San Franciscan 550 -- Here I Go

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I thought I'd start a new thread about this house as it hasn't had a lot of general discussion lately.

Sometime last year, I saw a still-in-box San Franciscan, the 550 model, at a thrift store for $60. At first, I wasn't sure I wanted it--Victorian is not really my thing--but the price was so good, and the more I looked at it, and at the tower, the more I thought: "PRINCESS HOUSE." My niece, who's about to turn 4, likes her princesses (I mean, she likes them feisty and sassy, but she does like them), and she especially likes Rapunzel from Tangled, and, well, house with a tower. So I bought the kit and she and I talked about it: we're going to have a kitchen for Tiana, a library for Belle and Sophia, a bed with 20 mattresses for the Princess and the Pea, and of course a tower for Rapunzel, among other things. 

I didn't start it right away because I'm still moving in to my new house and getting things organized, but this week is her birthday, and I've made some progress in setting up my crafting spaces, so tonight, despite being tired, I decided it was time. I'd just go through and organize and label the parts...and of course now the first foundation pieces are sitting under books, getting glued together. ;) 

One thing that surprised me was how many extras there were of the smaller pieces. There was one set of pieces for windows that was supposed to have 33 or so, and instead had 52! That was probably the biggest example, but there were extras of a number of pieces. Has anyone else run into this? There's one part I don't think I have--the smaller tower support--and one of the gables looks like the wrong shape, but those things will either resolve themselves when I get to those steps, or I can make alterations or new pieces from wood or foamcore/matboard. 

It always amazes me how much easier it is to understand directions once I've been through the parts on that detailed level. The first few times I read them, I thought it would be impossibly tricky to figure out the process (I have a Heritage started, so I do know a bit about how Duracraft houses are put together), but after sorting and labeling it all reads as crystal clear, and I thought I might as well get started. My niece is going to be thrilled! 

My goals with this house: actually finish the darn thing (having a 3/4 year old waiting impatiently to play with it will help with that); keep it simple but pretty (so, no to the strip flooring, and there's no way I'm punching out those splintery strips they use to make the foundation lattice--I can do fake stone or something more fanciful); and make it as sturdy and playable as possible (so I'm going to try to make the roof of the tower removable, and customize the doors so they open and close on pin hinges if at all possible. If there's one thing my niece is adamant about, it's that dollhouse doors should open and close! Luckily she's not as picky about the windows, so I don't have to make them open (or even let her know that's an option). I do plan to make some "stained glass" panels for some of the windows, though. I'm still debating about whether or not I'll put banisters and railings on the stairs. That may just be asking for trouble, and having them open would make it easier for her to reach in and move her dolls up and down the stairs. 

She's asked for a purple exterior, and I'm looking at two shades, light and dark, along with cream trim for the windows and posts. I'll let her pick out scrapbook paper or paint colors for the interior walls, and she's excited to make the furniture and to play with it. I found a kit on Amazon for making miniature books--a lot of fairy tales and children's books. They're somewhat oversized, but she won't care, especially since the books have text and pictures.

I'll go through past posts and the galleries to see what I can learn, but if anyone who's built this one wants to chime in with tips and tricks, I'm happy to learn!

 

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A steel carpenter's square sure helps to assemble those wall pieces, and don't poo-poo all those "extra" window bits.  I wish I'd had you with me when I built the SF555!  You will want to give the interior walls a coat or so of spackle or joint compound to get rid of the joints, but you already know that.

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Thanks, Holly--the carpenter's square is on my list for the hardware store when I go to get paint (I have one, somewhere, but at this point it's easier to buy a new one than to go through every possible box where it might be). 

I'm mighty grateful for those extras, because I know I'll mess up more than once. And yes, sparkle to make the walls smoother surfaces for our decorating adventures. ;)

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Sounds like a fun adventure! 

