This is my mid-century modern house--the half-scale Merrimack by Earth & Tree. After the Fairfield, it was a delight to build. The pieces were cut so well I almost didn't even need tape when doing the dry fit. I made almost no changes to the layout, except for one tiny change on the third floor which you'll see later. It doesn't use traditional siding; instead, it uses diagonal and vertical cedar strips and magic stone stencils. Plus, the two halves of the roof are so straight and uncomplicated that shingling was a breeze. 😊 I loved this house for many reasons—I really like mid-century modern, I used my grandparents' home as inspiration for several of the rooms, and I got a chance to spread my wings on scratch building furniture.
If half scale furniture is hard to find (and it is), modern half scale furniture is even harder. Most of the furniture made by higher-end manufacturers like Bespaq and JBM Miniatures has a distinctly Victorian look to it. This meant I was thrown on my own resources even more with this build. I used a variety of sources to furnish it—magnets, that wonderful molded plastic furniture from the Marx tin dollhouses, the few kits I could find, a lot of scratch building, and some 3-D printed pieces.
One option for modern miniature furniture is 3-D printing. Shapeways has hundreds of 1:24 furniture items for sale at reasonable prices. Printing and materials are getting more sophisticated, too. It used to be that items were only available in "versatile" plastic—a white plastic with a grainy texture. The graininess keeps the pieces from looking like real wood or metal (I have never been able to sand things quite smooth enough to suit me), although it can look quite good as fabric once painted. Now items can be printed in a variety of colors and a much smoother texture. I used several 3-D printed pieces in the Merrimack.
What was immensely fun for me in this build, though, was the scratch pieces. I learned I could find a piece of furniture I liked and shrink it down to fit my house. The cost of the 1:1 item didn't matter (and as one user on Greenleaf commented, I can have very expensive taste 😊). My little 1:24 copies cost only a few dollars, if that.
Let's start with the kitchen on the split-level first floor. The stove and dishwasher are Acme magnets. The kitchen cabinets, sink and refrigerator are all kits from MiniEtchers. Shellie made the cabinet to the left of the doors to my specifications. I love the half-round shelves (not to mention how it prevents the homeowners from falling off the edge of the kitchen floor).
I made my own counter top for the base cabinets. It fits over the top of the dishwasher (which was cut down just slightly) for an uninterrupted work surface. I printed out some Skylark (Boomerang) Formica on soft gloss photo paper. The boomerangs are a little large for half scale, but I wanted them to be visible. The percolator, dish washing liquid and cookie jar were just made from beads.
The little dish drainer is made from card stock, with cross-stitch perforated paper for the mat.
I had so much fun filling the kitchen—boxes and jars in the cupboard, magnets and notes on the refrigerator, a retro radio I made from mat board, and a clock made from a bead.
Plus, I received a wonderful real leather purse from Samantha. It now sits on the side counter, next to the homeowner's keys.
The Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs are from Shapeways. The table is set for lunch—macaroni and cheese, my favorite! The mac and cheese casserole was made by Jan Patrie of Autumn Leaf Studios. The dishes on the table and in the corner cupboard are metal miniatures that I painted.
But, of course, we need some veggies, so there is a can of green beans heating on the stove. The teeny, tiny can opener (as well as the flatware on the table and the spatula in the dish drainer) come from a set of etched metal miniatures.
Just off the kitchen are the stairs to the second floor. The plans for the Merrimack show a spiral staircase, but it doesn't come with the kit. I ended up buying one from Shapeways, painting it, and covering the stairs with velvet paper. This one turned out to be a perfect fit.
The dining room table and chairs were scratch built, based on a Heywood-Wakefield set. I got a bit over-enthusiastic when sanding the edges on the first dog-bone chair, but otherwise I think they're a fairly good match. The legs on the table were suggested by Carrie. The original table had these rather bizarre legs that made my miniature version look like a cockroach. The new legs are a big improvement!
