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 >> 

Why are these called “Putz” houses — read my research/story here

Kathyrn writes:


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.


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!!!

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


  1. Kim says:

    Love these houses. We live in a mid century home and during this past year of quarantine have joyfully constructed the home patterns listed. Have you considered resisting or selling your other patterns….I’d gladly be first in line. Your little creations have saved my sanity during this stressful time. Thank you and Happy Holidays.

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