Die 70er Jahre roten Puppenhaus

(According to BK, the title says “The Red Dollhouse [from the 1970s]”. No wonder I ended up taking French in high school! This makes no sense to me at all!!!)

After gaping drooling taking inventory of my newest vintage acquirement (did I use that correctly? Hope so) – and after sleeping poorly during the night because I couldn’t stop coughing – I pretty much knew what I need to do in the next couple of days.

That’s right folks – das roten Puppenhaus (as BK suggested I use if I want to use German) is gonna get a cleaning. At least to give me an idea of the overall condition of the house. Plus, it felt like I was kicking up a cloud of dust when it was being unpacked last night.

To begin, I started with the furniture. And in true fashion….this village idiot forgot to take pictures until near the end. But hopefully the following paragraphs will give an idea of what I did.

Batch 1 cleaned and drying...

Batch 1 cleaned and drying…

For starters, I split up the furniture into two groups. Batch 01 consisted of furniture that was entirely made of plastic. Or in the case of the living room chairs – majority of the parts were plastic and the rest was something that I could salvage somewhat easily. The second group (Batch 02) were furniture that had something that I absolutely must not allow to get wet. An example would be the master bedroom’s white wardrobe – the front and sides are plastic, but the back uses some kind of particleboard. Which I was afraid would fall apart if it ever comes to contact to water….

With the furniture split into the groups, I began to work on Batch 01. In terms of materials, I tried to use just warm water, some dish washing soap, and paper towels (yay for my grocery store having a crazy sale on these – I loaded up big time). But the dust was so thick, it seemed like I was simply wiping the topmost layer and pressing the bottom layer into the plastic.

So as a solution, I mix a small amount of baking soda, dish soap, and warm water to make a paste. Then with some paper towels, cotton swaps, and a nail brush I got at the dollar store (these suckers are really useful), I started to rub a little bit of the paste. And it worked like charm!I was pretty happy to see the dust/grime get scrubbed off.

Once all the pieces were rubbed down, all (except the living room chairs) got dunked into a bowl of warm water to rinse the baking soda paste, and rubbed down with an old towel. Then I used one of my dish drying mats to set them all down to air dry.

In the case of the living room chairs….since I didn’t want to soak the fabric, I just used a wet paper towel and slowly wiped off the baking soda/soap paste off the plastic as much as possible. I ended up cutting up a new kitchen sponge and using that instead (was going through my paper towels quickly). 😦

I did notice that the drawers had a bit of a musty scent to them. I ended up tossing them back into a plastic bin, filling it up with warm water, and tossing a bunch of denture cleaning tablets in it. Once the fizziness disspiated, I rinsed the pieces and air-dried them once. No more funky smells.

(Got this tip from a coworker actually – but it was more on how to remove the food smells you notice after cleaning your tupperware containers…)

dasRotenHaus-02

Woot! Nice and clean!

I did the same with Batch 02, except I didn’t soak/rinse anything under water. I had to painstakingly wipe each piece down of the cleaning paste before letting them air-dry.

Once the furniture was done and drying on top of my stove and counter, I turned my attention to the house itself. At first, I thought a quick wipe down with some damp paper towels would do the trick. But I had more leftover baking soda/soap paste, so I figured why not try it on the dollhouse floors. Especially since whoever built it, used contact paper for the flooring and walls.

I’m not gonna lie, I was partly horrified/fascinated when I tried the cleaning paste on the hallway/staircase area first.

Well this was totally unexpected.

Well this was totally unexpected.

I thought the darkish brown floor was the color of the contact paper. Not contact paper + god knows how many years of accumulated dust  and grime.

With a long sigh, I donned a new face mask and starting cleaning. I used a damp paper towel to apply/lightly scrub the cleaning paste on the floors. Then used a dampened kitchen sponge to wipe away the residue until the floors didn’t feel gritty to the touch. Think this took about a good 2 hours…but all the floors are now clean.

Man...yeah, TOTALLY unexpected.

Man…yeah, TOTALLY unexpected.

