What I like about building miniature dollhouses is that I can change my mind as I go. If I paint something one color and hate it (see, the window project), it’s pretty easy (and relatively cheap), to change my mind and start over. Or, paint over what I hate.
What I hate about building miniature dollhouse is that I can change my mind as I go. And change it again. And again. And, once more, for good measure.
There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that if I keep doing that, I’ll never make any progress!
A while back, I experimented with the paint colors for the dollhouse interior. I wanted to do the sky blue color all over the inside. I did a small test on the inside of the second floor. Here’s the picture of that:
It’s fine, but I decided after looking at it, that I needed a primer. I feel like the dark wood tone was dulling the brightness of the blue. I figured primer would take care of that. After all, that’s what it does.
Chunky or smooth
I got the primer can I picked up a while ago (like, back when I started this project) and started shaking the closed can. Then, I pried up the top and started mixing with a stirring stick. As I mixed, I could tell that the paint had separated. It was kind of like stirring a milkshake, only, not as tasty. Here’s what the stick looked like after I stirred for a few minutes.
I’m not going to lie. All I can tell you is that that chunky stuff is “paint solids.” Beyond that, I don’t know if it’s the resin, the binder, or something else.
I did the best I could to mix it in, but I’m not sure how good of a job I did. Oh. Well. I guess I’ll see what happens.
I used a bristle brush for this project. I skipped the foam brush because I was cutting in the edges for the ceiling and floor. Using a bristle brush gives me a little more control because I can flatten out the bristles more than I can flatten out the foam tips.
If that sounds weird to you, I’ll demonstrate. Here’s a picture of a bristle brush:
And here’s what happens when I press down on it:
See how the bristles fan out and flatten? You can do that with a foam brush.
That’s OK, but given how blind I am painting the first floor (more on that below), I went with the bristle brush.
I started upstairs, cutting in along the tape. I quickly learned I needed to do a better job with not overloading the brush with paint.
That’s the floor so, no big deal. But, if you look along the back edge, you can see where there’s paint kind of seeping into the gap. As far as I can tell, the paint didn’t drip onto the first floor. But, I have removed the tape yet, so we’ll see what it looks like later.
Then, I painted the walls in broad strokes, watching out for drips.
I did the same thing on the first floor but found it a little more challenging. There are two cut-outs (the door and the window) where I have to be careful not to paint. I don’t want to get paint inside the cut-outs because that will, theoretically, make it harder to glue the window and door in them. And, I want to make sure that as I paint, I don’t splash paint specks through those openings and on to my table (like last time).
As difficult as that sounds, avoiding the cut-outs wasn’t nearly as challenging as cutting in on the ceiling.
I never even tried to go back and finish the tape job on the ceiling. There’s no way to do that (that I can tell). So, I had to twist my head to the side and look under the floor/ceiling to see what I was doing.
Sadly, there are no pictures of this. And, honestly, I wasn’t too worried about it, so I didn’t try that hard to make it perfect. My thought is that, in the end, I’m probably painting that ceiling “ceiling white” anyway, so no big deal if I get the paint on the ceiling.
The Final Result
Here’s the Keeper’s House interior primed for paint:
And, here’s a close up:
The brush strokes are pretty obvious. But that’s what happens when you use a bristle brush (not a roller) and a light coat of paint. I think. As I learned from the window frame incident, there is such a thing as too many coats of paint, so I settled on one coat for the primer. I figure that, since I’m going to do a few coats of the color, I’m good. The primer is just there to create a white canvas and stop the color from soaking into the wood.
The original plan was to do the entire inside in the sky blue color. But, the more I played with the house, the less I wanted to do that. I decided to change, and do a grey color in the bedroom and in the front hallway, but keep the original sky blue for the family room and bathroom. Here’s the color I picked. FYI, it’s called “grey.”
I kind of eyeballed where the color should start and finish since I’m still not 100 percent on where the walls are going.
A few things jump out at me. First, the bristle lines are very obvious. If I was going for a crosshatched look (which is a thing), I’m spot on. However, I’m not going for that, but it’s fine since I know it’s getting another coat (or three) and I should be able to smooth it out.
Second, I like the grey color. I feel like adding the grey gives me more decorating options because it’s more neutral than the sky blue. On that same note, I also feel like this grey has blue undertones, which is good. That means it shouldn’t clash with the sky blue when I add it.
Third, the house is still really, really, dark.
I knew using grey wouldn’t help things. But, that’s why I opted for a lighter-hued grey and not a dark-toned one. I knew the grey would be dark, but I didn’t realize it would be that dark. I mean, look at the bottom floor. Even with the two openings, it looks like a cave in there.