Behind the staircase is the foyer, with a light fixture made from a bead cage, stone-look "linoleum," and a scratch-built credenza.
The martinis are also from Autumn Leaf Studios and were picked up by my brother at a miniature show near where he lives.
I received a wonderful aquarium in a half-scale swap, and I have added it to the foyer.
The art over the aquarium is also from a half-scale swap. The plants (rubber tree and heart-leaf philodendron) are from kits by SDK miniatures. If you look very closely in the picture above, you can see a little green frog on the edge of the planter. It is the bullfrog from Mini-Gems. He's meant to be a decorative ceramic frog, not a real one!
The sandstone fireplace (made from egg carton) with floating shelves and end planter was one aspect based directly on my grandparents' home. Here you can see a picture from their living room. Sorry it's not the best. I believe it was taken around Christmas, shortly after they moved in in the mid-50's, and the chairs are squished to the left, probably to accommodate the Christmas tree.
The end planter was not part of the original Merrimack kit, but I wanted one just like my grandparents'. 😊 On the floating shelves, I have a "ceramic" panther (painted charm) and tiny bonsai mud men that I also painted. My grandparents had a Hakata figurine on their shelves, and, after a full year of looking, I was thrilled to find the little bonsai duo to mimic them.
The rug in the living room is, once again, based on a real-life rug, cross-stitched on 28-count Evenweave.
Everything else is the living room (except for the hi-fi, which is a magnet) was scratch built, and includes an Adrian Pearsall boomerang sofa (with casters that really work!)
And a Noguchi coffee table.
The lamp in the far corner works; the three-light lamp does not. Its lights are made from pen tips, which made an incredible, inky mess when I sawed them off. But they look great now!
Upstairs, we start on the right with the utility room. This was such a tiny room, I really couldn't find any other purpose for it, and in some builds I've seen, it's just joined with the room to its left. The dryer is an Acme magnet, the washer is from a Marx tin dollhouse (sadly, not mine), and I made the utility table and ironing board from scratch. Oh, look! Margot is getting ready to vacuum!
Just kidding. I sometimes amused myself by Photo-Shopping a mid-century woman into my pictures. For some reason, I have named the mini occupants of this house Margot and Jim. No idea where those names came from; they just popped into my head. Here is the utility room without Margot.
The laundry basket and "metal" chair came from Shapeways, and the sewing machine is a painted charm. Here I've turned the table sideways so that you can get a better view. It's an old metal topped table, a bit chipped and rusted in places.
I made the little retro canister vacuum cleaner from mat board, beads and ponytail holders.
Next to it is Jim's study. So many of the rooms in the house have a feminine feel to them that Jim really needed a more masculine place to escape to.
His desk is another favorite piece in this build; it's the Kai Christensen kidney desk with built-in bar. It was the first piece of furniture I made for the Merrimack. The drawers don't open, and the proportions on the bar area aren't perfect, but I love it. The office chair is from Shapeways.
The study has a cork floor (remember those?) and another cross-stitched rug.
The wonderful little settee is from a kit by SDK Miniatures (unfortunately, she no longer sells it). The fabulous modern fabric is Prints Charming 17846, which comes in several colorways; the print is so small that it works quite well in miniature, even half-scale miniature. The file cabinet is also from a kit, with industrial staples for the drawer pulls. Here you can see it with a painted metal mini of a model ship; in the picture above, you can see that ship replaced with a beautiful model ship that was a gift from Samantha.
Other scratch pieces in the study include the very simple coffee table and corner end table, as well as the tansu chest.
Like my grandparents, the occupants of the Merrimack are world travelers, and there are National Geographics on the end table, travel brochures on the desk, and a map of the United States on the wall, with pins (microbeads) for all the places they have visited. My grandparents had a similar map in their basement.
And since this is now getting rather long, I'm going to stop with the first half of the tour. Hope you enjoyed it. Until next time!