"Destroying" a couple Lawbre houses?

43 posts in this topic

Okay, maybe not "destroying" but some might think so. First off, I am new to this forum but in my searches over the years I've ended up here quite often and read many, MANY of your posts. Don't know why I never joined. So hello everyone!

Re: the topic title, I acquired two complete Lawbre houses; the Rosedawn and the Barstow Belle. The Rosedawn I got for less than the retail cost of the columns alone, and the Barstow Belle for less than the retail cost of just half of the windows. The interiors are blank. Staircases and doors included, not installed, but otherwise bare wood. The exteriors were started but not completed. Thankfully the work was competently done. They were coming along quite nicely, it's a pity the owner decided to give up on them. Well, pity for her, lucky for me.

Here is my dilemma and I would appreciate any and all opinions. These are beautiful houses when completed as Lawbre shows them but I just don't go for the norm. I am seriously considering turning the Rosedawn into a Creole plantation house. Google "Laura Plantation" and you'll get an idea, although without such a variety of bright colors, which I think in miniature would look very "child's dollhouse." The entrance would be on the second floor. The ground level would have kitchen, storeroom, a couple of staff bedrooms. I envision ground level very "raw": stone floors, exposed brick, dark-stained and aged beams, etc. The upstairs would have a minimal amount (if any) of wallpaper and no ornate finishes to speak of. Look at the interior photos of the Laura Plantation. I know I can accomplish that. (Btw, take that tour if you're ever in New Orleans. It is fantastic!)

The Barstow Belle I envision as a once grand mansion now converted into a boarding house. Each floor would be an apartment decorated differently. Some former elegant architectural touches would remain but mostly it will have become a San Francisco flop house, although the landlady only accepts "respectable" tenants so it won't be trashy, har-har. It'll be set in either the 1920s or 30s. To put it kindly, the house will have seen better days both inside and out.

And therein lies my mental tussle. I love aging and distressing minis, and I think I'm pretty good at it. I did a worn and weathered old Nebraska farmhouse and I was really pleased with how it turned out; peeling paint, split siding, some crooked shingles, distressing stopping short of looking abandoned. But to do that to Lawbre houses?! It seems almost sacrilegious, lol.

I could certainly do these both up as expected and I would enjoy doing it. I don't know, I just don't go for the "built yesterday" look. I'm kind of enamored of the idea of a rusty screened in porch on a plantation house with crackled, peeling paint; threadbare furniture that was probably the height of expense in its day; and backstories for my disparate tenants and landlady, with each apartment decorated to reflect the personalities I envision.

I tend not to keep my houses. I love doing them, I enjoy them for a few years, and then I sell them on, usually at a big loss. Minis ain't generally a money-making proposition! Or maybe I'm just doing it wrong. I'd be really disappointed, however, if it turned out no one wanted either of these because I turned them into something they weren't meant to be (??). Again, I'm not talking profit here, but dollhouses are a hard sell and I know these things would end up in a storage shed if no quirky soul exists who'd want a dirtied up old San Francisco apartment building or a decaying old plantation house!

So what are your thoughts? Oh, and sorry for the really long post.

 

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Well I think if you intend to sell them as greatly bashed/altered houses, I wouldn't tout the Lawbre name in the sales pitch later. And yes the miniature market is tough and yes for all the effort to turn them into a vision that you and only you can see might result in a bigger loss than you want.

BUT, if building is your thing and these are the materials you have and want to use, then do it. It doesn't matter what others think.

You could also sell the kits and make some money it sounds like. And continue your journey without this dilemma.

 

I'm quite the opposite - I collect houses and I can't ever give them up.

 

And welcome!

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I love aged houses. Post some photos of your work!! 

A good aged finish is never a drawback!

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Your ideas sound amazing!!  I loved aged houses as well, but I do understand that it would be a select group of folks interested in buying such a house.  Nonetheless, if the building and aging process is what makes you happy- then go for it!  :)   Someone out there will surely appreciate your work!  I know we here on the forum sure will!!

