Help a mama out! (Newbie build on the cheap)

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Help!

My nine-year-old just purchased the Fairfield as her first real dollhouse kit build. We are just finishing the tape run and I can tell for so many reasons that this wasn't a good place for her to start, but I'm looking for a way to encourage her to continue this hobby while not spending thousands of dollars just yet. (She's only 9. I would like to be sure this is a hobby that will stick for a bit.) I think she'll be good at it -- I'll see if I can figure out how to attach a photo of how she "bricked" the inside of the fireplaces by sponging off a second layer of paint.

Here are our current dilemmas:

Inexpensive lighting? specifically for a half scale house?

Staircases or a pull-down attic ladder for under $15?

Any other tips about how to keep this hobby reasonably inexpensive would be hugely helpful! :) Thank you!

edit: Here's a picture of her fireplace insides!

Edited by rosesforlily
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Just wanted to add that I LOVE the "Do It Yourself" thread and I've already sent my daughter in that direction. :) that's super helpful!

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2 hours ago, rosesforlily said:

Inexpensive lighting? specifically for a half scale house?

Staircases or a pull-down attic ladder for under $15?

Any other tips about how to keep this hobby reasonably inexpensive would be hugely helpful! :) Thank you!

edit: Here's a picture of her fireplace insides!

I've been using battery-pack light deals like this for my recent houses-- takes some wire-routing, but I am pleased with the effect (example here, for the San Fran).

Designed and built my own staircase for the Country Cottage-- basswood/cardboard/foamboard, with square dowel reinforcements, if I recall. Used kit scraps also to bash the country house (bashed Laurel kit) staircase into shape too.

Other things I've been doing lately to keep costs down is using alot of matboard for mouldings and trim, like in this Laurel build. I also get scrapbook paper (or print out wallpaper designs) instead of buying proper dollhouse wallpaper.

Some things I just have to splurge on (though I do look for those sales), like staircase posts and door hardware. And siding.

Welcome, and looking forward to seeing your build!

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Welcome! The Fairfield is the second house I built and I agree it's going to be a challenging dollhouse for a 9 year old (it was challenging for me in my 20s!) but with the right attitude you can have a lot of fun with it. It doesn't have to be perfect!

For the staircase, there are pull-down attic stairs in half scale but they're pricey (about $40). Are you looking for something to lead up to the third floor? This might be tough for her, but with adult help, you could build a spiral staircase out of a wooden fan. That could work well in the tower area (you'd also have to connect the tower to the attic, which a lot of people do in the Fairfield). Here's one I built for a roombox: http://www.emilymorganti.com/blog/?p=7136

I adapted mine from a 1:12 tutorial, there's a link to it in my blog post.

Lights - someone here did something clever in a half scale house and I can't for the life of me remember who it was. It might have involved LED lighting strips. If I remember I'll come back and post it, but in the meantime here are a few threads that might help:

http://www.greenleafdollhouses.com/forum/?app=forums&module=forums&controller=topic&id=24655

http://www.greenleafdollhouses.com/forum/?app=forums&module=forums&controller=topic&id=34978

http://www.greenleafdollhouses.com/forum/?app=forums&module=forums&controller=topic&id=40353

(Personally, having electrified the Fairfield, I wouldn't bother - it's tricky due to the house's layout, and delicate, and expensive. But I also understand why your daughter would want to, so if you find a cost effective way to do it, go for it!)

For furniture, there are sets of "puzzle furniture" that you can buy at Michaels or online that are approximately half scale, and pretty inexpensive. Here's an example: https://www.amazon.com/Wooden-Dollhouse-Furniture-Set-Puzzle/dp/B003LPV8OS

The ones at Michaels are Creatology brand.

Also Greenleaf sells inexpensive half scale furniture kits which are laser cut and nicer quality than the puzzle furniture. You can get those on the Greenleaf website - make sure you get the half scale versions. http://shop.greenleafdollhouses.com/Dollhouse-Furniture.html

Last thought on the "how to keep it affordable" question: scrapbook paper makes good wallpaper.

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Welcome.  I just love her brickwork on the fireplace.  It is amazing.  As for lighting, I finally have the guts to try it out on my fourth house coming up.  There is no rush. Just enjoy the process, 

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3 hours ago, rosesforlily said:

Help!

My nine-year-old just purchased the Fairfield as her first real dollhouse kit build. We are just finishing the tape run and I can tell for so many reasons that this wasn't a good place for her to start, but I'm looking for a way to encourage her to continue this hobby while not spending thousands of dollars just yet. (She's only 9. I would like to be sure this is a hobby that will stick for a bit.) I think she'll be good at it -- I'll see if I can figure out how to attach a photo of how she "bricked" the inside of the fireplaces by sponging off a second layer of paint.

Here are our current dilemmas:

Inexpensive lighting? specifically for a half scale house?

Staircases or a pull-down attic ladder for under $15?

Any other tips about how to keep this hobby reasonably inexpensive would be hugely helpful! :) Thank you!

edit: Here's a picture of her fireplace insides!

Lights....try the pack of "balloon " lights from hobby lobby.  There are 10 in the pack.  They aren't fancy,  but for a 9yr old and little money they are great.  Battery operated,  I glue to ceiling with e6000.  Wallpaper can be scrapbook paper.  I get mine on sale.  Just look for tiny tiny print, or solid colors since it's a half scale.  I found a lot if little furniture pieces on eBay.   They are for the older tin houses, but work good.  I have also used printable "furniture" off pinterest for staging.  You can shrink down to size

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I cried my way through building (and taking apart a couple of times) two Fairfields to be halves of a single house, so I built one of them inside out.  I did NOT electrify; being retired and not so entranced by electric lights in a dollhouse, I don't invest in the expense.  I did extend the tower in one of mine.  I also built a set of stairs to the third floor.  I think you'll be happier using Emily's suggestion of making a spiral stair.  I also made almost all of the furniture and the dolls.  I found some pads of tiny scrapbook paper on lightweight card that made perfect wall coverings.

