The Orchid is my second Greenleaf house. My first was the Westville. When I finished work on the Westville, I didn’t plan to take on another Greenleaf kit. I find them an exercise in frustration. I hesitate to use the word impossible, but I’m going to say it anyway: it’s impossible to achieve crisp, clean finished edges, and the slot and tab pieces are notoriously imprecise.
Nevertheless, I bought a second Greenleaf kit specifically for my latest project, the “Trash House,” due to its size and relatively low price point, $39.99. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am challenging myself to finish the interior of the Orchid (wallpapers, furnishings, appliances, textiles) exclusively with objects found on the ground in the course of my walks, and with a handful of architectural trims, paints, and stains that I have on hand from previous projects.
As I’ve begun construction, all of the elements that I disliked about that first kit have come flooding back. I thought with experience, I knew the pitfalls and could avoid them. I started with the windows, taking extra time to sand down the edges and then fill them in with wood putty. But even with my most “careful” work, and I use the term loosely, because, me, the edges remained crusty and the paint rough. And that was the extent of my patience. (Do you see why I don’t have children?) Rather than trying to be even more precise with the next pieces, I went in the other direction, an express-o sanding job and then wheeee, on my way.
The house did meet my expectations in terms of size. It appears small, but that is deceptive; Greenleaf does a great job with space. The kitchen has a garden window, and the upstairs bedroom has a fairly massive bumped-out window seat. I am making the downstairs one large space (the ever-popular “open concept”), and splitting the upstairs into a bedroom, bathroom, and hall. Splitting the floor three ways makes for some spaces that are a little tighter than I’d hoped, but not unreasonable by dollhouse standards.
The one area in which Greenleaf kits shine is detail. They have some of the prettiest design elements of any house on the market, but you “pay” for it. Not in the cost of the homes, which are pretty reasonable, but in punching out the pieces and then sanding/filling the detailed cuts. There’s invariably a broken piece or two, or else you can’t reach the swirls and loops to sand, at least with “standard” tools. I was so frustrated with this on the Westville that I ended up setting aside a ton of pieces and then just designing/cutting my own. However, because the primary focus of this house is the challenge involved, I’m not really trying to make it a “saver.” I’m going to use what is included in the kit, maybe leave off some of the gingerbread, and just let it be it’s roughly finished self. And besides, perfection is highly overrated.
One difference between the Westville and this kit is the Orchid includes shingles. Since shingles can run upwards of $20 for a medium-sized roof, buying them separately can raise the cost of a modestly-priced dollhouse pretty quickly. Although, at first glance, I can see the catch is the “free” shingles are paper thin. They came in sheets. You have to break them off in rows, then further split the individual pieces. I’ll let you know how this works. Based on my first impression, I’m not hopeful.
So, that’s Greenleaf’s Orchid. I’m going to give construction my best shot. But in the end, this is the Trash House. It’s likely going to end up being that one ugly house in your beautiful neighborhood. You know the one. You might live next to it. But maybe the owners are nice.