As for the walls and ceiling, I did do a wipe down with damp paper towels (then followed with a wipe down with dry ones). I’m a little nervous about the walls because actual wallpaper was used. And there was a little part of me that was worried about damaging them. Which would mean figuring out how to replace the wallpaper. Not like I can find exact matches at my local stores and what not. 😦

The good news though is that it looks like the first floor walls are okay. I might need to trim or reglue any corners that are not sticking to the walls. But that’s not a big deal. The upper bedrooms however, were pretty grimy. And the wirings for the lights are so damaged, I’m starting to consider removing them and opting not attempting to restore them.

Anyone have any advice on vintage dollhouses? Should I look at replacing wallpaper and possibly flooring? Or just leave it as is, torn wallpaper and all? Given this is my first “vintage” dollhouse, I’m seriously torn.

 

Deutschland Goodies (Part III)

Finally! I can write about the last item from my delivery last week. And I had to save the best for last.

In all honesty, I actually found this on Aparello.de – which I guess I can best describe as an online antiques/vintage store that’s based in Germany. I found it by accident during my search for German mid-century mod miniatures, and upon finding this item, explored the site some more….and found the two sets I mentioned in Part I and II. But seriously, even if the other sets didn’t exist…I still would have found a way to bring this home.

After talking with BK about this (he was totally game with it thank god), I initially tried to purchase them through the Aparello website – but for some reason, it wouldn’t allow me to complete the transaction. I was so close to giving up until BK suggested that perhaps the vendor is selling the same merchandise on eBay. That was such a brilliant idea – becuase it turned out the seller not only had listings on eBay…but he was also selling all three miniatures. And even better – I had the option to submit a best offer!

Not sure about you all, but apparently the mini gods decided to smile benevolently on this village idiot.  Because I did put my offer on each item, and they were accepted a few hours later. [imagines a huge yellow arrow pointing above her head going “AW YEAH!”]

Now if anyone (at least those in the United States) is thinking of hunting for miniatures in Germany for the first time, I’ll pass on the following advice:

  • Keep an eye on the currency exchange rates.  When I bought my items, the exchange rate was 1 USD = 0.901 EUR.  If it had been the other way around…I would have been forced to walk away from these goodies because it’d be just too darn pricey.
  • Be prepared to not just possibly pay alot for shipping but also expect to pay for the VAT (value added tax). And customs fees.
  • And be prepared to wait for a bit. Found out that my shipment arrived almost a week late because my shipment stayed in a warehouse in Frankfurt before it was shipped to New Jersey (as port of entry) and handed to the US Postal Service for delivery.
  • If you don’t know German…use a good translator. Or in my case, bribe my husband to read and translate German for you. And use Google translate on days he’s too busy/annoyed to help.  Now I owe him several dinners at his favorite Thai restaurant. 😀

Okay, I’ve rambled enough….let’s get to the finale yes?

So the last item was pretty big….well, it was large enough to begin with. But the vendor made it even bigger thanks to the…I dunno, several yards worth of bubble tape and shipping tape used to wrap this mysterious beauty. I tried to be careful but after 10 minutes for frustration, BK saved the day by procuring some scissors and cutting at some strategic locations.

Once the wrappings were removed, BK and I moved the item to our dining room table, where he left me alone to gape (and drool) at what’s to come. Prolly a good idea too – because once the wrappings were removed, I started coughing at the amount of dust that was disturbed. I ended up going upstairs to get a face mask before resuming.

After removing the bubble wraps...this is what I was presented with.

After removing the bubble wraps…this is what I was presented with.

After removing the papers, more of the mystery item was revealed. Wow, the vendor did a really AWESOME job packing it.

GermanGoodies-21

Left side exterior. Check out the huge windows!

Left side exterior. Check out the huge windows!

Exterior right side view.

Exterior right side view.

Am sure you guessed what it is at this point. This is actually a handmade dollhouse that was made sometime in the 1970s. But the sweet part about this house? The vendor was selling not just the dollhouse, but all of its contents. And I mean EVERYTHING.

