Sparrow Cottage, Part 2


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The exterior of Sparrow Cottage (kit by Sue Herber). I didn’t take as many pics as I built the exterior, but it was pretty straightforward. (BTW, thought the English Yew Green was a bit dark, so I softened with a wash of very watery antique white, wiped with a paper towel.)

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The gable piece that forms the porch walls also is the backside and wall of the kitchen shelves (see previous post).

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The pots of greenery and window boxes with greenery are also provided. Everything you need! I dabbed the greenery lightly with different colors of craft pain to simulate blossoms (used pink, crimson, blue, and a touch of buttercream).

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The kit comes with stone paper that’s glued around the right side and front, and then around the foundation and into the porch (which is formed by the foundation and two pieces of wood that jut out, covered with stone paper to hide the seams).

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The most challenging part for me was painting and cutting all these 1/8″ wood strips to form the half-timbering. The wood strips are the only things not provided–I used three 24″ strips total for the house.

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But I got it done. A nice touch is the little birdhouse that goes under the eaves of the main gable–hence the name, Sparrow Cottage.

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Here is the bathroom set I bought from an artisan a few years ago at a local show. I’ve not had a 1/4 house with he space for it until now! I’m happy it’s found a home.

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Interior and exterior finished. Now I need to furnish the house! I will be building things and gathering accessories. And probably starting another kit (oh, wait, already have…posts on it forthcoming).

Quarter-inch project–New–Sparrow Cottage

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Because I’m not happy with doing one project at a time, I pulled out another kit I purchased a bit a go. I’m also determined to make all these kits, so here we go! (As always, click pics for larger versions.)

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Sparrow Cottage is designed and sold by Sue Herber, who comes up with some lovely and unusual quarter-inch scale houses. I’ve already built two of hers, the Dutch House and the Arch de Provance

Sue sells her kits at shows and also on her website: I don’t see Sparrow Cottage anymore, so it must be gone, but I do see Honeysuckle Cottage, which I bought from her at the NAME show, which I will do next.

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First floor, foundation, and outside walls go together first, and base color put on the house. I couldn’t find the colors she suggests (paints change their colors often), but this is close. I used Ceramcoat English Yew Green for the base; the trim will be Apple Barrel brand Country Gray. (Will show the outside in the next post.)

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The kits come with everything–stone and shingles for the facade, windows and doors, and wallpaper and flooring paper for inside. I chose to use scribed flooring from Northeastern (The Quarter Source carries it; as do some hobby stores), which I stained before gluing in. The tile for the kitchen is paper included in the kit. I sealed it and gave it a shine with a light coat of Ceramcoat gloss varnish.

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Living room painted and papered. I didn’t use the paper that came with the kit–this is leftover, probably from another of Sue’s kits. I’ll use the paper from this kit in another project.

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The kitchen has a built-in china cabinet in the wall. Neat! It’s roughed together as the outside walls go on.

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Kitchen papered and nearing completion. You can see through the shelves, because the back wall of it is part of the exterior put on later.

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The staircase is not in the kit. This house has enough room that I wanted to experiment with stairs. So many 1/4″ house don’t have them! It came out rough, but this is an old, rickety cottage, so it fits. :-)

The staircase is a bashed kit from Karen Carey ( She has several different stair kits). I glued each step to the back edge of the previous step, the whole thing supported by the wall.

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Staircase goes behind a false wall in the living room. I did that so I wouldn’t take up all my wall space–want a place to put furniture. Next pics are various angles of the staircase.

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As you can see, I finished of the staircase wall with a false wall and door that could lead to a closet or stairs to the basement.

I found it much easier to finish the entire downstairs, including putting in the doors, cornice, and curtains before gluing on the second floor. Not much space in there for my large hands.

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In fact, I finished the second floor wallpaper too, using the second floor as a guide to placement, before gluing in the second floor.

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Here, the second floor has been installed and roof already glued on. The roof parts are prepped with the shingle paper first, before the kit goes together. Much easier to put on finished roof pieces.

I made a couple changes to the second floor. First, I painted a lot instead of doing all wallpaper (and again, I used paper I already had).

Second, I moved the dividing wall way to the right. The original position was under the big slope of the roof which is kind of hanging out in space now. The staircase coming up would have made that room too small for my purposes, and I have a bathroom set itching to be used. So, moved the wall to the right, forming a small bathroom. The remaining open floor space will be a loft bedroom.

Painting instead of papering meant I had to cover a lot of raw edges, but small wood strips got the job done.

