Renovation Progress on the Betsy McCall Dollhouse

I continue to make progress on my Betsy McCall dollhouse, inspired by some new paper purchases from JoAnn Fabrics. I decided that this room would be in grey tones, as a complement to the adjoining rooms, which are in shades of yellow, cream, and grey. I had actually tried to wallpaper the space a few months ago in yellow and white tones, but the paper was way too thin. I loved the patterns but they did not hold up at all with the wallpaper glue. 

This new paper with the cross pattern is heavy-duty with a nice texture. The crosses also helped to guide me as I cut the paper, ensuring even edges when I cut the paper to size. The back wall has one of my favorite textured "pebble" papers from Kate's Paperie; I've used it a number of times in my houses. In fact, the adjacent bedroom has the cream version.

For the flooring, I tried a new vinyl paper in a grey wood tone -- it worked really well!

The midcentury shelf, by Paris Renfroe of PRD Miniatures, is one of my treasured pieces. It was gifted to me by Mini Modern for my birthday a while back. It is simply the most gorgeous little piece, so perfect in its details. And it's a joy to style.

The photo below shows the reality of this hobby -- lots of hidden mess to ensure pretty pictures!

There is one room left, the main ground floor space that is intended to be the kitchen. Let's see what I come up with...! Until then, some parting shots of this new space, along with its neighbors.

Credits: Shelf by PRD Miniatures; couch by Annina Diston; table is Bozart; plant container is a napkin holder from CB2; side table is a vintage napkin holder, purchased at a tag sale; light is by minimodernistas; rug is by The Shopping Sherpa. Accessories are Re-ment, PRD Miniatures, minimodernistas, Nancy Tobey,, Phllip Nuveen, and dollhouse store finds.

The time it took me: 2 hours, 15 minutes, includes wallpapering time.

Sleep Modern

I renovated another room in my vintage midcentury Betsy McCall house. I have been thinking about this room for a while, and originally thought it would work as a bathroom, but after adding flooring and wallpaper, I decided to furnish it as a bedroom with furnishings from Djeco.

First, here's a few pictures of the room when I first got the house:

I hunted down some durable paper from the Paper Source, and got to work. The flooring paper has a very waxy finish, so that worked well. And I love the pattern!

No plant here

With plant

Quite a difference!



This is a great house -- always fun to upgrade it! By the way, not sure if you are familiar with the site Retro Renovation, but one of the founders did her Betsy McCall from scratch. It's very cool, check it out.

Photo courtesy of Retro Renovation
Credits: Bed, side table, pillows, and lamp by Djeco; bed covering and ceiling light by Lundby; plant by TOMY; wall and floor coverings from the Paper Source.

The time it took me: 2.5 hours to renovate and furnish over a period of days -- kept coming back to it!

Betsy McCall Dollhouse: More Progress

It's not often that I get to share a progress update on one of my houses, but I've made some time to work bit by bit on my Betsy McCall house. For quite some time, the house has been sitting cramped on a work table. It's tricky to get to, and the lighting stinks. These factors don't help, nor did the clutter in and around the house.

Over the last few months, though, I've been organizing my collection, and even sold two houses, in the spirit of streamlining my possessions. I have now found a home for most of my furnishings and accessories in neat little boxes that are all organized in one space. This also helped me clean out the shelving and re-organize the placement of some of my houses. I got rid of a table and opened up my main dollhouse room, which is in our basement.

An improvement, right?

Since I moved the McCall house into my main dollhouse room from the work space, I was able to pay it some attention. I admit to be inspired by recent posts on Retro Renovation about Kate's valiant efforts to build her McCall house from the plans and decorate. She just got a hold of some lovely retro papers. I am super jealous :)

I've not taken as big a leap as Kate -- more baby steps -- but I have made some changes. First, I painted the trim and other accents in the house, which I had not done previously.

Then, I tackled the the bedroom, which adjoins the main living space. I have already papered the living space in a bold graphic pattern, so I was looking to keep with patterns, but in complementary colors.

I decided on geometric yellow and gray scrapbook paper for the two side walls, and then a new polka dotted pattern from the Paper Source. I think they work quite well together!

This is a fun and great house to have made some small progress on -- I hope to get to more of it in the near future. I think the bathroom might be next!

Credits: Daybed is Paul MacAlister; credenza is by Cyd of Mini Mod Pod; grey rug is a felt coaster; white rug is adhesive felt; geometric wall paper is scrapbook paper and dotted paper is from the Paper Source; lamp is a dollhouse store find. Accessories are Lundby; Re-ment; AG Minis; Paris Renfroe; and The Shopping Sherpa.

The time it took me: 3 hours, including painting of trim, wallpapering, and pattern-cutting!

Betsy McCall Progress

I love when I make some headway on a "rehab" house. I've been considering what to do with the remainder of the main living area in the Betsy McCall house. I added a bold patterned paper and covered the fireplace way back in February, leaving me to decide how to paper the other walls and organize the space.

