Artply Highland Update

I love when I am able to share a renovation update on one of my houses. Makes me feel like a less neglectful parent! :)

My Artply Highland patiently sits in my work room and I have been tinkering with it since I got it over a year ago when I bought it on Craigslist for a cool $20. I have renovated one room so far, but it does need lots of TLC. I really cannot tolerate the muddy brown color of the exterior and hope to paint it soon (any color ideas? send them my way!). I took off one of the roof pieces to gain better access to the top room with the lovely rounded wall. I had been looking for wallpaper for quite some time; I knew I wanted a bold pattern, like the room I renovated next door, and was leaning toward a green or creme. I then found this Lokta design from the Paper Source, and was confident it would do the trick.

First, a view into the space, which I dubbed the "Mickey Mouse room" for obvious reasons:


Once I put the Lokta paper on one wall, I realized that I needed to break up the pattern with the curved wall. I liked the dark shade of the existing wood wall and decided to experiment with a 12 x 12" birch sheet, also from the Paper Source. I had a walnut colored paint marker and tried out the hue.

I liked the combination and painted the whole sheet. I also cut out long holes for the windows. I did not permanently adhere this piece since I might be able to completely scrape off the Mickey Mouse papers and show the original wall.

The remaining Lokta paper fit nicely on the other side, and the room was done!

I do not like the carpeting, but I did not have a good "cover up," so I left it for now.

It was fun to try different pieces of furniture in the room, but I couldn't decide on the couch: orange vintage Bodo Hennig or green "tootsie roll" by Minimodernistas. Do you have a preference?

As I was finishing this work tonight, I finally got around to opening today's mail and was surprised by a lovely little envelope. Inside was a gorgeous handmade metal firescreen by the amazing Fran of Fran Made Minis. She thought the fireplace in my most recent scene was lacking proper flowery coverage and remedied it with this!

I love it -- thank you so much for your thoughtful gesture, Fran!

Credits: Round table, Panton chairs, and orange couch are all Bodo Hennig; green "tootsie roll" couch and both globe lamps are Minimodernistas; shelf is by PRD Miniatures; coffee table is comprised of a napkin holder from Crate & Barrel and an acrylic block; cowhide rug is by Oese; flower pot is Playmobil with an aquarium plant. Accessories are Re-ment, JoAnn Fabrics, AG Minis, Michaels, The Shopping Sherpa, Minimodernistas, and Crate & Barrel.

The time it took me: 42 minutes, not including the wallpapering!


It's been a crazy few days with Hurricane Sandy here on the east coast, and my home state of New Jersey got hit pretty hard. We consider ourselves very lucky, because we only had a downed tree (and many lost branches), and lost power for a day. Many are still without power, and the temperatures are now going down, so folks are scrambling to stay warm, fed, and entertained.

All schools have been closed this week (and my work is as well), so it has been an unusual time at home -- the kids have been helping to clean up the leaves and stay civil with each other, but when there is this much idle time, fights and other unappealing sibling behavior is bound to happen.

Of course, Halloween is today, and while NJ Governor Christie has officially postponed it until Monday (!), we plan to carve a pumpkin and do some baking. Here's a little scene that I brewed up, too...enigmatic and creepy. My Artply Higland is an ideal environment for such a scene, with its plentiful broken plexi, dust, and cobwebs. No cleaning was done in this room, to ensure it was a moody as possible!


See the curtains? I cut two swaths from a Chilewich place mat and hung them with a metal crafting sticker that looks like a curtain rod.

They work quite well!

The hanging lantern is also a crafting find from Jolee's Boutique-- fun!

I also wanted to share a few new items I found that might come in handy for your doll houses: LED-lit trees by Philips, purchased for $5.99 each from Target (I might get rid of the large star topper), and "Tangle" finials from west elm, on clearance for $6.99 per box (these could work as industrial light fixtures with a little Deco tape wrapping -- still experimenting).

