Restoration of G and J Lines Dolls House No 37 (ca 1915-1925)
by Wendy M Lawday
My house is now in far better condition than when I found it at the local recycling depot [cost me £2.50] and will hopefully last another century. But it is still a work in progress as I am not entirely happy with my choice of wallpapers, and hope to have some sort of lighting installed in order to have it on display at Christmas. The upper flooring is also temporary. However as a complete novice, I feel I have at least preserved it and prevented further deterioration. The first steps as follows:
1. Removed interior wood chip paper, and its coating of emulsion, with careful use of the nozzle of a steam wallpaper stripper, revealing small areas of original wall and floor coverings.
2. Removed one side of the wooden support under the base, which was split and crumbly with woodworm. This was replaced with new wood.
3. Treated for woodworm and then given a coat of wood hardener.
4. Filled in remaining visible woodworm holes, using smooth finish filler, which I found gave a better result than wood filler.
The upper dividing wall in particular was very weak and damaged by the time I had stripped it back, and here I have strengthened it and other walls and floors with white craft card to give a better surface for new coverings. A lazy way out, but my little grandson was pestering me to finish the house and put furniture in.
I was lucky to obtain an authentic window for the missing attic one, which has improved the outer appearance. I glued a vase of flowers inside to make it look homely. However I am still hoping to find a front door, or at least someone who could make one for me - my skills and eyesight are not up to the job!
Closer inspection showed that modern materials had been used in a previous restoration. I therefore repainted the roof and some other areas with acrylic paints, and retouched the black paintwork with enamel paint. The stonework was given a coat of matt cream emulsion to match what was there.
There was no evidence of curtains ever having been in place, and here I committed my only alteration to the original by gluing strips of wood above the windows, so as not to damage the original front of the house, and made some curtains from material to hand - the choice was not easy as it required fabric soft enough to hang nicely, as well as a small pattern.
The rooms have now been furnished, due to grandson pester-power, but I will of course be looking for authentic kitchen and bathroom fittings and other items - the house is 1/16th scale. A couple of items I made or adapted myself, a small table being made from parts of a broken wooden toy, and a purchased sideboard, both of which I painted in leftover paint from the roof. The rocking horse and two of the dolls were among my Christmas tree decorations, so no extra cost there.
I attach three photos of the project as it progressed and hope it is of some interest. It is nowhere approaching some of the houses seen in the magazines or web sites, but not too bad considering its condition at the start and my lack of expertise.