31 January 2016

DIY: Kitchen Worktop

The Exmouth Kitchen has become my 1:12 scale, happy place.

Before Christmas I took a hammer to a simple kitchen set I had in stock and threw together a little custom kitchen unit with a hardwood worktop.

Subsequently I had a lot of enquiries asking if the units are available to buy, well the short answer is no, not as it appears in the pic, but here's how I jazzed up the base units with simple customisation, no carpentry skills required!

What I used:

Hammer (light weight, you don't want to obliterate your units entirely!)
Small chisel ( I used a flat head screw driver as that's what was to hand.)
Strong craft/ wood glue, I used Copydex
Kitchen Set
Hard wood strip 4/5mm (I've had this little strip for years and finally found a use for it, you should be able to find something suitable in your local hardware shop.)

What I did:

  • So to start, I decided which units I wanted to place together. The Exmouth Kitchen had enough space for the two largest units with space for a refrigerator at the end, though if you were working with a larger space you might be able to use all three in a row or in an 'L' shape arrangement. 

  • The first blow is a bit scary, it feels wrong to be taking a hammer to tiny pieces of furniture you've spent hard earned pennies on, but get past that and you may find actually it's very therapeutic!

  • To avoid too much damage to the base unit try to find a little existing crack between the unit and the worktop to start from, preferably at the back, line the chisel accordingly and force between the base and top with a little help from you hammer!

  • Hopefully it will lift off in one easy piece, or it may be a messy, lengthy process that leaves you with lots of splintered bits of kitchen and a lot of sanding to do. 

  • Sanding!

Depending on how successful the hammer and chiseling step was you may have very little cleaning up to do . Or you might have a manicure destroying half hour ahead of you!

The aim is to get the top of the unit as smooth as possible so that the counter top sits neatly.

Next I glued the two largest units together.
I applied Copydex to the end of the unit, it's pretty strong and thick (and a bit whiffy!) and simply pressed the units together.
To ensure a tight bond, secure in place with masking tape and leave for an hour for the glue to go off.
When the units are dry enough to handle add Copydex to the top of the units and lay the worktop in place. Wipe away any excess glue and leave to dry.

Ta da!
New Kitchen is ready for installation.

22 January 2016

New Look for 2016


I've been head down and tinkering with the website this week when all I really wanted to do was play with the new sewing machine (full sized machine for making small scale goodies!)
It's forever a work in progress but for now, I'm super happy with the mini make-over.

Feel free to have a look around and nose through the new mini's too. !


14 January 2016

Mixing Miniature Scales

Hands up who gets in a pickle over doll's house scale sizes?

I still do from time to time, especially when ordering bits from strange, far away websites!

There's a lot to say on scales and I'm working on a more in depth guide to share, in the mean time I wanted to show some quick experiments with combining different scale pieces together.

My bottom line is do you like the mini? Yes or No.
If yes, then who cares if it's meant to match or not?!

We have mis-match furniture in our real homes, with scaled down bits for kids and novelty, oversize accessories so I see no reason for doll's houses to be any different.
If a piece of furniture really is totally the wrong size and I love it then it'll just be displayed on it's own on a shelf somewhere.

1inch represents 1 foot
This is my miniature comfort zone!
I've found 1:12 to be the most commonly available scale for collectors items as well as their junior counterparts.
FYI, all of Four Little Walls products are currently 1:12 scale, (though I'm on the brink of a vintage doll's house reno so we'll see how that new obsession unfolds!).

This scale tends to be affiliated mostly with vintage items and houses and is also, approximately, the scale that works best for Sylvanian Families.
(Though depending on which little animals and furniture you have they also work in 1:12 so it's all a great excuse to play!)
It's a tiny bit smaller than the standard 1:12 scale and depending on the item you could easily blend the two scales.

I was given a bag of vintage doll's house furniture, rescued from a house clearance, I loved the mid-century style of a few of the pieces , though they weren't quite the right size for my 1:12 house, undeterred, I had a little mess around and quickly found ways to make them work without looking out of place.

Maybe you do the same with your minis or maybe you're a true-to-scale, purist?
Feel free to share any pointers!


1:16 scale kitchen furniture

1:16 kitchen table works perfectly as a coffee table with 1:12 chair and accessories 

I've used the 1:16 kitchen unit and chair in a 1:12 nursery to suggest child size furniture

12 January 2016

Wishlist: Birthday Treats

We're having a few birthdays here at FLW HQ this week. 

As I mentioned yesterday Four Little Walls  has just turned 4. *Woop woop!*
Continuing the festivities I'm turning 29 on Friday. *Less wooping, more curling up in a ball whilst I ponder what the hell it is I"m doing in life.*

The final year of my twenties seems like a good one to check a few bits and pieces off my long term To Do list.
So, my birthday present to myself is a driving lesson. 
Just one to see how it pans out. It's been 10 years since I last sat in the driving seat and the instructor asked me if I had dyspraxia. (I don't, I'm just really terrible at distances.)

I'll be sure to alert the general public when said lesson is taking place. No need to break into a cold sweat just yet though, the top speed last time was a knicker gripping 8mph. 

Saving the best for last, my sweet Nan would have been turning 100 years old.
We've plans to mark her centenary with a tonne of sugary, floral goodness.

