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Turn of the Century Farmhouse


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No more (ahem, additional) projects. Right? (laughing). This year, my building was going to be an 18th century English cottage/Georgian with a saddlery shop on the first floor catering to fox hunters.

To kill some time while waiting for our dog to be finished at the vet, my husband and I went to breakfast and still had some time after that. So we went to a resale shop we had never been to, just down the street from the vet. We walked around and when we came to the washing machines, I stopped. My mind was processing something I thought I saw on the floor as we came in. A dollhouse? Had to have been a Barbie house. Or something like that. Plastic? I went back and examined it. No, it was wood and 1:12 scale. The more I looked, the more I liked it. Then told myself I did not NEED another project. To leave it there. The lady working there said it was $50 and came with a bag of furniture. FOOOM! It was in my car. The dog had to share the seat with it going home.



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Maybe this was fortunate because now I can practice lighting and building without going from scratch. Realized I'm out of my depth and experience with both. I imagine this house to be a late 1800s (or earlier) farmhouse that is now in the early 1900s.

Research has been fun. Color will be white (or I'll take suggestions on what other colors I could do) and I'll leave the roof and side shingles the wood color. Window trim color will be white - but what color should the shutters be? Should there be shutters?

Have ripped out the stairway. It will move to the center hallway and I'll extend the fireplace all the way down the side of the house. I'm a bit stuck on how the stairway will go up to the second floor and how to do the second floor and still keep a bathroom.

Also stuck on lighting. What is your philosophy on lighting? Plan each room to the Nth detail and then put in the electrics? Wire or copper foil or something else? What if you want to add or move a light later for better effect? One lady said she does the whole build with decorating and adds the lighting after that is all done. That sounds difficult to do and not mess up the decorating.

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CF, I enjoyed your post; it took 50 seconds to pay and get the house out the door?  

I'm fond of white farm houses and white trim... some great Victorian and Farm houses instantly come to mind... each miniaturist should always trust their own instincts on color of structures.  The cool thing about houses is that you can paint them if you want to change the color in the future.  If it is very drafty in your farm house, shutters are a nice feature to protect the people living there... especially if it is windy on the farm and we need to protect the glass.  Absent of the imagined story of the occupants and time frame; I think shutters are just a personal preference if they do/do not belong in your vision.

Ok, now the perspectives... I prefer to do as much of my wiring prep as possible when the house isn't built.  (sorry)  From my perspective hard wiring a mini house is a mid level skill process with round wire, because you do have to do everything in advance and plan to the nth degree.  (Your gut is correct.)   Tape Wire is not as easy to hide but has other advantages.  I have tape wired my unfinished first house and a roombox.  My gut instinct at this point of my experience is that round wire may be more reliable, I'll let you know after I wire my dream structure if I guessed right / wrong.  If the house isn't built, (my next house) I plan my wire runs just as I would when wiring a real build, and if plywood walls, I would route my walls and run round wire.  In my Lawbre shell this is also the way this house was wired with routed recess for wire runs and round wire.  (New Recent/Bad Acquisition as I also did not need a project!) In my next build I'm considering framing the house as a real house - just for the challenge and fun of it... and then considering if I can run my wires through conduit - (tiny diameter) aluminum tubes and was going to post it to the forum if anyone could tell me NO, I shouldn't consider this.  I would test it all before I started drill holes through all my in scale 2x4's, I promise.  Will see if I can fish the wire through the conduit first though... thoughts of a miniaturist after midnight - how to run wire in a mini house.  No progress on the lawbre, need to bash it for my vision, and too cold in shop to work on big lathe - it will be warming up soon... about 4 weeks left of way too cold temps.  Shop is heated, just floors are not heated and I need it to be warmer to be in the shop to work on the details, details, details.

>>One lady said she does the whole build with decorating and adds the lighting after that is all done. That sounds difficult to do and not mess up the decorating.

Does this mean she is wiring under the wall paper or paint?  You can do this if you tape wire.  If you tape wire, you can decide how high you want all your plugs, and do your tape runs, then document each room with a description and photo.  (Measurements and photos with a ruler in your picture is how I document when I wire for friends.)  To make tape runs less likely to fail skip the whole connecting your tape runs instructions, and figure out how to NOT cut your tape.  Each time you cut that tape, and I know you have exceptional soldering skills, you introduce an opportunity for electricity not to flow; while I'm not an expert in wiring, I have cut very, very thin slots through my plywood walls so I can have a tape run without cutting it, and much easier to cut through ply wood when it is horizontal on a table vs. vertical glued and nailed in a structure. 

