Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Book Review


For my first book review I have chosen two books by Brian Nickolls; Making Dolls' Houses and Making Character Dolls' House, Both published by David and Charles. My reason for choosing these books first is that there are the books that all three of my dolls' houses were based on plans taken from them. If you have a keen eye, you will probably notice the houses I have built on the covers of the two books.

Making Doll's Houses contains the plans for the Tudor building, David's father built a copy of this house, and later I furnished the inside as a 1930's shop.

The second book, Making Character Dolls' Houses, was where I got the plans for my Georgian House and The Swan Inn.

The books both contain detailed plans, and written paragraphs telling you how to complete each house, step by step. And there are pictures of the completed projects on most pages too, which helped me to visualise how it would all look when I had finished.

Building a dolls house following plans from a book has plusses and minuses; on the plus side, you can adapt and change things, you have all the measurements required along with the correct shapes the pieces that make up the dolls house should be, and a fairly useful guide to what has to be done, and how to do it. The minuses are that you have to measure and cut each piece (though commercially made doors and windows could be used instead and plans adapted accordingly), some of the instructions aren't so clear as they could be to a novice builder like me, and some of the projects require a level of carpentry skills that may surprise you (for example the Georgian House pillars and balustrades need to be turned on a lathe).

One thing I would strongly advise you to do is check the measurements and plans well before cutting, on the Georgian House  I routed out a groove in the base of the house, following the plan, only to find that the position of the groove was wrong, and should have been 9mm further forward, fortunately I spotted this before assembling the dolls house. The plans for the Swan Inn project also had a mistake in the position of the smallest window on the first floor.

Despite these small errors, both books give a wide variety of projects, and cater to newbies and experienced house builders alike. The projects are presented well, and are fairly easy to follow for the most part.

I would recommend these books to anyone thinking of building a dolls house from scratch. If you already have a kit house to build, these books won't be much use, though do give some useful tips on construction and tools required. They might also provide inspiration for current and future projects.

I believe that these books are now out of print, but many second hand copies are on sale. There are both hardback and paperback versions of these books available.

I hope you enjoy these books if you find them!


  1. I'd love to get my hands on these books --too bad they're no longer in print. Good thing you were able to catch the glitches in the plans --that seems to happen a lot-- but it can sure be frustrating.

  2. Andy, thank you for the review of both books, they are unknown for me. The Tudor house seems very beautiful, so you have one like this? I have seen The Swan Inn, but I can't remember I have seen the outside of this dollhouse on your blog, I am sorry.
    I don't have books about building/decorating a dollhouse, except one. I also built my own canal house, the "only" thing that has to happen is furnishing the interior :D!
    Hugs, Ilona

  3. ¡Hola Andy!

    Tengo ambos libros y reconozco que son una maravilla. Aprendí muchísimo y siempre son un referente para consultar muchas dudas. Los recomiendo a cualquier aficionado a las casas de muñecas.

    ¡Un abrazo enorme!

  4. Hi Andy,

    I can certainly see where the similarities are with all you houses!

    I don't have any books on Dollhouses either so this is very helpful. I do intend getting some as I would like to make my own next time. Given the speed I work in there is no great hurry....; )

    @ John...I often see lots of second had DH books on Ebay so if your keen you could keep a watch out for them, I know I will be.

  5. Hi Andy! This is an excellent idea... reviewing books... so I won't have to buy and read EVERY Book out there! Lol! Seriously, though... now I am tempted to get these just to try building from someone's design.... although I am sure I would be tempted to change things! Your houses are so lovely, they are a recommendation for these books in themselves! Besides, these plans are for Houses you can't get in kits anyway. But wait... I already have too many houses started..... But I can Dream, can't I?

  6. Hi Andy!
    Thanks for the reviews, I don't plan on making a house myself, but then again, I changed my mind so often on about everything, I can't exclude I'll change my mind in the future :D.
    Also thanks for pointing out what the books flaws are,great, always better to be prepared!

    I have a book on making a dh, furnishings and all, long out of print, but I keep it for my kid. Or maybe I'll make it for a child of my kids, someday.
    You never know.

    I too recognize your buildings, cool!


  7. I may have to get those books when I'm ready to build an English-style house! I scratch-built my French house with "Le Grand Livre de la Maison Miniature" and my next build will be based on plans for a real-life house.

  8. Hello Andy,
    thank you for the great book review. It is so hard to know which books are worth buying. I wish I would of had a few more books on scratch dollhouse building before I started my project.
    Have a great day my friend.
    Big hug,

  9. I did not know these books, Andy. Thanks for your review, it's very handy!

  10. Hello Andy,

    I love the book review idea. You picked two terrific books to review. I have both of them and even if you are not building one of the houses, you can get great ideas. Sometimes I read them just for the fun of it (and to learn). I also found that some of the written instructions went right over my head, but the secret is to keep re-reading!


  11. One of these books, not sure which one right now, was the first book I ever saw on 1:12 scale many years ago and started my quest on finding out more about this wonderful art.

  12. Excellent book review Andy and good of you to take the time to do this.

  13. Hi everyone,

    sorry for not writing a reply individually, but I am trying to take some pictures for my blog, and am short on time.

    Thanks for all your lovely comments, pleased you enjoyed this little book review, still plenty of books left to go!!!

    Ilona, I posted a few pictures of the Tudor house some time ago, I think there were some exterior shots. I'll try and find them again and repost at some point.

    Good to see you are back Iris!!

    John/Fi et al, these two books crop up frequently on ebay and Amazon, as well as second hand book shops (which are always nicer to browse in!!)

    Now where's that camera...?

    Hugs Andy xxxx

  14. Interesante entrada. Buscaré el libro. Gracias por recomendarlo seguro que será interesante leerlo. Besos

  15. I bought the making character doll's houses book, Amazon had hard and soft cover, I decided on the $2.66 hardcover which they had several of

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    I bought the how to build character dolls' houses hardcover book for $2.66 on Amazon, they had a bunch of them hard and softcover, youre review and all looked good.