Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Queenslander - or two ...

While I was in Bathurst two weeks ago, I was able to take photos of some new dolls houses. 
This one is my first made in the style commonly known as a Queenslander - built on stumps, with a verandah on at least one side. The stumps mean that air can flow under the house, and the house itself catches more breezes, being raised. It's also useful in areas that flood.

This one is quite simple - a single storey, with square verandah posts and solid brackets, and large-scale lattice on three sides of the underfloor space. It was made for a little girl who would have been born around 1920 - she is now 95. Unfortunately I don't know her name, but I bought the dolls house from her niece, who lives in an inner north-western suburb of Brisbane. The niece had also played with it as a child, and so did her (the niece's) daughter, so it had remained in one family since it was made. 

The inside is also simple - just three rooms, with solid partitions between them, no doors. It's big - 134 cm long, 63 cm deep, and 88 cm high. (This dolls house is currently stored in a room with many others, and it's so big that I couldn't get far enough back to get the whole length in a shot, so the photos of the front and back of the house are the seller's.)

The front door doesn't open - it currently has an open upper part, but this may have had glass in it originally. As you can see from this photo of the middle room, some repainting has occurred. I haven't really thought about it much yet, but I do rather like the colour on the side wall here - and I wonder if the floor was originally a reddish colour.

This is the room on the right (as you look at it from the back), and as you can see, there is coloured, patterned glass in one window. Perhaps they all originally had glass - I'm glad it remains in one window. The detail of the glass can be seen better from the front of the house - 

The room on the left (from the back) - both end rooms have two windows. 
Here's a view of the ceiling - just simple planks:

I think the lattice and roof have been painted green fairly recently - I'd say the lattice was white at one point, at least on the outside:

Inside, it is still bare wood:

There's quite a large roof space, but it's not accessible.

I look forward to cleaning this house during another trip to Bathurst, and perhaps investigating if there are other paint colours underneath the current ones. I will also think about what larger scale furniture I have from the 1920s and 30s - perhaps the pokerwork set I bought at the Sydney fair might find a home here, and I have some wicker furniture which will probably go on the verandah.

Another new dolls house, which also has some features of the Queenslander style. Lots of houses in Darwin are built like this too, with the main part of the house set high off the ground, and stairs leading up to the back and front doors. In fact, I bought this house in western Sydney - the seller told me that it came to him from a mate of his, whose son had made it while an inmate in Long Bay Jail (a prison at Malabar, 12 km south-east of the city of Sydney). I don't know where the mate or his son were from, or what inspired the son to make a house in this style. I also don't know when it was made, only that the son was in jail for 20 years.

This dolls house is also large, though not quite as big as the one above - but again I'm using some of the seller's photos, as it was difficult for me to get the whole house in shot. I bought it at Easter, and drove with it to Bathurst. I had hired a sedan - larger than my usual car, but almost not big enough! However, we managed to squeeze the base into the back seats, the upper floor into the boot, and the roof came off its hinges and rested on the base! 

The seller, who is a cabinet maker, had repaired and painted the house. It was not originally red and white - he told me that there were symbols of fruit on the outside walls, from the old cases it had been made from. (They might well help to date the house, but I don't know whether it would be worth trying to strip the paint to find them.) 
The balcony on these two sides of the house was originally there - some of the balustrades were missing, and the seller had replaced them. He added the perspex in the double windows - there was just an open space there.

The doors were originally solid - the seller had cut the half-moon shapes into them. However, the posts and braces supporting this end of the balcony are original, he told me.

At the other end of the house is another door. I think this just opened to a small balcony - the seller certainly added the stairs, so there are now stairs to the front and back doors.

The roof is made to lift up on hinges along the back side of the house. As I haven't screwed the hinges back on yet, I was able to take a photo straight down into the upper floor:

The carpet is new, added by the seller. I don't like it, and I plan to remove it (though I'm sure it will leave a sticky mess - I'll probably have to cover it with other carpet or flooring of some kind). The lino in the two small rooms is new too, but I will keep it, I think, for the bathroom and laundry - or bathroom and toilet? not sure.
The wallpapers are unfortunately sticky-back plastic (Contact), but again I'll remove them - and probably also the remains of earlier wallpaper (from the 1960s or 70s?) and take it back to the original pale green paint, I think:

Although this floor lifts off the ground floor, I didn't take it off to take photos. From the outside, the ground floor is accessed by a small door under the stairs to the main balcony (which you can see above), and two large double doors on one side of the house:

as well as another small door on the opposite side of the house:

 With these double doors, could one of these rooms have originally been intended as a garage? The carpet is new here too - and while the upper part of the base is original, a deeper base has been added, with castors on it - which makes moving the house much easier!
Here we can see the unfinished bottom of the hardboard which forms the floor of the upper level:

The walls of this lower level are also made of hardboard - the rough inner surface is still visible under the paint.

In many ways, I would love to have had this house without the new paint, carpet and wallpapers. However, the seller did a much better job than I ever could in repairing the stairs and balcony - and the house does look really good with stairs at the back too. So I'm happy to have acquired it as it now is - although I don't really look forward to removing the carpet and contact! I'm not sure whether I will leave all the doors and window frames painted red - I'll have to think about it. And furnishing it will be a long way down the track, as this house joins a long list of others in Bathurst needing work! I'd still be interested to hear your thoughts on what period I could furnish it in, though.


  1. Hello, Rebecca - It's been so interesting to read about your new houses. I'm especially taken by the Queenslander style; I love the size and the simplicity of this house. It seems so cool and breezy, and the lattice work adds to its spacious character. I like the fresh beach house look of the red and white house, with its stairs and balconies. These are both great finds; I hope you'll eventually be able to learn more of their history. I look forward to seeing what changes you decide to undertake in both of these houses.

    1. Thank you, Marjorie! I have been trying to find out more about Queensland houses of the relevant periods, to help me think about how to furnish and decorate them. When I do make a start on them, I'll be sure to post updates!

  2. Hi Rebecca, I have a Bestoys Cinderella, A-Frame Doll House. When I clean out my shed I will take a photo and send it:-)

    1. Hi Denise, thank you! I would love to see photos! I think they must be quite rare - I've only seen one for sale online since I started looking out for them. Their Bambolina and Laura models are more common.