The Brentwood Dollhouse: How It Started

19 Aug 2022


Meet the Brentwood Dollhouse!  I'm so very excited to announce my newest project, a brand new dollhouse kit designed by me, exclusively manufactured and sold by miniatures.com!  This beautiful 8+ room dollhouse kit is a transitional style and features custom doors, windows, and stairs.  All the things I love in a dollhouse!



Today is the first chapter in the Brentwood Dollhouse series, where I'll share behind the scenes of the creation, the materials I used, and everything related to the finishing of the house. 


-How It Started: the reveal, the inspiration and the initial construction
-Exterior finishing, brick, paint colours, and roof
-Landscaping and the base, static grass, garden
-Interior finishing, DIYs, lighting, and staging


Link to the Brentwood Kit.


I've done 7 collaborative projects with miniatures.com over the years and have always loved working with them, but this has been the most exciting yet.  I feel like they really are doing everything they can to bring the best minis to market and care about their customers. 

My backyard patio collab with miniatures.com



Everything has turned out better than I could have imagined.  I'm so proud of what we did together!

How it started...
Do you remember this dollhouse?  It started off as my dream dollhouse! It was based on a beautiful house in Brentwood, TN.  Transitional style, arches, portico, big rooms, so much space... the list goes on. It was also my first all-from-scratch custom build.  This dollhouse was also MASSIVE, measuring over 50 inches wide.  I realized soon after assembly I really just did not have the physical space to work on it (or the energy to tackle such a big project). So into storage, it went.






Fast forward and I focused on kits and roomboxes for a couple of years.  I finished the Beachside Bungalow kit and started the Victoria's Farmhouse.  I now realize how important assembling a pre-made dollhouse kit can be before you make your own custom house.  You can really get an idea of what you like and what works. 



I decided to kitbash the Victoria's Farmhouse.  I like larger mini spaces, so I added an extra 4.5" inches out the side. Once again I couldn't get the transitional house out of my head so I brought in arches in the interior and exterior.  I changed out 80% of the kit with all new walls, floors, and roof.  That in itself was a learning curve. (And I definitely questioned if it was worth buying the kit at all lol).  I figured out an interior that I liked and got pretty far along before I paused to work on other things.  I found that while I did like the direction of the house, it still needed some work.




A year later when miniatures.com reached out about making a kit I was suddenly given the opportunity to design from scratch again.  I still couldn't get the Brentwood, TN inspiration house out of my head.  Every time I did a Pinterest search it would come up along with other similar houses in the neighbourhood.  Transitional all brick is just a style I love. Based off of my previous dollhouse building experience I knew I had a specific set of must-haves for my kit:


-front porch to decorate seasonally
-closet
-double door (again for wreaths!)
-big windows with lot of natural light 
-easy access to film and photograph
-lots of rooms!  I feel like if you are going to have one big dollhouse you want it to have space for everything you've been dreaming of like an office, and a laundry room
-strong construction, with 3/8" thick walls


I originally wanted a unique stair placement.  I created several sketches, but a lot of my ideas made the house too big:


So in the end I decided that this dollhouse would be the perfect little sister to the Transitional Mansion.  I took out the fireplace column to make the build smaller.




I also added the second smaller gable roof to change up the front elevation and moved the bump out to the side and made it even bigger (it was my favourite part of the VF kit bash for accessibility).



I then moved to 3D modelling on my computer.  Digital modelling was a game changer for me.  All the measurements became exact and perfect. 





Of course, it's tough to tell what something will look like on a screen vs in real life.  My 3d design seemed very Tutor style for a long time with the roof angles (see above).  So in December I went to my local craft store and got giant sheets 48x96" of foam board.  Foam board is great because it's easy to make cuts and add or subtract.







The original design featured a single door and 9" ceilings throughout.  I debated the placement of the kitchen but knew either way that the window beside the door should allow for a kitchen counter to fit underneath.





Most of the arranging came down to figuring out the 3rd level stair landing and the closet I so very badly wanted.  But the stairs had to make sense coming up (and I decided if people want to kit bash and are okay with a faux stair landing they can do it themselves).









The exterior:


If you look closely above you can see how the above image has added foam board on levels 1 and 2 to increase the floor-to-ceiling height from 9" to 10"

Originally, the portico would come in front of the main gable like my Transitional mansion did.  However, I liked the idea of the portico being optional which changed the placement of the front door.




Here is the final portico and front placement.