Mini baseboards are routed / recessed and I am guessing this is so you can run wire under those mini boards.

Round wire or tape wire?  I'm not an expert but experienced at muddling.

I can soldier, but I am probably not as good as soldering as you are.  If you use round wire, how do you connect your light to the round wire?  You direct wire it; and if something in a direct wire system fails, does everything past that failure light or does it not light?   So from this perspective the Cir-Kit Tape Wiring is easier to use, and less trouble shooting if you are not experienced.  I remember learning this lesson when I wanted to wire a chandelier and make sure that if one bulb failed it didn't short the other bulbs.  Cir Kit has a nice DVD, and I think if you are a NAME member you can borrow it from their library.  

Next I have to consider my fussy historical self, do I want my plugs to be in the historical locations of "x" inches off the floor or building code today?   There are a few advantages of living in a house built in 1917...  The plugs are all on the baseboards moldings.  (Which is *stupid* if the radiant water system ever springs a leak and I have a flood).  

I bet Martha has some insights for you, as she is working on her Aragon Plantation Build.

Congrats on the new Real Estate acquisition!

P.S.  I absolutely have not found a kit yet, that I like where they put the stairs or the stairs they used, I instantly related to you removing the stairs.  This is why my RGT Newport isn't finished; I would be happier if I did not have any stairs in the house,  and I really like the floors that I did... so I need to cut a new 2nd floor and redo the floors and isn't finished and I'm already remodeling!  Either I figure out how to do them properly or we are going to just imagine the people are teleported from floor to floor.   Still unfinished.... perhaps this is the year though, but I doubt it.  

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Hi Weekend. Thanks so much for your reply on all my questions. Have been studying the book "The Big Book of a Miniature House" by Christine Lea Frisoni. Christine uses plain string as a place holder for the round wire. She cuts grooves in the floor for the string and holes against the wall and brings each string down to the base of the house to where all the connections will be. When she is ready to wire the house, she attaches the wire firmly and smoothly to the string with masking tape and pulls the wire down by pulling the string. I very much like the idea of being able to turn on and off each light in the house independently. These are very nicely put together videos she has done.


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CF, I have the book you are referencing too, and loved the post for the wiring.  The Google Translate worked very well.   More thoughts after midnight....on how to wire a miniature house.

At the photo at the right of this statement, translated to English,  Notice that it is cir-kit copper tape. 

"Stick the copper foil onto the wooden slats. Do not mind the two wires on this picture. "

So, are these Cir-kit terminal blocks or something I can purchase at radio shack?    And the wire looks like a really heavy gauge and I wonder if this is necessary.

I have a wiring project at some point for a roombox, and I will test my electrical wiring theories here first.  I did buy some terminal blocks at Radio Shack, but now with all the closings I'm feeling the need to find out if I have a store in the area still.

Great info!  thanks for sharing with us.


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Not sure about the Cir-kit terminal blocks. My husband says he won't shop at Radio Shack. lol. Still puzzling out a floor plan.
Also found this man on You Tube.

I really like how he covers all the different ways to wire a dollhouse and does it on a board so I can plainly see how things are wired. Then it's up to me to get the switches and wires and lights where they need to go in my own building or room.

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In my miniature house I use normal round wires for the main installation and that one, so thin for dollhouses, for each room.

The difference is the way I build my miniature houses: A main and independent structure made of plywood and "beams" where I have all the façades and after each room is inserted in this structure.

In this main struture I can distribute the wires from the fuses till each room with its plug. then each room, which are like roomboxes, has its own installation and I connect it to the main system through its plug. So if I want to change something of the room, I switch it off, take out the room, while the rest of the house is lighted.

I also make the installation of these rooms at the end, because all miniature wires of each lamp run for the out side of the "walls". And when I insert the rooms in the main structure, there is a place of about 5 mm between the structure and room's wall, quite enough in order not to damage the main and secondary installations.


