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Home » Dolls House Projects » Bay View Dolls House Project

Bay View Dolls House Project Review

Realistic Exterior Decoration and Dolls House Lighting Installation
Plus Free Dolls House Plans to Download!

Project first published in Dolls House Projects Magazine 2010.

Bay View Dolls House 1:24 scale
Bay View Dolls House 1:24 Scale

This dolls house is a new design from Bromley Craft Products.  It is based on a classic late Victorian terrace town house.  Houses of this design are very common throughout the country and feedback from customers suggests that many have lived in similar houses at some stage during their lives. The house is available to purchase as a kit in both 1:12 and 1:24 Scales.  A matching basement is also available as an option. 

In this project I will show how I built and decorated the 1:24 scale kit version of the house in step by step detail.  This will include assembling the kit, creating the realistic brick and tile exterior effects, installing the lighting and floorboards and painting.  In addition I am including the plans for the house for any brave and skilful individuals wanting to build it from scratch rather than buying the kit.

Bay View 1:12 scale dolls house with basement
1:12 scale Bay View Dolls House (Undecorated) with optional Basement

Building from Scratch Using Plans Provided
The plans for this dolls house are designed for commercial production using a computer controlled CNC router machine which allows complex parts to be cut with near perfect accuracy.  The kit parts fit together very precisely with rebated joints making the house quick and easy to assemble and only requiring PVA adhesive to create a strong construction.  It would be difficult to reproduce many of the parts sufficiently accurately for this method of construction using normal DIY tools so I would recommend using the plans provided as a guide only and adapting the design to make it easier to build.  I have included some common sense tips below, but will not go into great detail here because I assume anyone with the practical skills to build the house from scratch will prefer to do it their own way based on their own ability and tools available.

Free Dolls House Plans Free Dollshouse Plans
Download FREE Dolls House Plans Here!
Click Dollshouse Plan Thumbnail Images to Download PDF Plans
Dolls House Plans provided for personal non-commercial use only and must not be copied or re-distributed in any form.
Copyright © Bromley Craft Products Limited

Tips and Suggestions for DIY construction
Use a large layout square when marking out parts and cut parts as accurately as possible.  Clamp matching parts together (e.g. the two side walls) and trim so they are identical to ensure perfect alignment when the house is assembled.

Substitute the rebated joints with butt joints which can be glued and tacked with panel pins.  (It will be necessary to adjust the dimensions of some parts to compensate).

The window frames, stairs and door in the kit are machined from single pieces of MDF.  It would be easier to make these by hand by using suitable pieces of strip wood / mouldings or alternatively you could buy ready made parts of a suitable size where available.

Do not attempt to build the house from scratch unless you have the necessary skills and tools.  Avoid breathing dust when working with MDF.

 Main Project
(This project was completed using a prototype version of the 1:24 scale kit so some parts may appear to differ slightly from the plans provided).

As with any project it is a good idea to plan ahead before starting work to establish exactly what is involved and the best order to complete each stage.  This is particularly important for 1:24 scale houses where the small parts and small room sizes can make some tasks more difficult after assembly.

I have broken this project down into the following stages:

1. Trial Assembly
2. Interior and exterior painting
. Application of realistic brick and roof tile finishes
4. Lighting installation
5. Floorboards
6. House assembly
7. Finishing touches

Note: See video below for more images.

1.  Trial Assembly.
Unpack and identify all of the kit parts.  It is a good idea to assemble the house without glue initially to familiarise yourself with the parts and check that everything fits together correctly.  Refer to the dolls house kit instructions provided for step by step detail and pictures. 

At this stage I decided that it would be a easier to decorate the roof dormer and bay window parts ready assembled to I glued these parts together before proceeding.

2.  Interior and Exterior Painting
I used matt emulsion paint for painting all interior and exterior surfaces – sample pots can be purchased from DIY stores which are ideal for this purpose.  For the roof I used a very dark grey colour and for the exterior walls I used a lime mortar colour.  This will form a base for the realistic exterior finish and the colour will be visible in-between the bricks and tiles.  I used a neutral cream colour for the internal walls (can be wallpapered over later is desired).

