Roomboxes Dolls House

In my previous post I wrote that the new house I am working on will consist of a series of roomboxes which will eventually form one big h...

In my previous post I wrote that the new house I am working on will consist of a series of roomboxes which will eventually form one big house.  Some of you have asked me to explain this approach a bit further, so.....

I think I should start with the first big dolls house I ever saw, the 17th century cabinet house which belonged to Petronella de la Court.  My photo below is not very good with all the reflecting light, so please visit the Centraal Museum website for more photos.


This dolls house basically is a cabinet with roomboxes inserted into it.  The individual roomboxes make building, moving, cleaning etc. a lot easier.

When I started planning my second dolls house, I decided I wanted it to be a series of roomboxes which together would form one big house.  But instead of building the outside first and then inserting the roomboxes into it, I will be doing it the other way around.

I will first build the roomboxes and when they're all finished I will build a wooden carcass around it.  It will not be a cabinet like the 17th century one, but I will finish the outside to look like a brick canal house.


I started by designing the house on graph paper and making a simple cardboard mockup of the house.  This way I could judge the scale of it.  The design I have now is slightly different from the mockup.  



The photo above shows the ground floor.  If you look closely at this photo you can see all the rooms are individual boxes (except for the courtyard and hall, they still need side walls).  The kitchen has walls which come in a bit and will eventually have doors in them.   

So in answer to one of your questions, yes my roomboxes will have doors going from one room to another (see the two rooms below).  As the walls are double thickness (there's a wall to each roombox),  you have to decide which roombox to attach the door to, plus you have to make the door surround deeper as you don't want any gaps showing.  



All the room boxes have their own floors and ceilings so they really are individual units.  The wiring for lights can just be taken to the back or side of the box.  As the boxes will be placed against each other, the wiring will be hidden from view between the walls or at the back, but still accessible when necessary. 


Here you can see the ground floor and first floor stacked on top of each other.  When all of the boxes are finished, I will make a facade from one piece of wood to fit the entire height of the building.  

The facades (both front and back) will be covered in brickwork.  Of course I will cut out holes where the windows are ;-)  The thickness of the wood will help suggest the thickness of the brick, so that the wooden windows are slightly set back into the brickwork.  The front edges of the roomboxes will get a nice finish on them as well.

So that's it really, just a cabinet with shelves which will hold several boxes.  You can make the design as easy (just square boxes) or as complicated as you like.  With doors, windows, stairs, or without.  Looking like a cabinet or looking like a house.  With an open front (like mine will be) or closed.

I hope this makes my approach a little bit clearer.  I can't show you more as I haven't built it yet ;-)))

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52 comments

  1. This makes far more sense than any dollhouse I've seen. Ingenious! There is much more accessibility to the wiring etc. I think I will adopt this way of building in the future. Thanks for sharing =0)

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    1. You're welcome Pepper. Have fun with it!

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  2. Thank you so much Josje. This is a brilliant idea. I can see how much easier it is to work on each room. You can take it outside to do some of the dirty work like sanding that flag stone floor or even to the kitchen table for papering walls. I think you have solved my problem. THANK YOU!!!!!

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    1. You're welcome Catherine. The boxes are screwed together, not glued. This makes it easier to take it apart when you have to work on doors, windows etc.
      Even though I have the boxes to work on, I still make my floors onto a piece of matboard. So for the sanding I just had the floor to take outside and drop it into the roombox when it was finished.
      I look forward to seeing a roombox or two soon!

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  3. Josje,
    It was nice to see you although briefly in London. What a creative way to build your house! I will look forward to following its progress.
    I have used both Richard Stacey's marl stone and his sandstone flagstones in a couple of projects and it almost looks like you got a combination of both. There is a great deal of variation though in mine. Your floor is fabulous and wish I had not done mine in a box as my floor is slightly uneven - great idea to sand it!
    Martha

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    1. Hello Martha, yes it was nice seeing you in London. I understand you were on the elevated part of the ground floor? For some reason I completely missed that part, just as I did two years ago.
      As I just wrote in reply to Catherine, I do all my floors on matboard, so it was easy for me to bring it outdoors to sand.
      I'm sure the house will be another 10-year project, just like my first Canal House.

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  4. Это гениальный проект! Спасибо, что поделились идеей!
    Татьяна

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    1. Thank you Tatiana, and you're welcome!

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  5. Dear Josje! What a wonderful way to build a house! It makes everything so much more accessible and easier to manipulate.This is such a beautiful project! Are you familiar with the website Mary's Dollhouses? She has built a condo with the apartments decorated in different eras. Every room is also detachable. If you have not already seen it, you might like to take a look just for the fun of it The only difference is that her building does not have a finished exterior. Thank you so much for sharing your method!

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    1. Hello Lucille, I had not seen Mary's condo, I enjoyed looking at all the different styles she used. She uses the same method, and I noticed she has doors connecting the roomboxes as well.
      I use plywood for the construction of my boxes though, which is nice and strong for handling and stacking.
      Thanks for the tip on Mary's Dollhouses! Looking at all she made will keep me busy for a while ;-)

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    2. the actual website is www.inpayne.com for Mary's wondrous creations/ If only she would make one for me...(I tried)!

