Windows and Doors
Windows are important elements to the finished look of your dollhouse. Most dollhouse
kits come with windows. Besides the windows which are included in the kits, there
are many optional windows available. You can use these to substitute the windows
in the kits, or as added decoration to the areas of your dollhouse that are bare
and need more flourish. Before you begin to install windows on your dollhouse, you
must make some fundamental decisions. First, decide if you want your dollhouse to
have working or non-working windows. Because working windows are more elaborate,
they can cost twice as much as non-working windows. Second, all window components
should be painted prior to installation (see the section on
Painting for specific instructions).
Remember to keep all the parts of a window together, as each may vary slightly.
Also, if you remove the acrylic window panes, put them in a plastic bag so they
will not get scratched.
Non-working windows come in many diverse styles that are less expensive than working
windows, but still have a similar appearance. Some of the fancier styles are available
in both the working and non-working variety.
Most of the non-working windows
set into the house 3/8 of an inch. Therefore, these windows will not fit in die-cut
houses that are made of 1/4" Phillipine mahogany plywood. You might be able to trim
the interior extension to fit the project, particularly those windows that do not
contain acrylic panes. (See Houseworks
The acrylic pane in most standard,
non-working windows is removable through a slot in the top of the window frame.
This makes it easier to paint. The window mullions can be added for the multiple
The multiple small pane windows
that resemble the windows of the Colonial period do not have acrylic panes or interior
trim. You will find the materials for the acrylic panes at a glass company or hardware
If you take your window in with
you, they will normally cut the acrylic pane to fit your window. To add the interior
trim, use the door and window casing
that's available at most hobby and miniature stores (see the
The smaller windows (often used
as attic or gable windows) can also have acrylic inserts added in order to give
them a "leaded" window look. Furthermore, when these inserts have been painted with
stained glass paint, they take on the appearance of stained glass windows. (See
both the Miscellaneous and "What You Always Wanted to Know About
Houseworks" sections for more details).
To give your dollhouse a more realistic look, you will want to use working windows.
With working windows, you have many options for the exterior decor of your dollhouse.
You may want to have a doll hanging out of or crawling into the window, or have
a pie sitting on the window sill. You can put an air conditioner in the window,
or have a curtain blowing to simulate a cool summer breeze. These windows are double
hung, and can slide from the top down, as well as from the bottom up.
Most of the
traditional size working windows come in both
single and side-by-side
double working windows. For variety, use the same style window in different widths.
There is a
working casement window, a double sliding window, and a double casement window
for the person who wants a more modern dollhouse. Besides the modern and contemporary
look, these windows will work well with many styles of architecture.
All working windows extend 1/2"
into the dollhouse, because there is an extra 1/8" to allow for the double hung
windows. Since most houses are made of 3/8" plywood, you will find that the working
window will extend too far into the house. The window should be flush with the interior
wall to allow for trimming. To achieve this, you have two options:
- Take the clapboard to the edge
of the window opening, and glue the window over the clapboard.
- For houses that have clapboard
grooved into the plywood take a piece of 1/8" x 1/8" strip wood, cut three pieces
to glue around sides and top of the frame behind the outside trim. Then glue the
window onto the house. No one will ever notice. I used this method on my large Victorian
Working windows also come with
mullion strip wood, in measurements of 1/16" x 1/16". Mullions are the wood strips
that divide the panes of a window into sections. Instead of using small individual
panes with wood strips between them, a constructed mullion made of wood or plastic
may be snapped in over the single pane. To make a mullion, follow these directions:
- Paint or stain the mullion
- Decide if you want 4 over 4,
6 over 6, 9 over 9, Victorian, Diamond, etc. design.
- Cut a piece of white shirt
cardboard or heavy paper to fit over the acrylic pane inside the wood frame.
- With a ruler and pencil, draw
the pattern for the mullion on the piece of cardboard or paper.
- Place the cardboard or paper
pattern behind the acrylic pane to see if the pattern is to your satisfaction.
- Measure the mullion sticks.
- Cut and lay the mullion sticks
over the pattern and glue the pieces together. I suggest that you use a piece of
wax paper or tracing paper between the pattern and the pieces in order to keep the
glue off the pattern.
- You can use the pattern for
all of the windows (as long as they are the same window or same size). This will
result in uniform mullions for all of the windows.
- Let the wooden mullions dry.
- Touch up with paint if necessary.
- Then glue the tips to the wooden
If you do not wish to make your
own mullions, or your window does not come with mullion strip wood, you can use
plastic mullions. These mullions are from pre-assembled moulded white ABS plastic.
They can be easily trimmed to fit the window with either an X-Acto knife or nail
clippers. Be careful not to take too much off! Snap them into the window and glue
the tips. Plastic mullions can be painted before installing or used as is.
Finish the working window by adding
a brass window handle pull on the interior of the bottom window. Glue and add nails
in the holes (see the "What You Always Wanted to Know About Houseworks" section
for more details). This will help raise and lower the windows.
