Sunday, September 16, 2012

It's a doll's life...

I was so super flattered that the fabulous parenting magazine Littlies wanted to feature my dollshouse in its September issue (Littlies is my absolute favourite magazine for practical advice and fun inspiration - I also look forward to seeing what cover the amazing Karyn Flett has captured each month!!).  The article provided some snippets of how I created my dollshouse but if you would like further detail, then here we go.....

When I saw the most gorgeous dollshouse created by Megan at Mousehouse I was completely inspired to create my own.  I never had a dollshouse as such as a child but I remember turning the bottom of my wardrobe into a makeshift one and making all the furniture out of anything and everything I could find.    So as an adult I just loved the idea of renovating a dollshouse for my daughter Mila and the idea that I could completely personalise it in a style of my own.

I had already given my husband Kent the task of building an outdoor playhouse for Mila from scratch so I thought I dare not ask him to build the dollshouse as well.  So I set about the task of looking for one on trademe.  After a few months looking I settled on a fairly new white mdf house that was originally kitset  it cost $75.  It is sturdy and required no prep work, it was a blank canvas to work with.  We did however turn the ground floor into 3 rooms where it was originally one.  Kent cut some pieces of plywood to size (a nice tight fit so we could just wedge them in to create the new walls).

The house has taken over a year to finish.  I have done it bit by bit.  Some months I went furniture, fabric and paint crazy!!!  and other months I just put it away and didn't even glance in its direction.  You need to have somewhere away from the children to work on it.  I had to keep ours tucked away in our walk in wardrobe which was rather tedious.  When we turned half of our office into my craft room it was sooooo helpful to have desk space up high to work on it.

So here it is, floor by floor...

And room by room, firstly the open plan living....  

The breakfast bar is made out of a wooden jewellery box that I bought at Bed, Bath and Table.  I took the lid off and the hinges, flipped it upside down and painted it white.  The 3 pendant lights are craft polystyrene balls and craft wire bought from a local $2 shop.  I painted the balls white.  The chairs came from a dinky little furniture set found at the same shop.  The kitchen units are from Lundby (the famous dollshouse makers) which I sourced through IQ Toys.  The fruit bowl and kitchen bits & bobs came with the units.  I made the fruit for the bowl from playdough.  The vase is a craft bead and the flowers came from a scrapbooking store in Hamilton East that has now shut down.

I just ADORE this little cake stand I bought off trade me (miniatures is quite the craze on trade me, I always have a bit of a laugh at sellers who make it clear that they are NOT toys for children!).  I made the cake inside from some yellow foam and a blob of pva for icing with some pink and white hundreds and thousands.

The dining table was a cheap little cut out set from trade me that I painted white.  I also bought the cane bookstand, books and 'home sweet home' sign off trade me.  I debated for SO long whether to paint the frame of the sign white or not.  I decided to leave it natural for that authentic 'homely' feeling that the sign is all about.  I made the tounge and groove panelling for the walls from box cardboard.  I cut it into strips and then using a craft knife I cut down the vertical grooves and used my finger to then press along the cut creating an inward groove.  Once painted it came off looking like tounge and groove (I have always dreamt of having this in my 'dream' home so here was my opportunity!!!).  The wallpaper was craft paper I bought at the scrapbooking store.  They only had a few sheets left so all botch-ups just had to stay. I loved the bright retro look of it.  Also Mila's bedroom has a lot of pink and yellow so I thought this was one way to make the dollshouse really match her room and blend in.  Throughout the house I used either PVA or decoupage painted on with a paint brush to stick the wallpaper to the walls. 

I made the clock to replicate a wicker clock that we have in our house.  I plaited together 3 strips of craft wire.  I found the image for the clockface off google images and printed it on card.

The sofa and armchair were a nightmare to upholster.  They were originally bare wooden cut outs bought off trade me.  I added some old cushion stuffing for some cushioning.    Initially I had bought some very cool retro yellow fabric to cover them but the pattern was too difficult to work with so I went with a more simple polka dot. I tried to glue the fabric initially which was a disaster. In the end I used double sided tape to make it work and somehow it just did.  By making the wooden base sticky and adhesive I could just stick the fabric where I needed to.  I sewed the mini cushions with some fabric offcuts I had.  The fabrics all come from spotlight.  The lamp is from Lundby.  The side table is a toy block I found around the house and the coffee table is a dip dish I turned upside down.

