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Building The Country Home


I actually built my first dollhouse!  It's been a bit of a journey, but its finally done.  I decided to roll back the clock and post about it from the beginning.  It started in 2022, gained steam in 2023 and finished in 2024!

I purchased The Arthur dollhouse by Greenleaf many years ago at Value Village.  It was sitting there alone and all taped up in its box, but it seemed complete.  I couldn't believe my luck so, I went for it!

That box sat for years.  I never had the time to start building and it made the move to our new home a few years ago, still in its box. 2023 was a crossroads year for me, and I decided that I just needed to stir my creative pot by building this damn dollhouse!  Side note, I still have The Orchid and the Glencroft and The Primrose still in boxes waiting to be built, so the road is long to completion!

Greenleaf dollhouses are a bit, well, a bit crappy.  The plywood is thin and either is warped, or warps, as soon as you touch it with paint.  It's thin and brittle too.  Getting it to hold together during the assembly process requires you to need two extra sets of hands.  And don't get me started on the need to trim and cut everything to make it fit together and anything you add to fit.

Building Materials

I will be honest, don't start a Greenleaf dollhouse if you aren't a little be "handy" with tools and are willing to take time to build a dollhouse.  If you want it quick and easy, buy a Real Good Toys dollhouse, its MDF and easy to assemble.  

I love a challenge, so Greenleaf it is!

Things you need:

  • Construction adhesive (in a squeeze tube)
  • Low moisture wood glue (often the kind that says it dries quickly)
  • A Dremel, or some sort of hand held rotary tool
  • Clamps!  Little clamps are a must.  Consider getting a long clamp, the kind that can span the width of the dollhouse.
  • Hand held electric sander
  • Caulking 
  • Low moisture wood filler
  • Wall spackle
  • Primer paint

I cannot say how many times I've read on Facebook dollhouse groups the perils of those that assembled a dollhouse with a hot glue gun or used white PVA glue.  Just don't do it, don't start, don't consider it, just stop! I pivoted to construction adhesive after using it endlessly in home renovations.  It's goopy, and sticky which makes it hard to get off your hands, so you need to wear gloves.  You can get it in the large tubes, but you need to use a caulking gun.  If you look in the glue aisle at a hardware store, you can often find mini handheld squeeze tubes of it which is much easier to use.  

I apply it to glue my structure together.  Once held in placed, with supports or clamps, I use a paper towel to gently smooth the leaking goop from the joints.  This is ESSENTIAL because it will dry hard and you'd have to Dremel the glob off.  It will coat the wood, but that's ok because its sands easily, and paints easily. Construction adhesive makes the house rock solid, it is not coming apart, so don't change your mind about a wall, because its not coming out!

Low moisture products are good for any dollhouse.  Construction adhesive is one of them.  But there are many wood glues and products that are "quick" dry, which generally means its lower in moisture.  This will prevent warping and speed the drying process, especially if you have to stand there and hold it.  I prefer Lepage wood glues because they have worked like a charm, my flooring isn't warped and its strong.

I love fillers and caulking. Here is something controversial, do the little gaps in dollhouse wall joints (and windows) in other peoples dollhouses bother you?  Honestly, no matter how much I love the house, my eyes zero in on the little cracks of light that are peaking around the window frame!  I will go back and use my construction adhesive to fill wall joints and white caulking to fill all the other gaps. Smooth the caulking with a damp paper towel, and its like the crack was never there!

Greenleaf's plywood is the cheapest, crappiest wood there is.  I initially thought that my older kits would have better plywood, due to age and older things are often better made.  I was wrong.  Before I assembled anything I primed everything, which raises the wood grain.  Then I used a large trowel, and applied wood filler, sanded it smooth, and primed again. I wanted to just paint, not paper the ground floor of the house, so this was the only way to make walls smooth.  But even if you want to paper your walls, I recommend doing this fill and sand process. Like real life walls, its easier to wallpaper on a smooth, primed surface.  If you change your mind, its also easier to remove the paper.  Primer not only makes the dollhouse easier to paint, but it does seal the wood and helps prevent moisture penetration.  

The Porch

I found the porch on The Arthur to be very narrow, even more narrow if you used the original columns and rail. I couldn't even get a decent sized chair wedged on to it in the mock up.  

I used scrap wood to add about 5 extra inches to the porch.  Simple square wood doweling was used to add supports.  The seam where the old and new attach has a thin piece of board underneath attaching both sides (glued).

I ended up finishing the porch with a solid skirt rather then trellis (hides the ugly underneath!) and I topped the porch with a Houseworks wood plank flooring sheet.

I again used solid wood doweling for the porch columns.  I didn't use a balsa, or soft wood.  These are all hard wood, so they won't crack or get dinged over the course of the houses like (or with sand the building process.  I found some short #5 screws and actually drilled them in from under the porch into the column, and used a small finishing nail (and glue to secure the roof to the columns.  The porch roof also sits on a ledger board aka a long piece of wood stuck to the house that the roof rests on.  This makes its very secure!  

The porch itself wasn't attached until I put the siding on the house (with the ledger board already in place), windows/doors in and the porches wood floor was applied, stained and sealed. 

Drop me an email if you have any questions!  I had to disable comments due to spam bots.

The next post will cover the exciting and nerve wracking adventure into wallpapering your mini house!