal. Never use alcohol from your original container, as this will make the bottle un-sterile, and useless for medical purposes.
2. Paint the alcohol on the glue joints, let dry and paint again. you will have to do this a number of times, and the glue will become soft and allow the parts to come apart. ( A single edge razor blade will help cut the joint, this makes a straight line cut )
3. Let the parts dry for 48 hours and turn every 12 hours. The alcohol will evaporate and the parts will dry.
4. Sand if needed and paint. Once the paint is dry, glue the parts and touch up the cracks if needed.
5. Patience, patience and more patience.


Windows: I restored my grandmother's 2 room shadow box (ca. 1910) last winter. It has glass windows which are held in place with wood strips just like regular windows. They do not open but I glued pane dividers ( muntins/mullions?) as my mother recalled the originals as having. They are certainly clearer than the plastic panes I have in my dollhouse.


Make windows Fit: You can make standard size windows fit. If the standard windows are too large, the answer is obvious, make the opening wider. If the standard windows are too small you can make the openings narrower by placing pieces of wood on the frame edge. You then cover the seam with wallpaper or wood fill and paint or use broad molding. I remember doing this with a door as the door I really wanted was too small for the opening. Of course the windows would have to look proportionate to the rest of the house and if they won't, using standard windows, chuck out my idea.


"Leather" chair:   I tried my own version of what I remembered and it actually worked pretty well.   I have a stash of 45 pieces of beautifully made House of Miniatures furniture that I purchased at ONE garage sale, all signed and dated by the man who made them almost 20 years ago. The blue fabric that came with some of the kits faded over the years. I had one little couch with a broken leg and wobbly arms, so I chose that one to experiment with.  I took all the wood off and painted the fabric with several coats of acrylic. (Should have sealed it first -- it absorbed a lot of paint!)  A couple of coats of satin polyacrylic sealer, and I got a pretty convincing result. I even pushed in the cushions in a couple of places to reflect years of little bottoms sitting there, and the wrinkles held, making it look like a lot of well-used leather furniture I've seen.   I built a simple box platform for it and it looks "mid-century modern", though it started out Chippendale.  Now I regret the caramel color I used and may be giving it several more coats of a different color.  It's still fun.

Rosalind in Houston

An alternative to siding. I rehab old wood tab & slot houses. I slather on wood putty/filler (in small tubs at WalMart/Home Depot/Lowes etc.) where the slot is glued where it pokes through the wall, then smooth it out with an old credit card and let dry. Then sand and paint. It really strengthens these cute but cheap houses; works to fill in gaps where walls meet, too.

On the exterior, I like to use fake granite spray paint and clear acrylic topcoat, which gives a faux stucco look. Fairly cheap at WalMart & KMart, in numerous colors.


Wiring over wallpaper: You may wire over existing wallpaper but it may pose a few potential problems.  I would suggest removing the old paper if you can.  Hopefully, you used Yes glue to hang the original paper.  If so, hold a steaming cloth over the old paper & it will pee; off easily.  The problems that may arise if you do not remove the wallpaper are these:  When you wallpaper over the paper already there, the new paste may cause the old paper to buckle & the pattern of the old paper may show through the new paper. 

Sari, The Doll House, Scottsdale, AZ

I rehab a lot of houses, but for children, so sturdy playability is more important than period detail and perfection. Often if trim is in bad shape, I just sand, use wood filler, sand again, and repaint rather than going to the trouble of removing and replacing it -- but either way, it's much more tedious than difficult! If you're lucky and the original builder did it the lazy way with hot glue, if the house isn't falling completely apart already, you can loosen the broken bits with a hot hair dryer, then scrape off the glue residue. And of course when you do your restoration, use a good glue (check the Archives for tips) so your work stays done. Have fun. This is the right place to get all the advice you need step by step from people with much more expertise than I have, but if I can do it, so can you!


Michael’s Hutch: In order to separate a Michael's hutch, put it, weighed down, in a bowl of water for a few hours.   The glue will disintegrate.   Lay the bits to dry on a towel under weights.   I have never once had any warpage with a hutch doing this.   One can then make up the ensuing bits into any configuration wanted :O)

Helen Cottrell

Repairing resin: I use silicon to glue resin. Use all you want as the excess will readily peel off when it's dry.

Carol, S P Miniatures

Repairing resin: Cathy asked for the best glue for repairing resin figures etc. I've found that Quick Grab works the best on resin for me.

Alice Zinn- Pt. St. Lucie FL

Repairing resin: I use super glue gel. (I like the gel because it doesn't run - and I don't end up with my fingers glued together!!)  

Patty Johnson

Siding: If at all possible, the best way to glue siding to your walls is before the house is put together, using lots of books to weight it down. (An encyclopedia on CD is handy, but not worth much in the weight department!) Putting up the siding after the house is constructed calls for LOTS of masking tape and clamps. Still very difficult to keep the bottom edge of each piece from popping up.

Dani in Bradshaw MD

Wallpaper: I also had problems finding wallpaper that I liked here in the UK, on a visit to my local DIY shop (focus) I found a solution. The DIY shop had a sale on full size wallpaper, so I bought some rolls with a very small pattern on and some with a stripe and some with a self coloured pattern, I also bought some borders that were also reduced in price. With the borders I did not use the whole thing but at the edges of the rolls was a mini sized design so I cut the edges off and used these as my 'mini' borders, the middle of the border I threw away, so for around 1 per roll I managed to decorate my house with lots to spare, I also was able to buy some paper with a small embossed pattern on which I used for papering my ceilings they look great. I used two different types of wallpaper for each room one at the top and one at the bottom with some of the 'mini' border in the middle. So have a look around the DIY places in your local stores, its worth a visit.

Ann Littler, Oxford UK

White-washed wood: You can take regular acrylic white paint and thin it with water. Brush on and wipe back with a soft cloth. Use a piece of scrap wood and play with different ratios of paint & water until you find the one that matches.


Future Floor Wax for Fimo: Yes, Future Wax works beautifully for getting a shiny coat on Fimo items. I learned this from Judy Kafka, renown for her Fimo Candy Castles and trains. No stickiness whatsoever. Future is made by Johnson Wax Co. of Racine, Wisconsin and is still available as far as I know. I've used it on my no-wax floors, too, to enhance them.

Jeanette in Wisconsin

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