But before I could show you the contents, I pulled out the wrapped items because I wanted a closer look of the house. The vendor provided pics in the original eBay listing which were lovely and all. But it’s definitely different seeing it as the new owner…

GermanGoodies-23

Overall view of the rooms.

We’ll start with the living room….I was surprised that the wallpaper was still intact. And the curtains were still in almost perfect condition.

GermanGoodies-24

View of living room.

Moving onto the next room – the kitchen. I didn’t realize how small the doors were….and how they were framed with red electrical tape! Similar to the living room, it looks like the ceilings were covered with some kind of white vinyl contact paper….I might have to look at either trimming the loose edges or possibly stripping that off and replacing it. (still mulling)

The kitchen.

The kitchen.

As weird as this sounds…this room captivates me. Not sure if it’s the wooden stairs, of the flower pots glued on the window sill….or the yellow wall lamp and plug on the wall. I’m gonna have to figure out if these light fixtures are working! *crosses fingers*

The hallway/stairs leading to the second floor.

The hallway/stairs leading to the second floor.

The second floor was set to display two bedrooms. The first room is pretty huge. Sadly, I was bummed to find out that the wires for the wall lamp on the far right wall was cut. Hopefully I can figure out a way to rewire it.

The second bedroom’s ceiling light was in just as bad a shape. You can see whoever installed the lighting used strips of white contact paper to hide the wire leading to the wall….which was also torn in half along the wall. Looks like I got some seriously pondering to do in terms of fixing this…. 😦

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #2.

Bedroom #2.

With the rooms inspected, I started the long but ridiculously fun process of unwrapping the contents of the house and putting them inside my newly acquired property. Huh, guess there’s a color them going on here….

Das rote haus (I think that's right)...

Das rote haus (I think that’s right)…

The (furnished) living room

The (furnished) living room

GermanGoodies-31

The kitchen.

The kitchen.

View of the kitchen units. Check out the pattern on the table!

View of the kitchen units. Check out the pattern on the table!

Once I started placing the furnishings for the bedrooms…I was wondering why the white parts were looking gray and dingy. Only to realize that all the furnishings were covered with a thin layer of dust. And my fat-ass sausage-like alien-shaped clumsy fingers were smearing them everywhere! 😦

(To do list #1: Clean the miniatures alongside the Modella and Crailsheimer sets)

The children's room.

The children’s room.

(To do list #2: make mattress and new bedding. The “bedding” the pieces came with….smelled really funky. Enough to make me not want to find out what it is)

The master bedroom. Need to figure out a better configuration.

The master bedroom. Need to figure out a better configuration.

GermanGoodies-36

In my excitement, I forgot to take pics of the accessories that came with the furnishings. It was actually funny opening up drawers and doors and having mini cups, lamps, pots and pans, etc., spill out onto my dining table. Or in most cases, on my lap. And like the furnishings, they were all dusty.

(Update on to-do list #1: clean up LOTS of vintage minis)

And of course…what’s an apparently loved and cherished puppenhaus (or puppenstube) would be without its miniature occupants?

The dollies of das rote haus.

The dollies of das rote haus.

If I’m right, the mother and father (and the baby on the far right) are Caco dolls from Germany. The other dolls I’m sure of, but I did find them wrapped with the children’s bedroom set.

Close up of the kiddie dolls.

Close up of the kiddie dolls.

While the children dolls look like they’re in good condition (they’ll need a good dusting/washing I think), the Caco dolls were in not so good shape…

Uh-oh.

Uh-oh.

I’m gonna throw this out there to my dear readers: anyone interested in giving these dolls a home and possibly a makeover? The father and mother doll’s necks look like they’ll break at any second, and the father doll’s head/neck is completely seperated from the body.

I was tempted to borrow a soldering iron to maybe connect the head/neck to the body (since they have a wire skeleton inside). But I’m worried that even the slightest bend will cause them to seperate once again. So again, if anyone thinks they can fix these dolls, let me know and they’re all yours.

That’s it for now. I have to think of a name for this vintage beauty. And I got a pile of minis to clean in the next few days. And prolly cough my lungs out from all the dust.  But hey, totally worth it yo!