Our Floss was a girls girl.  
She loved the seaside, ballerinas,  spoiling her granddaughters and painted beautifully, mostly flowers and girls in pretty dresses.
Don't let all the pink fluffy-ness fool you though.
Surviving Tuberculosis and World War 2,  she lost her house in the blitz and her little brother in Italy.
Through the war she worked on a telephone switchboard in London, initially the girls would shelter under their desks when the air raid siren sounded but after a while they just carried on regardless.
(The very definition of Keeping Calm & Carrying On, before the motto got slapped on every wall, coaster, fridge magnet and cushion in sight!)

She was also fabulously naughty, loved a gin and would always ensure a steady supply of cakes and biscuits when we went to visit, force feeding you two or three in a row then , just minutes later, warn you that you're getting fat.
At seven years old we laughed, at seventeen we did not!

So today's wish list is inspired by my lovely pink lady, a little round up of the sweet treats I'd lavish her with if she were here and doll's house sized, enjoy!


Round Planter with Mixed Flower Bouquet by Miniature Patisserie
I can not even imagine how much patience it must take to create this. Look at those tiny petals!

Pink Ispahan Eclair by Paris Miniatures

Hands up who's salivating? Yep. 

Shades of Pink Parisian Macaroons by Paris Miniatures
Tiny, pink, gorgeous.
To be honest I could have linked to Paris Miniatures entire store so you should probably just make them your next stop after this!

Strawberry Milkshake by Minicler
Insanely cute mini's from the Czech republic.

(High five if you too now have Kellis stuck in your head? Na na na na na naa)

11 January 2016

Four Years of Four Little Walls

Last week officially marked  four years since the first post on Four Little Walls so I thought we'd take a self indulgent trip down memory lane and share some experiences from this 4 year learning curve!

Spoiler alert: Not all of the following is positive, upbeat stuff, I consider it more of a cautionary tale in muddling your way through setting up a niche, craft business without completely losing your money and your mind.

Join me if you will, and bring a drink!

January 2012: I'd reluctantly left my job at a craft magazine and was moving out of Brighton.
Between job hunting and packing up my little flat I decided to start a blog, partly to re-ignite my doll's house obsession and also to give me something to do between job hunting when everybody else was at work.

A snap of FLW early years!

Needing to keep my brain occupied I set my self the 52 week challenge.
Basically, making something for the doll's house, every week, for the entire year.
Some were a bit hit and miss but it was a great exercise in creative project planning. (And lack of!)

Projects from the 52 Week Challenge

By May I was writing a monthly column for Doll's House & Miniature Scene but still only working part time. I qualified to attend The Princes Trust Enterprise scheme and the course gave me the boost I needed to launch the shop, Fourlittlewals.com.
At the end of my trial marketing period Four Little Walls business plan was deemed not viable and  a few months later my mentor support ended.

(My first mentor was so convinced I was making a mistake that when I received a financial contribution from a family friend she advised I use the money to learn to drive and abandon the business all together. Motivational eh?!)

I was pretty gutted at the time and she did have a point, (doll's house miniatures are not a quick way to get rich FYI!) but I'm really glad I ignored her!

Sneaky Secret Dolls House Project

So I carried on plugging away, blogging was less frequent now the 52 week challenge was over, and I started to get the hang of fairs.
Every seller will be different but for me I've found outdoor events to be a no no , high winds = high drama and stock losses,  whilst indoor events in high Summer are dead as a dodo, and rightly so because that's when we should all be outside getting fresh air and freckles.

The first fair I ever did was TERRIBLE. Thankfully I did not document it, my stall was truly a disaster.
 It was an indoor event on the hottest day of the year so there were no witnesses to the catastrophe beyond my fellow, de-hydrated stall holders.
I like to think I've upped my game a little every time we head out.
Most of it's really down to preparation and just doing it a little better each time you set up.

2014 I did indeed abandon the business, not officially, but because I landed a full time job in London.
I don't regret the move, it was a hugely valuable experience and came with some tough lessons in balance!
The city swallowed me whole for a year and a half, during which time my overworked brain made numerous poor and expensive decisions in half-baked attempts to haul the website onto its feet again.

Free tip:
Don't even think about migrating a website unless you actually understand what that means!
I didn't, and I killed my online traffic,stone cold dead, over night. *Pours a large Gin and Tonic*

Let's have a lay down. 

2015 was more of the same.
I realised I was done with London for a little while and the job just had to end for the sake of sanity!

Hands down the best thing I did for Four Little Walls during 2015 was buy a ticket to Blogtacular.
I'd handed in my resignation with the job a few days before and it was just the most perfect antidote.
So many creative, driven people, it really was food for the soul, it completely rebooted the creative bit of my brain.

So, here we are in 2016. Hooray!
(I say we because my parents and friends have endured my doll's house related ramblings for far longer than the last 4 years and without their support this little baby business of mine would never have left my room. Perhaps that mentor had a point about the whole learning to drive thing?!)
As I said earlier, I'm not a resolution maker but I do feel like this year could be a goodie.
As in I feel like I have more a clue about what I'm doing thanks to 48 months of chaos and confusion!

A week into the year and there's been a stock take, customer orders, and a whole lot of planning for the blog, the neglected ugly sister to the fancy, business side of Four Little Walls, high fives all round, let's see what happens next!

A belated happy new year to you and a huge thank you for your support (and reading all the way through that blog post!) so many smooches to you!