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Refurbishing Old Harrison Dollhouse

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I am brand new to this community and it looks like a really fun place to get involved! I have done some dollhouse work here and there in the past, but I am now undertaking a BIG project. My daughter-in-law gave me her old Harrison dollhouse several years ago because she no longer wanted it and knew I enjoyed working on things like that. It was overwhelming and just sat in my basement.  :)  BUT, she and my son had a little girl 2 years ago, and I would now like to fix it up for my one and only grandchild! 

My biggest problem is that it is VERY rickety and feels as if it could fall apart quite easily. I am going to mount it to a base and add casters. But I don't know how to go about making the rest of it more sturdy. It would likely be easier to purchase a new one and start all over again, but I think there will be some great sentimental value if I use this one. My son and his wife are very big into that sort of thing! 

IF I can take it apart and start again, would that be the best way to go? (Not sure if that's possible.) And of course, I also wonder if things will just break if I do attempt to take it apart! As of now, there are no broken walls, etc. The only missing piece is one window and a small piece of trim on the outside. I have written Greenleaf to ask if they have a window I can purchase. If not, I have no clue how to find that! 

Perhaps there is some way to add some wood in some way to provide a better structure or make it more sturdy? If so, please let me know, because I am clueless! 

I have tons of decorating ideas and that part will be easy for me. But I was a little stunned at the cost of furniture. So any advice (beside 2nd hand stores - as I've tried them regularly) for finding cheap furniture or furniture kits - or places where I can make furniture - but somewhat decent stuff (not a paper couch) - would be greatly appreciated! I actually would like to make the furniture, but I want it to look really pretty without being overly complicated to make. I am good with crafts, but haven't done much work with wood!  :) Ha!

Thank you in advance for any help you can give me. I appreciate it more than you can know!!!!

Warm regards,


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Cindy, if your Harrison is that old it was probably built with hot glue and will come apart with a hair dryer.  In my album for the Laurel I rehabbed this is what the house originally looked like from the outside & the inside:


When you click on the hyperlink to see how I fixed this mess, the furniture was almost all the Greenleaf kit furniture except in the bedroom, which was a Murphy bed I built into one of the $1 hutches Michael's used to sell.  In the McKinley all of the furniture is made from kits except for the kitchen and the bathroom, which latter I cobbled together from seashells and polymer clay.  I make all of the furniture I put into my houses unless I run across something that will fit.

The windows didn't survive removal (I used the hubs' B&D heat gun on the hot glue; that's him in one of the album photos removing those ceramic tiles; I recycled the ones that survived for the bathroom floor) and the poor door was ghastly.  In the bathroom I printed stained glass windows from Jim's printmini site:  https://www.printmini.com/ on the transparency film for the purpose, the rest of the windows and door inserts were cut from various pieces of flat clear acetate packaging.  I usually do "stained glass" by painting my own designs onto clear acetate with transparent watercolor paints.  I used some of the mini millwork you find at the big box craft stores, but my usual weapons of choice are strip wood from the hobby shop and sheets of basswood in thicknesses from 1/16" to 1/4" for trims and furniture, as its nice, tight grain is more in scale and it takes stain nicely.

At the top of this page you will see a list of pinned topics.  Although over the years some of the links no longer work (this version of the forum is over 14 years old), you might check this one out:  http://www.greenleafdollhouses.com/forum/?app=forums&module=forums&controller=topic&id=1290 and even if some of these books go out of print you can usually find them used on one of the used book sites:  http://www.greenleafdollhouses.com/forum/?app=forums&module=forums&controller=topic&id=21471; I seem to remember posting a review of some of my mini furniture books.  The accessories books and DIY links are nice.  Pinterest also has links to a lot of DIY ideas.

Whilst you're mulling this over, do post an intro in the Newcomers' Forum.

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I've made dollhouse kits more stable by gluing blocks of wood in the corners of the base (under the first floor).  I've put corner trim on vertical outside corners of the house and glued horizontal pieces of trim on the outside walls to cover up the places where the tab/slots are.  Another thing that helps is to put baseboard and cornice molding in the interior rooms making sure walls get glued to floors in the process.  Good luck with your project.

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