Will I add lights? Yes. Will that help things? It should.
But, it got me thinking about dormers again.
I drew the outline of the dormers on the roof from measurements I found. It’s flat, though, so it’s not an accurate portrayal of what a dormer would actually look like.
I’m also not sure that I did it right. If you look at the picture, you’ll see that I’ve got a lot of “space” reserved for the dormer. Is that right is that wrong? I don’t know. I didn’t buy dormer kits, and I don’t have the right size scrap wood lying around, so there’s no way to tell.
And I don’t want to guess. If I skip dormers now, that means I’m putting on the shingles. Then, if I later decide to add dormers, I have to put them on to an already shingled roof. That’s doable, but I don’t want to do it.
If I decide to do dormers now, I have to get it right the first time. Once I saw the holes for the dormers, that roof is done. Plus, as I was drawing the dormers on the roof, everything looked “off.” Two dormers looked like too much dormer, and one dormer looked wrong.
After all that hemming and hawing, I decided that visual aids were the way to go.
My first try involved me creating a “dormer” out of paper. I measured out the dimensions of the dormer, then folded a piece of paper to match those dimensions.
Then, using the marks I already had, I figured out where the dormers would go on the inside. But, I’m not sure I had the measurements right, so I ended up eyeballing it and taping the “dormers” on the inside of the roof.
That’s just one version. I tried a bunch of different placements for the dormers but ended up hating every single configuration. Two dormers look like too much dormer.
Then I figured, what about one dormer centered on the roof?
I measured out the roof and figured out the measurements for a single dormer centered on the roof. For the record, when I saw “figured out the measurements,” I mean I estimated what that should be. I divided the roof in half (lengthwise and crosswise), then added a few inches on each side until I got something that I thought would look right. There’s nothing very scientific about how I calculated the dimensions.
Also, to be clear, I didn’t figure out dormer height (which will also affect the look which, in turn, will affect size). I just wanted to get an idea of what this would look like.
Here’s what it would look like from the outside.
OK. Not bad. A little small, but that’s easily remedied.
Then, I centered it on the inside of the house, using the outside marks as guidance.
Hmph. Same problem from when I was trying this with two dormers. I end up with a dormer wall exactly in line with the upstairs bathroom/bedroom wall. Which means I have to either make the bathroom smaller or get rid of the bathroom altogether.
Of course, I haven’t bought furniture yet. What if I can make the bathroom smaller?
What Kind of Bathroom?
With that thought in mind, I realized I could make bathroom templates. I consulted the Internet and found a bunch of bathroom sets all with different measurements. Cool. That gives me a range of sizes to work with.
I picked one set and cut out paper versions of a tub, a sink, and a toilet.
It’s not a square toilet, I swear. I wanted the largest dimension possible so I could exactly how much space I have to work with. Plus, I was too lazy to fashion it into an oval or round shape.
I stuffed the wall in place. Actually, it’s a piece of cardboard because I didn’t have the wall handy. Then, I arranged the pieces.
This setup isn’t for certain (since I think I’m going to do a shower stall and not a tub), but it’s a way to get oriented to the space. If you look in the background, you can see the grey on the wall. It looks like I’ve got room to spare for the bathroom. So, I slide the bathroom pieces over and push the wall until there’s no grey.
It’s tiny but workable.
Then I put the single dormer back on.
Success! It looks like I can have a bathroom and a dormer!
But, of course, I have to experiment some more.
I don’t like the look of the “flat” dormers. And, I really want two, Since I’ve come this far, I figure, why not build some dormers?
I didn’t actually build dormers. These are cardboard mock ups, just to get a feel for how dormers would look. I didn’t bother measuring or even calculating dimensions. Once again, I eyeballed it.
Based on the roof marks I made for the dormer kit, my DIY dormers are smaller (I think. Probably. Maybe). I tape my dormers onto the roof. Don’t laugh.
As goofy and incomplete as those dormers look, I have to say, I like it.
Here’s the view from the top. You can see the cardboard hanging out the back that marks the interior wall.
I really like this, and I think this could work.
Lighter and Brighter. Sort Of
So, I’m not there yet, but I think I might hack my own dormers. That, of course, won’t help the downstairs. But it’s something. I’m still a ways from doing anything that complicated. I’ve got to finish painting, do the stairs, and I haven’t even touched the door.
It’s a good thing I’m not on a deadline!
Thoughts? Do you like the grey? How do you light your dollhouse? Ever done a dormer?
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