Sunday, November 17, 2013

Undersized Urbanite Dollhouse Contest- Past and Future

I have a love/ hate relationship with November. I love Autumn, falling leaves, the days cooling down (I live in the D.C. area, the British used to pay their diplomats tropical pay for living here), the growing excitement as the holidays approach (I start my annual Bing Crosby movie marathon this month), and I even love the occasional grey sky. I don't like November because it is my birthday month (November 1st was my birthday) and birthdays are coming waaay too fast these days....(I have to say, however, having a birthday beats not having one, hands down! ) How is your November so far? Let me know.

Why does the title of this blog say past and future Undersized Urbanite Dollhouse contests? It is because I am still working on my last contest entry, the Art Deco Radio Bungalow. I absolutely love the Art Deco era, its art, furniture, fashion, and architecture, and when I deem the bungalow finished (after I add a bedroom, bathroom, and garden), I will probably begin a new Art Deco house. I recently learned that the love of Art Deco runs in my family. Here is my British grandmother, circa 1921.

She passed away in 1997, and I saw this photo for the first time only a few months ago. Unfortunately, the grandmother I knew rarely smiled. She was very creative, (she taught me sewing and knitting), and she was always elegantly dressed and made-up. Nonetheless, the two world wars, the depression and years of hardship took its toll on her, and, sadly, I never knew the smiling, pretty enigmatic woman in this photo. I think the younger woman would have loved my Art Deco Bungalow, and her picture will be going up over the fireplace.

There have been a few changes to the bungalow since last spring, many of them were made this month. I replaced all of the appliances, the furniture and the sink in the kitchen. It now has more of a 1930s feel to it. In fact, it reminds me of the kitchen in the New York City pre-war apartment I lived in when I graduated college. Many of these pre-war NYC apartments, to this day, have their original appliances-- it keeps the rent down. Here is what the Art Deco Bungalow's kitchen looks like today:

Oh, how about that, a young Frank Sinatra is visiting!

Where would a 1930s, NYC Art Deco apartment of a single woman be without King Kong to protect her?

And a knight in shining armour?

The living room has "new" vintage Art Deco furniture,

With a new ashtray,

And the Bungalow has some long needed stairs under construction:

Without these stairs, it has been difficult getting to the rooftop terrace for the pre-theater cocktail.

The construction of the futuristic, Undersized Urbanite dollhouse also is underway. A visit to the Dollar Tree store yesterday was quite inspiring. I bought a number of boxes of perfectly sized wood pieces for $1 each,

These pieces are being used to build the stairs.

The house will have a lot of stairs,

The futuristic house also will have some interesting lighting, and I have been seeking inexpensive ways to create battery LED lights. I found these funky hairpieces at the Dollar Tree, they come in purple, green, blue and orange and they light up!

I bought them in orange and blue, and promptly removed the "hair," which left these.

I will be working with these, and other dollar store LED lights, to come up with some lighting ideas. The lights are pretty strong, so only a few will be needed for the light I build around them. Here is another light I intend to make using LED lights,

and these little glass jars from the Dollar Tree,

I also found these pencils with tiny, ready made, removable drinking glasses protecting the erasers (thank you Tanya from Ty-nee-stuff at Yahoo groups for letting me know about these pencils),

I bought quite a few since the downstairs of the house will be a cocktail lounge. Even though it is set one hundred years from now, I sure glasses will still be needed. Other parts of the pencil will be useful for vases and clear door handles.

I also found these miniature drums (and miniature holiday gifts)

The drums will be remade for overhead lighting, and small tables in the cocktail lounge

I might use the tops of some as serving trays,

For wall covering, I have discovered that the mapping of electrical circuits is both reminiscent of MidCentury Modern design and futuristic at the same time. For example, the first Mickie Gemla dollhouses in the 1950s had fabulous red wallpaper that reminds me of electrical circuitry. You can see that wallpaper in this dollhouse room the Shopping Sherpa posted on her blog,

( (I love this room!)