Deutschland Goodies (Part II)

High from the excitement of inspecting my vintage Modella sitting room set, I did go back and pulled the next item I could reach inside the large shipping box. Plus, I know the darn shipping box was occupying space in our living room. I’m sure BK is gonna be so relieved once I get the contents out and he can break down the boxes for recyling (laughs).

Speaking of BK…apparently he said I looked like this when I was rooting around the shipping box (see this link). Granted, I laughed….but I will exact vengeance later tonight at dinner time. Brussel sprouts are on the menu, and I know there will be wailing and lamentations when he sees his plate.

Since we covered the introductions from the last post, let’s cut to the chase and scope out item #2!

German miniature goodie #2 - aw yiss!

German miniature goodie #2 – aw yiss!

As you can see in the photo above, this set was manufactured by a German company named Crailsheimer. I actually found about this company by accident in December when I purchased (as a holiday gift) a vintage living room set by this same company. I’ll write about this set (and another Modella set) at another post, but it basically  reinforced my search to collect vintage German miniatures. So when I found this set online, I knew I had to have it.

(Yeah, I’ve pretty much kissed my tax refund goodbye from this purchase…along with other things. But that’ll be told later. Prolly much, much later *shifty eye action*)

Okay, rambling once again….let’s dive in shall we?

Contents of the Crailsheimer set.

Contents of the Crailsheimer set.

Given my grasp of German is pretty much a despondent zero, and BK admitted his command of the language is basic at best (hey, better than your crazy wife imho), the box didn’t exactly indicate what was inside of it. I’m hoping back then, you had a chance to open the package to see what’s inside before you buy it. Luckily, the seller described the contents so I knew what I was getting….and man, this is a really gorgeous bedroom set!

Close up of the twin beds.

Close up of the twin beds.

Like the Modella set, this bedroom set is also made of plastic with “wood” panels made of contact paper, and plexiglass “glass” tops. While the box was in better condition (as in it was held together by a rubber band….and sans prayers apparently), it did jack to protect the pieces from this weird layer of dust that caked everything. I had to do a quick wipe down of the pieces with some damp paper towels before taking pics.

(Itinerary for the weekend: clean these pieces apparently)

Another view of the beds.

Another view of the beds.

I took this photo because the first shot didn’t exactly show off the “glass” top of the nighstands. Man, is it possible to have this in real life size? This would look really awesome for a guest room or something.

Other pieces in the Crailsheimer bedroom set: 2 wardrobes and a dressing table..?

Other pieces in the Crailsheimer bedroom set: 2 wardrobes and a dressing table..?

The next pieces in the set are a pair of wardrobes and what I’m guessing to be a dressing table. BK and I are currently in disagreement about what it is. My dear husband thinks it’s a desk. However I’m adamant it’s a dressing table since the set has what looks like a stool (which I didn’t take a pic – sorry, laziness took over I guess). Either, way, they all look gorgeous. Sadly, you can see the wardrobe on the left is missing a handle on the right side door. The seller indicated that this was missing, and sadly, he was right since I checked the box to see if perhaps it’s still in the box.

Extras in the set.

Extras in the set.

Alongside the main pieces, the box did have some extras to it. In the photo above, you can see there’s two sets of bedding which I’m assuming was supposed to be part of the set. Am not gonna lie….I didn’t like them one bit. Mostly because instead of fabric, the bedding has this weird plasticky feel to it. To be honest, it reminds me of the crib mats. Or those plastic sheeting you use to cover a child’s bed to prevent nightly accidents. Kinda creeped the bejesus out of me for some reason. I won’t toss them away mind you. I’ll store them lest someone wants them (just lemme know).

The remaining pieces look like whoever owned the set tossed them in for good measure. One appears to be a green “glass” table lap – the plug is in great condition, but when I peeked inside the shade, there’s no bulb. (insert long sigh here) And lastly, the plastic baby doll….kinda freaked me out as well. But not to the same extent as the more bizarre plastic bedding sets.  Seriously, if someone wants these do let me know. So long as I don’t think about them, maybe I won’t shudder as much huh?

