Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Willowcrest House

Today, I wanted to share the first dollhouse that I built. Mom and Dad got me the Willowcrest kit for Christmas when I was 14, which was way back in 1992. Mom helped me get it started.


We really didn't have any idea what we were doing. We opened the box, wrote piece names on everything, punched out the pieces, and tried to follow the directions. It was a valuable learning experience.

Here are some shots from Christmas 1992 through January 1993. We began the shell build.


Mistake #1 We used hot glue at first. It was lumpy so I had to shave down the lumps with a utility knife. Then we used tacky glue for the rest.

Mistake #2 We didn't sand everything like crazy or make sure that things fit together so they were square.

Mistake #3 We assembled the shell and then realized we had to put up wallpaper. It has really awkward spaces that we couldn't reach at that point.

However, it wasn't the end of the world. We figured things out. To make the best of the awkward staircase, I simply finished off the wood with polyurethane. I tried a funky paper flooring to look more contemporary than antique. Mom also showed me a fun wallpaper technique using torn up brown paper bags decoupaged right onto the walls that simulate leather. I also used a metallic gold paint on the door and window trim in the entry and upper hall.


After a while, Mom got busy doing mom stuff. I was always busy doing teenager stuff. Somehow I'd find a little time here and there to do things.  It took a long time to make noticeable progress. There was a long span where the house was pretty much just sitting in my room with no siding.

One day I saw a show on PBS, New Yankee Workshop, I think. Yes, I used to watch home improvement shows on PBS as a teen. I was weird. Moving on.

That episode of New Yankee Workshop showed this amazing sunburst siding pattern on a shed. I loved it! So that got me fired up to get the siding on the house, just so I could make the sunburst.  After I put the pre-made trim on the barrel roof, it covered up part of the sunburst. I decided if I ever do go back and redo the house in the future, that trim is gone. This picture is from about 1995 or 1996.


After I moved out for college, I found time to really get actively into miniatures. I finished the house when I was 20.  It took me 6 years, start to finish. The thing is, I didn't want to rush. I still made mistakes, but then other things turned out beautifully.

This is the house today. It normally lives on top of the tall chest of drawers in my bedroom, unfurnished.



 I used walnut flooring in the living room and the attic. I also trimmed out the inside of the little attic windows with the walnut flooring.


In the kitchen, I used paper flooring, then used real bricks with cement to make the stove wall and trim around the window and doors.



The bathroom got preformed pink vinyl sheeting that looks like tile. This was the first room I wallpapered. I was very pleased that I managed to get the size right.  I still added baseboard and corner trim to give it a bit more detail.


The bedroom was pretty basic with the its floral wallpaper and cream carpeting.  I did that because the furniture stands out nicely when the house is furnished.


The front door used to open and close. Eventually, the hinges pulled out and messed up the trim. I couldn't get them to really work right after that. Now the door is pinned shut.

The front steps also fell apart a few years ago. We moved and they were a casualty of the move. I still have the pieces so I can repair them. Various pieces of window trim have also fallen off, but I managed to get them repaired quickly.

Someday, I will get the house down and put furniture in it again.  I think when that time comes, I will make some curtains.  The windows could use a little character.

9 comments:

  1. Good job on your first house, and smart that you took your time.

    I did a small house first and then the San Franciscan. I enjoyed them. On the first one I used very large pine cones, soaked them in water and glued them as tiles on the roof. It turned out very cute. I gave that one to my mother in law. The larger one went to one of my daughters. I have made others and always gave them away.

    I got interested in dollhouses when I was a child. I saw pictures in magazines of elaborate wooden dollhouses. I asked for a dollhouse for Christmas and was grossly disappointed when I got a metal dollhouse with everything painted on and furniture and dolls all the same color (the 1950s).

    About 20 years ago a new store in my area had a bunch of dollhouses put together from kits. I made several for many years and then quit. I am about to order another one and it will either be the Willowcrest or the Lily by Greenleaf. I like them both. I actually like the Lily better in some ways. It is more square and has a second opening for side rooms. What I don't like is that the top story is so short. The Willowcrest has that rectangular opening in the back which appeals to me because I can protect it with something clear, as I have several small grandchildren.

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  2. I LOVE the exterior colors and how you did the starburst on the front! Great work.

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    1. Hi Elaine! Thanks for the comment. It's great to meet another Willowcrest lover!
      Jenny

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  3. OMG! A friend of the family bought this house for my daughter when she was about 9 years old. She didn't show much interest in it so I kept it and have had it in my garage for years...she just turned 30 this January. I so much want to finish it one of these days. A friend of mine made me a stained glass for the window next to the winding staircase. I'm starting on this again soon.

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    1. Hi Marianne. Stained glass window for the staircase, that sounds beautiful! Please share with me when you have pictures ;)
      Jenny

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  4. I love the simplicity of your statements: I was weird (about the DIY shows). I totally relate. I've built three dollhouses; now I'm off to see who carries the Willowcrest. Your house is fabulous, as is your writing.

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    1. Hi Janine! Thanks for your comment. I'd love to see what you do with your Willowcrest. Keep me in the loop :)
      Jenny

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  5. I recently came across this Doll house and would like to put it together for my daughter but the instructions were not in the box. Do you still have your copy? Or know how to get ahold of a copy? Please Thank you, Nicole pavloff

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    1. Hi Nicole! Thanks for reading my blog. I don't have the instructions any more. This house was finished about 15 years ago. You should try contacting Greenleaf directly or joining the Greenleaf Dollhouse forum. Other members might have copies available that they would be willing to share. Good luck!

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