Here you can see this main struture and main installation with a plug for a each room




another photo of this structure with façades (party walls are used to open the house and see the inside)




here you can see the rooms inserted and already covered with plaster. Those holes are for miniature switch, so I can light each room individually. As you can see between the floor and the ceiling I have 2,3 cms (thickness of a real floor in scale) where I have the "beams" of the structure, the floor of one roombox and the ceiling of the other roombox... and place for wires




Here, the rooms already painted and decorated... but still without electrical installation... now I decide where I want each lamp.. I take out each room, I make holes through walls and ceiling..



And finally, all lighted... at any moment, even after years I can change, redecorate..


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CF, hmmm... SW 04S compact Power center definitely has an application.  Did you find it on his website?

http://www.littlehousesplus-shop.co.uk/epages/62053002.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/62053002/Products/"SWP 009A"

OUCH that is a very expensive terminal block with switches.  

26.62 GBP *1.39 = $36.58 USD, so the Radio Shack Terminal Blocks and Toggle Switches are beginning to be very attractive for me.  

However, he does indicate that this system does not require all the planning to the nth degree.  

I have already been soldering lights to copper tape, not my favorite activity though, I prefer to wire to the back side of everything so the copper wire isn't exposed or the soldering joints will not require being flat under the wallpaper;  subsequently in my rambling the reason why I'm considering a true stick build for wiring purposes.  

Nice Find, I am sure you will have your decisions made soon!


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Miniarquitect, will you attend the Kensington Dollshouse Festival in 2019?  I think you are in Spain, if I remember correctly, I would love to see your work in person.  I don't get out of the USA frequently but always hopeful.  Thank you for showing us and discussing your experiences with wiring a structure; it is very helpful and informative as I prepare for my structure building project.   I will continue to study the resources you have posted for us.  I like your system of installing a roombox within the structure; this enables you to be able to service the electrical connections, which is brilliant.  I have seen these tiny plugs on some of my LED lights from IKEA, but I have not seen these LED Light systems here in the US, for mini lighting applications...so we need to investigate availability of these applications for our standard household 110 voltage systems.  It is common for business to have 220 / 240 voltage systems to run machinery, but I think most US households are using 110.  For some reason I think Europe's power systems are different then the USA's power systems.

Are you using a transformer for miniature lighting, as I am sure if I fed my dollhouse pure 110v power that I would burn out my bulbs very quickly.

What mm thickness plywood are you using for your roomboxes walls?


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From Collie Feathers, "I imagine this house to be a late 1800s (or earlier) farmhouse that is now in the early 1900s."

fyi, I don't think electricity was widespread in the early 1900s...  I am always trying to counter my fussy historical self with her current counterpart that lives in the here-and-now, so my first dollhouse,  the RGT Newport was my here-and-now dollshouse; where I can put anything in it that my heart desires.  Perhaps, If you know where you want your farmhouse to live, look for the history of its geographic location and the local REMC for a date.  

REMC = Rural Electric Membership Corporation --- I have no idea how old we are in the online world, so you could be way too young to have knowledge of REMCs, so if you already know this, please forgive me.  Ok, now I feel old.

Our local utilities company was formed in 1903 and our life size home was built in 1917, so it is assumed that the house was wired immediately.  In that time frame though, this house had knob & tube wiring system, and was still here only in the garage when we purchased the house; later we updated the electricity in the garage and removed the knob & tube wiring.



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Hi Tamra.. well I think that's your real name, "weekendminiaturist"??

I decided that my electrical installation must be quite "universal" and intuitive...I never know who will be the final owner!

The wires I use for the main electrical system are the thinner I can find at any shop: those for Hi-Fi speakers or for telephon (these ones when I need something rigid because, at least here in Spain, are made of a single copper wire)

As well as connector blocks, the smaller ones that you use in real installations5a8ff9e43a3be_Electricidad001.jpg.5e382c0fbb8edef788185d47d52d66d5.jpg

For fuses, those you find at any electronic shop, those glass cylinders from 0,25A till 2A. I have 6 or more electric lines so in case of breakdown I can find the problem easilly.


And plugs, switches, small wire, bi-pin bulbs, sockets,  miniature switches.. those of Cir-Kit or any like them in each roombox, and you can find at any dollhouse shop



And obviously, an adaptator from 220/240 to 12V.

