So you finally bought that dollhouse kit you've been wanting!!
Go ahead and open the box, but be prepared - all the little pieces can be intimidating!!
Okay, now that you are over the initial shock, and you have asked yourself why you ever thought you wanted to build a dollhouse........
I have compiled a list of helpful hints and suggestions for assembling your dollhouse kit. But, please remember, my way is not the only way. You may find an easier way than mine. If you do, please share it with me so I can pass it along to others.
The first and most important task to do is to get all the pieces out on a table. Identify the piece with the list of parts in the back of the instruction book. You may have to measure if you have two or more pieces that are close in size. I always mark each piece with the corresponding part number given. Use a pencil, as ink will "bleed" through your paint. You are now becoming familiar with your house parts. When the instructions call for a certain part number, you will know exactly which one it means.
As you are marking your pieces, identify the ceilings. It is much easier to paint the ceilings before assembly. Otherwise you will find yourself standing on your head to paint after the house is together. Not much fun, so this step is one of necessity, unless you enjoy standing on your head while painting!
If you know what your color scheme will be, it is much easier to paint ALL parts before assembly. This will save a lot of tedious painting where two colors meet, such as porch and siding, window trim and siding.........get the picture? So now would be a good time to put your thinking cap on. Go to the paint store if you are having trouble coming up with a color scheme. They have all those nice paint sample cards that have three colors that compliment each other. Your house will be more eye appealing if you use a minimum of three colors on the exterior.
When putting the shell together, I like to use very small brads along with the glue. And speaking of glue, Grrrip Glue is my glue of choice! In most cases, no clamping is necessary. When clamping is necessary, I use masking tape. It "clamps" nicely around those odd shaped pieces you found in your kit!!
But before you attach the roof parts, mark the large flat parts of the roof for the shingles. Your instructions will tell you how this is to be done. When it comes to marking the small gable roof sections, I wait until the roof is attached. Then using the big roof lines as a guide I mark the gable pieces. This way all rows are even.
I glue corner angle pieces on the peak of each roof section. Corner angles can be purchased in different angle degrees to fit most any roof pitch. This gives the roof a finished edge where the top row of shingles ends.
If you plan to stain the shingles, stain enough shingles to shingle the outside rows that will be next to a painted trim piece, and you won't have to worry about getting stain on those painted pieces. You can stain the rest when the roof is complete. One "bead" of glue along the top edge of the pencil marking is enough to hold the shingles. Remember, if you get glue on the surface of the shingle, it will not take stain. You will have light spots any place glue has touched the shingles, so be careful with the glue.
Another very attractive finish is "antiqued" paint. Paint the roof the same color as the house or trim. When dry, use a darker color paint that has been watered down. Paint this watered paint on making sure to get the dark color into cracks and where the shingles overlap one another. With a rag, wipe off excess. This makes a very attractive painted roof. For example, on a light or medium blue roof, I use a navy blue paint for the antique color.
If you can have only one tool for assembling your dollhouse, the tool you need is the Easy Cutter. It is perfect for cutting the shingles and also works very well in cutting all the trim pieces. The Easy Cutter is very sharp and is marked for cutting both straight and angle pieces, so it works nicely for the mitered and straight corners of the trim and the angles and edges of the roof line. I carry them in the store, and you won't be sorry if you buy this tool!
I got a little ahead of myself with the shingling hints, but since I was talking about the roof assembly, I thought it was a good time to talk shingles. I usually keep the shingling job for last. I don't know why, I just do, but that is merely a matter of preference. There's no right or wrong time to shingle your house.
Remember when you had to come up with a color scheme for the exterior of your house? Well, now is the time to start thinking about the interior walls, especially if you plan to apply wallpaper. It is much easier to "paper" before you install the windows and doors. You now need to decide where your walls will be placed. They don't have to be installed where the instructions tell you to.
Be creative and "build" the rooms to your specifications. Do not glue the interior walls in at this time, but mark on the front inside wall where that partition will be. You now have your mark for applying the wallpaper for each room. It is much easier to wallpaper without the partitions in the way and also much easier to wallpaper the partitions before you glue them in.
Measure the height of the rooms to be papered and cut the wallpaper accordingly. Don't worry about cutting out where the windows and doors are. After the wallpaper glue has dried you can easily cut around these openings. Be sure to bring a little bit of the paper around the back edges. You will have a professional looking wallpaper job when the windows, doors, and trim are installed. Wasn't that easy?
I haven't decided when the best time is to do the foundation. If you do it before putting the house shell on, it is a lot easier to handle, but with some houses you have to guess where the front steps will be. (You don't want brick where the steps will sit) If you do it after the house is assembled it is a little harder to move around, but at least you will know exactly where the steps will sit and you can mark this section so you don't get the brick mixture on that area. Let me know when you think is best after you are done.
Most kits come with either "brick" or "stone" for the foundations. This consists of either a red (brick) or white (stone) powder. Paint the foundation the color you desire your "mortar" to be.
When dry, apply the stencil. Your instructions tell you to do one side at a time. I do the complete foundation at one time, because you can wrap the stencil all the way around giving the look of real bricks or stones on the corners. Use masking tape to keep the brick in an even line and off the area where the steps will be placed.
Mix the same amount of water and Elmer's glue. (I usually add a little extra Elmer's.) Add this mixture a little at a time to the powder until you have the consistency of frosting.
Spread the mixture on the foundation with a thin putty knife. This is a place where thicker is not better. By the time you have spread the mixture all around the foundation, you can start pulling the stencil off. And you thought this wasn't going to work. Looks great doesn't it?
Using paper or thin cardboard, make a pattern of the room floor. You can easily trim the pattern to fit the room. Place the flooring the way it will be put in the house. Place the pattern the same way underneath the flooring. Now turn the flooring and the pattern upside down and trace around the pattern onto the flooring back. You'll get a perfect fit every time.
And finally trimming the back of the house. I like to use 1/2" channel for the floors and wall boards. And of course you have the corner pieces for the two outside walls.
Now I know I haven't covered all aspects of building your dreamhouse, but I hope this will be of some help. And as I said at the beginning, don't be afraid to try your own ways and ideas. If you make a mistake, most dollhouse kit companies will replace any parts that you may need. They will do this at no charge to you, and they replace them cheerfully.
The most important advice I can give you is to enjoy building your dreamhouse. There is no such thing as "hurry up to get done". Most people say you're never really "done" so let yourself get lost in the wonderful world of miniatures.
Remember.....I am just a phone call away.
Toll free: 877-875-6500