To Light or Not to Light-Why put lights in a dollhouse?
By Deb Roberts
Every dollhouse is a treasure. We build them, decorate them, furnish them, populate them with little people, and show them off with pride of place in our homes. We search endlessly for the perfect miniatures to fill our dollhouses and give them that extra touch of realism. In every tiny detail, we strive to create a miniature home that looks so realistic that one feels they could step inside and live there. But the one detail that is so crucial to achieving our goals of realism is lighting!
Lighting brings a house to life. It transports a dollhouse into a miniature home. Ceiling lights cast their glow over an entire room while table and floor lamps bring cozy warmth to living areas. Special miniatures are showcased with accent lights that draw the eye to that tiny treasure. Outdoor lighting provides a welcome at the door or a party atmosphere to a garden or patio. A dark hallway can be transformed into a significant feature with the addition of a wall sconce. Even a haunted house needs a little light for ambiance and what mini witch doesn’t want a lighted fire under her cauldron? Lights even add action to a dollhouse with flickering fireplace embers.
So why is it that the ratio of unlit dollhouses is so much higher than dollhouses wired with electricity? There is a stigma attached to wiring a dollhouse…..myths that it’s too hard to do or worries about using electricity. In the other articles in this issue of the Gazette, we’ll dispel those myths and show you just how easy it is to wire a dollhouse as well as putting to rest all those concerns about using electricity.
Before we go on to the how-to articles, lets consider some of the questions that arise when first considering adding electricity to your dollhouse.
What kind of wiring should I use for my dollhouse?
Cir-Kit Concepts makes it easy to choose just the right wiring process for your house with kits designed for individual needs. If you’re a beginner wiring a small house, there are basic and starter kits designed just for your needs. For larger houses, there are kits that include everything you need to wire up to 15 rooms! From round wire to tape wire, these kits make it easy and affordable to add lighting to your dollhouse without all the guess work. They even include transformers so you don’t have to calculate and research which transformer capacity you’ll need for the number of lights in your dollhouse.
Aren’t sure which Cir-Kit wiring kit you’ll need for your dollhouse? Greenleaf makes it even easier by showing you which wiring kits are appropriate for your individual dollhouse! There’s no more guesswork involved in selecting the wiring kit you’ll need. The only choices you’ll have to make are deciding which light fixtures you’ll want to add into your home.
Can I add lights to a house that’s already built?
Sure you can!! Even if your house is already built and decorated, you can always add the sparkle of lights. Round wiring kits make it simple to add in lights just by running the wires thru the house and creatively hiding them here and there. Read the article on Plug and Play lighting in this issue of the Gazette and you’ll see just how easy it is to add round wire lighting to a finished house with hardly any effort at all.
Tape or hybrid wiring on a finished house requires just a little bit more effort but is well worth every minute! With a tape wiring kit, you can run the tape wire in your finished house and then simply cover it with carpet, flooring or wallpaper glued onto a card stock template just as you would an unfinished house. Since tape wire allows you to place lights anywhere in a house, the possibilities are endless. There’s never a bad time to add lights to your dollhouse!
I’m rehabbing an old house. Can I add lights to it?
What better way to show how much you love this old house than to give it lights! Rehabbing a house is the perfect time to add in lighting.
Can I change my lights later on?
One of the beautiful things about wiring a dollhouse is that you can always change your light fixtures whenever the urge strikes you. Replacing a light can be as simple as unplugging an old light and plugging in a new one. Upgrading to a new ceiling fixture or adding in lamps or wall sconces is as easy as putting a new outlet in your tape wire. All you need to do is keep a diagram of where you’ve run your tape wire in the house. Use your test probe to find the tape and determine where the connection is and then plug in the outlet or light fixture. It doesn’t get any easier than that. If you’re round wiring, you can add new lights or change existing lights simply by running the round wire down to the power strip.
I’m using paperclay on my house? Can I still wire it for lights?
Yes, you can wire a house covered with paperclay! Tracy Topps, the paperclay sculptress, adds lights to her creations. One of her signature features is the use of coach lights on the front of her houses.
My dollhouse is decorated for an era before electricity. Why would I want to add lights to it?
Even if electric light fixtures don’t fit into your décor, you still need lighting to make the most of your dollhouse. Is it of an era when torches or candles were used for lighting? If so, then you have a wide choice of candles and wall sconce fixtures that simulate gas or flame lighting. And what about that fireplace or campfire? Add some realism with embers and flickering fires. Lighting our homes has been necessary ever since the cavemen discovered fire, so even a medieval home needs a little light.
I don’t want to add light fixtures, but I would like to light up a room. What can I do?
Baby spotlights are the perfect answer for putting a glow in your dollhouse or roombox without adding light fixtures.
Sometimes a little backlighting is just the perfect touch needed for a room. Baby spots can be hidden behind furnishings or under trim to light up a room for visual delight without adding fixtures. KathieB shows us how that’s done in her prize winning Creole Cottage. A home for Marie Laveau, this cottage is set in an era before electricity, but Kathie shows us how a well placed baby spot adds life to the room.
Is there a trick to placing lights in my dollhouse?
One of the best kept secrets of interior decorators is that the most valuable tool for decorating perfection is the use of lights! Lights create focal points in a room and set the overall tone. A little common sense and practical application is all you need to achieve the perfect lighting for your house. Sit back and look at your house, then create a wiring diagram for light placement based on where you think lighting will be most effective.
Ceiling lights are fairly standard for living areas such as bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms and parlors. Ceiling lights or wall sconces in hallways bring life into those dark areas and make the viewer’s eye follow a natural pathway thru the house. Even attics need just a touch of light such as a ceiling fixture. Table lamps and floor lamps bring additional light into the room and these fixtures give you the opportunity to highlight your favorite miniatures. Consider the lighting used in museums or art galleries for just a moment. Lights are used to bring attention to the most prized items in a room. You can achieve the same results in your dollhouse by placing light fixtures strategically to draw the eye to that special treasure. Are you thrilled with a beautiful set of china and want to show it off? Add a candelabra to the table to make that china sparkle! Is there a set of furniture that you consider the gem of your collection? Frame it with lamps on tables or a glittering floor lamp! What about that perfect little curio or bedside accessory that seems to be lost in the room? Place a lamp beside it and suddenly that overlooked treasure is the room’s focal point. Just remember that lighting always draws the eye so the perfect way to showcase your special miniatures is to add light!
Are you ready to take the plunge yet? Lighting is so much easier than you’d think and the end result is a dollhouse that sparkles with light and life. Don’t put it off any longer. Wire your dollhouse and you’ll find it’s the most enlightening miniature experience ever!
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