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    3. Thanks Janine! It's a fun website. So much to see!

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  6. Thank you for this post, Josje! It is Brilliant!!! I can see the benefit to the separate boxes... and have always felt that a "cabinet" or a "book-case" were the perfect place for dollhouse-style "rooms"! It just requires more pre-planning and careful measuring for the doors and windows to line up correctly! Your rooms are Gorgeous and so wonderfully detailed... perfect in their scale and design! I think the problem I have run into with my Castle "Boxes" is that there is a small amount of warping on the sides that creates gaps between them. I have been "glossing over" this flaw with extra deep door framing.... but it needs to be very carefully positioned so the boxes still fit together correctly. Thank you again for showing this part of your work... it is very Inspiring!

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    1. Yes it does take a bit of planning and careful measuring, but I think you would also have to do that building a regular dolls house.
      What material are you using on your Castle Boxes? After I read good reviews about it, I tried foamboard for the first time in the attic of my first dolls house. I'm not to happy with it though, it warped a bit and I found it difficult to get it to glue together. It is not a material I would use to create boxes even though at first I thought it would be a good idea because it is so light (and fairly cheap!).
      Yes it is important to have the boxes fit together properly, but I don't think you can prevent some gaps to appear here and there.
      Thanks Betsy!

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    2. Hi Josje! For my Castle Dollhouse I have used 3/8 inch plywood..... not even the best quality which would have made the project more expensive. I was VERY New to Dollhouse building when I started it and thought it would all just be covered in paint and paper! But I think it would have been better to use fancier plywood. At least it is just a "castle" and looking rough and rustic is sort of "authentic"! What I really want to try is the 1 inch thick foam insulation panels. They are very light weight but are rigid and might not warp much. Their weakness is that they will "snap" if they are caused to bend too far. I still think wood is the best durable material to use for houses where the walls are not supposed to be too thick. I look forward to seeing more of your Fascinating progress!! Thanks for sharing your techniques!

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    3. I am not familar with the insulation material you mentioned, but the fact that it is light is definitely a plus!
      I am using plywood as well, not the best quality either but it is doing a good job. I was visisitng a friend last week who has also started with the roombox construction and she is using the more expensive beech plywood. It does look very nice I must say. It may be worth investing just that little bit more. After all, if you make one or two boxes at a time, you don't really notice the price difference.

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  7. Bonjour Josje
    C 'est exactement la méthode que j utilise pour construire ma maison de souris . Je trouve cela plus facile pour travailler chaque pièce . Et , je n avais pas d autre choix car ma maison de souris est enfermée dans une très grande armoire ancienne . Cela permet de tourner la pièce dans tous les sens quand on travaille dessus . Vos photos font rêver .
    Tout est si parfait . Votre construction est très réfléchi contrairement à mon travail qui est plus chaotique . J aime beaucoup regarder votre travail . C est très enrichissant .

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    1. Oh I love your maison de souris! I agree, it is far easier to work on than a conventional dolls house. I would love an antique cabinet for my roomboxes... In fact I searched for one for a few years, but even now the prices of antique furniture have been relatively low for the last few years, my taste is too expensive, haha! Oh well...I am still on the lookout though. If I ever find the perfect (and perfectly priced) cabinet, I will buy it!

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  8. Dank je wel voor dit geweldige idee Josje!!! Ik zit al een hele tijd met een jane austen huis in mijn hoofd. Ik wist alleen niet hoe ik het huis moest bouwen op de manier van eerst de buitenkant en dan de kamers. Nu kan ik gewoon met een kamer beginnen en die buitenkant komt dan vanzelf (nouja....) wel een keer.
    Het blijft toch altijd een feestje om jouw blog te lezen :-)

    Liefs, Monique

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    1. Ja leuk!! Een Jane Austen huis, dat lijkt me geweldig! Je moet wel een beetje plannen hoor want anders loop je alsnog tegen allerlei problemen aan, maar in principe is het inderdaad een kwestie van kistjes stapelen ;-)

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  9. What at great idea! I can't wait to see how you progress. I really love how the wiring is hidden but easy to access.

    Inspiring!

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    1. Thank you Heather. It will be a big house so it will take many years before it is finished!

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  10. This is an excellent concept! Fun and inspiring as well. I am picturing the whole thing with the brickwork and it's very exciting. I can't wait to see it for real--

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    1. You'll have to have a lot of patience Linda as I think it will take me ten years to get it finished!

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  11. It is a system of building very interesting!
    Thank you for the explanation, it is a great job.

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  12. Wat een wereld idee, prachtig om de kamers die al redelijk ver of af zijn te zien op de plek waar ze bedoeld zijn.