I made these mini Littlies Magazines by downsizing images from online and printing onto a thin card.  I bent the card and used extra wide cellotape to give them a glossy finish.  I used a tiny bit of bluetack to hold the mag together as the cover tended to spring back.

I made these artworks by printing the words on the computer and glueing to craft card. I made the frames from lollypop sticks glued together.

For Mila's room I chose a bold owl paper for the wallpaper because I thought it was just gorgeous and so did she.   The furniture in this room is a mix of a plain set I bought from Playways Toystore and painted white, together with some pieces that I "borrowed" from the dollshouse my parents bought for their house for all the granchildren to play with.  I figured that given that house has been trashed and half the contents probably thrown down the bank to the beach, I was allowed to sneak a few bits.  The artwork is a cutout of a Mila crayola original.  The ornate frame is a fridge magnet I bought from Redcurrent.  

I made this frame out of buttons that I glued onto card.  The artwork is a miniature of the artwork that I have framed in Mila's bedroom.  I think this saying sums up exactly how I feel in so many ways.  I bought it off Etsy.  The artist is Curry on the Couch.

 Again a simple block became a side table.  These books came with the bookshelf in the dining room.

This frame was a little mirror I had lying around the house.  I think from memory it came with a toiletry bag.  The mirror fell out so it was the perfect frame for one of my Karyn Flett photos of Mila.

 The chalkboard is a peg label turned upside down that I bought from Dots n Spots.  I made the chalk by cutting a lollypop stick.  I think this is one of my favourite things in the whole house!!

I cut the whole bunting flag out of scrapbook paper. 

The master bedroom was so much fun to create.  I basically decided to decorate it how I'd like my own bedroom to be (if I weren't so scared of wallpaper in real life!).  I bought the damask type paper from the scrapbooking shop.  The master bed is just a block of wood.  I used an old baby muslin facecloth as the wrap around bedding.  I sewed the cushions and bed-end spread from some scrap fabrics I found at my parents house which they had bought from Bolt of Cloth for their curtains (except the grey spotty fabric which is from spotlight).  I made the bedhead from the top of the jewellery box that I discarded when making the breakfast bar.  I used a layer of old cushion stuffing and then fastened the fabric using double sided tape.  

The lamps are made from cut up toilet rolls and the lids off some $2 shop lipsticks.  The beside tables are tealight candle holders I had at home that I turned upside down.

The chest at the end of the bed is the box that our wedding bands came in.  The wardrobe came with the bedroom furniture set that I bought from the Playways Toystore, I painted it white.  The vogue artwork above is a fridge magnet that I have had forever.  The shoes are courtesy of Mila's barbie!

I just had to create a photo wall because I am obsessed with them.  I bought the two silver frames from the scrapbooking shop.  The silver bead frame is made from cut strips of beading glued to card.  The pearl frame is individual beads glued to card.  The white frame is card that I cut with pattered craft scissors.  The plain frame is backed with thin polystyrene so it sticks out from the wall.  The two jewel embellishments I had bought years back to add to my wedding shoes (which I never did) and have been lurking in my craft drawer.

The oversized mirror I bought from the $2 shop, it came on a stand that I removed because it was too big.  Love this photo!

Love this photo too!

The bathroom was actually the first room I completed (as you can see from the botched wallpaper in the corner I hadn't yet appreciated the 'measure twice cut once' theory!!).  I picked up a sheet of tile from mitre 10 and cut it to size for the tile floor.  The bathroom fittings are all from Lundby

Once again I made mini versions of the print artworks I have in the kids bathroom at our house.  I also got these off Etsy from Curry On The Couch.   I made the frames by cutting and painting iceblock sticks and glueing them together.

Gotta love the little duckies that came with the Lundby bathroom.  

I decorated Luka's room in similar colours to his actual room.  The furniture came as an unpainted nursery set from the toystore.    I made the Luka sign from scrapbooking letters I bought at Warehouse Stationary.  I made the bunting from a mixture of paper and fabrics.  The giraffe is a sticker we were given in a goodie bag at a birthday party.  The feature wall on the left is scrapbooking paper bought at the scrapbook shop.  I sewed the changemat and bedding from fabric bought at the scrapbooking shop.  The teddy was a keyring I bought at the $2 shop.

