the house i'm building

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I've always loved dollhouses, ever since I saw Faith Bradford's tiny world as a girl at the Smithsonian. I even admired the kits when I went to the toy store. Nothing quite like a Huguette Clark obsession, but still. Now, truth be told, my parents were far more practical than me, so we never built a house. But now that I have an excuse (my own child), I've decided to indulge myself with a project that will probably overwhelm our tiny Japanese apartment. Hey, it will make for one beautiful heirloom - here's hoping. When I asked my husband if this was a good idea he said, "well, you've never been a practical person, so why start now?"

So first, let's talk inspiration. There seems to be two schools of thought in dollhouses - pure miniatures for admiring and then there's those for playing. I'm trying to integrate a little bit of both. Meaning, I'm going to try for some authentic period details, moldings, floorings, wall coverings and trims. But at the same time I want to keep things kid-friendly. The most clear ideas I'm excited about are chinoiserie papers, inspired by this classic bedroom of Lucy -Rhian Pauline de Rothschild and the fresh colors in the bedroom by Jayne Design Studio.

And of course by Chinoiserie Chic's Dollhouse

This is the paper that I've picked. At first I was thinking of breaking it up into panels that would be surrounded by trim... but then I decided to go all in and just envelope the room.

The other detail I've fallen for is Jim Coates' miniatures, especially his fireplaces. I want to put one in the sitting room. Look at these lovelies which can be found here. I still haven't decided which one I'm going to go with - I love them all!

The house will probably have skirt molding for the baseboards and casing. Wish me luck, I'm no expert in molding and trim so we'll see how this all turns out. I also decided to do tile in the bathroom. Maybe marble? This man has some amazing miniature floors from scratch, even if you're not into dollhouses. As far as more details, I even found some old wrapping papers, like the one on the far left from Martha Stewart. It is a pale green that I think would work nicely for wallpaper. I ordered a few fun ones from Rifle Paper, just for kicks, we'll see how the scale looks.

As for the dollhouse itself, I've hemmed and hawed on this. Do I go smaller and more manageable? Or go big since I don't plan on ever doing this again and hope it can be passed down? Victorian? Georgian? Colonial? Italianate? I came close to buying a Georgian townhouse kit, however it turned out to be too big to ship here. Now I'm torn between this smaller one.

Or this giant, which has more (and larger) rooms. I think I would change the trim a bit to be more child-friendly. They're both by Real Good Toys.

I love the color scheme of the Owens Dollhouse by Heather Aspinall. Amazing! I'm inspired to stick with a white washed house, perhaps with a slightly darker roof.

Something like this

And believe me, I've even thought about crazy things like a wood paneling, inspired by this miniature. I just don't think I have the skills.

But you say, "isn't this for you or your daughter?" Well, before you think I've forgotten all about her in my mini madness - this is the furniture. We will start with wooden sets by Plan Toys, Hape and Ryan's Room intended for the preschool set. I plan to use plain craft paint to add some more decorative finishes, but still very play-friendly. As she grows, and if she's interested, we plan to allow her to pick out nicer, more collectible furniture allowing her to personalize it a bit more.

And who will live here? Why Calico Critters, of course. They're very popular here in Japan, but I think kids back home love them too! I've seen lots of Pinterest dollhouses for these little guys, so I think they'll be perfect while she's little since she can play with them when she turns three. Let's face it, this thing will probably take until then to finish!

As an aside, our daughter became very sick over a week ago; she's doing much better but we're still shaken. Life is so precious. I don't share much on the blog but I'm sharing this to ask that you please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, thank you.

a new look

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It was time - I've been blogging since 2011! I'm a small hobby blogger but even I am aware that the old design, which was a DIY, was starting to hurt the eyes. I'm not a graphic designer so it was time to turn to a pro. I found this one via this Etsy seller. I hope you like it and it lets our ideas shine.

the house i'm not building

I know we are very fortunate to be expats living overseas as we are. But from time to time I do get homesick. I admit some of my triggers are seeing bloggers share their own homes, the latest projects they're doing or the cute new find they found at the local big box retailer (ahem, Target - yes you can laugh at me). Often this leads to daydreaming of a fantasy house I would build when we return to the States someday.

Recently I was cruising the real estate listings from back Stateside and found a beautiful farm for sale. I don't talk about it much here but I am an equestrian, well a former equestrian. I lived and breathed horses my entire life, until we started moving around that is. My whole family is horse crazy, I'm even descended from America's only one-armed polo player (at least as far as we know) so basically we're nuts. In my fits of homesickness, I daydream of building a horse farm.

Pinterest doesn't help... this last time, I came really close to pulling the trigger. It was in our budget, the land was perfect and even the schools in the area were great. But then my brain started working again and I asked myself, "Can you really oversee the building of a house from overseas?!" Nope, not really. But if I could, this is the house I'm not building:

I love colored kitchens:

Julia Reed in New Orleans, image

A calming dining space:

Solis Betancourt

A cozy office to read a book:

A family-friendly, casual living room:

And a fun place to play:

A beautiful stair and other details:

I actually really like wood tones in a bathroom, especially after seeing this one by Phoebe Howard.

And a beautiful, simple hearth:

And a solarium, my grandparents had a solarium and I have so many memories of loving that space:

1939 house in Atlanta by Frazier and Bodin restored by Stephen and Kerry Fuller from Cote de Texas

I always thought I would prefer a more formal historic house for restoration, however I'm becoming more and more interested in building new. If the right historic house came up, I would still love to restore. Maybe someday, but for now I'm happy with our under 800 square feet here in Japan and all the life experiences our current home brings.

tenryu-ji and the bamboo forest

Friday, June 20, 2014

I truly think this was one of my favorite places in Kyoto and from what I gather it can be translated to Temple of the Heavenly Dragon. I mean, it is no wonder that it is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A significant temple of Zen Buddhism founded in 1339 to honor Gautama Buddha. The most recent structure dates as late as 1934. 

Such a beautiful indoor-outdoor hall

Beautiful ornamentation

Front courtyard rock and moss garden

I believe this painting is of Da Mo, the Indian Monk.

And of course, the gorgeous Bamboo Forest just beyond the temple's back gate. The light that filters through these towering, protected bamboo trees is just indescribable. It is no wonder I saw several photo shoots happening while we were there... And of course my toddler adored running around as well.

All photos by me, please credit if you share - thanks!!