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Well the most inexpensive house I've ever furnished was my Fairie Manor because I made all of the furniture with sticks and leaves and dried flowers. So that's an option...

As far as keeping it inexpensive, I would pass on the electrifying, that's one of the biggest expenses with building a dollhouse. And stairs can be left out too, many of us don't think of stairs as a must-have. 

 

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If you are patient - and keep an eye on Goodwill.com, craigslist and ebay - you can score plenty of furniture and accessories on the cheap.

And craigslist for local finished (electrified) dollhouses can also be scored on the cheap.

Good luck!

 

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For furniture, you can look around at flea markets and yard sales. I don't go to them (no time/interest), but my daughter does & scopes things out for me - so it's good to enlist a someone if they already go. I would also go with battery operated lights as you can add them as funds become available. There are many things that you can make for a dh and this is a great way to experiment and unlock the imagination, something abundant in 9-year olds!

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Unfortunately flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales are a bit sparser for finding things ready-made for 1:24.

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I'd recommend the LEDs for lighting and use beads or findings for shades. True2scale sells battery operated LED lighting kits, as do a number of other online stores (that I can't think of right now).

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Since the push for STEM for girls is so important now, I'd say stick with the tapewire. The lights can be birthday and Christmas/Holiday gifts. Take pictures of where the tapewire is located so you can find it once it is papered.

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5 hours ago, havanaholly said:

Unfortunately flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales are a bit sparser for finding things ready-made for 1:24.

*sigh*  So true.  Not sure where you're located, Sharon.  Check here and here to see if there might be some miniature shows coming to your area.  Sometimes people come to sell estate minis.  I had some really good luck finding half-scale items at the Stockton miniature show this year.  In addition to Green Leaf, there are lots of good kit makers (Mini-Etchers and SDK are both reasonably priced), and don't be afraid to try some of the online tutorials.  I've had very good luck with making One-Inch Minis patterns in half scale.  She provides patterns with a square that you adjust to exactly one inch, to make sure your patterns are sized correctly.  You can just shrink the pattern so that the square is sized to one-half inch instead.

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21 minutes ago, Debsrand56 said:

...don't be afraid to try some of the online tutorials.  I've had very good luck with making One-Inch Minis patterns in half scale.  She provides patterns with a square that you adjust to exactly one inch, to make sure your patterns are sized correctly.  You can just shrink the pattern so that the square is sized to one-half inch instead.

Except for the SDK nursery furniture kits everything I made for my Fairfields was scaled down from 1:12 patterns (except the kitchen range, which was a 1:24 DIY magazine article).

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Hi Sharon,

These are on eBay at the moment. Free shipping. I've never built these, but there seems to be a nice variety in this listing. Might help your daughter visualize how to build her own furniture if she does a few kits first?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/SDK-Miniatures-Kits-1-2-Scale-Lot-Of-10-Chair-Bookcase-Desk-Vanity-Dollhouse-/352139271764?hash=item51fd22de54:g:-rYAAOSwOqRZgqGH

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As those items are sold the links will cease to work; this is why we have a pinned topic for Ebay & other listings.

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Those are the kits I bought, I just noticed this

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Thank you all so, so much. :) This is very helpful.

I went to the craft store "garage sale" and got a textured scrapbook paper that looks like a tin ceiling. Nine year old Buglette painted it and is ready to put it in. Once people found out what she was doing, they gave us many other pieces of scrapbook paper for wallpaper, so when she's ready we have some fantastic possibilities there. We also found paint on Lowe's 'oops' rack, which I think she will use on the outside eventually. She egg-carton flagstoned the foundation and it looks great!

Emily, we've been following your walkthrough on the Fairfield for the last week, and it's been very helpful. I'm learning to let her do it instead of thinking it needs to be just-so.

I love all of the suggestions for lights. I'm not sure which direction she's going to head -- on our very toe-dip into lights, she was certain she wanted round wiring, but I'm looking at tape and it makes so much more sense for her skill level. The LEDs from Amazon might also be the direction we head since it is her first dollhouse; but I think she has her heart set on a chandelier. Maybe a combination of the two : battery operated options give us that choice, don't they?

Again, thank you all so very much. This is seeming much less daunting.

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7 hours ago, rosesforlily said:

...but I think she has her heart set on a chandelier...

If you want to keep this on the cheap you will want to research what's available in 1:24.  Making a mini chandelier and inserting a light inside might make more sense at this point.  If you do go with round or tape wiring your transformer's power determines the total number of lightbulbs, not fixtures.

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11 hours ago, rosesforlily said:

Is SDK a brand?

SDK is a line of miniature kits made by Susan Karatjas.  You can find her Website, with all her current kits, here.  Sometimes you can find her kits (including kits she has retired, like her modern chair, sofa and love seat) on eBay or Etsy, or from other vendors. 

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There is a vendor on ebay who currently has mixed lots of New old stock lights up for sale. They are called chihudog.

Trying to pick up lots is definitely a cheaper way to go as long as you are fairly flexible with style don't have specific lights in mind. :)

 

 

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