Remodeling and Restoration

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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

Primer: Anything that seals a porous surface is technically a sealer. That is why additional coats of paint and sanding between coats are as satisfactory as a commercial primer followed by paint. The only time I use a true primer is when I need to create a tooth on the surface for the paint to adhere to, then Gesso is my choice. It is inexpensive and foolproof.


Walls: what I do for making 'natural' walls: I use thick waterbased paint (wallpaint), sample pots for sale at the large do-it-yourself stores, use an old, hard brush and move it around, then put bird sand on it and you have a very natural effect!


Textured walls: I am no expert on any of this but I have an idea for your outside walls maybe this would work if you take tissue paper crumble it up and then dip in watered down glue and paste to your walls, or decoupage it to the wall and then paint over it. Also if you get the tissue with the color you want all ready on it would be even better. I did a box like this and it came out pretty good.


Textured Walls and Ceilings: I wanted a textured wall in my mini living room. I cut a template of the wall which included cutouts for the wall plugs. I took all my textured paint kit out to the garage and opened the door for ventilation. Once everything was set, I glued the entire piece to my wall. It didn't require doing any mammoth movements of my huge dollhouse. I was good to go and it has stood up to the task.

Cora/Rhode Island

Removing hot glued shingles: One time I purchased a house from a yard sale and they used hot glue to put on the shingles I used an old iron to remove them. I would get a section hot by moving the iron over the shingles until I was able to lift them off using a large putty knife.
They came off in large sections and didn't take much time to remove. This method might even work on wall and floor joins.


Dutch interiors from 1900: there was a great difference between the interiors of the workers; the so called middle class, the rich farmers and the people who lived in towns..
Perhaps it is interesting for the others to know how we lived in the first half of the 20th century.
Something about the way WE lived, not poor, neither very wealthy. My parents lived in a workman's' cottage where I still live. See garden page at my website. My father grew fruit, worked in other peoples' gardens, served beer in pubs and later he also worked in a factory where they dry grasses for cattle food.

So their interior was very simple: when they got married in the 20ties, they bought the most necessary furniture in straight, dark brown oak, the seats covered in dark red velvety fabric, a carpet on the floor, which first had a layer of dark patterned floor-cloth. They had yuckie brown, hairy curtains! They did not have wallpaper, but the walls were painted in a gloomy green shade(30ties) BUT earlier that century the walls had had a deep pink color: Dark apple blossom.

There was a mirror above the mantelpiece! And there was a clock and a tiny , little bookcase, they did not have many books... They had BIG lampshades with frills, in the 40-50ties, but must have had oil-lamps in the early years.

The kitchen was painted in BLUE, . It was the same shade used in the farms; against the flies! In this kitchen we only had a 2 pan electrical cooking set. And a built-in cupboard. Important in every kitchen was the rack with earthenware drawers, hanging in a little wooden rack on the wall. For sugar, coffee, flour, little ones for herbs. The more luxurious racks had a clock in it. There was a sink in our kitchen, but we can still see that there have been alterations in the twenties. I think there was none when the house was built...(1900)

Next to the fire-places in the kitchen AND the living room were two little cupboards above one an other: which opened in the kitchen as well in the living room: the upper for stock that had to be stored absolutely dry, like meds, tobacco, her sewing box....and the lowest little cupboard was forstoring....wood and peat, to keep the stove burning in winter.

My parents slept in a bed in a small backroom, but we also had those kind of cupboards, we children slept in , called "bedstee"! These were in the living room as that was the only place we had a stove! So it was warm there. This stove was black and round, with copper finishings. But earlier they also came in several colors (olive-green or even apple blossom pink!) Under the" bedstee" was always a cellar OR, at poor people's: an extra room to store all those children; most people had at least 8 to 12 children, my parents only had three...

My mother had no modern washing machine until the seventies! She washed all her life in that big wooden washing machine(NOW available in mini!) with an electro motor under it, so she did NOT have to rub on a washboard! We did not have a TV, BUT we had radio, from the beginning on! (20ties)

Neither did we have an refrigerator....I did not know how she kept her food cool....well, we had instant airco: the wind blew right through the house! The walls were only one stone thick with a plank wall on the inside. Not to mention I had colds very often...

