Dolls' Houses Past & Present

A website and ezine about dolls' houses: antique, vintage and modern. Plus furniture and accessories.

Ageing a Doll's House - Joan's Latest Project by Joan Joyce


I'm sure at some point we would all like a really old doll's house that we will never afford. That was how I came to start making my houses. Sadly, now, I have given up building them due to my arthritis but I have still been renovating houses for friends and family as well as myself.

This particular project is a house I have had sittting in my shed for almost 3 years. It was an impulse buy and I often wondered what came over me to purchase it and I nearly donated it to a charity shop. Anyway, I finally decided to have a go at it and this article charts my progress. I will do an article for the next magazine showing what I do with the inside.


The original, extremely uninspiring house.      Stripped and sanded, ready for minor repairs.


I found a picture of a house I liked that I felt I could adapt to suit this house. Sadly, I can't show you the picture due to copyright laws but for those of you who own Liza Antrim's book it is on page 93, "The Quaint House". For those of you who don't have the book you NEED to get one. It doesn't come cheap, but believe me, it is worth every penny!  



I found a good match for colour in the Dulux mixer range, the heritage colours, and bought a sample pot. I base-coated the house and then drew on the bricks with a pencil, using a length of wood strip as a guide. I used 2 strips together to get the width of the bricks for the verticals. Using a pencil meant I could easily erase any mistakes.  


The next job was to paint on the mortar lines using a fine brush. I used a Farrow and Ball sample pot of "old white". This is not a quick job but the results proved worth the effort.  



I made a paper template for the lintel over the window and a template from wood strip for the window ledges and then I drew round them.  



Next I filled in the detail with artist's acrylic paint, I mixed the colour myself.  


I found these old mouldings which came off an old washstand. I had them in a drawer for 8 years and finally found a use for them. All you hoarders, take heart!  



Here they are, glued and clamped. I went away and left it while we had dinner.  


It is coming on!  



My next job was messy! I watered down some burnt umber acrylic paint and just sloshed it on. I remembered to lay old newspaper under the house first!  


The trick is to wipe off almost as much paint as you put on! I used a bit of soft cotton rag, an old T shirt actually.  



Any imperfections just add to the aged look.  


I used some thick acrylic sheet for the windows, but I have also used picture frame glass in the past. I didn't feel like the 40 mile round trip to get the glass, so the acrylic won this time! I cut out the windows and also made a paper template on which I drew the window bars. I then laid the acrylic over the pattern and painted on the bars as carefully as I could, using Humbrol enamel. I then glued them in place.  



Once the windows were well set I finished off by using some Farrow and Ball off black, neat this time. I used a small brush and pushed the paint into the crevices where dirt would collect. I did this a little at a time, wiping most of it off with a piece of kitchen towel.  


Here is a close up of the front door. On the original house, the door was painted on but I had an opening. I found another bit of old wood that had been kept for years too and cut out a piece slightly larger all round than the doorway. I decided not to hinge it as I know it won't open properly when the kitchen is done. I drew the mouldings on with pencil and then painted them on. After it was dry I varnished both sides using medium oak acrylic quick dry varnish. The door knocker is a small cupboard door pull that I had in among my bits. It is large but I think it suits this house.When I glued the door in place I supported it with four great lumps of tacky wax until it had set.



FINISHED!!! Well almost, I can see some odd places where I need to push some more black paint.

I hope you like my efforts and are inspired to have a go yourselves. I am going to furnish it with some very large old furniture, but that is another story..........


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