I Finally Get It

I used to spend a lot of time wondering how some of my favorite mini artists could possibly look at a kit and come up with a great way to bash it, especially so it no longer really looked like the kit itself. All of my own ideas for alterations to a kit build came long after I received it, did a dry fit, and spent some time pondering what it would be.

Then it happened.

Hobby Builder’s Supply announced their 2015 Creatin’ Contest, and the kit’s potential smacked me in the face.

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The front isn’t quite what gave me the inkling. I looked at it and really thought hard about another tiny house, much like the one I started for last year’s Undersized Urbanite contest (and am still working on…). But the dimensions are a little too big for a good tiny house – and a little too small for a “small home,” in my opinion. I’d have to come up with a lot of good ways to fill the empty space.

Then I saw the back of the build.

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I don’t know what it is about the back here that really made it stand out to me, but it did. I had been browsing home plans recently in preparation for, of all things, a new house to build in Minecraft. I have a good deal of experience with both Minecraft and Sims architecture, so my requirements for house plans are pretty strict. Specifically for Minecraft, I need a small house but one with enough room for very thick walls, since that’s the nature of Minecraft blocks.

I finally found a house I really liked for Minecraft. It’s out of my usual comfort zone – I typically prefer more traditional style builds, and this one is very contemporary/modern.

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The floor plan is going to need to change a bit; here you’re looking at it from the back. In the end, I’ll essentially have an open-front home with a really magnificent “back” of the house, haha. I’m still trying to decide if I will add a basement, and what I will do with that…but there’s some time to figure that out, still. In the meantime, I’m going to have a lot of fun actually walking through my 3-D version in Minecraft, and envisioning recreating it in miniature.

So, long story short, I’m throwing my hat into the ring for the Creatin’ Contest. Hopefully I won’t get bowled over here. I am planning to make this a public build, because I really enjoy sharing my ideas here, and because my photography skills need some practice. But I really can’t wait to see what happens when the kit arrives!

Progress!

Progress – so far – has been very quick on my Undersized Urbanite build.  I’m starting to grow concerned that I’m about to hit a wall with how it’s going and have to start over, but it’s  not like I don’t have 7 months to finish, right?

IMAG0780On Monday afternoon, I painted the walls and laid & stained the floor.  The base of the floor is quarter inch thick balsa, very easy to size and cut, and the wood plank flooring is actually iron-on veneer strips meant for cabinet edging.  It’s been stained with Minwax water-based express  finish stain in Golden Oak.  With the actual veneer being Red Oak, staining with the Golden Oak gives it a nice strawberry-blonde finish, which will go extremely well with the decor scheme I have planned!

Monday night, I began to paint and install the windows, which I had already built.

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As you can see, the windows do open 🙂  I considered purchasing working windows, but not only was this method extraordinarily inexpensive (all of the windows came from one piece of three dollar 8×10″ plexiglass from Lowes, and trim was 29 cent stripwood from Michaels) but I didn’t have to wait for them to arrive in the mail AND I got to custom size them all.  I really like the hinged openings for this build, I think they fit the character of the home quite nicely and as it all comes together I hope you do too 🙂 I still have one more small window to build out, so I hope to utilize that one to make a tutorial on my DIY hinged windows.

Tonight, I finished installing the windows, tiled the viewable portion of the bathroom floor, and glued the three permanent walls.

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I LOVE the tile colors!  They’re stuck and grouted with plain old spackle.  I still have some clean-up to do with them, but they really need to dry overnight first.  I’ve also propped in the pocket door to see what it looks like; I love it, but it needs some revamping to actually function.

There is one more wall that needs to be installed, but for now it will have to wait.  Unlike most dollhouses which have either an open side, front, or back, or a hinged side (typically the front), I’ve decided this build needs a removable wall for the full effect.  Most full-size dollhouses can get away with the open wall, and all of the rooms are essentially set like a stage for a play; with this build of a tiny house, all four walls must be used.  This also means that when it comes to my final photos of my entry, I’m going to have to get creative with the photography.

My next steps will be building out the kitchen cabinets and/or doing a bit of external trim and fitting the fourth wall.  I haven’t quite decided yet 🙂  Lighting arrived today, so I’ll have to give that some consideration as well….but electricity will most certainly warrant its own post!

Undersized Urbanite plans!

I was so – SO SO SO – excited to get the Undersized Urbanite announcement from The Little Victorian today.  I immediately subscribed to all UU updates, and I can pretty much guarantee that I will keep checking the website daily regardless of how often I actually receive updates…I tend to be obsessive about things I like.

So, what am I planning?  Well, I have never entered a dollhouse contest like this.  Most contests revolve around a specific kit, where entrants must purchase it and all build the same thing, putting their own spin on it.  I am always entirely blown away by the pictures posted at the end of the contest; there are always some truly incredible things done, with some of the most amazing and realistic details I’ve ever seen.

But in order to build and decorate a dollhouse, I really need it to “speak” to me – by which I mean I need to be immediately struck with inspiration when I see it.  If that doesn’t happen, I’m not going to build it – forcing creativity has never, ever worked for me, and even if I did end up with a decent finished product, I would never be satisfied with it.

The Undersized Urbanite is different, and I love that.  Entrants can take whatever doll’s house they want, or build their own, or make one from a cardboard box or (as suggested on the contest’s site) a crate from IKEA.  Recently I have been inspired by the idea of tiny living – not just miniatures, but human-sized tiny living 🙂  It’s a lifestyle I think I could really get into myself, and lately I’ve been dreaming of it as a nice retirement or at least a getaway later in life.

And so, I plan to enter!  I won’t share my final floor plans here, but I do plan to share much of the story of my build as I go through.  As part of that, I have also decided to share one of the first drafts of my floor plans with you, as well as my method:

Presentation2I’ve also removed labels, so currently it still really only makes sense to me 😀  (I’m possessive like that, sorry).  I am incredibly excited to get started, and in all honesty I’m going to be drawing out my wall templates today to prepare for cutting things out and fitting it all together!

I’ve promised my husband that this will be a thrifty build (…..relatively. I mean, who am I kidding here?).  I’m hoping to end up spending less than this would cost if it were actually a kit build.  As such, the walls are going to primarily be foam core, with a wooden floor.  I’ll be cutting everything myself, and as I have no power tool knowledge aside from how to use a hand-held drill, I’m really not looking to make this difficult.

Foam core will be easy, and my miniature building wood of choice is actually balsa – it’s classified as a hardwood, but it’s literally so soft I can dent it with a finger press.  It’s incredibly easy to cut with my craft knives.  However, in my work I’ve discovered that it’s also an incredibly thirsty wood – and it will happily soak up large amounts of wood glue, making it just as sturdy as most other woods, as well as easy to sand and paint.  Thus, it’s perfect for my skill level!

Now…off to my drawing board 🙂