We had no bathroom either...once a week in a tub and we went to the outside loo, mentioned before in this digest. You people in the countryside of America lived in almost the same circumstances. I even have read stories about NO electricity. My parents did have electricity; as they lived in a village. But when you lived isolated , somewhere in the polder, in the middle of nowhere, the electric co. did not give you a connection. So those people used oil lamps 'till the 60ties!

Farmers had the so called "Good room" of Mooie kamer; an extra room where they only came when there was something to celebrate and you wanted to impress people! This room had beautiful dark red upholstered chairs, mostly neo-classic or Biedermeier, luxurious velveteen wallpaper, a Bonheur case (see my website; the parlour)Etc. etc. Questions? Just mail me!

Atie, Holland

For the SSers in Flood Areas that have water damage to books, magazines, room boxes, etcetera:: If you have a large local library or University near you check with them about book restorers before you toss out all your miniature books and magazines. If you are willing to pay for the restoring the items can be 'freeze dried' and restored to readable condition. It's what large libraries do when they have devastating losses of reference materials and books. It's worth looking into. Might also check to see if the room boxes could be dried out the same way.

Patricia / Redwood City, CA

Stripping Wallpaper: I have found *warm* water with vinegar, sprayed on the walls/wallpaper and allowed to soak in for about 10 minutes, then scraped off with one of those metal plaster spreaders works best for removing wallpaper and paste.

Anne Gerdes

Transformer: Cir-kit has a very good web site which has a lot of useful information.The information on transformers is on this page:

This information is also in Dee's catalog. Keep in mind that the numbers given are for bulbs,not lights,so if a lamp has 3 bulbs count that as 3.


Perfic Panels:While rummaging through my local model train shop I came upon a product named Perfic Panels.It is a polystyrene clad panel with a polystyrene foam core that is water proof, weather proof, etc. In other words,it behaves exactly as Gatorboard. It comes in 1/8 inch thick 16 inch squares.

Here is their home site:

The material canbe cut with a knife, bent into round shapes,and is reasonably priced.


Wiring Over Wallpaper: I cannot see a single reason why tape wiring over one wallpaper and then adding wallpaper over it should be a problem. If your first wallpaper does not stick well, that's a problem, but other than that I can see no reason not to do what you want to do. Just be sure to test the wiring as you go along through the rooms, don't wait until the very end.

Barb Jones

For those of you considering recovering wallpaper, think again because results are uncertain. It can be done, though; I used Kilz (a great primer. Use in an open area) to keep the pattern from showing through. But scratch is best. Just soak off the paper and scrape. If you are going to do it anyway, just be sure there are no wire thingees under the old paper if you are going to also rewire. You may be causing short circuits and dangerous conditions that could start a fire. That means staples, nails or any other metallic piece.

Deanna from beautiful downtown Thiensville

Tile Sealer: You might try using Deft Semi-Gloss spray on your tiles to seal them. Cut the tiles to fit your room then spray them before you glue them in. The more coats, the shinier they will be. I use two coats on the tile floors in my Southwest room boxes. Spray evenly and not too heavy. Several thin coats are better than 1 heavy coat. Let dry completely between coats. Sealing before grouting prevents the grout and water from penetrating the tiles and it also eases clean up of the grout. When the grout is completely dry, usually about 24 hours, you can spray one more time to bring the shine back to the tiles.


Slotted Houses: I have used the Dopesold in model shops to condition and strengthen these devils prior to cutting or working with them. This material is used to strengthen balsa in airplane models. Work in a WELL-VENTILATED area. If you don't, you'll quickly discover why it is called Dope. It will make you high as a kite and can cause permanent brain damage. I have been satisfied with the results. I use it on both sides of the scored material. It also helps to prevent warping and elements many of the splinters. I have sealed the area around the assembled slot with wood filler or spackle then used my Dremel to sand the area smooth. The result is very neat and gives a smooth surface. Though not the kit of my choice, I have found they are workable if you spend time prepping the material before you work with it. I would point out, however, that the expense of this prep work often negates the saving in purchasing a kit of this type

