Living Between the Lines

Big Max and me

Did I tell you I am building a doll’s house?

Plans drawn out, ready to cut...
Plans drawn out, ready to cut…
It may have slipped my mind due to recent events (dentists, mothers and puppies). If you remember, I made a doll’s house many moons ago when my three daughters were small.
Here it is again:
DIY doll's house
1984: Zoe 2yrs and Elizabeth 4 years old, enjoying their Christmas Present,. (Laura at only 6 months, too young to join in.

Alas, the doll’s house disappeared during our last move although my husband denies all knowledge of its demise.
Since then, I have harboured a desire to build another, more elaborate version. Having four grandsons I decided not to wait for a granddaughter to arrive but really, this project is for me. The boys are showing an interest I must say.
I didn’t want this to be just any doll’s house – I had another idea. I already had the plans for our holiday home in Fowey, Cornwall, filed away following the renovations we carried out there. This was to be the house I would build.
With notebook and pen, I scaled up/scaled down the plans to 1:12. This, I reasoned, is one of the most popular sizes and it shouldn’t be too difficult to find bits and bobs for it of the right scale.
This doll’s house, you see, is not being made from scraps – well, not all from scraps though, it is true, I found some plywood languishing at the back of the shed that has come in very handy. This project has more funding available than I had back in the days when I had to scrabble round down the sides of the sofa for 25p to take the children to a toddler group!

However, most things are very expensive so I will be making my own furniture and improvising a lot with decor and accessories. Meanwhile, having lugged several large sheets of plywood up from the shed (not so conveniently situated towards the bottom of the garden) I used Zoe’s pattern making paper, created 1:12 plans on paper and began drawing out the plans on the wood.
“You’ll find saws and drills in the barn,” husband said brightly.
I looked, hmmm. Maybe I’d buy my own. B&Q proved fruitful and I returned laden with cordless drill/screwdriver, a couple of saws and other bits and pieces.
“You probably need a Coping Saw,” husband said helpfully.
There were several more trips to B&Q for screws, decorative mouldings, hinges, hooks and anything else I thought might be truly useful, oh, and a couple more saws and a lot of tools all called,”Big Max”.
“Big Max” and I, set to work.
I am keeping a photo diary of the build. Here are a few shots:

house of card
First – a small replica out of card – this house has an odd shape…narrowing towards the cliff at the back
Most of the pieces have been cut out
Most of the pieces have been cut out
Pile them up
Pile them up
Image taken of the glass that is the same as that in the front door at Treleigh
Image taken of the glass that is the same as that in the front door at Treleigh
The house is one of a terrace so the side of the house looks big and pretty blank...
The house is one of a terrace so the side of the house looks big and pretty blank…
Beginning to look a little like Treleigh now...
Beginning to look a little like Treleigh now…
Beginning the build of the kitchen extension
Beginning the build of the kitchen extension
Kitchen and original back wall in place
Kitchen and original back wall in place
another piece of plywood needed - kitchen island comes in useful...
another piece of plywood needed – kitchen island comes in useful…

New front created...New front of house created

That's better!
That’s better!
Beginning to come together...
Beginning to come together…

If all goes well, I will post more and if all goes extremely well, I will post a photo of a 1:12 scale house that looks a lot like this one. I’ll have a lot to thank Big Max for!

The real house: Treleigh, Fowey, Cornwall

I reserve the right to use artistic license where necessary of course.
My kitchen has become a workshop by day and my family are being most understanding. As for me, I am finding the whole concept motivating and have written more this week than in any of the previous three. Never happier than when working on a variety of disparate projects I am overcome with enthusiasm for all things creative. Now, I must get back to the kitchen…aka workshop… Big Max and I have work to do…

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Hilary

    Hi Debbie … what a creative lady you are … I could not for the life of me do this … brilliant.

    Clever to use the Fowey house plans and miniaturise them to suit your sizing … and you’ve made amazing progress … love the trips to B&Q for ‘my toys’ .. no sharing here!

    It will be fantastic to see it all come together and see the furniture as you create those pieces too … lovely … cheers Hilary

  • John Cowton

    Wow Debbie, is there no end to your talents? Creativity can manifest itself in many ways in the same person. For years I used to paint, but with a midlife career change, painting no longer fitted my lifestyle, where writing did.
    Can’t wait to see the finished product.

  • Debbie

    The creative gene will out I believe, John. When the children were tiny I made soft toys and sold them through local building society windows and craft fairs. For years I drew pen and ink sketches of landscapes and buildings on commission and in the 90s, I got into glass painting, wood painting and salt dough making. Writing has always been my first love though and runs through my projects like an invisible thread. One complements the other I find. I get lots of inspiration for my ideas for stories while I work too.
    Perhaps you will take up painting again – if not, your writing fills that particular creative gap wonderfully 🙂

  • patricia60

    Impressive and fun project. My one daughter built her own
    2 doll houses. And my husband enlisted all three to remodel this house and build their own beds. The dining room has mostly been a workshop! We do art project for holiday celebrations. You are so talented and clever. I find I get lots done when I have projects which excite my energy.
    My husbands bike touring tent is called Big Agnes. We call on that name often. I bet Big Max will this be called yo attention often I the future

  • Life and Other Turbulence

    WOW! This is so impressive…I wish I had even a smidge of creative talent. Tried to sketch all the various homes we’ve lived in over the years (due to job relocations), but became frustrated with lack of realism and accurate scale in my pencil sketches. Guess an art class could come in handy…someday! Beautiful photos…look forward to seeing the finished product!

  • Debbie

    I don’t pretend to be an expert at woodwork of course – any carpenters out there – do not look too closely at my efforts! 🙂 thanks for commenting and good to see you back, LAOT! 🙂

  • Teresa

    That is FANTASTIC! You are one clever lady! My dad made me a doll’s house, but hid it in the attic and bought me one instead. I used to go up in the attic to play with the one he’d made which was far nicer than the bought one. I wish I still had it. Your grandsons are going to love playing with it 🙂 x

    • Debbie

      Teresa you are too kind! The thing is – when it is finally finished, will I want the boys to play with it? Haha! I might have to build another more toddler friendly version. In Crete at the moment so no chance to work on it but plenty of time to relax 🙂 x

  • deb

    You are a wonder! I love that you’re doing this project mostly for yourself, and that you bought your own tools. Wondering if you’ll be sharing those with hubby. Looking forward to seeing the finished product.

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