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Getting Started on My Orchid

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Hi all! I'm new here but have loved dollhouses all my life starting with the one my dad made me when I was 8. I finally decided to buy one just for me to decorate and I'm starting with an Orchid/Primrose bash. This is my third attempt at building a dollhouse. The first one was in college and was just a mess because I didn't have a good space and was working out of someone else's home (I was renting a room). The second was the HUGE Beacon Hill that I made but never 100% finished for my daughter. She never did play with it much but it ended up looking ok. Just a few things never got finished. This time around I'm going "small" but I'm going to do it the way *I* want to do it and take my time. My plans are to make this Orchid into a French country farmhouse/cottage with a modern farmhouse chic interior. Very excited to get this going!

I did my first dry fit last night with both kits. I've decided not to do the large gable in the middle of the house and that large gable section just doesn't work with what I'm going for. I plan to keep the dormers though because those do. The outside of the house will be made to look like it's made of that beautiful golden french limestone. It will be a bit of work but I think it will look great in the end. I plan to make it using textured cardboard pieces that will then get colored with chalk pastels.  The fishscale shingles will be changed to square ones and textured to look like shale. I'm leaving off all the gingerbread work and simplifying the window trims too. Sorry all you gothic architecture lovers!

For the addition, I will not punch out the door, only the windows and I will raise the roof pitch to match the main part of the house. It should be pretty easy to just cut out a new panel for that side of the house to make it all fit right.


The interior of the house has gone through some planning, replanning, and replanning. I had originally thought I would bump out the right side of the house (when looking at it this way). I even went to the trouble to cut the bump out out but I just didn't like it and I couldn't figure out a way to deal with the stairs that made me happy. I know some people just leave them off but I KNOW that would just irritate me to no end. My original plan was to have the bump out on the right for the kitchen and use the addition for the bedroom and bathroom. The upstairs would be a studio area and storage area. Once I saw everything put together, I decided to scrap the plans for the upstair and just dedicate that to the bathroom (second level of addition) and bedroom (second level of main part) and make the bottom part of the addition the kitchen and the large part of the main house the living room/dining room.  To do that, I'll cut an opening between the main house and the addition. Sad to lose to studio area but perhaps I will find room for it somewhere. I don't want to lose the bay window so that will be moving to the right side of the house but closer to the front.


And for those of you who are observant, my other hobby is sewing and I'm a giant Star Trek nerd :D

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Oohh.. I like the look of this. I've never really liked that middle gable on the orchid, this looks much better and an addition is great to give you that extra space to have nice size rooms. :)

I did see smjsome here make a bakery out of an orchid and they had a great technique for making their shingles look like slate. Here's a picture. If you scroll through the gallery one of the pictures tells you what was used. I can't remember what it was.

Ahh here's the picture! It was joint compound. Really effective :D


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Despite battling a terrible sinus infection for the past few days, I've made some progress on my Orchid/Primrose bash. Not sure what to call it yet. Maybe The Chanel or The St. Laurent in honor of my favorite French designers?

The first thing I needed to do was cut a new side piece for the Primrose so that I could raise the roof pitch to match the Orchid. Architecturally, it's probably not acceptable to have your roof pitches so close together (they're separated by 1/2") but I'm going with it as it does add a lot of space to the bathroom area. I cut a new roof piece too because after raising the roofline, the Primrose roof piece was too short. After a test fit, I decided I wanted to add a dormer to the bathroom area, so I used the other dormer pieces as a template and cut a new one. I think it breaks up that roofline nicely and it adds some light to the bathroom.



This is the new side piece. The bottom floor of the Primrose is going to be the kitchen and I want my stove to be set into an old fireplace so I had to take that into account. I drew in where I wanted the chimney to be and then added two windows on either side of that to add in some light. Leaving the door in place on the front panel will give me room for cabinets or shelves on the wall.


Here are the insides. I cut a new first floor piece for the Orchid because the one that came in the kit was pretty badly warped. I bought a huge sheet of MDF to make the side pieces so I had more than enough to cut a new piece. The stairs will remain on the right side as originally designed. For the entry from the living room into the kitchen, I simply extended the bay window opening. I also cut a slightly narrow doorway in between the bedroom and the bathroom. You can see how much room increasing the roof pitch adds to the bathroom area and I'm really happy with the dormer.



I had originally wanted to salvage the bay window but it's just too big so I decided to salvage the octagonal gable window instead. I placed that on the other side of the Orchid under the stairs. I made it a bit longer so I'll have to cut new trim pieces but it fits under the stairs just right. In the end, I plan to put in a stained glass look window there with some kind of cool design. 



I'm pretty happy with my little farmhouse layout now. It wasn't too much work to make all the changes. I may still make that front window of the Primrose a bit bigger but not by much. Still trying to decide what step to take next. I want to stucco the walls on the inside and do a faux limestone on the outside. I want to electrify the house so I'll have to get all of that done before moving on to the wall finishings. I was hoping to do a stucco look in the interior. Any advice on how best to go about handling interior finishes?

