Designing a New Dollhouse

Bungalow DetailsWhat does it take to design a dollhouse?  I am seeing a lot of energy on the new Facebook page “New Design Suggestions for RGT”, with enthusiasm and great ideas for new dollhouses.  You might find it interesting how one of our new designs, the Bungalow, came around.

Timing is everything!  When the daffodils come out and we begin to catch our breath from the holiday season, thoughts turn to “what’s new”.  Often we have an idea, some house that has caught our attention or a neat detail that we’re imagining a way to use. Sometimes though, a builder chooses that exact moment to say “why don’t you make a ….”  Last year, two good friends had the same idea, and made the same suggestion right at the perfect moment.  “Why don’t you make a Bungalow?  My reply was “What a great idea.  What  is it about a Bungalow that makes it appealing – what feature speaks “Bungalow” to you…  what matters the most, and what details would you like to see on a miniature Bungalow?”  Identify the features

We got a great reply!  We got photos, lots of them; and descriptions too with circles and arrows.  We got pictures from the builder’s neighborhood, we got web shots and references, we got a variety of styles and notations on the important features shown on different houses.

the preliminary designThe aesthetic design comes first: choosing just the right pieces – the caricature of the ideal scale model that captures the essence of the design.  Everybody gets into the act, but Jim is the undisputed champ in the group for his ability to put that idea on paper.  His sketches and paste-up blocks out the shape, sets the proportions, and places the features for the first model.drawing the parts

Next comes the preliminary drafting – putting dimensions to the pieces that will make up the first model.  This begins the nitty gritty of actually how the dollhouse will go together and decides how the lines on the paper will turn into pieces with substance.

The First Model always shows something that needs to be changed (on the Bungalow, Testing the partsthe stair hole was moved from the center to the side because it came up into the middle of the Dormer Window space).  The first model is great for taking measurements of angles and overhangs (and for finding the limitations of my memory for trigonometry).

Now we make the actual specifications, the technical drawingsBuilding a Bungalow Model that a production crew uses to make the parts.  The Production Captains will make the fixtures that allow the parts to be made consistently and accurately.  The first group of parts is called the “Short Run” and these parts test the specifications, and give sets to assemble for making the instructions and for figuring out how the house will be packed.

We build one or more houses from the short-run parts Bungalow - make the partsand take photos and notes.  We’ve come a long way from the hand-written instructions of the old days.  Most of the instructions today are made on the computer using page layout and drafting software.  They are easy on the eye, they print with clean lines, and they can be emailed or posted on-line for great customer support!

Only after all these steps is the dollhouse ready for a full Writing instructions for a new dollhouseproduction-run.  By now, we’ve gone through the whole house a number of times, and we’ve probably shown it to a dozen or more critics for comments on size, color, details, everything.  Now it’s ready for the most important critics of all… now it’s ready for you!


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