Showing Ugly the Door

I showed ugly the door today and a beautiful thing happened. It left!

I have started to work on the Citadel. There's a lot to do, but the first step is to strip off the wallpaper and then flooring. Lolly referred me to the excellent stuff called Dif, which is a thick blue gel that you spray on wallpaper to remove it. You score the paper and then leave it on for 15 minutes and poof! AND, you don't have to pay the price with stinky, noxious fumes or caustic chemicals that will flay the skin off your fingers. :)

So, this made my job pretty pain-free. I started with one of the swinging doors. Here's the before pics:

Note the stuck-on, unappealing hanging beads...

Plus, there were two, not one, layers of the offensive paper.

Here's during the Dif..

And, the result:

Still have a ways to go, and I am wondering how difficult it will be doing the harder to reach rear walls. But, I'm pleased with this start. Now I just need more time...sigh.

When I do get to the point of actually wallpapering (I assume I'll wallpaper and leave painted walls as well), I need to get my hands on unique styles. I LOVE this paper used in a skater couple's house on the west coast -- it was featured in the NYT last week:

By the way, I couldn't resist placing some dolls in precarious situations in the Citadel. There are two central stairwells missing, but the fiesty tween thought she could manage, to Mom's horror.

Credit: Dolls are Bozart

Girly Girl

A girly girl lives here, or at least this is my idea of a girly girl abode (full disclosure: I am not, nor ever have been, a girly girl). She works from home, so takes time to pamper herself inbetween work commitments. She's self-depricating and has a sense of humor and unabashedly likes furry girly things. Her boyfriend gave her the dinosaur, so she likes to keep him close by to moon over while she works. The phone is handy for calls with her girlfriends and her sister and she loves to read trashy mags.

Couch, lamp, large green rug and small bathroom side table by AG Minis; sink from Ebay store Dolly Miniatures; bathroom rug by the House that Jacq Built; living room coffee table by Ryan's Room; dining room table and artwork by Bozart; dining room "rug" is origami paper; plant is from Lolly's; bathroom wall art is by Re-ment; chairs are Reac Japan; accessories by Manor House Miniatures, Re-ment, AG Minis, Elf Miniatures, and Ebay finds; dino is from the store at the Indianapolis Children's Museum :)

House Comes Home

Our road trip adventure continues...and the Citadel is on its way home.

We are now headed back to NJ, and are in Pittsburgh for the night. I am still digesting everything that has taken place this week. I (kind of) still cannot believe that we have driven hundreds of miles for a (small) house. We've had fun, though, and I have to say the drive really has not been all that bad. We got a flat tire right outside of Indianapolis, but it was quickly fixed, despite my six year old's prediction of "We're doomed and we will die!!!"

We arrived in Chicago on Tuesday, and picked up the Citadel on Wednesday from the Ebay seller. My sister-in-law came with me for the ride, a short distance from the city center. The house was pretty true to the photos (yes, wallpaper and flooring are as ugly as the pics from the listing), and it was great to finally see it. My sister-in-law could not get over the size, especially the side with the rounded terrace. We carefully transported it to the back of the minivan. I don't think I breathed the entire time I was carrying it. The sellers were trying to be helpful, but really did not want to touch it, in case something broke off. Here's what it looked like right after we put it in the back of the car:

We situated the house, cushioned it and carefully drove back to the city. I was at first scared to drive over 40, but then got more comfortable -- the house is pretty sturdy. When my DH saw it, he said it looked bigger than he thought it would be, but that we'd be able to fit all our luggage around it. My six year old is squished next to it. He has taken to balancing his Legos on the terrace, but I feel I can't really say no.

On Thursday, I went to Lolly's, the store in Elgin, IL, that created the kit for the house. I met the owner, Janet ("Lolly"), who was incredibly helpful and spent close to two hours with me. I walked in and told her I had a Citadel in the back of the car. She didn't bat an eye. She said "OK, let's have a look at it." We took it out of the car into her workshop, where we investigated the whole house. Here's what I learned:

* It is definitely an authentic Citadel.

* It is not clear whether or the house was built by Lolly's or by the owner of the house. Lolly thought that they might have built it, but the owner did the electrical wiring (yes, the house is fully wired).

* In her opinion, the house is in really good condition, very solid and well built. No warping, etc.

* She also thought that (unfortunately) the house was owned by a heavy smoker, as one of the hinged doors is yellowed, and the inside smelled of smoke (she's a former smoker, so was pretty convinced of this).