Installation must be clear, logical and accessible...

About the plywood... it depends but normally between 4 and 5 mm.. it's enough if the structure is the one which give stability and rigidity to the whole house and the rooms are just like  "drawers" of this "furniture"

....and I won't attend Kensington this year...


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Francisco, thanks for the info, I did not realize that Cir-kit had those plugs; most interesting... I was inquiring about KDF for 2019, or next year.  No plans to travel to the UK in 2018... but the following year is hopeful.  

My experience with my miniature club mates is that Electrical is the least intuitive of all that is in our scale modeling world.  Telephone wire is good, and is cabled in multiple pairs... I may try this. I haven't had the responsibility for Data and Telephone changes for a couple of decades in real life, so can't remember how many pair are in our cables in the US right now, would have to go count them.  I am pretty sure I can get your connector blocks in the US, but will probably require mail order...  I do like the switches though, so I am considering if I want to put metal toggle switches into my app, or purchase the one CF found in the UK.

Yes,  You have been paying attention; name is correct :-)






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Thank you all for all this fantastic information and help. Moving forward yesterday a bit. Built a Chrysnbon ice box for the kitchen. Will build the stove today. Very much like these kits.

Another question though. Do you put a lazy Susan turning device under your dollhouse so you can turn it to work on it or do you walk around the structure? I do plan on a bit of landscaping but the plywood and lazy Susan will add a lot of weight. I guess with landscaping there will have to be a piece of plywood anyway. Thoughts?

Miniarchitect - Thank you so much. My husband took a look at your photos and I think we'll try your process of wiring. Do you have problems fitting doors and windows with the added thickness of the walls?

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Due to the weight, I have never used a lazy susan.  A long time ago there was a Zero Clearance Table, that was advertised in mini magazines; the people who developed this used to own a miniature shop in our area, but they moved to Florida.  To be able to reach the roof, I bought a lower table to help me, so I didn't have to stand on a ladder, platform or box.  The alternative is to sit the structure on the floor and stand.  I found this type of table at St. Vincent de Paul's resale shop, many years ago.

https://www.schooloutlet.com/FZA_483048LO_ASAP_Classroom_Activity_Table_p/fza-483048lo-asap.htm?utm_content=All Products&back=2&msclkid=287d4eca04d414eea395145e12e6972d&utm_term=4585444525137080&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=2018-GS-HIGH-All Terms

It is possible with joinery to make your landscaping removable, and build it around the structure, but I think most miniaturists would put the structure on a plywood base for landscaping.  Don't forget to measure the width of your doors.  You want to make sure you can get your plywood base with the house on it, through the doorways of where it will be displayed.  I had my husband build an expanded "foundation" for my RGT Newport,  I wanted additional space to add a conservatory and a custom octagon shaped porch.  I later regretted not fitting the expansions together, as If I had pieced it I would have been able to move the house, then the porch, then conservatory.   I can't move the structure with the expanded foundation; as it is too long to move by myself.

FYI:  I searched "electrical connector blocks" and found availability on Amazon.

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No, I don't have these problems with doors and windows... just because I make them, consequently the frames have the thickness I need.  Obviously if the roomboxes are independent of the structure, windows and doors must be perfectly inserted, never sticked, otherwise, it could be impossible to take out the room!. It's not an easy work, and it needs of a very precise and exact meassurements... and I don't use any CNC cutting system!

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Hi Miniarquitect. That's what I thought about the doors and windows. That you made your own. Your work is so impressive.

Have decided - no lazy Susan. But there will be a detachable 2x4 plywood to landscape. The next part I'll tackle is the hallway. The front door has to be moved to the front of the house to open into the hallway. Stairs have to be designed and built - may get some time on the lathe then. And a turn of the century hall light will be made.

I'm going to try my Dremel tool with a wood saw blade to cut openings that aren't there yet. Does this sound like a good plan? Any tips for this? Will drill some holes first to get a start for the Dremel.

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It is easier to cut with hand held power tools in a horizontal axis position; therefore turn the house on side if possible, and attach clamps and straight edge for guide for handheld saw.  (This is in absence of screwing the guide to the house.)

