My first dollshouse is the Singel 224, a canal house which I bought in 2004. Even though I really like the Singel, there are a few things I would like to change. I would like to see higher ceilings in some of the rooms, a corridor from the front door all the way to the back of the house, I would like a 'back house' and an inner courtyard which can be found in many canal houses.
The idea to build a 12th scale canal house myself had been brewing for a long time. A few practical and technical problems prevented me from doing so until I had an idea which would solve the biggest problem.
The biggest problem I encountered in designing my new canal house was the location of the corridor. I want a real corridor in my dollshouse. In most canal houses the corridor runs from the front door all the way to the back of the building.
Because I want to be able to look into the rooms from the side of the dollshouse it would seem logical to place the corridor along the opposite side which is placed against the wall of my house. However, it would then follow that the fireplaces would be placed against the wall of the corridor, which is not the way it is in the real canal houses. That would not be such a big problem, after all it is a dollshouse, but the doors leading to the corridor would have to be put in the same walls where the fireplaces would be. Not pretty.
So the corridor had to run along the open side of the dollshouse, but then there would be a wall between the corridor and the rooms. It would mean there would have to be hinges attached to the corridor to open it up in order to see the rooms. Far too complicated! I wanted to be able to see the rooms without having to open something up or slide something out of the way. And have the corridor as well.
I found the solution to my problem by playing with a sheet of cardboard. I cut out double doors and stuck the cardboard in front of the rooms of my first canal house. I found that the rooms could be viewed very well through the open doors. In fact it even makes you extra curious to have a peek into the rooms.
FLOOR PLAN AND CROSS SECTION OF THE HOUSE:
With the problem of the corridor solved I could start designing the house. That wasn't too difficult as I had been thinking about building a second canal house for a long time. I adapted a drawing of a real late 18th century canal house (above) to get the right proportions for my new building. When the dollshouse is finished it will be viewed the way the drawing shows it, from the side.
The floor plan shows the corridor (entrance, hallway, grand staircase). Both the Dining room and the Front room will have walls with double doors through which the rooms can be viewed.
GRAPH PAPER AND CARDBOARD MOCKUP:
The next step was to work out my floor plan design on millimeter paper. If I would translate the true sizes of the canal house in the drawing to 12th scale, then the dollshouse would be about 2.50 meters wide and much deeper than the 60 cm deep chest the dollshouse is to sit on when finished.
So it had to be smaller but still retain the correct proportions. It was not easy and I made good use of my eraser before I had found the right sizes for the house. It looked good on paper: 150 cm wide, 150 cm high and 55 cm deep.
By making a full scale cardboard mockup I was able to get a good impression of the scale of the house. The front gable gives a good indication of the size and number of the windows and of how their sizes correspond with the width and height of the gable. The mockup shows a bell gable, but because my first dollshouse also has a bell gable and because my new house will be late 18th century, I will give this dollshouse a straight neoclassical facade.
I get I good impression of how big the house will become by making a mockup of just the ground floor and the facade. The Great Hall will be located above the kitchen and will be slightly higher than the entrance level. This is clearly visible on the canal house cross section drawing.
The house will be big, but not too big. I have put some furniture in the cardboard rooms to check their sizes. It all fits, this is how it will be!
MDF VERSUS MULTIPLEX:
After a thorough check and recheck of all of the sizes on paper it is time to go to the local DIY store and have them cut some wood for me. I still have to make a choice: MDF or multiplex? MDF has a nice smooth surface to paint on, but I'll be using wallpaper and then MDF will take more glue than multiplex. On the internet I read that multiplex is lighter than MDF, which is an advantage for such a big house.
Both materials have their pros and cons. For my last project (a kitchen roombox) I used multiplex which a was very pleased with. I decide to use multiplex again.
THE FIRST BUILDING ACTIVITIES:
I will be building the house room by room. I will start with the Dining room and the Front room on the ground floor of the house.
At the local DIY store I have had the wood cut according to the measurements on my drawing.
The first real building activity for me is making the windows. I am using real glass for the windows. The thickness of the window frames is determined by the thickness of the glass. The thinnest glass I can find is 2 mm.
Cutting the first two panes of glass was not easy, to put it mildly. After many tries I did eventually manage to cut two panes in the size I needed.
I have made a construction drawing for the window frames on millimeter paper. The windows will be typical for the second half of the 18th century, sliding windows with four window panes in width.
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