New late 1800's dollhouse

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Hi all,

My parents have had this dollhouse in the family for years. It's been under a tarp in my mom's basement for about 30 years. Last known records have the creator of the house dying about 1916, so we figure it was built in the late 1800's. It's believed to be modeled after my dad's grandmother's house in Vermont. Very cool!

I've taken on the project of restoring it (I'm not sure I'm up for refurbishing). First question ... what's the best way to clean years of paint? It looks to be that an owner along the way gooped the paint on. I have no idea what kind of paint it is ... is there an easy way to determine this?

Any advice for a newbie is welcome!

Cheers,

Heather

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Try using a very mild soap solution in lukewarm water and just dampen a cloth with it, work in an inconspicuous place first and see how that looks before proceeding.

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Some of what you do with the roof, missing trims, and cracking paint, etc, is going to depend on the criteria you have personally for the finished product. If you want it sparkly new looking, you'll have to replace some parts and completely redo areas but if you would rather retain the antique value or sentimental value, you'll need to go more gently and simply with cleaning and lightly patching areas that need to provide support to another area.

Maybe checking with an antique dealer who could give you an estimate of the age based on some of those things would help to determine it's value as an old piece vs. something to go full tilt into completely redoing and then in the process decimate the antique value.

Is that a spiral staircase I see through the window? Does it looked hand cut or carved?

Do you have some of the missing trim pieces still? Do the windows have glass and do they open and close?

Which way does the house open or is it completely open on one side and does the roof open at all?

Some of those things might help ID the age based on the style of hinging or notching used.

Does it have paper on the walls or ceilings or just paint? Of course that could have been modified several times along the way.

Milk paint was common around the time you are referring to it's origins. But again, if there are layers and it's only been covered since the mid 1980's, it could have quite a collection of kinds under and over.

Just some quick thoughts as I look at it. It's ultimately your decision of course.

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What a great house! I would have it tested for lead paint before doing any sanding or bashing to it. You can buy testing kits at paint stores.

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Welcome to the forum, Heather :welcome:

I have an antique dollhouse, not as grand as yours, and I was advised to use one of these fiber-cloths, the kind they use for cleaning glass, and the larger ones also. Anyway, the lady who told me about it said to dampen the cloth slightly, not soaking wet, and in a soft circular motion beginning cleaning the painted surface. I guess the fiber in the cloth gets at the dirt better, but it is soft enough not to damage the paint itself. I've tried it on a small spot - haven't had time to continue - and it is working quite well.

It would be nice if you could keep the original look of the house. It sounds like a real treasure!

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Test for lead and then start lightly sanding. What a dream project!

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Welcome, Heather!

What a beautiful house! I also thought about the lead paint thing, but as stated previously there are ways to test for it.

I am sure that whatever you are hoping to do with it (completely redo vs. cleaning and touching up/repairing) that you can do a good job.

I agree that you should have an appraiser look at it. Not only could he help with values, but he might be able to give you some tips for its refreshing or point you to someone local who might be able to help, if needed.

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How lovely! A sniff test will let you know if mold/mildew has taken hold of the house as well

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Appraise, test for lead, and gently carefully clean, but I wouldn't sand it. If it is lead paint you do not want to sand and you will want to find out how to properly deal with it.

Good luck with it, and congratulations on such a lovely heirloom.

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I wouldn't sand no matter what kind of paint. I wouldn't want to scratch the surface patina that has no doubt formed over the years.

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Board up a couple windows tidy things up a bit and make it sturdy then embrace the fabulous ghost house this could be.

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I should look so good when/ if I live that long! Do give it clean up and then see what it says to you, but I agree that at that age cleaning and a few careful repairs is the way to go, at least for now.

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What a wonderful project! Welcome to the forum, Heather!!!

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