Huh….am now down to one item in the shipping box. Is it bad that I’m starting to feel sad that I’m reaching the end of my goodie box? But hopefully, once I pull this last item out, it’ll be worth the wait for you all. 🙂

 

Deutschland Goodies (Part I)

Yes, I’ve been an absolutely terrible blog writer. I was hoping 2016 would give me a break after enduring the various fiascos that peppered 2015. But apparently, that wasn’t in the cards at all. Work was demanding more of my time, which meant whatever free time I had, I really had to choose between spending quality time with BK, family and friends.

In short, adulting just freaking sucks. Granted, being an adult has its perks. But man, what does it take to win the lotto so we can do what really makes happy right?

Anyhoo, I refuse to stay in the ranting/venting/gnashing of teeth. This is a miniature blog, and I know you (my dear reader), want to peruse the goodies. And in the case of the title, I DO want to share my victorious finds in the most unlikely of places.

While I love dabbling with modern miniatures, around October 2015 I started to look into the more vintage mid-century miniatures. I started checking out the site Dolls’ Houses Past & Present to get an idea of what was in the market during the 1950s-70s. I had heard of companies like Bodo Hennig (which I recalled took alot of begging to my parents to purchase a metal cook stove for my first house. I still have that stove under lock and key). But soon, I found that there were manufacturers like Crailsheimer, Qualitats, and Modella that produced mid-century style dollhouse furniture.

Curious as hell, I started doing random online searches. And lucky me, BK took German in high school and college, so he gave me some terms to use like “puppenhaus” or what I found out later, “puppenstube”.  And yes, I will confess, I used Google translate ALOT.

Eventually, I found (and after much negotiation with BK) and bought a couple of miniatures from eBay. And after almost three weeks of waiting…the package arrived. And holy crap, was it a huge box!

Uh, this was unexpected...

Uh, this was unexpected…

Apparently it required BK and our local postal delivery dude (thanks Mr. B!) to bring it inside the house. The freaking box was almost up to my neck when I saw it after coming home from the office.

Later that night, BK helped me open the top of the box….and quickly stepped back as I almost pounced inside to start pulling out contents. All of these items I got from the same seller, and the descriptions did warn me that the packages were gonna be in poor/crappy condition. But hey, that’s a fair trade so long as the contents inside are in great condition.

First item!

First item!

The first item – yeah, the seller wasn’t kidding about the package. I think the box was being held together by a single rubber band (and probably a bunch of prayers).

However, once I removed the band and lifted the lid, I gave the first (of many) happy squeals.

Woot! Crappy condition of box + awesome contents inside = totally worth it.

Woot! Crappy condition of box + awesome contents inside = totally worth it.

The first box (by Modella) contained what the listing described as a “sitting room set” – a credenza with sliding doors, a pair of side tables, a coffee table, a sideboard with a yellow “glass” sliding upper cabinet, and four arm chairs.

GermanGoodies-04

The pieces I was most concerned about were the armchairs. Given that all the pieces in the set are made of plastic, I was worried if the chair frames had snapped during shipment. To my relief, each one was perfectly intact. Sadly, the “seating” components were long since gone or intentionally removed. But I guess this just means I have to work on putting new cushions and fabric right? 🙂

GermanGoodies-05

Because the box contents weren’t exactly in place, I seriously got surprised to find accessories hidden under the tables when I pulled them out of the box. The radio and alarm clock were in perfect (albeit dusty) condition. BK and I however got a good giggle when we saw the rotary phone….and mused how we probably would be clueless on how to use them.

GermanGoodies-06

The storage pieces of the living room set. And yeap, that’s ARC III in the back!

The final two pieces (the credenza and the sideboard/upper cabinet set) are gorgeous. Despite being dusty inside and out, everything was intact and working. The handles were a little loose, but hopefully a pair of tweezers and some glue might help reinforce things.

Oh man…one set down, two more to unopen. Stay tuned for Part II – I need to go back to the big box o’ mystery goodies and pull out the next vintage miniature goodie from Germany!