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Welcome Kelly,

Do what makes you happy. Those are large houses and if you were decorating them for someone else who might someday buy it, you probably will lose interest. I can't do a mini project thinking I will make money off of it, I do it for my own enjoyment. I would love to see your house upon completion in a museum.......And yes, please don't leave us hanging, post some pictures of your past or current creations.:please:

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Hi Kelly!

I would be excited to see such creations.  I live in New Orleans, and know Laura Plantation very well.  There are actually quite a few of the Creole homes/plantations left, and doing a mini house would be a great tribute to them. 

Have you  ever looked up the work of Noel & Pat Thomas?  They do "aging" on their homes and they are beautiful! 

Do what makes you happy.  It already sounds you know, you rarely get the $$ from the time and investment in the houses when you do sell them.  That, to me, is what makes miniatures a hobby (not a profession) :happydance:

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Yes yes - Definitely do what makes you happy. That is what this hobby is all about!

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If you're really good at the aging thing, why not do what the houses seem to be telling you they want?  After you're done, you might decide there's enough of "you" in them to keep and play with them yourself.

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I am taking into consideration all of your opinions. I know I don't have to make a decision right away but even considering slopping an umber wash all over a Barstow Belle terrifies me. Here is a shoddy mock-up I did in Photoshop of what I'm thinking for a Creole plantation look. You can see I left off the two exterior stairs but it gives you an idea. I'm using those tall Rosedawn windows and columns on an English Georgian I'm working on. I'm swapping out those components for ones I've already purchased from Dolls House Emporium. All the openings are going to require fill and resizing, yugh.

Creole Facade.jpg

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Here is another mock-up I did making the Rosedawn into a French Quarter house. This would be by far the easiest to accomplish. The only thing that bugs me is that the roof of the Rosedawn extends to the outside edge of the porch/gallery, and therefore over the sidewalk outside. No house in the French Quarter does that. The roofs align with the facade of the house and the galleries are like add-ons with flat roofs.

French Quarter.jpg

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I agree you should do what you want to the houses!

Regarding the roof coming out too far, what about creating a new front piece that's flush with the front edge of the roof? This would turn the original front facade and balcony into a second layer of rooms inside the house. You could hinge the new front piece so the new rooms can be viewed from the front (similar to how the Thornhill opens). You would have to add extensions to the left and right sides as well.

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I love thinking of my houses as empty shells that I can turn into whatever I want them to be.  None of my houses look like what the manufacturers intended and when I've attempted to make houses look like the pictures on the boxes, I've lost interest.  I think you should do whatever makes you happy while building them since your not in it for the money.  Someone out there will find them interesting and unique.  And, if not, they'll buy them and redecorate them to their own tastes.  And you'll never have to know about it. ;)

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4 hours ago, madtex1967 said:

Hi Kelly!

I would be excited to see such creations.  I live in New Orleans, and know Laura Plantation very well.  There are actually quite a few of the Creole homes/plantations left, and doing a mini house would be a great tribute to them. 

Have you  ever looked up the work of Noel & Pat Thomas?  They do "aging" on their homes and they are beautiful! 

Do what makes you happy.  It already sounds you know, you rarely get the $$ from the time and investment in the houses when you do sell them.  That, to me, is what makes miniatures a hobby (not a profession) :happydance:

I've pored over Noel & Pat Thomas's tutorials more times than I can remember! Their tip to wax floors has been one of my favorites. It really makes a difference.

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3 hours ago, fov said:

I agree you should do what you want to the houses!

Regarding the roof coming out too far, what about creating a new front piece that's flush with the front edge of the roof? This would turn the original front facade and balcony into a second layer of rooms inside the house. You could hinge the new front piece so the new rooms can be viewed from the front (similar to how the Thornhill opens). You would have to add extensions to the left and right sides as well.