I made a San Fran for a friend years ago, and she recently gifted it back to my daughter since her girls were now teenagers.  Someday my granddaughter can play with it! (she is only two, but she likes playing with the people and putting them in bed.  LOL)

I do agree about leaving the stairs open for a play house for young ones! And doors on a good, sturdy pin hinge is a must!   :)  Even adults like doors that open and close!  

Have fun!!

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On 8/19/2019, 8:24:24, MaryKate said:

And yes, sparkle to make the walls smoother surfaces

A Freudian slip?!

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Always nice to hear another San Fran is in the works!  Mine came from behind Goodwill next to the dumpster about a decade ago~   In bad shape, no windows, no box no parts.   It was my 1st project, and took about 5 years,  finally.... it resides in a place of honor in my Conservatory.  

IMG_7348.jpg

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I saw in my Dollhouse miniatures mail catalog a new rendition of the San Fran, and the kit is over $400!

Merma Dollhouse 2016b.JPG

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2 hours ago, Bluestocking said:

A Freudian slip?!

Ha! Probably. When my niece decides to Art, glitter is often involved. ;)

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20 hours ago, jbnmini said:

I do agree about leaving the stairs open for a play house for young ones! And doors on a good, sturdy pin hinge is a must!   :)  Even adults like doors that open and close!  

Have fun!!

That's good to know. I debated whether I was depriving her of a real-looking house by taking out the railings (because honestly, they are so much work and probably the first things to break), so I appreciate your confirmation. ;) Thanks!

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Wow, Barbara, I can't believe that's a dumpster rescue! Thanks for the inspiring pictures!

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I will be interested in seeing your progress,  since I am currently building a San Franciscan #555. This one is for my older sister and I have another one in the box for my 8-year-old granddaughter. So will you start an album so I can maybe "borrow" some ideas? I intend to start an album for mine soon.

John

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Hi John--yes, I do plan to start an album. Right now I have the wall panels and the foundation glued together, nothing too spectacular. 

One thing I noticed when "building" the wall panels, which was a reminder from waaaaay back when I started the Heritage: it is really, really, surprisingly easy to turn one of those panels upside down as you're gluing them together. I nearly did it once about halfway through and I started triple checking.

To make the panels straight as I glued, I lined them up against/within a T-square. And re-lined them up over and over again. I held them together with my hands for 30-60 seconds as I added each one, then, when a panel was finished, I used masking tape, hooking one end to the bottom of the panel and drawing the line of tape up over the top of the panel, keeping it tight to hold the pieces together. Then I sandwiched them between pieces of wax paper and put books on top to keep the tight taping from "curling" the panels. I let those dry anywhere from 1-3 hours, then stood them up against a wall as directed to let them finish drying for 24 hours. 

Next is a lot of painting and sanding and painting. I'm going to paint the wall panels purple on the outside and white or cream on the inside (to prep for the 4yo's decorating plans), paint the base--I'm not sure what color but I'm thinking of putting some kind of stickers or decals around it instead of the lattice--flowers or fairy wands or butterflies or something my niece will like. I also need to paint the window pieces and the channels for the wall panels before I assemble. So there's my next few (dozen??) days off sorted. *g*

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Okay, I started an album for this build; had to work around the vagaries of the interface here and managed to upload the picture of my niece twice...can't seem to delete the extra one. I'll keep working on it. 

Anyway, all that's in there now are some pictures of the books I'm making for the library and the papers and do-dads I got yesterday for interior decoration. I thought I'd snapped some pictures of the foundation and walls but I can't find them yet, so I'll do that when I'm able to start painting. That'll have to wait until I get my basement guest room, and laundry/craft space organized, which I've been working on all week. I'm so tempted to start painting right here on the coffee table, but I am *not* getting paint on my brand new couch. Hence, working on the books instead. 

Soon, though. My niece is so ready to play with this house. 

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Your niece is adorable.  PM one of the mods to get the duplicate taken care of.  Being able to delete photos seems to have gotten lost in one of the "updates" of the gallery.

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