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New Father building The Orchid near Memphis, TN

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Hi everyone!

I look forward to using this great resource and listening to others advice. I'm a police officer in Memphis, TN and years ago I was a school resource officer and bought the Orchid kit at a school arts and crafts fundraising sale. At the time I was single, not dating, and no kids, so everyone thought I was nuts. But I felt very strongly that one day I would have a daughter.

Well fast forward and now I'm married and my first child was just born on Easter Sunday, a beautiful baby girl. It got me thinking about that kit again so I went and dug it out of my closet and I'm about to begin on it. I just went to the store and found myself reading labels on glue just to make sure I picked the right one. I ended up getting elmers wood glue max because it was water proof and stainable and it seems original Elmer's wood glue is not. It's amazing how much more thought and planning go into things when you have a child.

A baby changes everything.

I will document my progress on here and probably ask questions along the way. It will be slow going for me, I work three jobs (cops never make as much as people expect) so my off time is scarce and usually spent sleeping.

Well look forward to checking out other's posts and getting some ideas and getting this project done. And then off to building the next one. After all what little girl would only want one custom daddy built it doll house when she could have several.



Daddy Built It

Dear Daughter's Doating Dad Projects

Memphis, TN

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Welcome to the little family, Nick, and as a former correctional nurse whose hubs used to work as a correctional officer at Raiford, I truly appreciate all you police folks do to keep us safe! I have built an Orchid or two. You are in for an addictive hobby, though; ad what little girl can be happier with a daddy-built house, unless it's two or three?

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Hey, Nicholas, and :welcome: to the forum! The Orchid is a great kit for starters. Since your darling daughter isn't going to be playing with it for a while and will be a toddler when she does get her hands on it, you might consider child-proofing it as much as possible.

By that I mean:

  • Sand it well, especially the edges that will be exposed. Hint: smooth the edges with a little Spackle on your fingertip after sanding. That will fill in the little irregularities that come with plywood.
  • Reinforce the construction by putting square dowels in the inside corners and reinforce the wood glue with staples where floors meet walls, etc. She or one of her friends will sooner or later use it as a seat and/or step-stool. (And some of those kids can be pretty chunky!)
  • Leave out the window panes. She'll want to reach in through the windows and will find a way. Acetate is no match for a toddler! Might even leave off the front door or mount it by using a strip of chamois or twill tape the full height of the door, sandwiched between the trim on the door and the trim around the door.
  • Don't even think about electrifying it.
  • Leave off most of the gingerbread. Little fingers will take it off eventually anyway. You might even think about leaving off the porch, which will serve her as a handle -- not very effectively.
  • Don't bother to glue on individual shingles, which will likely meet the same fate. Paint the roof.
  • Use satin or semi-gloss paint inside and out, which can be scrubbed after she decorates it with crayons or magic markers.
  • If you stain the floors or window frames, etc., finish with a couple coats of polyacrylic.
  • If you want to add some pizzaz, think about decoupaging flowers or other pictures inside and out. There's some neat scrapbooking paper that will hold up well, especially if you put a couple coats of polyacrylic over it.

Basically, what I'm suggesting is going for the Fisher-Price style for a first dollhouse. As for furniture, think about the furniture kits from Greenleaf. They are quite sturdy and can be handled by a toddler.

And after finish this house, which won't take as long as you think, you can start thinking about the more elaborate one that you'll build for when she's older, one in which you and your wife will run wild with fancy decor and lighting. :)

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Google dollhouse images. Spend HOURS on this forum. The kind of house Kathie is describing is perfect. You're building your daughters first heirloom. Also, Mary Engelbreit offered a dollhouse like this. Complete it goes for over $1000. With Greenleaf furniture kits and scrapbook paper from the craft store (CHEAP) Daddy is going to surpise himself and everyone else.

A very big CONGRATULATIONS to Mommy, Daddy and Baby Girl.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Welcome to parenthood and the forum!

I started building scratch-built houses before marriage and kids, but only around my motorcycle trips all over the Eastern U.S. Now I have 3 kids (the oldest, my daughter, just turned 4). The daily commute to work and the occasional ride to the nearest mini shop in Orlando (about 90 miles South) is the extent of my riding for a while, so building houses is the next best thing. Once your little one is moving, keeping the house and any tools/supplies out of her reach for the next 4 or more years will be important. My current project is too big to move into my work room, so I only get to work on it after they kids are asleep and have to do regular repairs on whatever the kids break while I'm at my day job.

Even if you don't get to spend much time on the house you're building, your daughter won't be old enough to play with or enjoy it for a few years yet.

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Hello, Nicholas, and welcome to the Greenleaf Family. :welcome: And congratulations on your little package of love - a.k.a. baby girl. She will be delighted with the house, especially when she's old enough to realize that Daddy made it for her. We used to live in Memphis many years ago, and our son and his family are still there - and his FIL is a sherrif in Memphis. :) Thank you for the job you do - and please be safe.

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Welcome, Nicholas, and many blessings on you and your expanding family.

I think it's wonderful that you bought that house for your future daughter long before you even knew your wife. You have a true father's heart, and she is one lucky little girl.

I lived in Memphis when I was little, and I loved it. I probably wouldn't recognize it now, but then there used to be crepe myrtle bushes lining the streets and the Pink Palace Museum had a shrunken head on display. No kid is ever going to forget that.

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Welcome Nicholas, from another Newbie. Congratulations on being a new Daddy. Your little girl is going to have the coolest Daddy ever! Can't wait to watch your progress with your first house, and please indulge us at some point with some baby pix! My "baby" just turned 22, and my "little man" will turn 16 next Tuesday. *sighs wistfully @ the thought of babies*

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  • 2 months later...

Congratulations, Nicholas! Enjoy every moment...they fly by. Everyone told me this, but man, it is SOOOO true! My baby is now five years old and going into Kindergarten this month! She loves her daddy, and welcomes him every night with excited hugs and snuggles and very detailed updates about her day, dreams, etc.

She's been keeping tabs on my progress in my own Orchid, and especially loves to find new details in it. However, to keep her out of my paintbrushes (she kept "borrowing" them to do some pretend painting elsewhere in the house), I got her a little ceramic magnet kit to paint. I put on some audio fairy tales, and we painted quite happily for two hours the other day.

See what you have to look forward to? :)

Best wishes on the new arrival,


(here is my baby, Ella, painting away)


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