One or more of these patterns will be used as wallpaper in the futuristic house:

In my next post

In my next post, I will writing about Kathy and her amazing MCM houses that she makes from Michael's cd crates. Here are two of them.

If you shop for miniatures on eBay, you have seen these houses. Kathy's story about her dad and how he inspired her is an extraordinary story that moved me, and I know it will inspire you as well.

Elsie De Wolfe's Chair

Elsie De Wolfe entered a party by turning cart wheels when she was in her 70s, and married a lord when she turned 60. It was her first marriage. De Wolfe's iconoclastic style hit New York City in the late 19th century when she introduced white furniture and lighter interior colors to Victorian society ladies. In the 1930s, De Wolfe was the designer that introduced Hollywood to stylized Art Deco glamour (think Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire). One of her most famous designs was this chair,

In my next post, I will have a tutorial on how to create a miniature version of her chair in three easy steps using beads and floor protectors like these.

I will also show you how to create this ottoman,

And this futuristic dining room set from the same type of floor protector (plus one more thing).

Wishing you only good things,



  1. hi Neen,
    you have some rad ideas happening here, i can't wait to see circuit board wallpaper!
    max x

    1. Thanks Max, I love patterns from every day life. I looked for unusual wallpaper that would be futuristic without being cliched. Ironically, electrical circuits, the Pleiades and the inside of cells were the best patterns. Won't it be funny if in 2113, "modern cutting edge" will mean Victorian?

  2. Hey Neen, you always come up with the best uses for dollar store items!!! I've been able to find 9 volt and 3 volt battery connectors with on/off switches and dollhouse plugs attached on Ebay for about $1.00 each if you are looking for ways to light things up without wiring.

    1. Thanks for the idea Cyd, I will check it out (it will save a lot of time and effort!). I love the Dollar Stores and thrift stores, I think I like the surprise element best, i.e., the idea of not knowing what will be there or what I will do with them (I also don't feel guilty if I splurge there!)

  3. Oh my goodness you have me chomping at the bit! You mean I will be able to make these fab pieces of furniture? I already have the floor protectors in my stash waiting for the perfect project. I will be watching...pant, pant!

    1. Yes, you will be able to make DeWolfe chairs that no one else has yet made! I can't wait to se what you come up with, I am sure it will be very clever. (Now you have inspired to run the post sooner.) Thank you Grandmommy!

  4. Hi Neen! You have packed this post with lots of creative information and have me so intrigued with your future build! Your art deco bungalow is in the process of becoming and I think that you are making some good choices for it too! A great touch finding the photograph to include. That will make a lovely tribute to your grandmother. From one November baby to another; Happy Birthday! The year may be ending, but WE are just getting Started! :D


    1. Thanks Elizabeth, I like your attitude! Not only is our year just getting started, but we have a whole year ahead of us without one of those pesky birthdays. Thank you also for the nice compliment about my futuristic and Art Deco houses, I have such fun when I can spend time building. Forget work, we need to find more time for the really important stuff!

  5. All exciting ideas and happenings. I think it is a lovely idea to have your grandmother's photo over the fire place in the Art Deco Bungalow. Fabulous photo.

  6. Congratulations Neen! You are the winner of my November giveaway. Please contact me within the next three days to claim your prize. Thank you so much for entering with such a strong motivational comment! I love your Blog. This post is surely packed with lots of inspirational pictures and news of what is coming next. Thank you so much for sharing. Felma

  7. Thank you Felma, your comment and the giveaway have made my day! What a wonderful idea you had to ask for comments that would help others, thank you!

  8. Hi Neen! Your house looks terrific! It looks like a New Years party is going on in there. It's very sophisticated. I love your stair idea. That's going to look awesome!

  9. Thank you Caroline! A New Year's Eve party is a great idea, and from the photos I have seen, those Roaring 20's people knew how to hold a New Year's celebration. I hope your holidays are going to be the merriest ever!