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The interior more or less finished. Next post will show the exterior going together and the completed house.

Quarter inch scale is a refreshing break for me–instead of spending a year (or ten) on a house, I spend a couple of weeks, then put it on display in my living room. Another motivation for finishing the kits is learning–I want to design a 1/4″ house of my own (someday).

Lisa’s Country Cottage–Part 4

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I have been doing so much since I last posted! Still chugging away on the cottage, plus I got the hankering to do some 1/4″ projects. More on those in next posts.


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Tape wire systems confound me. I’ve tried to use them, but for some reason, I can’t quite get the hang of it. Part of the problem is, I like to decorate (e.g., wallpaper and paint) before I put the house together, to keep it from being a big mess and a pain. Tape wire requires you put the house together before you run the tape, and then put wallpaper etc on top of it.

I prefer a round wiring system with the plugs, extension cords, and power strip with switch and fuse from Houseworks. I do have to plan somewhat what lights I’m going to use and where beforehand, but I can add lamps by the simple procedure of drilling another hole in the wall.

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I don’t much like soldering or using heat shrink tubes either, but I’ve found a way to put things together using mini extension cords available from HBS (one-plug and three-plug). The hardest part (besides sticking tiny pins into the plugs when I need to run a wire through a hole) is hiding the wiring.

A nice feature of this little house is the porch roof. A flat porch ceiling will be covered by a sloped porch roof. In between, I’m sticking the wiring. I’ll find a way to make the porch roof removable, so I can fix problems or add / subtract lights.

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I’m using both indirect and direct lighting here. This is a Nova Lyte (warm white), which will light up the room. I will also use regular dollhouse lamps, but I’m finding that those, especially in older lamps, the light is weak. I’ve started to like indirect lighting enhanced by the warm glow of lamps.

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I have the pitcher-in-bowl lamp plugged in and ready to go.

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Some of the downstairs lamps will come out through the porch–wires will go under the foundation and up to the power strip on the other side (more pics when I have everything attached).

For “how” I’m doing it–very simply. I figure out where I’ll want the lamp inside (after I’ve finished painting or papering the walls). Lamps on tables or on the floor have to be placed in after the house or roombox goes together. Sconces can be attached after the wall is finished but before the wall is attached to the house (easier that way, in fact). Chandeliers are placed first, so that wiring can go up through the floor above–flooring can hide the wiring if necessary.

I run the wire as inconspicuously as possible to a hole I drill in the wall (using a 1/16 bit in my Dremel). Holes are drilled where they will be as hidden as I can make them. Wire goes through hole. On other side of the hole, I attach a two-pronged plug plug

This wire is usually too short to reach the power strip on its own, so I use either a single-plug extension cord

singleplugcord or a 3-plug cord if I have lights nearby (also cuts down on number of cords / plugs going out to the strip).


All the plugs then go to a power strip, which I usually locate at the base of the house. The strip easily hooks to a dollhouse transformer. It has a switch so that I can switch the lights on and off without having to plug and unplug the transformer. Also a fuse, so if I do anything stupid, it will pop and cut the lights.


I locate the power strip in back and cover it with something–I usually build a little cover out of wood strips, that looks like part of the foundation or a big garden bench or something.

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The lower room has plenty of lights–on the back tables plus a large sconce on the left wall that can’t be seen in this pic, but I’ll show it when I post final, final pics.

More as I do it!

Lisa’s Country Cottage–Part 3


The fun part–stocking the antique shop. (Click on photos for larger versions).

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I’m still working on the structure, but I wanted to stop and place everything on the inside now that the three main walls and the porch are put together. You can see where I wired in the coach light from outdoors–that will be hidden by a hollow beam.

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The wraparound porch will house more antiques.

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It was fun to go through all my boxes of *stuff* and pick out things I’ve always liked but so far have had nowhere to put. I’ve got old, new, and blue–I don’t think I borrowed anything, unless it was from houses I remodeled.

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I bought the plates on the Welsh dresser from Ginger Landen-Seagal (I’m sure I butchered that spelling) at the NAME show in Tucson. They are made of paper! Punched out and gloss coated. A great way to fill a cabinet.

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The owners sell everything in this antique shop, including the Shaker table and bench the owners use as their checkout counter. The table, bench, and ladder came from the auction last fall.

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The tiny tops in the pink bowl really spin. They were a table gift at NAME.

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The owners keep track of sales on the very modern laptop, but use an old-fashioned land line phone to take orders from their customers.

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Another shot of the plates and things on the dresser.