I have plans to wallpaper the righthand side wall also because I feel its lacking a bit.  I'm waiting to find a stripe in the right colour tones.

I made this frame from lollypop sticks.  The print inside is another mini version of the print art I have in Luka's room again bought off Etsy from Curry On The Couch.

I decided to make the last room an office / craftroom because we were in the throws of doing up our own one at home. The craft desk was a piece I 'borrowed' from my parents set.  The chair was an extra one of the breakfast bar ones.  The shelf came with the dining table and I painted it white.  The office desk and chair is from Lundby.  The rolls of craft paper are sitting in an ornate toothpick holder.

I cut pieces of Mila's artworks she has brought home from pre-school for the walls.  

I used a little mini 3M hook for the hook to hang the apron that I sewed from fabric and ribbon scraps.  I made the broom from a lollypop stick and a little foam thingy with bristles that we had lying around the house.  The little basket on the desk and shelf I bought off trademe along with the cake stand.  I made the paint brushes from toothpicks (a tip I got from Mousehouse) and stuck them in a craft bead.  The rug actually came with the Lundby Bathroom.

I made the craft sign by hanging twine and using mini pegs that I bought from Dots n Spots.  The letters are stickers stuck to cut bits of paper that match the feature wall.  The side walls in this room had a plywood finish as we added them.  I decided to give them a whitewashed finish in this room.

This mini easel I found at my parents house lying around (I think it used to be a stand for something silly).  I painted it white and added a little custom artwork by Mila.  She had just started to obsessively draw stick people (rather unique ones!).

I made this art for the wall from craft flowers and a button.

I made the pinboard from cardboard, fabric, string and double sided tape.  Did I mention how much I love double sided tape!!! I made the laptop by finding a laptop image on google images and resizing it.  I printed it on card and then bent it to shape.  I used extra wide cellotape to give it the glass like finish.

WOW what a long post!!! I'm sooooo glad the house is all finished.  We are yet to officially give the complete house to Mila.  We are planning on handing it over officially on her 4th birthday.  Until then its up on a set of drawers in the garage where she can have a bit of a play now and then.  I am totally prepared that the house is going to be demolished!!!!!!! once it can be played with fully.  I am fine with that.  Toys are to be played with, that is the point of them.  However, I think there is nothing wrong with having a few small rules.  I'm not so worried about Mila as I am Luka.  I don't want the contents being dragged out to the sandpit etc etc.  So we are planning to build a shelf in the bottom of Mila's double wardrobe where the house will sit (so she can still store shoes and toys and bags under the shelf).  The only rule is going to be that the dollshouse parts must stay in her room.  She can reorganise the rooms till her hearts content but "hopefully" the parts remain in her room.  This way she can close off her wardrobe if she doesn't want Luka playing with it when he is in a spaz "I'm going to destroy all your precious things" mood.  Well that's the plan lets see how it goes!!!

I would LOVE to see any creations others have come up with.  In a few months once we have had some sunshine and I can finish painting the playhouse, it will be my next major project to share :)

Olivia :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Go Fish!

Even though it's still 6 months away I have picked a theme for Luka's 2nd birthday party and started some mental planning.  Age 2 is sort of the last year where I figure I still have a bit of creative freedom with the theme choice because they aren't quite old enough to voice their own opinion about what they want.  Well Mila hadn't by the age of 2 so for her theme I went with some of her first non "mummy and daddy" words - "birds, trees, flowers & bees".  If Luka does develop an intense love of something distinct over the next few months then i'll go with that of course but until then i'll keep making a plan for my theme choice which i'm so excited about because I haven't seen it anywhere before (touch wood!) and its super cute.  For his 1st birthday theme I handed the reigns over to Kent and let him choose, and surprise surprise it took all of 2 seconds for him to declare "FISHING".  So fishing it was....well I changed it a tiny bit... GO FISH !

I must say I still look at the little fish tank goodie boxes and smile :)  I loved coming up with the little choccie fish swimming in the blue jelly beans!