I also picked up some minimal white napkin holders, also on clearance from west elm ($1.99/each), which show some promise for modern shelving.

I also have my eye on a lantern ornament from Pottery Barn (at left, without the monogramming!) that could have a second life as an outdoor fireplace. Speaking of ornaments, each year, Hallmark comes out with new Keepsake Ornaments...I haven't fully checked them out, but it's worth a look at those too. Make sure you check the dimensions before you buy, and let me know if you find any good ones!

A last tip: refrigerator magnets from Acme International. I bought up a few this week, including a cappuccino maker and wine rack, a copy machine, and an arcade-style video game. Worth a look!

Photo courtesy of Acme International
Photo courtesy of Acme International

Hope your Halloween is still happening, and you get lots of candy!

A quick update on the Call of the Small/Cubebot Challenge: the first entry is in: Nick James of the UK shows his Micro Cubebot wreaking havoc in his daughter's dollhouse! Naughty bot! Hope you are working on yours, too! Submit your entries (No more than five images, ideally 1 MB or under each), to minibotchallenge(at)gmail(dot) com for your chance to win $200 from AREAWARE. Full contest details are here.

Credits: Table is ELF Miniatures; male doll is Jasper from Twilight, and I got him at a $5 store; the female doll is from DHE; chairs are eBay finds; trees are from; table runner is from the Paper Source. Accessories are lots of Re-ment, Manor House Miniatures, and eBay finds.

The time it took me: 1 hour, 53 minutes, over three days 


I didn't feel totally inspired to do a Valentine's Day post -- though I am very glad some blogging buddies did, like Mini Modern and Modern Mini Houses -- and instead ended up with a post-Valentine contemplative scene. I had this Kaleidoscope House doll lying around from my book cover job assignment (like Jasper, she did not make the cut either), and placed her looking off the balcony in a forlorn way...perhaps she just got up from her writing and is in a thoughtful space. She seems a little sad perhaps, but in control of the moment.

Credits: Table is vintage Bodo Hennig with an ornament on top from Crate & Barrel; chairs are CB2; shelving unit is ELF Miniatures; hanging shelf is Fischer Price; mirror frame is from Michael's; silver flooring is from Kate's Paperie; cork pieces are from a tag sale; doll is Bozart. Accessories are Manor House Miniatures, Re-ment, vintage German eBay finds, craft store items, handmade by Nancy Tobey, AG Minis, and Mighty World.

The time it took me: 19 minutes

New Beginnings

I thought if I started 2012 with a post on updates on two of my doll houses in "rehab," I might set myself up for a year of progress on projects that have long been dormant. In order to make progress, though, there was some intensive cleaning and organizing in order. As with many organizing moments in our house, it's all a domino effect. In order for me to bring two of my "rehab" houses in from our garage, where they have been patiently gathering dust on a work table, I had to clean out other nooks and crannies in our basement to make room for them near my work table.

I recently cleared off the table for my brand spanking new Janome sewing machine, which honestly scares me to death. I received it for Christmas from my husband, who is (very sweet and) guilty of feeding my hobby. He started my hobby when he bought me the Villa Sibi back in 2008! I vow to learn how to use the machine so that I can start sewing up some curtains, pillows, rugs, who knows. Wish me luck!

The two houses in question are my Betsy McCall House and the Artply by Highland. Both are huge and I needed to figure out where to put them. I bought two saw horses and had a piece of heavy duty plywood custom-cut at Lowes for a table top. I had a huge remnant of Marimekko fabric, bought for $8.00 at my beloved Crate & Barrel outlet last year, and it worked perfectly as a covering. Here's the result:

The houses came in from the chilly garage and the McCall went on the new table with my VERO and the Artply now lives in the back work room with the Citadel. I was able to finish painting the exterior of the McCall; here's a picture that shows the original light blue paint, a test paint that was too violet, and then a custom paint I had mixed from one of the stones on the exterior. Believe it or not, this painting started in the summer!

