Sunday, May 17, 2009

Working with Greenleaf Kits

Greenleaf puts out affordable dollhouse kits with attractive designs. This is Alicia's dollhouse. When she wanted me to build her a dollhouse, I started to think about designing one based on some of the Victorian tower houses we had enjoyed seeing in Sioux City.

Alicia felt it might take too long if I designed my own and built it. (She wanted it done quickly.) In retrospect, she may have been right, considering that it took me over four years to build Pam's dollhouse, and I've been "working" on Sara's house now for about 14 years!

So, Alicia lobbied her daddy to go with a kit. She liked the Greenleaf McKinley, and she begged me to buy it and complete it. I gave up my dream of doing my own design and used the McKinley.

It turned out okay, but I wasn't crazy about working with the kit. I don't like the thin walls, which made it difficult to create realistic doorways between rooms, and I really disliked the porous, grainy plywood the kits are made of. I also didn't like the windows that came with it, and I found that due to the tall, narrow design of the windows, I was unable to substitute better quality ones from Houseworks, which I would have preferred to have used. All that said, Greenlieaf makes attractive houses, and this one turned out pretty nicely in spite of its drawbacks.

I made a few mistakes along the way in building it. I chose a roofing material that went on quickly, since it came in long rolls and was easy to glue on, but in retrospect, I feel it was too thick. The copper tower roof was a bear to do. I spent many hours measuring, cutting, and bending the copper foil to make it fit just right. It was also difficult to find a glue that worked well in holding it onto the roof. Last, but not least, I sliced my fingers several times working on it.

The biggest mistake I made, and it's a design flaw of this dollhouse, was not enclosing it so that the rooms don't get dusty. The house has become terribly dusty, and it needs to have some sort of plexiglas cover or doors on the front to eliminate or reduce the amount of dust settling in the rooms.

All in all, I have to say this was a girl's play dollhouse - not a Thorne Room replica. Alicia thoroughly enjoyed her play with it - decorating it and redecorating it for various seasons. To this day, when she's home, she comes in and makes seasonal changes. So, though it's not a museum piece, it's definitely a well-loved dollhouse.


  1. And I think that's the right way of using them.Being a well loved toy for a little, or not so little, girl.

  2. Hi George. This house looks wonderful. Our Beacon Hill is great, but like you say very flimsy wood until you put in sturier floorboards and wall material to pack it out abit and give it some ridigity!Our haunted house is a nightmare for collecting dust, but I do love the American open back houses.
    I love your blog, so many wonderful things. I must pick your brains as to how you made your classroom board. I am thinking of putting a big blackboard in the harry Potter Potion room, love yours with te chalk effect. Also cant wait to see what you are doing on your barber shop, any updates yet? I am stuck on finding a decent chair for the Sweeney barber shop. they are so expensive for a good one! Off to have a good read of the rest of your blog, could be awhile, need a muffin and cuppa to go with it!! Kate xx