The Dolls House hobby is very diverse and choosing a dolls house is probably the first and the most important decision you'll need to make. Dolls Houses come in a wide range of sizes and styles and whilst personal preference is a major influence in choosing a dolls house, there are many other important factors to consider before making a deision.
Dolls houses are available in a wide range of sizes, from small cottages to large mansions with many rooms. Also there are several different scales including 1:12 scale which is the largest and most popular scale and also smaller 1:24, and 1:48 scales. 1:12 scale (also known as 12th scale or 1" scale) means that the dolls house and all of its contents are one twelfth the size of the life sized equivalent. An easy way to look at it is that one foot is reduced to one inch. As 1:12 scale is so popular, a vast choice of dolls houses, components, furniture and accessories is available to choose from. Although smaller 1:24th scale and 1:48 scale (half inch scale & quarter inch scale) dolls houses are gaining popularity, this is still a fairly specialist area and when it comes to furniture and accessories there is only limited choice so often items have to be made from scratch. Also, smaller scale houses and accessories are typically less detailed than the larger 12th scale equivalent. Vintage dolls houses produced in the 1960's and 1970's by Triang and others were usually 1:16 scale. Many of these dolls houses are still around, but there is only limited availability of components and accessories in this scale. When choosing a dolls house the size is important in terms of having a suitable space for it to live in your home and also in terms of the cost and time required to complete the project.
Most dolls houses are made from 9mm thick MDF board or Birch Plywood, and are either made using computerised CNC machines or by hand. MDF board is by far the most popular material for dolls house construction as it is considerably cheaper than Birch Ply and therefore the dolls houses are much cheaper to buy, particularly when mass produced. Birch Ply dolls houses are generally regarded as being of superior quality and they are often hand made (not to be confused with cheap, imported dolls houses made from very thin ply). Wooden dolls houses made from either MDF or Birch plywood are generally very sturdy and should last a lifetime.
Wooden Dolls houses are generally designed to resemble houses from a particular period in history. Common periods are Tudor, Georgian and Victorian, and modern dolls houses are also becoming popular. Before buying a dolls house it's a good idea to have some idea of what period you plan to decorate and furnish it in. It is important to remember that older period style properties are still around today and it's perfectly acceptable to have a Tudor or Georgian period dolls house with modern furnishing if you wish. However, a modern dolls house with a Victorian or Tudor interior would be more unusual.
Dolls houses can be built from scratch using a plan or your own design, or they can be purchased in kit form, ready built or completely finished and decorated. Some people enjoy doing as much as possible themselves whilst others prefer not to or simply don't have the time...
Most people choose to buy their dolls house in kit form as they offer excellent value for money and there are many designs to choose from. Dolls house kits are generally very easy to assemble as all the parts are precision cut by machine so they can easily be slotted together and glued. Most wooden dolls house kits can be assembled in minutes rather than hours although they do vary in complexity so it's a good idea to check what's involved before buying. An alternative is to buy a ready assembled dolls house, but these tend to be considerably more expensive.
Before buying a dolls house kit it's a good idea to check what parts are included as they do vary. Generally, dolls house kits include window frames and external doors and mouldings, but do not include internal doors, window acrylic and decorative finishes..
Although buying a dolls house kit does save a lot of the hard
work of building from scratch you should not under estimate the time
and cost involved in finishing and decorating the dolls house inside and out.
Providing your dolls house project is properly researched and
planned, the building and
decorating process should be very enjoyable and rewarding.
Building a dolls house from scratch using a dolls house plan or your own design is the preferred way for some, but it's not easy unless you have the necessary practical skills, workshop space and tools, and you should carefully consider what's involved before taking on the task.
Building a dolls house yourself from scratch may seem like a good way to save money, but that's not necessarily the case, particularly if you need to buy tools. You may be able to save a little money if you make everything yourself including the doors and window frames, but this is quite tricky and time consuming. You can purchase a wide range of dolls house doors and window frames from most dolls house dealers. In some cases this can work out more expensive than buying a complete dolls house kit, but it does allow you to build a unique dolls house to your own design.