Dolls House Kit Parts Painted Prior to Assembly and Decoration

TIP: Before painting apply sanding sealer to all exposed edges of MDF parts.  This allows them to be sanded to a much smoother finish and prevents paint being absorbed into the MDF.

3.  Realistic Exterior Finish Application
On this house I used the red brick colour Realistic Brick Compound and an extra large size 1:24 scale stretcher bond stencil  (the extra large stencil covers a larger area which makes the application process much faster).  I am also using a Brick Arch stencil to apply the arched brickwork around the porch opening.  Numerous other colours, patterns and scales are available to choose from.

Tip: Apply masking tape to any parts where you don’t want the brick compound to be applied.  After the brick finish has been applied the tape can be removed leaving accurate and neat edges.

Begin by spraying the stencil generously with repositionable stencil adhesive (allow this to dry before use), and mixing some Realistic Brick Compound with water to form a smooth easily spreadable consistency. The compound is an air-drying material and allows unlimited working time (just add more water as necessary or cover to prevent drying) so there’s no need to rush and very little material is wasted.  It’s also very easy to clean off and re-apply the compound if you’re not happy with it so there’s no need to worry if you make a mistake.

TIP: Before starting to apply the brick finish it is important to work out the best starting position.  As well as ensuring that the bricks are squarely aligned on the wall, it is important to consider how the bricks align with the edges of the walls and windows. 

On this house the starting position is dictated by the arch around the porch so the brick arch stencil is being used here.  Position the stencil on the wall ensuring that it is correctly aligned and press down firmly ensuring that all parts are firmly in contact with the wall.  The next step is to spread on the Realistic Brick Compound mixture using a pallet knife.  As soon as the compound has been applied the stencil can be peeled away to reveal the brick wall effect.  Next rinse the stencil clean in water and pat dry with a cloth before repeating the process. 

Applying Bricks to Dolls House Front
Applying Bricks around Arch

Tip: The stencil adhesive is not water soluble so will remain active on the stencil after it has been cleaned and dried so there is not need to re-apply after each use. However, after a while it will start to become less tacky and need to be re-sprayed with more adhesive.

When re-positioning the stencil to continue the application it should be carefully aligned so it overlaps one or two courses of the previously applied bricks.  Simply repeat the application process until the whole area is covered, then leave to dry.

Tip: The newly applied brick finish may initially look a little uneven in places, however, any imperfections can generally be removed easily by lightly sanding the finish when dry.

After applying the brick finish to the bay window I decided that it would look better if I created the effect of stone lintels over the windows.  To achieve this I simply scraped the brick compound off from these areas added mouldings and painted.

The roof tile effect was created using exactly the same method as described above for the brick walls except dark grey / slate compound and a roof tile stencil were used.

Roof Dormer
To finish the front of the roof dormer I cut some strips of oak veneer and glued into position to create a timber framework effect.  I applied a texture to the space in-between the wooden beams using our Render / Stucco Compound.  This is a similar material to the brick compound … it was simply mixed with water to a creamy consistency and applied with a paint brush.  The final texture was created using a stippling technique with the paintbrush before finally painting.

Assembled Dollshouse
Brick and Render Finishes Applied
Not Yet Shaded and Sealed

 Full detailed instructions are supplied with the brick compound & stencils, but there’s no substitute for hands-on experience so it’s a good idea to practice yourself on a test piece so you can experiment and learn to create the particular effect you’re looking for and perfect your technique. Different application techniques (thick or thin, rough or smooth) can produce dramatically different finished effects.

