Welcome to our home!
Step up to the gate,
and come on in.
The top floor is the bedroom with adjoining deck,
which you can access through the sliding door.
How I love this door!
The back fence is decorated with polka-dotted wooden beads, that appear in various other parts of the house and furniture.
separated by a curtain
that slides on a dowel through loops of woven satin trim.
The ground floor is the kitchen-and-dining room
that opens out to a tiled patio.
Don't you love the tiles? The girls colored them with black Sharpies. I drew out squares on a big sheet of brown kraft paper and they spent a morning blacking out those squares. I wish I'd taken a photo of them working hard on it. Kate even tried to write her letters on the brown squares. Then we stuck it on, like fake linoleum, to make a giant hinge for the gate to fold up and flop down.
The upper floors are accessible two ways: the first is by a staircase
in two spirals. They were easier to make than they look. I used several narrow, sturdy cardboard tubes glued together to form the central supporting post.
The steps were made from a single circle, cut into 16 segments, 8 (i.e. a semi-circle's worth) for each set of steps.
The vertical pieces of the steps were rectangles, and each step was glued on in sequence, beginning from the bottom, to form the spiral. After the entire staircase was completed, it was glued to the side of the house.
The second way to access the floors is by elevator, which was just a cardboard box with a door and dowel posts supporting a peaked roof.
The elevator shaft is not the prettiest thing, honestly. I didn't have the right kind of cardboard to make those long vertical rails inside which the elevator car slid up and down. It works, but it is not ideal.
The cable (some random black cord I found) runs from the roof of the car, over two old bobbins mounted on dowels
to the back wall of the bedroom, where it winds on a windlass-type thing (cardboard spool that used to house ribbon). I am not pleased with this, either, because it isn't as stable as I'd like. From a fully-wound state, it unwinds beautifully to lower the elevator gently to the ground. But it is wretched in the other direction. So the girls pull the cable by hand to raise the elevator, like a typical pulley system, which works better. I've already complained about that earlier, so let's move on, shall we? I'm just post-mortem-ing my own design, and telling you all the icky bits, so you'll do something different if you make this yourself. I think that if that wheel drives me sufficiently crazy over the next week, I'll rip it out and do it right.
At the bottom of the elevator shaft is the tall and skinny side door that allows entry to the elevator lobby.
Now for all the teeny little details. First are the light fixtures - to which you've already been introduced here. This one is a paper tube with holes punched out and sequined trim glued around the bottom edge.
These are pink plastic easter egg halves with pom-pom trim. Very my-grandparents'-generation-ish.
These chandelier and sconces are vellum paper decorated with various trims.
In this post, I showed you how the wiring was recessed into the cardboard surface of the walls and floors, and then wallpaper plastered over everything. I used two strings of white STRALA lights (bought from IKEA during the holiday season). The fixtures were simply glued in place over the protruding LEDs. The trailing wires were fitted into cardboard channels, and the battery packs were slid into little compartments under the top step of the staircase on each floor.
Here are all those lights at work.
I love the way those holes make light daisies on the ceiling!
Random room shots:
The girls enjoyed making all the little accent items for the house. They dug out their mini art pieces from the old easel project and made framed art for the walls. We also borrowed one of their little woven potholders for a bedroom rug. Emily cut these silhouette portraits from a single sheet of scrapbooking paper we found in Michaels.
She turned some of them into standing portraits with a little cardboard leg at the back. She also made a tiny candle and a soap dispenser/Kleenex box for the mantelpiece.
Kate made a book, which we helped her staple together.
And here is the house, as it was presented to Kate two days ago, although she'd already been eagerly following its progress for the past week and a half. We moved in the girls' plastic dining set and kitchen counter, and the cardboard bed from here. As of today, we've added bathroom fixtures, which Kate got as a birthday gift.
For completeness' sake, here's the back of the house. Very plain.
And here's a shot of the girls playing with the house. If you look closely, you can see the be-jeaned leg of a downed Ken doll in the bathroom. No doubt he was killed, and the police should be here any minute now, and I probably also should've made some black-and-yellow-striped tape to cordon off the place as a crime scene.
I'm glad we didn't try to keep it a secret from Kate, not that it would've worked, anyway. Each morning, the first questions the girls would ask me were, "Did you work on the Barbie house some more last night? Can we see?" And down the stairs they'd run, even before breakfast. Keeping it real, though - working on a big project like this, for as long as we did, on a deadline, with ill-timed interruptions for meal-preparation or bedtime, means there were occasions when my blood pressure soared. I'm glad the girls got to help on some bits of it, but it meant me being on heightened vigilance (= a nervous wreck), to make sure no one inadvertently got near the glue gun, or the scissors, or the craft knives. Yes, I took precautions - for instance, I never left an exposed blade on a surface within their reach, but little children who so badly want to help, are still so prone to accidents in their excitement, aren't they?
True (bloodless) account: After painstakingly trying to color within the lines on the patio squares, We (particularly Jenna) were initially aghast that Kate scribbled ABCs on the patio floor. After a moment of stunned silence, during which someone -possibly Jenna - whispered, "Can we erase it?" I looked at Kate's little face, her eyes big with anxiety, her hand still clutching her guilty Sharpie, and remembered what was really important in all this. Took a deep breath and said to her, "It's your house, honey. You just wanted to write your name on it, right?" (she doesn't understand the word "autograph"). Then the moment passed, Kate relaxed, and everyone resumed coloring as if nothing happened. And it was as if grace threw open the windows and let in fresh air.
But back to the house - oddly enough, in spite of making it as big as the piece of cardboard (it was a treadmill box in its previous life) allowed, it still seems too small for all the home decor the girls want to put in. Maybe sometime in the near future I will make some living room furniture - like a curvy sofa and armchair. Or we might just go out to Target and buy plastic versions. I'd also planned to make a detached garage, with retractable door, and some reclining deck chairs but I think I'll also pass on those now. Tonight, I dug out all my vintage (or maybe they were just from the 70's, I can't remember) French clothes pattern catalogs that I inherited from Grandma because I feel like I need to make something soft and fabric, that doesn't involve a craft knife and strenuous hacking. I also badly want to sew two really fun bags. It's fun to move on!
BUT..... I have one more cardboard project to share, before all that happens. It's Kate's low-suspense piñata, which I'll post about once I get the photos off the camera. Or whenever. See you back here soon!