Becky Holliday

ME house: I saw an official ME house at a show; the exterior is indeed paper printed in ME designs, like an update of the Victorian Bliss houses -- red faux siding with a flower border, trees, and shrubs printed on it. If you have paper or fabric you'd like to use, go for it. I used this technique in one of the first give-away houses I did, which in fact was a bashed Sweetheart with an added foamcore lower story and balcony. I covered the exterior with quilt fabric in a mellow old brick pattern, using wallpaper paste, because at the time none of the local mini stores had brick paper in stock. Worked just fine. I stabilized the fabric with Wonderunder iron-on interfacing, then cut paper templates, pinned them to the fabric, cut the fabric walls, and pasted the fabric on (right over the window openings). Once the paste dried, I used a craft knife to cut out the window openings, then added the window trim, doors and balconies. Turned out quite nice; the same technique should work as well for a fantasy finish. Mary Lynn in Huntington did something similar with her quilt shop and has more how-to details on her web site -- don't have it bookmarked, so maybe she will respond with this info.

Loretta Sniarowski

Wallpaper: I just started a new job a Ben Franklin Crafts working in the custom framing department. I was sitting there helping a customer pick out mat board for her picture when all of a sudden realized that we have mat board with patterns on it! This one was a white an off-white tiny stripe pattern but as i went through all our samples i realized we have lots of different patterns! And solid colors in about every shade you could need, We also have linen mat board and suede like pieces too. I thought that since I've read that so many people glue their wallpaper to card stock then put it in the house that this would do the same this with no gluing. This works out great for me since I'm a full time student and only work part time. I get as many scraps I want for free but we sell an entire sheet (30" by 40") for 5 dollars. I thought I'd share this with you guys. I know we have like 200 different types. Hope this helps someone!

Shannon in VA

Antique Houses: Please, if you want to restore a dollhouse yourself, PLEASE wear a respirator. If this is a turn-of-the-century dh, you may want to give this some thought...1. It may have LEAD PAINT. You would not know this for sure, unless you have a paint chip analyzed. 2. It could have some sort of historical significance. In either case, I would wear a respirator when handling. I have several items I suspect have had lead paint. If this were my house, I would (respirator on) use a soft animal hair paint brush to 'clean house', over a disposable drop cloth. Then seal the heck out of the dh. I would NOT allow a child to play with it because of unknown paint products. Just a display. I don't mean to scare anyone out of purchasing an antique anything. The paint could very well be Milk paint. So please, be very careful.


HINGED BASE / OPEN SIDES: If you split the base to open along with the sides of your dollhouse, ALL hinges must be in the base (and perhaps in the cornice if it protruded exactly the same distance out as the base). To work, all hinges must be aligned with each other. One way to hinge your sides and still have a (low) landscape would be to hinge only from the first floor up. Have a high, basement foundation which does not open and limit most of your landscape to that height. One or two trees may be OK if you don't mind plucking them out of their socket before opening / closing. The horizontal "cracks" in a hinged panel can be hidden from the outside by the cornice and water table trim. For dollhouse opening, unless you really love geometry problems, piano hinge is best. It aligns in a single piece, stabilizes easily, and if one plane is 90 degrees to the other, it helps prevent vertical warp. Do install multiple stabilizers on the free end to also limit warping over time.

Actually, warp prevention is a major concern if a flat panel is hinged. Use top quality material for these panels even if the rest of the dollhouse may be foam board or such. When gluing siding, wall paper, etc.: CLAMP, CLAMP, CLAMP to prevent warping during the drying process. I like to add aluminum angle stock on the interior at ceiling cornice positions.

Mel Koplin, Las Vegas

Cleaning Plexiglass: I am working on a commissioned art gallery and in painting the wood edge close to the plexiglass of an assembled box interior, I got acrylic paint on the in several areas. Knowing how easily it scratches, I carefully worked on it with my fingernail with no damage, thank goodness, but I could not get all of it. I decided to use my trusty "Goo Gone" by dabbing some on a paper towel and it not only took all of the paint off - but also some glue spots left there by the person who made the room box for me. Needless to say, I was delighted and have to pass it on to SS. I bought it to remove labels from scratchable surfaces on purchased items, but was not sure about plexiglass.

Jeanette in Wauwatosa

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