I never thought of enclosing the porch and then adding a new porch. I don't think it would even need to be hinged. If one just removed the space between the windows on one side, widened the windows on the other, and left those wide fan door openings as they are, you could see into and access those spaces pretty easily. It might even be an easier task. Just cut the window and door openings for the new components anew rather than jiggering around with the existing ones. I played with a picture and the floor plan based on your idea. Here's what I came up with. For some reason it's not allowing me to post pictures with my post so I'll do them separately.

 

 

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MODIFIED SIDE VIEW ENCLOSING EXISTING PORCH THEN ADDING A NEW PORCH TO THE FRONT:

Rosedawn - Modified Porch.jpg

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I like that! The reason I suggested hinging it is that it's going to be hard to reach in from the back to decorate and add furniture to the enclosed porch part of the rooms. Another thought is to keep the new front facade (the front piece plus the porch) separate from the rest of the house, and connect it with magnets or something. That way you can remove it if you need to get into those rooms, but the back view will still be the main way of viewing the interior.

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6 minutes ago, fov said:

I like that! The reason I suggested hinging it is that it's going to be hard to reach in from the back to decorate and add furniture to the enclosed porch part of the rooms. Another thought is to keep the new front facade (the front piece plus the porch) separate from the rest of the house, and connect it with magnets or something. That way you can remove it if you need to get into those rooms, but the back view will still be the main way of viewing the interior.

You're absolutely right. That new front wall would be 25" from the open rear (currently 18" then add 7" for the enclosed porch). Even with wide openings to make it visible and accessible, that is a real stretch. Hmm, I'm going to give this more thought.

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1 hour ago, Khadi said:

I love thinking of my houses as empty shells that I can turn into whatever I want them to be.  None of my houses look like what the manufacturers intended and when I've attempted to make houses look like the pictures on the boxes, I've lost interest.  I think you should do whatever makes you happy while building them since your not in it for the money.  Someone out there will find them interesting and unique.  And, if not, they'll buy them and redecorate them to their own tastes.  And you'll never have to know about it. ;)

LoL @ never having to know about it! I've thought that many times. Probably at least one of my creations is now neon pink and filled with plastic Renwal furniture. So long as no one ever tells me about it, I'm good. :doh:

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3 hours ago, KellyA said:

MODIFIED SIDE VIEW ENCLOSING EXISTING PORCH THEN ADDING A NEW PORCH TO THE FRONT:

Rosedawn - Modified Porch.jpg

This is an awesome idea! It would take some work, but I love a good bash on a house to bring it to life. I have never built a house to the original specifications. I am 100% behind however you want to create the houses!

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in case anyone cares, I've come to some decisions. I'll post pictures of the progress but it's probably going to be months before that happens. I'm currently renovating an ancient Dutch gambrel house. I think it's an old Batrie kit although I've never seen one like it. I'm using homes from the Easton's Point colonial part of Newport, Rhode Island for my inspiration. That's where my Quaker ancestors first settled when they emigrated from the Netherlands 270 years ago, so it's kind of a labor of love for me. I'm struggling with getting the raised paneling look correct and I've thrown out a couple trial and errors. This house was just a roofless shell in disastrous shape when someone gave it to me so it is a lot of work.

Anywho, my decisions are to do the Barstow Belle as a 1920s-era boarding house but I'm not going to distress and age it. I just cannot bring myself to make a Barstow Belle look run-down! I realized that nothing says the landlady wouldn't have kept her house up in good order, e.g.; fresh coats of paint and necessary repairs over the years. It'll be a lot of flat paints and nothing too shiny or glossy, but I'm foregoing the crackled and chipped paint or dirtying it up. If someday someone wants to make it back into a grand mansion, there'll be no heavy-duty restoration required.

