I went back to the Sparrow Cottage I put together earlier this year, ready to furnish and decorate. First a tour, then I’ll talk about how I made some things.

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My story for this house is that it belongs to a widow, who uses it as a summer retreat. I picture it on a rugged piece of coast in northern California, Oregon, or Washington. It’s a cool spot by the ocean, where she can enjoy solitude or the horde of children and grandchildren who come to visit.

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She collects novelty china, and enjoys baking in the kitchen.

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With space at a premium, my lady decided that it was more important to have a dining area to feed her friends and family than a sitting room. Meals take precedence.

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There is a nook for reading and relaxing near the stairs.

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A big bathroom with a large tub and plenty of towels.

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A warm comfy bed in the attic bedroom, plus another area for reading.

Furniture and Accessories

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I started out with the bathroom set I’d bought at a show about five years ago.

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Dug into the box of quarter inch kits I’ve stashed, and figured out what furniture would best fit this house. I acquired all these kits from The Quarter Source, Karen Carey, Suzanne and Andrew’s minis, Robin Betterley, BySharon, and bits and pieces found at shows and elsewhere.

Quarter-inch furniture is usually inexpensive and easy to build–few pieces, though they are tiny!

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I made the table here from scratch (accessories from various places). The top is 1/32″ thick wood (I had mahogany), covered with a piece of scrapbook paper decopaged on. (Glue paper to top, finish with a gloss varnish like Delta Ceramcoat). The bottom is a block of 1/16″ thick wood, legs are 1/16″ square. I used hardwood (walnut), instead of basswood, because I wanted the table to be sturdy. A good hobby store has hardwood strips, as does MicroMark online.

For these accessories: The pie making setup is from Desert Mini Makers (a fabulous source for 1/4″ food), mixing bowl was $1 or so from Pierce miniatures, toaster from Debbie Young (Young at Heart), canister from Debbie Young with decals found at Miniature Luxuries.

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The great thing about 1/4″ accessories is they’re fairly cheap. $20 will give you enough accessories for a room or two.
I do also like making my own. I made the lamp, vase of flowers, and row of books. I’ll do a lamp tutorial in the next post.

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Plant is from kit, lamp by me, pillow a kit from The Quarter Source. The rocking chair is cast iron, made by Pierre Luigi. He does beautiful work (beds, chairs, tables, baking racks, fireplace accessories, plates, and other things), and it’s very affordable! Suzanne and Andrew’s minis carries these pieces.

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The all-important toilet paper. Easy to make. Take a strip of 1/8″ white quilling paper (found at hobby stores or online), use either a quilling tool or a darning needle with the top of the head clipped off, and roll the paper in to a tight roll. Use a tiny jump ring as the toilet paper holder. I made three for this bathroom–one for the holder and two spares to sit on a shelf.

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The toilet paper in place.

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Towels. Method one makes folded towels for shelves or counters. Using a tiny amount of glue in the folds, fold a strip of thin fabric (very thin cotton or silk works well) lengthwise into thirds. The resulting long strip should be about 1/8″ wide. Crease and press with fingers to get the strip tight and creased.

Fold the top of the strip over on itself crosswise (gluing and creasing with fingers), creating a square about 1/8 x 3/16 or 1/4 or thereabouts. Snip off. Make several, then stack on top of each other, holding them in place with drops of glue.

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Here’s my stack of towels plus the toilet paper in its shelf. The bottles are from a plastic kit from Suzanne and Andrew’s minis; the gold jar is a bead with a tiny crystal bead on top (glued with superglue).

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Towels 2: You can see I’ve done another towel in a ring by the sink. That towel is a strip of fabric folded into thirds lengthwise (glued and pressed), then cut to length. I eyeballed it, but it’s about 3/4″. Thread through a jump ring and glue to wall.

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An iron bed by Pierre Luigi. I bought a single bed and a double–this house had just enough room for the single.

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I kept the bed dressing simple so I didn’t hide the nice bedframe. The mattress is a thin cotton over a 1/4″ thick piece of foam rubber. I bought the quilt for $5 from The Quarter Source (huge selection–any kind of quilt you could want). I finished it with pillows from The Quarter Source–pillow kits match the quilts. (Kits in progress at the bottom of the picture).

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Finished bed in the bedroom.

Other easy finishing touches:
Things that make a house look lived-in: Plants / flower arrangements, pillows, throws, and pictures.

Vases of flowers: Use a bead or jewelry finding for the vase. Glue in clumpy greenery from railroad modeling landscape material (hobby stores or MicroMark). For flowers, either dry brush tiny dabs of bright blue, red, yellow, pink, on the greenery or punch out tiny paper flowers with a paper punch (or use what comes in mini flower kits where the flowers have been pre-punched). Use a ball stylus or round-headed pin to cup the flowers (put flowers on a folded pillowcase or mouse pad and roll stylus once or twice around the petals). Glue cupped petals to the greenery. Keep in mind that for 1/4″ the flowers must be tiny!

Row of books: Glue a photo of row of books (reduced to 1/8″ on computer) across a 1/8″ square strip of wood cut to length. Score the top and back of the wood with a knife to simulate gaps between the books, shade the scoring with a very fine lead pencil.

Pictures: Computers make it easy for us to have all the pictures we want in our dollhouses. I search for classic paintings or take my own photos and reduce them on my computer. I print right on cardstock with a color printer. Frame with very thin molding or stripwood cut to size (Hobby Builder Supply and any dollhouse shop are good sources for picture frame) moldings.

Throws: Chairs look extra cozy with a throw. Use a thin fabric such as very thin cotton or silk–if it has a pattern, make sure it’s tiny. Cut a strip longer than it is wide. Play with folding and scrunching it over a chair, then glue in place when you have something you like.

Accessories made by others are very affordable. The best for accessories are Suzanne and Andrew’s minis, Robin Betterley, Debbie Young, and Desert Mini Makers. All are listed in my sidebar of links. Browse The Quarter Source and Karen Carey as well (I purchase a lot of furniture kits and building supplies from them). Miniature Luxuries is a good source for tiny decals, ribbon, and fabric.

I discovered how to make easy quarter-inch scale lamps, and was going to do a tutorial here, but this is getting long, so I’ll save I for another post.

I have much more to do I this house (rugs and pictures mostly), but this is a good resting point.