4.  Lighting Installation.
I decided to fit two ceiling lights on each floor of the house, one in the centre of each of the main rooms and one on each floor of the hallway.  When fitting dolls house lighting it is important to plan and make provision for the wiring early in the project so the wires can be hidden without damaging the decor later on.  After marking the exact position of the lights on the ceilings I drilled small holes where the lights fit (just large enough for the wires to be passed through.  I then used a router to cut a channel in the floor above creating a path for the lighting wires to be routed to the rear of the house.  Finally a small hole was drilled in the rear wall of the house to align with the channel (the house parts were temporarily assembled to work out the exact positions).  The ceiling lights can now be fitted, but care should be taken as they are delicate and easily damaged.  Before fitting the lights the two pin plugs should be removed from the wires by pulling out the metal pins with pliers.  The wires from the lights can then be threaded through the holes in the ceiling and fitted along the channel in the floor above towards the rear of the house.  The lights are attached to the ceiling by small self adhesive pads.  Small pieces of tape can be used to keep the wires in the floor channels temporarily until the floorboards have been fitted over them. 

Dolls House Wiring Channels
WDolls House Wiring Channels cut in Floor

At this stage I proceeded to fitting the floorboards and then the final assembly of the house which is described in the following sections for clarity.   After this has been completed all that remains is to re-attach the two pin plugs to the lighting wires after they have been passed through the back of the house.  These can then be plugged into the socket connector strip and the transformer connected.  All being well the lights should now work!

Floorboards Over Dolls House Wiring
Applying Floorboards over Dolls House Wiring in Floor

Troubleshooting: Dolls house lighting is fairly simple, but loose connections are a common problem which can cause one or all of the lights to fail.  These can usually be resolved quite easily by systematically checking each part in turn.  Start by checking that the wires are properly connected to the two pin plugs and that the bulbs are firmly screwed into the light fittings.  Further troubleshooting information can be found on our website.

5.  Floorboards.
The floorboards are made using iron-on real hardwood veneer strips (available in Oak or Cherry).  These can easily be cut to length with scissors or a craft knife and then quickly fixed into position by applying heat from an iron.  The iron-on adhesive is very strong, fast acting and permanent.  I used wooden battens to support the floors when applying the floorboards to avoid damaging the light fittings below.

Tip: Floorboards can be removed if necessary by re-heating with a hot iron. This is occasionally necessary to access concealed wiring.

If you prefer not to apply the floorboards directly to the dolls house floor or if access is difficult you could cut a thin sheet of plywood (or similar) to fit the floor area and apply the floorboards to this.  This can then be loosely fitted in the house and removed as necessary.

The floorboard strips are 11mm wide which is the width usually used for a 1:12 scale building so for 1:24 scale a groove is scored along the centre of each board using a straight edge and a sharp scribe tool.  This effectively splits each 1:12 scale floorboard into two 1:24 scale floorboards.  To finish off the floorboards were lightly sanded before applying wood stain and wax polish.  Dark coloured antique wax polish is recommended as the dark coloured wax will go into the grooves between the boards which will enhance the finished effect. 

Dolls House Floorboards
Dolls House Floorboards

6.  Final Assembly
Now that most of the fiddly work is complete the house can finally be assembled.  This is simply a case of applying PVA adhesive to the grooves and locating the various parts in accordance with the instructions provided.

Tip: After final assembly of the house, whilst the adhesive is setting it is important to ensure that the house is sitting n a flat level surface and that all parts are correctly located and square.

7.  Finishing Touches
The finished bricks can be shaded if required using acrylic paints.   Using this method it is possible to vary the colours of the individual bricks and create a weathered appearance which can greatly enhance the authentic effect.  Finally the finish should be sealed using a clear matt varnish.

1:12 & 1:24 Scale Bay View Dolls House Kits
1:12 & 1:24 Scale Dolls House Kits

Bay View 1:12 scale dolls house with basement
Decorated 1:12 scale Bay View Dolls House

Bay View 1:12 scale dolls house  
Close-up Brick Detail (1:12 scale)

Bay View 1:12 scale dolls house
Decorated Dolls House Interior (1:12 Scale)

Decorated Bay View Dolls House with Basement
24th scale Bay View Dolls House with optional Basement

To see Application Video click here
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