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    1. Ja dat vind ik ook leuk Inge! Voordeel van steeds een nieuwe kamer toevoegen is dat je aandacht niet naar iets anders gaat voordat het (bijna) af is.

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  13. Great idea Josje! Your new project is very inspiring!

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  14. I like this approach a lot. I will have to remember this if I ever get brave enough to build my own instead of using a kit!! -Ara

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    1. It is so much fun to design your own house Ara! Something which nobody else has...And after after gaining experience on your kit houses I'm sure you'll be able to build one yourself.

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  15. es una idea fantástica,se trabaja cada habitación por separado,todo encaja mejor y el sistema eléctrico es mucho más accesible,me gusta tu planteamiento!!!!!
    Besos

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    1. Thank you Pilar. Yes it really is easier as you can just sit at your desk and work on the room. Even working on the ceiling is easier this way as you can just turn it upside down, or take the ceiling off and work on your desk :-)

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  16. It's a wonderful project. I'm curious to see the progress.
    Greetings, Faby

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    1. Thanks Faby. Progress will be slow, so I hope you're patient ;-)

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  17. This is a wonderfully informative post Josje, it could well inspire a lot more of us to try this method, especially those of us who move around a lot - or even once in a while! The room units would be so much more manageable and the increasing range of battery powered lighting makes the wiring issues somewhat redundant.

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    1. Hi Norma, one of the reasons I wanted to build my house using roomboxes was because this house is going to be quite big. I would have to be split some way in order to be able to move it, even if only from one end of the room to the other!
      Battery powered lighting makes it even more manageable. But, batteries are an expensive form of electricity, so I'm using old fashioned wiring. I am Dutch after all! ;-)))

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  18. c'est une façon de construire ... ingénieuse, surtout lorsque le projet est important. Une idée à suivre sans hésitation. Merci pour le lien du musée que je ne manquerai pas de visiter.
    Bonne continuation. A bientôt ! rosethé

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    1. Thank you Rosethé. I hope you will be able to visit the city of Utrecht and its museum!

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  19. Una idea que voy a tener en cuenta sin duda cuando me decida a construir mi propia casa.
    ¡Gracias por compartirla!
    Besos

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  20. Hello Josje,
    I think it is a brilliant way to put together a miniature house. It must be much easier to move around a room box instead of large structure. I cannot wait to see more progress. your miniatures inspire me very much.
    Big hug,
    Giac

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    1. Thank you Giac. Yes it is much easier! I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult it must be for you working on that big house!

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  21. I really like this idea and I also like the idea of a cabinet too..I really cant wait to see more of your design

    Hugs
    Marisa :)

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    1. Well, they had some good ideas three hundred years ago !! ;-)

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  22. Hi Josje,

    This is such an interesting post for me, as I plan on making my next house in a cabinet, like the example you cited. It never occurred to me to do it from the inside out, so I will have to re-examine my approach! Your way makes perfect sense to me, so thank you! Your work is so inspiring, Josje, --those photos of your rooms seen from a slight distance really highlight what marvelous works of art they truly are. I really want to get to the drawing board, now!

    XOXO,
    John

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    1. Thank you John! Good to hear there will be a next house ;-)))) I look forward to seeing your new plans develop. It is a nice way to work with separate roomboxes, so much easier! If the design is a bit more complex, then obviously you have to do a bit more planning. But it is all possible.

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  23. Hallo Josje! Jij hebt hetzelfde idee gehad als ik, zie ik nu, geweldig handig is dit bouwen, hè? En uh, ja het zal net als bij mij (moet nog grotendeels beginnen :D) een hele tijd duren, voordat je wat kunt laten zien dat af is. Ik kan alleen de buitenkant laten zien van mijn grachtenpand, zelfs dat is nog steeds niet helemaal af. Het staat in een hoek van de kamer en is haast niet op de foto te zetten :D! We zullen wat geduld moeten hebben, maar jij bent al veel verder dan ik ermee en het jouwe ziet er geweldig mooi uit, mijn complimenten!
    Groetjes, Ilona

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    1. Dank je wel Ilona. Ach, in het echt bouwen ze ook wel zo, een paar betonnen bakken, muren eromheen metselen en er staat een huis. Dus waarom niet in miniatuur. :-) En zoals we aan de 17e eeuwse poppenhuizen kunnen zien werkt het perfect met die kisten, dus waarom het wiel opnieuw uitvinden, toch?
      Geduld is denk ik wel een sleutelwoord bij het maken van een mooi poppenhuis. Dat ontstaat langzaam en groeit...Ik hoop dat we geen jaren hoeven te wachten om iets van je huis te zien, want dat ongetwijfeld ook prachtig worden!

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  24. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for, I had this idea for creating an apartment building, but as that'd be massive (and it will be) I thought if I did it small, a room box at a time, it might go easier! And you've done it, yours is far more elaborate than mine will be, but you've confirmed a few things I had in my head. THANK YOU! So very very much!

    I look very forward to seeing more of this.

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    1. You're welcome Jaie. It's a great way to build. Have fun!

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