Small scale; Big job

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Not much in the way of photos to show today, but there are a number I need to post.

On the knitting front, I finished the second rainbow hat (and now think I'll make a third, which I'll explain in another post), started Koigu gauntlets for M., and worked a bit on my second Making Waves sock for the 6 Sox knitalong (I really want to be working on a new sock, not a second sock, but that's the nature of sock knitting for me). So, there is a lot to blog, and a lot to show.

But, it's not knitting that has taken center stage over the last few days (and probably most of this week).

Instead, we have spent every free minute over the last few days renovating the dollhouse for my son's preschool.

This isn't just any dollhouse either. It is huge - somewhere in the range of 4 feet (h) x 4 feet (w) x 2 feet (d). Just huge. And it was a total mess when we got it home - paper peeling, tiles broken and coming up, ratty carpet, bad colors, the list goes on.

Fixing it up is a great project for the two of us. We don't have girls, but M. loves to build (she built an amazing Ferris wheel for a play I directed many years ago) and has always had an affinity for dollhouses (which I don't share), she has a small business making the most beautiful hand-decorated books (perfect for knitting, so I'll have to show you sometime), so repapering the insides is up her alley. For my part, I do decorative painting (someday the floor to ceiling armoire in the dining room will really be finished, but you should see pieces like the 5 foot birdhouse cd holder which I painted to match a wallpaper border we used in our living room, and the medieval magnetic office door). We both sew. And, we both have a Mary Engelbreit sensibility when it comes to design and decoration.

That's just the beginning... This really is a perfect project for us.

However, M. seriously underestimated the amount of work fixing it up involves.

The school is a co-op, so we will work off 5 hours of our required maintenance work (for the year) on this project. The reality is, however, we will likely have put in 60 or more hours by the time all is said and done.

It took us the better part of three days to strip off multiple layers of really ugly wallpaper, paint, adhesive, tile, and carpet. The remaining framework is still uneven, nicked, and chipped. In my experience, a coat of primer can work miracles, and casts a fresh light on what you've got to work with.

But even primer didn't make me feel optimistic about this dollhouse.

I think we could have started from scratch and spent less time and money and come out with something amazing in the end.

(I guess I am too much of a perfectionist. It is hard to work on this knowing that it can only be 'so' good no matter how much we do to it because it's intrinsic 'bones' are only 'so' good.)

M. spent hours yesterday cutting moldings for the windows and installing new flooring (hardwood and wood laminate so far). I finished priming the exterior and painted the ceilings. Luckily we have around 30 containers of odds and ends paint in the basement from other projects (and I have probably a hundred or so small plastic bottles of acrylics for detail work), so while we did spend far too long debating colors (and I'm still not 100% happy about the ultimate decision), we didn't have to buy new latex.

Typing it here, it doesn't sound like such an overwhelming project. But I know it's down there in the garage - where M.'s car is usually parked. It's waiting patiently for a new coat of paint and some Mary Engelbreit-esque trim. It's waiting for new paper and fresh color. Hopefully the TLC we are dispensing will breathe fresh life into its old bones and at least one little girl or boy's eyes will light up when it greets them back at school next week after the break.

Stay tuned for a photo essay chronicling the transformation!

1 Comment

I can't wait for the pictures of this project!

Michelle and I have looked at doll houses with wonder but having one is just not practical since we live in a 600 sq ft appt (and because we're in our 20s and have no children)!

Anyway, I loved reading about the remodel and I can't wait to see the pics!

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