One of the most exciting things during the design phase was learning the Brentwood kit would be getting custom doors!  I had always wanted a double exterior door in mini with windows.  (You might remember I bashed one for my Bungalow dollhouse.)  The one for the Brentwood is beautiful with 6 pane windows and a bottom panel with layered trim.  


The two-panel style has always been a favourite of mine for interior doors, I think they fit most interiors and can really be dressed up or down.  And to have it in a double-door style for a closet too is so fun!

To begin I started with a line drawing of both the doors to see how they would look in the kit. 




Then I laser cut some prototypes at home.  The exterior door is made 7.5" tall (like several other dollhouse exterior doors) and it really makes a statement.

For all the styles, the trim includes a small raised outer edge to add some interest.





I was so pleased when I saw the final designs!



The other custom item for the house was the stairs.  I knew I wanted a modern railing.  And after some test cuts came up with a style that reminds me of those black iron railings.  





The windows:  These are the exact style I use in all my projects.  They are a sandwich style. With two exterior frames, two sets of inner muntins, and then one sheet of 1/8" plexi.  I love how they look and let in so much light, you get really great shadows from the bars in the muntins.



A month or two later and several prototypes were assembled down in Atlanta at the miniatures.com studio by Matt.  I learned so much during this process and I would never have gotten the kit done without him.  Throughout, everyone I worked with at miniatures.com was really focused on making sure the customer had the best experience putting together the kit.  And I think that it shows.  Everything has a groove or a slot to go in.




I also assembled protype at home.



Here is the final interior layout of the house!  I made sure to keep my kitbasher heart happy, and so there are a couple of customizations that can be done when building.  1) The 1st level stairs have the option to be open underneath if you choose.  2) You can divide the largest 2nd level room into 2 (I purposely added a nice 3/8" mdf wall to separate, and added two doors).  3) You can also change up the 3rd level floor plan by swapping the walls so the closet is either in the room with the stairs or without. 


And for someone who really likes to kitbash, you could change that closet area into a full view walk in by moving the double doors to open up into the bedroom.  Or move the closet down a level into one of the 2nd level rooms (that would require cutting the closet wall by 1"). Both are small changes to the kit.







Thank you for reading! I'll be back with the exterior finishing next week.  I'd love to know what you think of the house!  For real-time updates follow me on IG stories, I'm about to start the interior.

Comments

  1. Wow, Kristine! I love this house! I love the double doors on the front, (I have double doors on the front of my house.) I love the closet, since I've acquired some awesome outfits and have nowhere to display them currently. This is such an attractive house! Can't wait to watch you as you work on the inside.

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    1. Thank you! I don't know who you are but thank you! I can't wait to do the interior. I'll be doing that in Sept. (Although the blog will likely be behind a month). I'm really excited to put everything in and stage it!

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  2. Such fun reading this post to get the big picture of your development process. While I still have a dear place in my heart for your transitional house, I certainly understand space constraints. I think you’ve done a fine job with this Brentwood. It’s got spacious rooms and just the right number. The style is unique and interesting without being “old fashioned.” It’s fresh and contemporary. Such an achievement for you. I look forward to future posts with more details.

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    1. Thank you! While I loved that house, I know it will never get finished. And I like to think the Brentwood takes all the best parts (although I do love the fireplace chimney on the front, I really wanted that here somewhere but it didn't work out). I'm so glad you like this new build and the space inside it. I can't wait to get to the interior next.

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  3. I am so excited for this kit to arrive. It's so beautiful and I know what you mean about the huge house being so much that it'll never be finished. But man's reach must exceed his grasp or what's a heaven for.
    I can't wait to see how you finish the interior.

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    1. Thanks Sheila! Haha it's true, I had big mini dreams for it! But I think the Brentwood takes so many of the good parts I'm happy to walk away from it. I'm so excited to see what you do with yours! :D I'm looking forward to doing the interior and coming up with ways to fit everything in I that want!

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  4. Such a wonderful house, my favorite house has always been the Beacon Hill…but now I’ve found a new favorite. I’ve ordered mine and I am super excited to get started. L Jeffers

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  5. What a fantastic house, and what a great idea to be able to get it as a kit. I love the porch and the double door, the closet, and the stairs with the modern railing. Also the rooms are big which isn't often the case in dollhouses. I'm looking forward to seeing your next posts.
    Geneviève

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  6. ¡Una bonita colección!. Tienen todas una preciosa estructura. Me encantará ver el final de tu nuevo proyecto.

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