* Not much structurally needs to be repaired. The side terrace needs to be re-glued, and some trims reinforced or re-glued. Some plexi might need to be glued or replaced. The yellowed hinged door needs to be repainted. Two of the three main stairwells need to be put back into the central portion of the house. The inside needs a good cleaning with water and bleach.

* Only one side of the house has working electrical. She tested the other wires as best as she could, but could not find the faulty line. For whatever reason, the owner ran some of the wiring along the floors, instead of along the ceiling or walls. The owner also folded wires instead of pinning them, which is less reliable for good connections. So, I have a wiring challenge!

* Luckily, the ugly velour flooring came right off (no glue at all), since a lot of wiring is on the floor. We started to pull some of the wallpaper off, and it looks like it will be relatively easy. Lolly let me know that three small sections of the house will need custom wallpaper, since they are larger than the standard.

* The only furniture that came with the house were some kitchen items. Lolly said these were custom items built by the store. They are actually pretty neutral, so I'll put them to some use.

* Lolly gave me some great tips for correcting these issues -- Dif to take off wallpaper; Kilz to take out the smell in paint; techniques and tools for re-wiring; Aleene's Tacky Glue for all gluing; and more.

Another highlight was getting to see the first Citadel ever built. Lolly's Mom designed the house. I asked about whether or not they would do kits again, and she said likely not. If they did anything, they would sell the house built. Apparently, it was very difficult to find a manufacturer to produce the materials, especially for the wood version of the house (they only did wood or stucco). They moved the house to a top shelf in the store, so I was only able to get a few worm's eye view pics:

I held up my camera for that interior shot. Check out the hot tub up on the top terrace:

So, feeling a bit daunted but energized by the prospect of bringing the house back into shape. Lots to learn, lots to do...!

Citadel Road Trip

The road trip for the Citadel has begun. We're actually driving in Ohio as I write, on the way to Indianapolis. We had a great time in Pennsylvania -- the trip started with lots of driving from NJ and a visit with a dear great uncle. It ended with some yummy soft serve at a great roadside place called The Penguin in Bedford, PA.

We spent a bunch of hours today at Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece. I've seen countless pictures of it, but they cannot prepare you for seeing it for the first time. You come upon it, nestled beautifully in rock and trees and it is stunning. Unfortunately, you cannot take pictures inside, but we got some shots of the outside. The house has windows everywhere and there are no blocked vistas. It is all about communicating with the outdoors.

I did venture into the gift shop and made my contribution to keep the place going -- two Reac chairs!

I am planning to pick up the Citadel on Wednesday, and will also make a trip to Lolly's. Can't wait!!


This is the first of what hopefully will be many more posts about Lolly's Citadel, which I purchased today on Ebay. I'm really surprised and thrilled to own it, but it is currently 800 miles away in Chicago. Luckily, I have family there and they have offered to pick it up later this month. Now...about getting it to me in New Jersey. I could look into shipping, but I worry how it will fare, given its awkward size (and the cost). I have a very supportive husband who has agreed that it is, in fact, not insanity to take a road trip with the three kids over spring break to PICK IT UP. It's only about 13 hours, and we can visit with family, hopefully see some sights, and feel confident that it will make it home safely and not be used as a scratching post by my relative's cat nor as a TV perch by a substantial 7 year old nephew.

I have to admit that the pics of the house are a bit daunting. The wallpaper and flooring looks horrible and uncharacteristic of the house style. Luckily, the furnishings are not included (save for some kitchen items)! I spoke with the seller, who got it from an estate, and she let me know that the lady who owned it had it made by Lolly's for $3000 in the 1980s and she thought this was one of the early ones produced out of the supposed few. The daughter of this lady originally wanted the house, but she lives in CA and the shipping was over $1000 so she passed. So, she took some furnishings and a "large hanging sculpture light" (!!) that replaced two of the stairwells. I have emailed Lolly's to see if they know anything more about this particular house, and will share the information.

This is also an open invitation to any readers to submit ideas and resources. I've had a lifelong love of miniatures, but this will be a big adventure!

UPDATE 3/16/09: I heard fom Lolly's, and she said the following: My Mom designed the Citadel and my Dad put them together in the shop. We did sell approx. 200 kits. In kit form it sold for $450.00. I still have the original my parents did in the store. We did more of a modern style inside. I plan to visit the store when we roadtrip-it to Chicago to pick up the Citadel.