Doors come in a variety of styles, from the simple to the elaborate, that may include
features such as oval glass inserts and side lights. Primarily, these individual
doors are available for use with shell kits and projects created from plans.
Most doors are simple and practical in their construction. They are pin hinged into
a frame that is glued into the correct size opening in your house. Because some
doors are wider than normal, be sure to check the size opening in the dollhouse
to see if the door will fit. To accommodate these doors in a dollhouse that is already
assembled, cut the opening for the door with a hand held electric sabre saw. If
the dollhouse is not assembled, the opening can be cut or widened with a scroll
saw. The next step is to stain or paint the door. (See the section on
Painting for more instructions). Let the door dry by opening the door and
standing it on the frame and the door. After you have painted or stained and varnished
the door, you are ready to attach the hardware. If you are going to install doorknobs,
locks, door knockers or other hardware, it is easier to do so when the door can
be laid flat. In other words, install all hardware before attaching the door to
your dollhouse. (See the section "Applying Hardware" in the chapter "What You Always
Wanted to Know About Houseworks").
The thickness of the plywood used in your dollhouse or kit will determine whether
the door will go over the clapboard siding.
- Most of the door frames extend
3/8" into the house.
- You want the edge of the interior
frame flush with the interior wall.
- On a 3/8" plywood dollhouse,
glue the door onto the house and butt the clapboard siding to the door frame.
Trim the inside of the door frame
with the interior trim provided with the door. This frame will fit on the edge of
the door frame and the interior wall, covering the space between the frame and the
wall. If the interior trim is not provided with the door, use a door and window
casing trim. (See Trim Section.)
When the plywood is thicker than
the door frame, glue a piece of strip wood (1/8" x 1/8" for 1/2" plywood) on the
inside edge of the frame. Then glue the trim on both the wall and the strip wood.
This procedure will fill in the space left between the plywood shell and the door
frame. Also, use this procedure if you decide to glue the door over the clapboard
on 3/8" plywood. When you glue the door over the clapboard, be sure that all the
clapboard has been finished and applied before the door is glued in place. Furthermore,
it is a good idea to finish wallpapering before gluing the door in place. Exterior
doors always open inward.
To make them swing out:
Remove the bottom piece of frame
below the door. Using an X-Acto knife, cut along the seams where this piece has
been glued to the side pieces.
After removing the bottom piece
of the frame, turn it around (this procedure will also turn the door around).
With a pin drill, drill a hole
in the top piece to pin hinge the door on the other side.
Put the top pin in this hole and
glue the bottom piece in place (it should be reversed from its original position)
to the two side trims.
The bottom pin will be in place
in the bottom piece.
Now the door will open to the outside.
You may use this procedure for most exterior single doors.
Interior doors come in several styles and sizes and really make a dollhouse complete.
They also give the door opening a more finished look. Stain or paint the interior
door to match the wood trim of the room in which it will be installed. Sometimes,
you may want to paint one side and stain the other side. Now you are ready to stain
or paint the interior doors. (Refer to the
Paint section for more instructions.
Installing the Interior Door:
- All wiring, wallpapering, flooring
and carpeting should be finished before the interior doors are glued in place.
- The hardware should be glued
on the door before installing the door.
- Decide which way you want the
door to open, so you will know which side of the wall to install the door.
- After gluing the door into
place, trim the other side. Many interior doors include the trim for the other side
already cut to fit. You may now glue this in place. Doesn't the room look great!
For many years the shutter was used to keep out both heat and inclement weather,
and also for decoration. Therefore, many dollhouses are trimmed with shutters that
portray a particular period of architecture.
There are many sizes and styles
of shutters available. To know which size shutter you want to use with your windows,
it will be necessary to decide where you want to place them.
On a lifesize house, the shutter
is installed between the top trim and the window sill. This is necessary, because
the shutter is hinged in such a way that it can be closed over the window. Different
decorative objects are then used to hold the shutters open. To recreate this look,
you can use such decorative hardware as the "S" hook. For more information, see
the "What You Always Wanted to Know About Houseworks" section, where the "S" hook
is discussed in more detail. For decoration, place the shutters at your discretion
for the look you wish to create. Glue the shutters onto the clapboard on either
side of the window.
Both the size of the roof, as well as the style of your dollhouse will determine
the use, number and size of dormers. There are two methods for installing dormers:
- Attaching the dormer without
cutting holes in the roof. This method gives your dollhouse the dormer "look," without
interrupting the line of the interior wall. Before attaching the dormers, paint
or paper the inside walls of the dormer and attach curtains at the window.
- Attaching with holes cut in
the roof. This method allows the dormer to be seen from inside the dollhouse. It
also allows natural light to brighten your dollhouse. Holes must be cut in the roof
following the template on the package of the dormer or pattern for the dollhouse.
Dormers can have a more varied look by using the windows that can take the Lasertech
panes. Lasertech gives windows a leaded or stained glass appearance. (See
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