Here is my solution -- a light brick patterned paper from my DCWV "Downtown Loft" stack, with a place mat for flooring and adhesive cork for the stairs. The wall presented a neat backdrop for the amazing brutalist sculpture Pepper of MitchyMoo Miniatures made as part of our swap. LOVE it!

What do you think?? 

Submission from Rosa of Minismodernas
A few more submissions have arrived for the Call of the Small/Cubebot Challenge -- go check them out on the Flickr stream! And please consider tossing your own hat into the ring for a chance to win $200 from AREAWARE! Contest details here. It ends on December 1, so get cracking!

Credits: Couch is a custom piece bought at a Denver doll house store; Eames chairs are Reac; table is a crafting block with a bowl base; plant is AG Minis; sideboard is vintage German; globe light is minimodernistas. Accessories are Jo Ann Fabrics, dollhouse store and eBay finds, AG Minis, and handmade by The Shopping Sherpa.

The time it took me: Three days, about 2-1/2 hours total

Betsy McCall Fireplace

Start with the hearth, I say! I stole a little bit of time this weekend to address the fireplace in my Betsy McCall house, which is in a large living area just begging for some renovation.

I was inspired to use some very unusual textured paper that I bought at Lee's Art Shop in New York City -- even the checkout dude was like "Now this one is cool!!" I thought it looked like stone and I do think it does the trick. I am going for warm, ethnic, crafty (and vintage) vibe here...I added some graphically strong paper from the Paper Source for the walls. I debated about this for a while and decided to go for it. Not sure what is going on the other two walls -- any ideas?

I only had a small amount of time to work on this over the weekend because I am working on a miniature styling job for a major book publisher! It's very exciting and extremely fun, and I hope to share more details once things are farther along and my work is finalized (and I can talk about it).

Stay tuned and wish me luck...!

The time it took me: 1-1/2 hours over the course of the weekend.

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!

Betsy McCall House

Thanks to this network of modern miniature lovers, a Betsy McCall dolls house has made it into my collection. The McCall house was sold via plans in the mid 1950s, and cost 60 cents at the time. It is named for the McCall Corporation, founded in the early part of the twentieth century for namesake Scottish tailor James McCall. The company published many influential magazines, including Popular Mechanics and Redbook, and produced popular sewing patterns.

I am sure that the dolls house appealed to many little girls (and probably some boys too) because it resembled the popular split level houses of the day, and it could be entirely customized. The structure is simple, with plentiful windows and lovely mid century lines, and certainly holds appeal for THIS girl ;) My house came from Laurie of Long Island, New York, and I picked it up last week on our way out to a family reunion. This is not the first time the kids have had to share our minivan with a guest:

It's good the house is so sturdy!!

Laurie owned the house as a girl growing up in the 1960s and used it to hold her many lovely miniatures. The house was built by Laurie's neighbor, and she filled it with minis from her travels and with pieces from Petite Princess, Dol Toi, Renwal, and Plasco. I found Laurie and her house via a recent post on Megan's blog, Modern Mini Houses, where I also read about the McCall house and its history last year. That particular post demonstrates the fun process of discovering origins and sharing information in this generous community; at least four collectors provided input that led to the definitive identification.

Laurie's house is actually a mirror image of the plans, with the exception of the car port, which is still on the left. In addition to purchasing the house from Laurie, I also purchased all of her miniatures, which included the original plans and cut guides, and even an order form!

And now the house itself...

The drawer exists, I took it out to take the photos. Laurie used it to store her miniatures.

You can see how her neighbor flipped the orientation; Laurie is not sure why, but I don't think it has an adverse affect. In terms of the exterior, Laurie told me that she decided to do the front of the house in the manner of many of the houses in her neighborhood, which had similar grey stonework and pale blue paint. She did not take her decorating further into the interior, with the exception of papering some of the rooms. and putting down some flooring. In both cases, all the materials were 1:1 scale repurposed for her house.

I love the punch of red on the door, chimney, and in the car port.

What's next now that I have fully explored the nooks and crannies? Well, the house needs a good cleaning, and is a blank slate for wallpaper and flooring. I want to honor Laurie's ownership by maintaining the grey stone, although I think I will put more stone further up to the top of the small window on the right hand side (Laurie gave me the extra stones she had). I also think that I will paint over the blue on the exterior with a dove grey, to pick up on the stonework. I like the red of the door and the white window and roof trim. Not sure about what to use for the roof material yet. I do love the fish wallpaper in that one room, and think I will paper it with a similar one I have from the Paper Source. And what of the large opening on the back of the house, on the ground floor...sliding doors? Another wall of windows? I will likely put a planter out front, under the large window by the door.

Any other ideas? Please share! You can post a comment here, email me at call-small(at)call-small(dot)com, or post on my Facebook page.

I know I will take some inspiration from Melissa Johnson's renovation of her McCall house -- Megan posted on it here. Seeing what Melissa did reminds me that I have a l o n g way to go until mine is complete!

By the way, I am selling some of the miniatures from Laurie's collection on eBay now. Have a look!