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Here’s an example of how I mashed up old and new. The lowboy and the mirror above it I put together from House of Miniature kits ages ago. The lowboy still looks great–a lesson on what a good finish can do for furniture. The mirror was sad and falling apart–I took it to pieces, restained it and replaced the old, heavy glass with a lightweight thin mirror. You can see that I repainted the Chrysnbon Victorian chair and gave it a crisp new cushion.

The lamps are old: The rose shaded kerosene lamp still works–I have wired it in. The other two are old lamps from who-knows-where (non-working). The spatterware is from the boxes I bought with The Blue House, but the pink bowls are a recent purchase I made on Etsy from MiniatureMakerSupply. The china cat is a bead I bought from a bead store in Sedona, the minerals on the little stands from the goody bag from NAME.

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On the other side of the shop is another table full of goodies. The tea set is Rueter, the lamp a dollhouse shop purchase, the table, another House of Miniatures kit I painted. The pitcher and bowl on the floor is one of the very first purchases I made for a dollhouse, way way back when I was about twelve or thirteen.

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More old and new with cheap mixed with pricey. The stool is a Bespaq harp stool, with a leather book by Marilyn Crockett on top of it. The tavern sign I bought from Laura Craine at NAME. No idea where the little aspic molds came from, or if they’re even meant to be minis.

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Old office chair (a commercial piece), with various objects I found in my supply boxes–a carpetbag, plastic flip-flops, the hats from the Chrysnbon hall tree kit.

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On the dresser is leftover, mismatched silverware tossed onto the decorative plates.

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The round pillows on the old Victorian sofa came from a coat my mother had when I was a wee, small child (she called it her “car coat.”)

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On the lower shelf of the dresser are more plates, a basket full of the blue spatterware, and a fish poaching dish.

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I crammed the tiny attic by leaving the bedstead bare and putting things in the space inside it.

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Within the bedstead (another House of Miniatures kit) is a House of Miniatures three-drawer dresser, ladderback chairs I bought in Hong Kong, a plant table I’d had in The Big House bathroom, topped with a hatbox, which came free in the goody bag at NAME.

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On top of the dresser is another old oil lamp (non-working), again one of my earliest dollhouse purchases, along with two kits I put together specifically for this shop project.

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This neat little toiletries box was a mega-round-table kit by Lisa Engler at NAME. (I bought another from her, called Napoleonic influence, which you can see in my post here:

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This is a spool box kit I got from Debbie of Dragonfly International at a mini shows. Fun and easy–I put it together while watching TV one evening.

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More old + new. The jewelry box is a Rueter Porcelain piece I got from Hobby Builder Supply only a few weeks ago (hey, I had bonus dollars to spend). It’s on top of a “painted” trunk from the Realife miniatures colonial bedroom kit. I didn’t put the trunk together–the ladies I bought the Blue House from did.

The Clare-Bell Brass Works wine decanter and goblets set I bought in the 80s. To say it was tarnished is an understatement, but doesn’t it look pretty now? The secret? Lemon juice and salt! Who knew?

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A very familiar paperback novel sits on the trunk as well.

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Ah, The Care and Feeding of Pirates! That has to be my all-time favorite cover from that publisher. Though when I wrote the book, it wasn’t that small!

I didn’t create this mini book, however. It was TreeFeathers, selling it on Etsy. She’d made a set of pirate romance novels, and mine happened to be one of them! I was alerted to this fact by a blogger/reviewer of romance novels–I thought it was so cool I bought the set!

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The porch. Plenty will fit on the side porch, which I haven’t finished yet.

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An overview of the downstairs room.

I fixed up most of the lighting yesterday (and it all works, whew), though I need a few more supplies before I’m done with that. I’m using round wiring and hiding it under the porch roof. I’ll show how I do that in a later post. (Need to take pics).

Almost done with this house! The structure itself is not very complicated–recommend for a beginner. Though the house kit is off the market now, Houseworks has similar ones.

Lisa’s Country Cottage Part 2


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Onward. (As always, click pics for larger versions).

I decided to side the house with clapboard siding. Because I’m bent on recycling what I pulled off of and out of the Big House, I used some large intact siding pieces, having to buy only a couple new ones. House is painted Americana Warm White.

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My original color plan was to have the trim pink, to match a cute pink and white full-size house I saw on Pinterest (it was a tiny cottage, charming in pink and white).

But… when I was riding my bike around, I saw a little house that had been newly painted in soft white with a bright red to red-orange trim. It looked wonderful! I came home and rooted around my old paint box, and found most of a bottle of Crimson (Folk Art brand paint by Plaid). I tested it and really liked it, so this is the house’s trim color.

