Friday, September 22, 2017

Del Prado House - Making a sturdy shell

I have a deadline on 10 December.  Far away, you say?  It's only 78 days! If you only knew how much I need to achieve.  For meeting my daily targets, and to keep myself sane, I'm working on the Del Prado dollhouse in my spare moments.
It looks a bit like an oversized tool caddy, doesn't it?  Since I showed it to you a few weeks ago, I made a lot of progress on the house, then made it undone as I changed my plans.
The first thing to do, was to make the structure sturdy.  I also wanted to preserve and use as much of the original kit as possible.  After going around in circles for a while, I realized that I would have to replace the outer walls.  I messed them up badly during my first attempt many years ago, and trying to straighten things out was near impossible.
I cut a new rear wall, and two side walls, using plywood from an old packing case I found in the barn.  You will notice that the walls are slightly longer.  I'm installing a 'basement' with a storage drawer.  I've already built the drawer.  Paint cans are standing in it. 
I was torn between keeping the original wall and floor papers, or replacing them.  This house must be simple and inexpensive, using materials I already have on hand.  The pink bathroom haunted me, it had to go.  I decided to follow my heart, and start with a blank page.  I soaked the original papers by covering them with a damp cloth until they could be peeled back.  Then I sanded and painted all the interior walls and floors in plain cream.  Now they can become anything!
At this point, I did a 'dry fit' of the interior walls and floors.  To my horror, without proper support at the front, the side walls kept leaning in all directions.  So the whole thing came apart again. 
I installed a beam across the top of the house, and another across the front above the drawer. Finally I'm happy.  Now I can give the interior walls and floors a go, again. 

Monday is a public holiday here in South Africa. We have a lovely long weekend.  I will be working, but I will also take time out to play with the dollhouse.  Interior walls, here we go again!


  1. I think that you've made the right changements to this dollhouse, Megan, and including/adding a drawer is a great addition: now you can put in there the wiring for the lighting and the adapters as well ;)! Regarding the a beam across the top of the house: you can also use a piano hinge for opening the roof, this way your attic will stay free of dust and you can always reach in the attic rooms whenever you want to. I've made the same construction for my canal house and it still funtioning very well after 15 years.
    Wish you luck and good progress during tis weekend, enjoy!
    Hugs, Ilona

    1. Thank you, Ilona! I knew that the drawer was going to be useful. I had in mind keeping spare furniture etc. in there, but of course you are right, all the electrical works will need a home out of sight. I also went to the hardware store yesterday and bought a piano hinge for the attic rooms, great idea.

  2. I added a beam under each floor on the front edge when I built this house. I don't think the kit had cornices but I added those as well for extra support for both the walls and floors.

    1. We think along the same lines, Elga. I'm installing cornices! I've cut off the original slot-together tabs from the plywood pieces. It made adapting the house impossible, and they were not sturdy enough to keep everything in place.

  3. Love the lateral thinking and problem solving Megan :) I'm going to be 'kit bashing' my next doll's house project too... making changes to the structure to make it better. Look forward to following your progress and hopefully picking up some useful tips along the way.