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This Old Dollhouse
A Miniaturist's Descent Into Madness


tape wire and floor

This Old House - Part Three


While it has been almost a year since I have made a journal entry - as you can see by the photos I have not been entirely shiftless! The house has been painted with Gesso, sanded and rough wired. At this point I will suggest to you that for all of your projects you keep a notebook. I have a three ring binder in which I keep notes of all my orders, photos of the house and products that I use. To some of the pages I will tape samples of the trim, wallpaper and a paint chip for reference, in case I want to use it again in another project.

During this time I spent weeks, actually months collecting wallpaper and paint samples. There were two color runs really - the green and orange ones and the red and blue ones. With the current resurgence in Patriotism, I have opted to do this house basically in red and blues. But until I decided on a color scheme I couldn't paint the siding for the house. It is a long-standing decorator's rule to run the same colors throughout the house. In different rooms the color can be the main color or an accent -- but for continuity the same colors should be throughout the house. I believe that this is even more important in miniatures, as you do view all the rooms at once and sometimes even the inside and outside of the house. So in the next few weeks I will be painting the siding before I apply it to the house. Takes home work to a whole new meaning!

Being a painter by profession, it is my firm belief that your finish is only as good as your base. I painted the Gesso on with a foam brush; let it dry and sanded with a palm sander. More Gesso, more sanding, until the surface was as smooth as I could make it.

Electrical wiring is my weak suit, so I opted for tape, which is fairly easy to install. My basic rule of thumb is to figure out where I might want fixtures. For example, the tape to the right of the round window will be the connection for the outside light. It is not written in stone (just my notebook) that there will be one there - but it was a thought - and easier to wire for now, than later.

tape wire - right side

Every room is taped around each wall. The norm is about 1 inch off the floor, but the photos make it appear much higher. I just went and measured the height of the tape. The bottom of the tape is at just 1" from the bare floor. Mind you that the parquet floor will be about 3/32nds thick (the wood is 1/8th inch thick and the other 32nd is the poster board base!). On top of that that will be the baseboard, so it should all work out pretty well. One of the most important things to do is to make sure your brads make solid connections where the tapes cross. There will be more about this as the house progresses. Tom Berkner of Earth and Tree Miniatures and Dollhouse has a wonderful tips page that includes helpful diagrams on wiring.

I have designed a new parquet floor for the first floor. It will be available on my website in cherry and maple, but I wanted the look to be old oak. Steve Goode suggested Beech wood. The grain is very similar to oak, but much more suited for miniatures. The flooring in the entry, which is the octagonal bay, will be done with the Palm Beach floor in ˝ inch scale. The remainder of the floor will be done in the same pattern, but in 1 inch scale.

Before you can start construction on the floor, you need a pattern. Brooke Tucker taught me the helpful hint shown here. It has become invaluable in many ways. Besides providing me with an accurate floor plan and measurements, it also becomes a template for the ceiling paper.

First you take post a notes and fit them flat on the floor butted up against your wall surface. Slightly overlap them and make sure they are as accurate as possible. Tight in the corners, straight lines with no gaps. Tape them together so that they will not separate when you remove them from the area. Transfer (carefully!) the pattern to poster board and securely tape it in place.

postit notes in bay

The poster board I use is just from the local shop and nothing special. I prefer to have a couple of inches of room to work with surrounding the piece, but when I construct these floors they will be done in three pieces… this is just a basic floor pattern. With the help of my trusty ruler and a framers square (an invaluable tool!) I lay out the floor. For demonstration purposes I have used a sharpie, but I usually use a very hard pencil with a VERY sharp point for accuracy.


Double stick a piece of tracing paper over your template with the post a note pattern still in place (better to see with!). Trace your pattern on to the tracing paper. Transfer the tracing paper to a fresh piece of poster board and tape securely. With a fresh SHARP exacto blade, cut out your pattern. Dry fit it into your project and trim (sparingly!) to adjust fit.

tracing paper

Next - constructing the floor and a custom staircase.

Constructing the Floor


This Old Dollhouse -- Page One

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