Monday 2 July 2012

Going Dutch-or anyone for coffee? Part 2

Once the outside of the Dutch house was sorted more or less to my satisfaction I turned to considering what should go inside.   I already knew that downstairs would, as far as possible, be a replica of the wonderful coffee shop in Dordrecht, which sadly no longer exists.

But what could go upstairs?   I really didn't need another dolls house with a bedroom, I already had far too many.   I burrowed through the wooden kits I had bought over the years and found the Mini Mundus Grand Piano kit - I'm glad to say it was much cheaper than now!   That solved the problem, it would be a music room, so I started to keep an eye open for objects that would fit the theme.

Firstly though I had to decorate the walls.  A straight paint job would not do; I felt that there needed to be some sort of panelling. I decided that the lower walls could be covered with a sheet of balsa wood and topped and "tailed" with some mouldings and skirting boards.   I first painted the walls white and then gave the balsa wood the same fetching shade of green (more sample pots of paint from the local DIY shop) as the beams on the ceiling, which are also made of balsa.

Cue for slight digression - balsa is brilliant stuff for minature making since it can be cut with scissors or a sharp craft knife.   It can even be used for making furniture as long as it is just for display and not for children to play with.  

I stuck on the panelling and mouldings and thought that it still needed a little more so once again had recourse to my bankrupt stock of Liden plastic ornaments, painted to match the mouldings/skirting boards.

The flooring is a sheet of real wooden parquet flooring, coming, as much of the stuff I have, from America.

Cue for another digression: We were lucky enough to do a house-swap in 1981 to Washington DC when I was just getting really into the hobby, which was much more advanced over there.   By sheer chance the neighbour family who took care of us were also into miniatures and we had a fantastic time going to fairs and specialist shops.   It's where we bought my biggest and most beautifully furnished house which you will meet in a much later blog.   

The company I bought it from, Walmer Dolls Houses, were local and we went there to buy it.   They let me take away a ready-built house instead of the normal flat packs so that I could have it with me whilst in the States,  to start collecting wallpaper, furniture etc.

They agreed to repack it for me just before we left so that it could be shipped to the UK on the plane with us.   When we took it back for repacking they kindly handed over 3 new flat packs  instead of dismantling the original.  Imagine our horror when only two of the three packs came through at the baggage reclaim at Heathrow.......

We waited what seemed like hours for the next plane from Washington.   I had visions of a half-built house.   But all was well when the third package arrived in perfect condition and the house has now pride of place in our living room.   I am still dithering over whether it should stay in England, wherever we end up, or come to my museum in Bavorov.

With the music room decorated I turned my attention to downstairs.   Again from America, I had some shelf units which I had intended to use for a library in the Walmer, and panelling which was also intended for that house.   Fortunately the "one day" syndrome had meant that I had never got round to using them and I realised they would be ideal for the coffee shop.   

The shelves fitted perfectly and I painted them in what I remembered as the Dordrecht coffee shop shades of blue.   The panelling on the left in the picture is in fact not the superior one from American but balsa wood again, topped and tailed as above.

The superior panelling was put to a different use - I of course needed shop counters and it occurred to me that glued together, with the indispensable balsa wood as the endpieces, the American panelling might work very well.   I added foamboard (another very useful material) counter tops and the work was nearly done.

I can't really remember how the flooring came about.   It doesn't look like something ready made but I have no clue how I achieved the effect of broad wooden boards, if I did it myself.  All that then remained was to make some sort of window display holder and Norman came to my rescue there.

So now to fill it all up with coffee and music - what a blessed combination!   But that has to wait for Part 3 of the Dutch saga.   Thank you for reading this far - I hope you will stay with me........                  

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; 
I know the voices dying with a dying fall 
Beneath the music from a farther room. 

Thomas Eliot  Love Song of Alfred J.Prufrock (1917)


  1. And I shall wait with as much patience I can muster! Which isn't very much.

  2. Gosh, this is quite gripping...more!!!