I personally would rather use a non power saw for this operation, electrified tools have a way of getting away from us; I don't go anywhere without my jewelers saw!  Do you have one that you can use?

I am amazed, still after all these years how much I rely on a jewelers saw.

With the right blades and burlife (blade lubricant) it is a very useful tool, and I have much, much better control with a hand saw then a power saw.  



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Dear Collie Feathers, Tamra suggested I may have ideas for you (February 19th posts), and I do if I’m not too late to this discussion. I love miniarquitect’s suggestions, too. There are many ways to approach this!

The build Tamra spoke of, Aragon, is a plantation home bedroom and sitting room. It was built in 1850 and you are right, the research has been fun!  It would have had gas lighting. I’ve included wall sconces and overhead lights that would have been appropriate for gas, (see Ray Storeys selection at http://www.raystoreylighting.com/), but needed more, so there are lights in the tops of 2 built-ins as well as indirect LEDs hidden in the front. So now my story is that the lighting was updated to the new-fangled electricity in the late 1800s, which would have been appropriate in Louisiana. My built-in lighting is probably a little more modern, but, after all, it is my fantasy!

As far as wiring. I highly recommend a double tape-wire as your main run, with either double tape wire or round wiring (28 awg) going to individual lights or rooms. And solder your connections, much more reliable! It looks to me like your main run could be in the recess of the foundation. I recommend a connection block down there and a power supply, not a transformer! An excellent source of info and supplies is from Carl Sandburg at cr2s. http://cr2s.com/. He has a booklet that may really help you. I think I see a single copper tape wire on the inside across the front wall. Is it just a single? You’ll need double, of course. If you aren’t comfortable routing out a groove in the thin wood, consider a layer of crescent board under the wallpaper with a shallow channel for the wires on the back side carefully cut out with an exact knife and then glued to the thin plywood. An added bonus to this method is that you can apply the wallpaper while your crescent board is still flat.

One more idea, I do use “lazy susans,” but because of the electrification, I use a turntable designed for that (see https://www.realgoodtoys.com/collections/dollhouse-parts-electrical-supplies/products/new-electrified-and-assembled-turntable-base). It won’t confine the farmhouse because of the electrical cord, you can include a landscaping base and weight should not be an issue, up to 1000 lbs, or so it says!

I really like your farmhouse and look forward to seeing your progress! Please ask for further clarification if I have not been clear on any of this.


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I was looking at the Rockler catalog two nights ago, and they have a 12" turntable that is $9.99 each and are rated up to 1000 lbs.  This did make me pause and wonder.   I really like the new LEDs and am tip-toeing into the concept.  It is wonderful use if you can figure out how to hide the LED, and I look forward to seeing Martha's lighting results. 

Martha, I did not realize that RGT made a turntable, this is a great idea.  Is the Aragon stable because of the platform underneath it?  

I am guessing your slotted your wire runs before you built the structure.  I was looking for a dremel with a round attachment that would serve as base for routing a structure, and am now wondering if I was dreaming of this, or if I actually have seen it.  Stretching my memory, I confirmed that it is in the Rotozip product line... if you can set the depth of the bit, this tool may work to router wire runs in structure that is built.  I also have a built Lawbre shell... that I need to wire... this is going to require some thought.


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Hi Martha. I know where Houma is in LA. My best friend is in Ponchatoula and I used to live in New Orleans off St. Patrick's St. and work in Metairie (stained glass).

Your source references are great! Will probably order some lights from Ray Storey. Thanks so much for the info and the references. Yes. I'll be making a hinged panel at the foundation on the back of the house for the lighting switches. Have to look for the copper tape. Missed that. Also will make walls I can take out as you and Miniarchitect suggested. Just seems easier for decorating.

I got distracted. Started getting furnishings and accessories - and dolls and animals. And am having such a great time collecting items for this farm house. So much fun. If you remember Popcorn the Shetland Pony? He's on this forum - he lives at this house with two draft horses named Cap (Captain) and Marshal.

Need to pack the furniture away and get back to the house now. Decided the outside will be white washed to let a little of the wood grain show through. Next step is to remove the static windows and doors and work on the stairs and chimney.

Tamra, I do have some wood hand saws and I think you're right about using them for door and window openings.

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