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Making the Dollhouse Decision  

A free brochure provided by the Mott's Miniatures TM Dollhouse Company On-Line Service. 

  Welcome! You are interested in starting a miniature collection but you still have some questions. This brochure will address those questions and help you to choose the dollhouse which is right for you. 

What Scale Should I Pick?   You should know that there are several scales for miniatures but only one which is very popular. This is the "Inch" scale, meaning that 1" in the dollhouse world is equal to 12 " in the real world (1:12). This is the most popular and the most common in most shops, over 99% of all dollhouse related items are this scale. This means that by choosing this scale you will always be able to find lots of little goodies which will fit in your house.  We do have a small selection of "half-scale" houses (1:24) and some "Barbie" scale doll houses (1:2) in our Special Scale section.

How Much Can I Spend?   The next thing you need to decide on is a budget for your dollhouse project. Don't feel pressured to do everything at once. Many miniaturists enjoy doing little bits at a time.

Dollhouse kits start around $40.00 and go up over $5,000.00. There is a wide variety of styles, sizes and qualities to chose from within that spectrum and it can all seem overwhelming at times. The answers to the next few questions should help you decide on a budget.

Who Is The Dollhouse For?    A small budget house is fine for a young girls first playhouse while many adult collectors prefer the larger, better quality houses. If the house is to be a family project then you might want to get a larger house that everyone can work on. If a young boy is interested in miniatures you might consider a Firehouse, auto garage, Log Cabin or gas station.

How Big Should My House Be?    If this is your first house a small budget kit might be the way to go. But you also need to think about the future. Budget kits are difficult to add on to, while the better quality kits have special add-on rooms available. If you start off with a smaller house, you can always move into a larger one later and save the small one for another child or grand-child when they are ready. This is what many new miniaturists do.

If you decide to get a larger house, remember that you don't have to fill it with miniature furniture right away. Do a little at a time.

Saving Money.  For many of us saving money is a way of life so while miniatures and dollhouses can be an expensive hobby, it does not have to be so. One way to save money is to semi-finish the interior in the beginning by painting all the walls and staining the floors. This costs hardly anything and gives the house a realistic look, then you can wallpaper and carpet or tile one room at a time.

Instead of doing everything all at once, start with a simple house and add on to it as time and money allow. Replace the kit windows with working windows or at least some better looking pre-assembled windows. Paint the roof brown for now and shingle it later. stucco later.

You can also save money by starting off with some basic furniture, a budget furniture kit or make some of your own furniture out of scrap lumber and fabric. As time and budgets allow remodel one room at a time and add carpets, tile and wallpaper and replace your furniture in that room.

When you start to grow out of your house add on some rooms or upgrade to a larger house. Your first house can be sold at a garage sale or given to a relative or friend, then just move your furniture into the new house and continue on or get all new furniture.

Do I Want Electric Lights?   Even if you don't want lights in the beginning, a small investment of about $25-40 can get your house wired so that you can more easily put lights in later. We recommend this because it is much harder to go back later and try to run the wiring and then camouflage the wires after the house is finished. Then if you want electric lights later, you can always pick up a transformer at Mott's and plug it into your dollhouse.

How Long Will It Take to Assemble?    Most dollhouse kits can be assembled in a few hours. You can even put one of the larger kits together in a few days working a few hours a day. But this is only the shell of the house, meaning the un-painted wood pieces. The things that take time are waiting for paint and glue to dry, putting in electric lighting systems, and of course painting and wallpapering. These stages of construction can take as little or as much time as you like. Remember, this is supposed to be fun, there is no need to rush things.

Making A Silk Purse From A Sow's Ear!  Even if you buy the smallest budget kit it can still be a work of architectural beauty with just a few dollars and a little patience.

There are a number of ways to transforms a house without actually making it bigger. For instance, you could get a board from the lumber store and put the dollhouse on it. Then you could create a front and/or back yard with a swing set or barbecue.

One of the best ways to add detail and beauty to your budget kit is with building components such as working windows and doors, laser-cut porch trims, clapboard siding or some type of brick or stucco siding. Come in to Mott's and have one of our sales people show you some of the options available to you.

What Is A Room Box?   Room boxes are exactly that, one room in a box. Many people prefer doing a room box when they only want to create one room instead of the whole house.

Which Kit Should I Pick?  This is a question that only you can answer but Mott's can certainly make the choice difficult for you. We carry house kits from several manufacturers and in all styles, qualities and price ranges. From around $40 all the way up to... "it's how much?"

What Is MDF?   MDF stands for Medium Density Fiberboard.  MDF is a process where wood fibers are taken from younger, faster growing trees, turned into wood pulp, and mixed with hardening resins. MDF is showing up more and more in home improvement centers and in furniture factories across the country largely due to environmental concerns as it helps to save our forests.  The completed product is a compact, durable wood product that is just as durable if not more durable than regular plywood. It also finishes beautifully with ordinary paint. The only draw-back is that it is more difficult to cut than plywood unless you have power tools. Unless you are planning major modifications to the structure of the house, then MDF is a great alternative. Also, please note that MDF is nothing like particle board or press-board.  MDF is a high quality material.  

For detailed information about each of the brands of doll house kits and assembled dollhouses that we sell, including price, items that are or are not included, and assembly rating, go to our Houses page.

I have limited space! If you don't have a space for a large dollhouse you may be forced to purchase a smaller one to accommodate your needs. Another option is to get a turntable for your dollhouse so you can access it more easily. Or you might consider getting a dollhouse that opens from the front.

Get Some Advice.  Mott's carries a whole library of books on miniatures. Some on making furniture and accessories from household items, and others on customizing your dollhouse. The best customizing books are the "Dollhouses to Dreamhouses" books by Greenleaf. They show how to make an ordinary house into a church or a school, or another house into a small store.

Another book is Building with Bob, it has lots of ideas on building and customizing. There is also "Everything You Wanted to Know about Building a Dollhouse".  

We strongly recommend that you come down to Motts and take a look at what is available. We are sure that we can find a dollhouse kit that is right for you.  If you want, you can also visit our On-Line Mail Order Catalog.


For more dollhouse tips, see our other free online brochures:

  Electrical Wiring Tips

Dollhouse Building Tips

House Brands Detail Page

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This page last updated July 04, 2020 17:40 hrs pst.

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