The Rosedawn is another story. That's going to be the Creole plantation house. Set in the Depression Era, circa 1935, it's going to be severely aged and distressed. I love doing those techniques and I just "see it", if that makes sense. I can envision every detail. That project's going to be a long way down the road, but I'm sticking to my guns on this one and this is what it's going to be. (saying that in resolute, firm tone of voice to convince myself, haha)

I appreciate everyone's thoughts on this topic!

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Posted (edited)

KellyA

I found a "partial" Rosedawn at a yard sale several months ago.  Partial in that it is not assembled, does not have the materials for the roof and has no instructions, but I got it for $100 so I'm not complaining.   I think I could manufacture the sections that I need but instructions would help.  Did the one you have come with any assembly instructions?  If so, what would I have to do to get a copy?  Anything you could provide would be a great help.

 

Thanks

John

Edited by fov
edited out email address
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On 5/7/2019, 12:58:00, John B. Venator said:

KellyA

I found a "partial" Rosedawn at a yard sale several months ago.  Partial in that it is not assembled, does not have the materials for the roof and has no instructions, but I got it for $100 so I'm not complaining.   I think I could manufacture the sections that I need but instructions would help.  Did the one you have come with any assembly instructions?  If so, what would I have to do to get a copy?  Anything you could provide would be a great help.

 

Thanks

John

Mine came with no instructions but it was already built and complete so I didn't need them. You may try emailing Teri at info@lawbre.com. I would be surprised if the instructions aren't available in PDF format.

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On 5/7/2019, 12:58:00, John B. Venator said:

KellyA

I found a "partial" Rosedawn at a yard sale several months ago.  Partial in that it is not assembled, does not have the materials for the roof and has no instructions, but I got it for $100 so I'm not complaining.   I think I could manufacture the sections that I need but instructions would help.  Did the one you have come with any assembly instructions?  If so, what would I have to do to get a copy?  Anything you could provide would be a great help.

 

Thanks

John

I meant to ask, how "partial" is partial? Did you get the windows and columns? Those can be pricey. The columns alone are $100 apiece from Lawbre. Requiring six of them = OUCH. Mine came with but I'm using them on a different project. One thing you may consider is square columns. Use 1" x 1" cut to the right length. If you want fluted columns, I'd suggest using 3/4" X 3/4" then adding playscale (1/6) fluted moulding. 1/12 would be too fine on the exterior of a big house like that. I got mine from Manchester Dolhouses. They're on Ebay too as seller austinnoggles.

Most everyone thinks a house like that needs big round columns, which are hard to come by. I think straight dowels look rather half-baked and a noticeably cheap alternative. See a pic below of one of the most beautiful plantation homes in existence, Nottoway Plantation. It has square columns, as do many other homes like it. That front porch would not be difficult to achieve with the proper square columns and brackets. Plus you have the benefit of being able to build a roof accordingly, since yours didn't come with it. The Rosedawn roof as built would not work well with that cornice, which would block the dormer windows. I think this would make a beautiful project.

Oh, and don't forget that windows can be re-sized quite easily with stripwood or cutting 3/8" wood to fill openings to fit more standard sized windows. I wouldn't use the usual 2 1/2" x 5" windows (too small on a house like that) but Earth and Tree sells really nice Architect's Choice 6" tall windows that I think would work well. I think Houseworks might have some 7" tall windows? Not sure. While the Rosedawn windows are beautiful, they're about $50 apiece from Lawbre. If yours didn't come with those, that's another huge expense, not to mention those two doors that cost a hundred bucks each. Earth and Tree has several doors with sidelights that would work, and you could probably modify them with a transom and trim to look more like the Nottoway's doors without great trouble or expense. Google for more pictures if interested. It is a gorgeous home both inside and out.

 

Nottoway Plantation.jpg

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18 hours ago, KellyA said:

Mine came with no instructions but it was already built and complete so I didn't need them. You may try emailing Teri at info@lawbre.com. I would be surprised if the instructions aren't available in PDF format.

Will do.  Thanks

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