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Retro Renovation putz house patterns — transformed to quarter-inch scale doll houses

The artist at home — hi, Kathryn!

Over the past several years, readers have made hundreds (thousands) of tiny cardboard putz houses aka glitter houses aka Christmas villages. Now, Kathryn has taken our putz houses to a whole new level — err, to a whole new size: quarter-inch scale dollhouses.  She’s made an entire 1968 neighborhood of midcentury houses, complete with dolls and cars and just about every itsy bit you can imagine. So creative! Lets’ take a look >> 

vintage-putz-house
Why are these called “Putz” houses — read my research/story here

Kathyrn writes:

Pam,

I have been using the patterns for your Putz houses and making them as quarter-inch scale doll houses. So far I have built 9 of them with the idea that I will create a neighborhood beneath one of the trees in my living room this year. They have interiors and lighting.

It all started with my husband suggesting that since I had retired, that it was time to start to build all the plastic kits I had been buying. I was going to have a downtown area with a train that ran around it.

In looking for things to fill the buildings, I discovered a whole online group of ladies who build in quarter scale. I thought that all doll houses were 1″ scale. 

Above: This is the house that started it out.  I found the plans online and it reminded me of the house that the parents of good friend in college once owned.  It was in Lincoln City, Oregon in an area called Road’s End.  Spent many a weekend and a summer there.  Her parents were wonderful people. We used to joke that if you wanted privacy, better go to the bathroom as it was the only room with a door. It will part of the Christmas display.

When I found your website and blog, I was hooked on the mid century houses. My layout is set in October, 1968.

These are all built out of plastic. I take your (Kate’s) designs and enlarge them to scale and to allow for the scenes.

I have a whole binder with original plans, my adjusted ones and then pictures of the final product.

The furnishings are things I find on eBay, vendors in my online quarter scale doll house group or scratch-built to my designs.

Some things are also from Shapeways.

The scene in this house was from a workshop offered by Desert Minis. I had the mom and daughter already and it just seemed to fit. Mom has a big basket of apples and she is trying to make pies. 

Daughter has all her books and paper dolls spread all over the living room but wants mom to stop and read her a story.

I love to research the houses and add little touches from homes I see locally. 

The gable ends on the cape cod are from some homes close by. 

The rick rack house has glass windows. That took some thought on how to pull it off. The flower planters along the carport are from a house I pass. 

The free standing fireplace in the rick rack house and the beach house was made from bits and pieces of leftovers from my husband’s model train layout. No one makes one, and I really wanted one.

The ribbon icicle box was from a set of reproduction box tops by Tim Holtz. Recognize the house designs? They are about 1/4″ – 1/2: tall and wide. Made those last year.

Also from last year, remember the retro TV that WalMart offered in their Christmas decorations? They have it again this year. Great buy at $9.97. I removed everything but the lights and made a retro Christmas scene to go inside. Same scale as my houses.

 

Pam says: This photo makes me so happy. Note: Kate’s rick rack house pattern comes with its own pattern for a mini Modbox!

This month, I am working on the outdoor Christmas displays for the neighborhood and midcentury mailboxes. The whole neighborhood is really going to get into their decorations.

Thanks for all the inspiration and ideas. Love it.

Kathryn

Oh my word: Email, I tell Kathryn this is all so amazing! She is SO creative. She responds very graciously, and explains, encouragingly:

Thanks for the compliments. I have only been building this stuff for the last couple of years. We won’t talk about my first experiences trying to build a building for DH’s train layout over 30 years ago. It was mostly glue and a little cardboard. DH had to rescue it.  Mostly made quilts before but we can only use so many quilts. 

Thank you, Kathryn, for sharing all these photos, and your ideas — putz houses bigger — and itsy bitsy in the diorama, too! This makes me so happy and I’m sure it will make Katiedoodle happy too! Send me photos when the Christmas lights are up!!!

Mini-ranch-christmas-house
The house that started it all — Kate’s first midcentury modern putz house design.

 

  1. David Crowe says:

    Kathryn, the image of all of the mailboxes got me hook, line, and sinker. They’re perfect house companions. Since you are working in 1/4 inch scale, you have access to a world of automobiles and vehicles in 1/43 scale (I know, 1/4 inch is 1/48 scale, but most O railroaders use 1/43 scale cars). I recognize your Cutlass convertible in one carport. If you are looking for specific cars, I might be able to guide you in the right direction and would be overjoyed to help out in your wonderful neighborhood. I’m looking forward to pics of the fully decorated street at Christmas.

    1. Retroski says:

      Since these are plastic, I think she made some of those furnishings with a 3D printer. You can make the design via a 3D design program, load it into the printer and it “prints” it in plastic layer by layer.

      Some local libraries have a 3D printer patrons can use in their “Maker” labs.

  2. Barbara says:

    Hi Kathryn!
    Would you share where you found the house plans at?
    I’m crazy head-over-heels about the mid-century homes too.
    But floor plans, this is why I bought my first and last house. It was because of how it was laid out.
    Thanks so much!!

  3. Shelley says:

    Wow! I’m (almost) speechless! What beautiful work. I noticed a giant reindeer snout in one picture – it’s so nice to have a helper when doing such fine, detail-oriented work!

  4. Betsy in Michigan says:

    My teen daughter is a third generation miniaturist. We LOVE these exquisite creatiions! Bet you could get them published in the miniature mags (and maybe the model train ones, too!

  5. Kimberly A Taylor says:

    I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. I had a dollhouse as a child and made things out of paper, and polymer clay to supplement the decor of my house. Kathryn’s are the houses of my dreams! So well done.

  6. Wendy Kruger says:

    I never had a doll house as a child, and I still want one. (Is it stupid I got all teary-eyed when I typed that?) I geeked out completely about these! I wish I had crafty abilities—bad eyesight and even poorer coordination—but thanks for posting these. I so admire someone with this talent.

  7. tammyCA says:

    So cool! Really love the teeny houses in the decorations box! Years ago I saw a mini-miniatures display at our library by miniaturists & it was incredible..so tiny & detailed.

  8. Nanette W. says:

    I am about to make my first mid century putz house from your patterns. Im making several for both me and for my sister-in-law who is head over heels in love with the camper fad. I believe I finally found a camper that is the right size to go with these cute little houses, and a toy 1967 pink Mustang. I hope to have the nerve to post pictures when I finish.

    These doll houses are amazing. Actually quite beautiful!

  9. Wink says:

    Kathryn has done such an incredible job with these! I hope she keeps up with it for years to come (and I’d love to see some “manufacturing” photos of her process!)

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