Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Dollhouse Project

My Grandfather was a clever, resourceful, talented man. When I was a pre-teen, he built me a dollhouse. We started out by choosing a style from a book on architecture written in the early 1920's. Then he built it... from scratch... no kit, no plans, just his own creativity. He built it like a house, the walls are hollow and he ran the wiring inside before we finished the interior. He salvaged the wood from garage sales, scraps, and what he had lying around. His tiny workshop was his garage, in my grandparent's house built in the 1930's. A garage more suited to a Model A than a workshop. I remember coming home on summer afternoons, and walking the five or so blocks from our house to my Grandparents house, so that I could help him work on it. In the evening, in the summer, there were frogs croaking from the Los Angeles River that we could hear from inside the garage.

My Grandparent's home, in Los Angeles, as it looks currently via Google Maps

We never really finished it before he passed away. I played with it, and we bought play quality furniture (except for the stove, that was a nice one) Then my interests changed, I grew up and got married, had kids... all the time, the doll house sat at my Grandmother's house. Waiting.

I've always wanted to fix it up and really do it right. Now is the time. I can buy it good furniture, and I can paint and wallpaper it. I can translate my skills, learned over decades since it was built, to finish what my Grandfather started. Do it justice... and do it honor. We don't have a lot left from Lee Edward Wilcox, but we do have the dollhouse, and a few other things he built.

Here it is, as it sits today:

Next, the rooms. I didn't take pictures of the rooms before I started cleaning and refurbishing it, but the process hasn't gone too far so these pictures will have to do. Almost all of the furniture shown in the photos is new... I bought it on a binge, a month or so ago, at my first Miniatures Show. (!!!!) So don't think that these things were our 'play quality'! Only the stove, fireplace, sink and tub, and the nice sofa and chair are original. Everything else is new.

The walls were all white, they only ever had one coat of paint and are dirty. The few rooms that were wallpapered are aged and yellowed. The flooring, when it wasn't beautiful oak parquet (that he and I cut and laid, over months) was dull, cheap linoleum squares.

So I've been immersing myself in 1920's era kitchens. We bought the correct sink (no cabinet underneath) and a stool (because even the most modern kitchens had a stool under the sink, to sit on) and a work table. I also bought a kitchen cupboard.. similar to a hoosier... and am painting it to match the kitchen decor.

Here is the kitchen today. The walls need painting, since the blue paint was just and experiment to see how it looks. The tile on the walls, and the tile border, are just sort of sitting there. That won't get attached until the new wiring is done, and the walls are painted. The color that I chose for the cupboard and the table is too bright, too turquoise, so I went back today and bought a blue paint instead. Will be painting the cupboard and table again tonight. The flooring is awesome.. little white and red hexagons...and I can't wait until it all comes together and I can start buying some of that incredible miniature food!


Danielle Feldman said...

What a great story. Can't wait to see how you finish it. My grandfather also built a dollhouse for us, but my older sister claimed it...

mel said...

Wow. This is way cool! I had several dollhouses, in various states of completion, up until I was twelve; I still have my Petite Princess furntiture. However, I never played with human dolls—all my tiny worlds featured china animals designed by Helen Perrin Farnlund! I still have them.