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The top floor, with flooring in place (flooring is the commercial sheet flooring; this one red oak). You can see a Victorian-style sconce in the corner, which was originally in the Big House.

Because this will be an antique shop, the owners will sell antique lighting as well. And because it’s a shop, I can stick the lights anywhere I want! :-) (BTW, if you watch the Murdoch Mysteries, you can see full sized versions of this type of sconce on the walls of the police station–at least in the earlier seasons.)

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The first floor with some of the furniture and lamps I’ll use jumbled in. I’m roughing in the lamps here. I had a “stained glass” window left over from The Big House, which I put in the front window here.

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To finish the inside, I used sheets of board-and-batten siding painted with Ceramcoat Antique White. Much trimming will come.

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The dormer cut and painted. I’ll shingle it when I shingle the roof.

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The porch ceiling in place, but the porch roof off. You can see the wedge porch roof supports, which are supplied in the kit. A lot of the wiring will go under here.

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Porch mostly done. I used the board-and-batten siding on the porch ceiling, painted Warm White to match the outside wall color. The sconce is a Clare-Bell Brassworks sconce I had been using in my colonial house. The porch floor is Americana brand acrylic, Medium Gray, mixed with a little terrarium sand for texture (to simulate cement).

I’m surprised at myself for daring to go red. I’m usually so subdued with color–going for pale yellows and white and greens–earth tones (as I did in The Big House, the Fairfield, and the quarter-scale bungalow). But I think it looks sharp! Perfect for a little antique shop you’d find on the side of a back highway.

More to come.

Cool Auction Find #3 — 1/144 scale houses

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The one scale I don’t have much of is 1/144 (1/12 of 1/12). For one, my eyesight is bad! And I’ve never come across anything in the scale that excited me.

That changed when I saw these two charming houses by Charlotte Scott in that big auction last fall. (BTW, the auction has been covered in Miniature Collector in the latest two issues–the pieces written up in the magazine were on the high end; I’d dropped out long before!)

Be sure to click on these pics for bigger versions!

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This is a Georgian brick cabinet dollhouse, finished inside and out. I love how she put the dollhouse on legs.

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The middle is one solid piece (doesn’t open), and the roof doesn’t open either.

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Detail of the front door. So pretty (click photo for close up).

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Side and back of the house with more details.

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The Tudor house. The Georgian house was the one that had caught my eye, but when this one came up, I couldn’t resist. Terrific details.

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Each floor opens separately. Top two floors.

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Bottom two floors.

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Side of the house with great decorative details.

New Project–Lisa’s Country Cottage

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I decided it was high time to put together a new dollhouse kit. Right?

This one is Lisa’s Country Cottage, from Houseworks. I no longer see it for sale on the Hobby Builders Supply site, and I believe it’s been discontinued (why? it’s a great little kit!). But it’s available secondhand, and it’s similar to other Houseworks kits, such as the garage and the “charming cottage”.

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I pulled it out of the box and started in.

The first thing I do with a kit is take out all the parts and tape it together with painter’s tape, which is easy to pull off.

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This kit (or one of Houseworks’ similar kits) would be terrific for a beginner. There aren’t many pieces, and everything is rabbeted to fit together precisely. Mine is made of MDF, which is lightweight and smooth (no splinters!). I was able to cut it easily to modify a few things.

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The cottage has one room downstairs and one upstairs. Windowless wall is the back of the house, handy for placing against a wall of your real house (RH) for display.

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I purchased a dormer window, which will go on the front side of the roof. After taking these shots, I cut a hole in the roof so the window can be seen through. I suppose I could have done it as a false window, maybe with something inside.

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Generous frout porch

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What the front will look like with dormer in place. The porch posts fit into post holes on bottom, and slots in the porch ceiling. Sturdy construction.

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Porch wraps around to the side.

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Putting windows and door in place to see what it will look like.

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Side w/ windows.

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I have both a Dutch door and a single French door, so I am trying both to see which I like better.

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French door.

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Dutch door.

I thought the Dutch door looked more rustic, which is what I’m going for in this project, so I’ll use it.

The cottage will be an antique shop, to house odds and ends of my collection–old furniture I took out of The Big House; new furniture I’ve bought but has nowhere to go yet. I’ll take stuff out of the shop as I build other houses and add new things as I go. Kind of a storage space, but in a display I can enjoy.

More photos as I build.

My philosophy is: Life is short. Build more dollhouses.

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