As you can see, the resulting color is a neat grey/green:

My next step is to tackle the roof...I am thinking of some asphalt shingles. Any ideas on color and shape and best place to buy?

With the Artply, I decided to clean out one of the top floor rooms, which looked like this originally:

Y U C K.

I covered the one wall with the very last pieces of some vintage paper from the UK, which I used in a room in my Citadel, and then used a textured white paper for the other two walls. The wood flooring was a keeper. I set up a quick scene -- what do you think of this house? I love the height of the room! I also LOVE that this house cost me $20!!!
Accent wall done!

Almost there...

Now that the houses are safe and snug inside I don't think I can avoid working on them when I can make the time. Here's to a productive and fun 2012!

By the way, I've got a little giveaway going on now on the Call of the Small Facebook page. Leave a comment on this photo and you can win two Reed chair ornaments from CB2! Enjoy!

Credits in the Artply: Couch and pillow by Annina; rug and lamp are minimodernistas; side tables are vintage German; plant is AG Minis; table is by Paris Renfroe; Eames elephant is Reac. Accessories are Re-ment, handmade by Nancy Tobey, AG Minis, and doll house store finds.

The time it took me: Scene took me 15 minutes, but I lost count on the painting!

Highland by Artply

I had a hunch earlier this week that I should cruise Craigslist to check out the dollhouse listings. I usually search in New York City and the Philadelphia area, and I saw this in a town not far from me:
The pictures were not great, but I could immediately tell it was something special. The price caught my eye as well: TWENTY BUCKS! I quickly realized that it was a Highland dollhouse by Artply!!! Artply is no longer in business, and this house, sold as a kit in the 1980s, is long discontinued, making it pretty collectible for a modern structure. The original catalogue shot:

Courtesy of More Minis
The seller wanted it to go to a collector or someone who would appreciate it as much as his daughters did when they were children, so he decided not to put it out on the curb (doesn't he know us collectors have been known to cruise curbs, as well??!). The price was unbeatable, which did make me a bit nervous that this might all be a sham, especially after reading Susan's heartbreaking Craigslist story.

All went well...I didn't get abducted (the guy was super nice and normal) and came home with a Highland for a cool twenty. The house needs lots of aesthetic work -- plexi is torn, dust and cobwebs abound, and wallpaper and flooring are fraying. But, that's OK, since I would want to change it all up anyway. Structurally it is completely sound; no cracks, breaks, and the only missing parts are the garage and front doors, as far as I can tell.

Some shots of my new acquisition--looks quite like a 70s haunted house!

Don't know what to say about this wallpaper choice...flooring is likely a keeper, though.

Intended as a a parking spot for cobwebs!

Much of the house's plexi looks like this, or is completely missing.

Not in love with this treatment.

Wallpapers definitely not to my liking.

Totally dig the staircase!

Kitchen is haunted, for sure!

Flooring can stay, but wallpaper has to go.

Bath in need of an upgrade!

In addition to resolving the layout of the interior spaces, my biggest dilemma is what to paint the exterior...I do not care for the humdrum brown scheme at all. What about cool greys? A muted white? Wood paneling? The dramatic rounded entryway also presents challenges! It is currently covered in grainy sand and it is not working for me. I have been looking through pictures of other Highlands, like the ones below, to see how others approached their houses.
Courtesy of the Greenleaf forum -- kinda dig this approach

Courtesy of Mini Modern's blog, from an eBay listing
A completed house by Nana's Minis
What do you think? I'd love to hear your ideas so that I can perhaps make this one of my fall projects (in addition to painting my Betsy McCall house). And please do share your own Highland adventures with me...I'd love to see even more examples of this house.

Lastly: many people have asked me how many houses I own, and the Highland makes it 15 (does my unopened Fascination Station kit count? If so, then up the number!).

STAY TUNED for an exciting GIVEAWAY that I am planning for my blog, in celebration of approaching 500 followers! I'll be offering not one, but two, awesome products! I will share more soon!