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For the large cuts I used my Dremel mini saw (though it was a bit fussy and I think I burned it out). Once I got the large pieces cut down, I used a coping saw to cut the tabs. For internal cuts, I drilled holes in each corner and then used a straight razor and a metal ruler to do the in between cuts. The tab slots took a bit of finesse to cut. I actually had to recut my roof piece once because I trimmed off way too much at one point trying to get it to line up.

It's definitely harder to cut than the craft plywood but it's sturdy.

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On 20/02/2017, 23:38:28, Sable said:

May I ask how you cut that MDF?


On 21/02/2017, 01:24:28, SewMini said:

For the large cuts I used my Dremel mini saw (though it was a bit fussy and I think I burned it out). Once I got the large pieces cut down, I used a coping saw to cut the tabs. For internal cuts, I drilled holes in each corner and then used a straight razor and a metal ruler to do the in between cuts. The tab slots took a bit of finesse to cut. I actually had to recut my roof piece once because I trimmed off way too much at one point trying to get it to line up.

It's definitely harder to cut than the craft plywood but it's sturdy.

Just thought I'd give you a 'heads up'.........the large sheet you purchased as MDF is not MDF!.........in the UK it's known as 'Hardboard' and it's about as stable as Saddam Husain!..........the structure is re-constituted wood fibres hard pressed together and get those edges damp and it will warp an separate. MDF is a heavier material and smooth both sides and be sure you're wearing a face mask when sawing!

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You are so right. It actually is hard board. I couldn't figure out if it was just a thinner MDF or a whole different thing. I even googled it when I was in the store. Unfortunately, it was the only material I could get in 1/8th inch. They didn't have 1/8" plywood :(

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There was some thin plywood but it wasn't anything like the plywood that was in the kit box. The kit box plywood was pretty flimsy and malleable. The plywood at the store seemed to be thicker than 1/8 and also a lot more rigid. I was concerned that the tools I have to work with wouldn't be able to cut it. I think a craft band saw is in my future.

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With ya on the eye rolls. Gotta love them. I have 2 in that stage right now. Saw this quote online and gave it to the eldest eye-roller.

Out of all my body parts I feel like my eyes are in the best shape. I do at least 1,000 eyerolls a day!!

As to the HD 1/8" ply, the workers at the store I go to did not know they carried it until I found it after grubbing around in all the smaller bins near the wood area. They can also order it for you if you request it. No shipping charges that way. 

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I bought thin plywood at either Michael's or Hobby Lobby (or quite possibly both!). I was able to cut it with several passes with a box cutter.

And for eye-rolling teenagers... Luckily mine weren't too bad. My oldest would sometimes, my middle maybe a couple times. But my youngest, he somehow missed the eye-rolling/sarcastic lesson. He doesn't know how. He's so literal and logical though, if you don't know him, some of his responses might sound sarcastic.

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The whole trip to HD was

Me: "I just need to go to the wood section"

Eye rolling teen (ERT): "What do you need in the wood section?"

Me: "Ummm I'm gonna go with wood. I need wood in the wood section"

*finds the 800 options none of which seem to work so I start thinking*

ERT: "How long is this going to take?"

Me: "I just need to find the right thing. Hold on"

ERT: "OMG we're going to be here until I'm 40"

Me: "Don't make me add things to my list. I'll make sure we're here til you're 65"

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  • 9 months later...

I finally decided after years of loving miniatures to build a dollhouse for myself. I'm bashing together an Orchid kit and a Primrose kit. My home's name is Casa del Paó d'Or which means House of the Golden Peacock. Here's the Story:

My home owner, Gabrielle, is a free spirit who lives in the mountains outside of  Barcelona near Argentona and Mataró.  She is an American born woman in her late 60s who sadly lost her Spanish born husband, Mateo, few years ago and is now on her own. He was from Madrid and thats where they settled for many years. He inherited this house from an uncle and they renovated it to be their vacation spot. She would often come here by herself to get away when her husband was away on business. 

After her husband passed, she moved to the mountains permanently. She always loved Barcelona and this place was close enough for her to get to the city for fun but far enough from the towns in the valleys that she has privacy and quiet. Its warm in the afternoons and cool in the mornings and evening; just how she likes it. 

She still fumbles with the Catalan language but tries hard. She's much better with her Spanish. The old woman down the hill has taken a shine to her and is teaching her how to crochet lace. Her name is Margareda and she can still make a delicious fideuá (Catalan paella) despite having a harder time getting around these days.

Gabrielle loves to cook and paint. She always has a big glass of Spanish wine in her hand and she keeps a bowl of olives close by at all times to snack on. Her first floor is for entertaining friends who make the trek to see her. She loves when they visit but loves her quiet life when they're not there too. The second floor is her respite from the world. A place for her to crawl into bed with a favorite book and her devoted hound dog, Freddi. Maybe some day, I'll build her outside terrace with the bare bulb string lights hanging from a pergola thats draped with wisteria. The perfect place to watch the sun set just past the mountains as a warm breeze floats by on its way out to the sea.

She says your are all welcome to stop by but do bring some cheese and jamon. She's almost out!

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