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Fantasy Villa – Woodcraft Construction Kit

April 17, 2014

If you’ve found your way to this page in the vastness of the internet, chances are good that you just opened the Fantasy Villa Woodcraft Construction Kit and had the “Balls, what have I gotten myself into” moment.

I’m not going to lie, this isn’t a simple kit to make. If you wouldn’t describe yourself as having an abundance of patience then it probably isn’t for you at all, however having said that, the end result is beautiful and well worth the effort you’re willing to put into it.

Below I’ve included the completed photos (from all angles) of my daughter’s finished dollhouse as well as all of the tips I can think of to pass onto anyone who would like some advice. 

The first thing I’ll say about the included instructions for the kit is that they’re not entirely accurate. The photos provided on the box of the finished house are also incorrect in a number of ways. For example, they leave out loads of the trim pieces and it’s just occurred to me that the hole on the chimney piece doesn’t make any sense as a window as it’s pictured (and as I glued it in) but it does make sense as an inward facing fire place. So there you go.

fantasy villa 2

Once you get over the fact that all you get for instructions are the really frustratingly vague pictures on the box that make  your eyeballs want to run away and never come back, you will realize that they are adequate for purpose. I used them only to get started and to figure out how the tallest (chimney) turret thing fit together. Besides those two points, I didn’t really need them once I started grouping the parts together and understanding where they all went.

It would have been massively helpful if I was able to locate photos of finished houses online that were from the sides but people seem to only post front and back pictures. That is why I have included photos of the house from ALL angles at the bottom of this page.

Materials that you WILL require JUST to build the house

Sandpaper

Diamond Files

Thick SuperGlue

Diamond Files

These are my diamond files. Keyword search them on Amazon if you don’t have a set already. They’ll set you back about six whole bucks and they’re absolutely essential.

I know that the sheer number of parts are pretty overwhelming at first but by the end you will be so intimately familiar with each piece you’ll have pet names for them. Sad, but true.

It took me roughly 6 hours to carefully punch out each piece from the 11 sheets of wood. I spread it out over a couple of nights watching tv but it was tedious and the set that I got splintered like crazy, even when I pre-sanded the full sheets from the back to try and reduce splintering. If Amazon reviews are anything to go by, not everyone has this problem. It seems to just be the luck of the draw, but just be prepared to have a time of it like I had.

The superglue came in handy to glue pieces that split or to repair the chunks that came away despite my most gentle and best efforts to keep everything intact.

fantasy villa 1

The diamond files weren’t as useful as the sandpaper at the punching out stage (except for the really small spaces in the trim) but they were absolutely necessary for fitting the house together because NONE of the holes are correct in their shape (square peg, round hole) and sometimes in their location. A hole being offset by millimeters is a pretty huge deal and if you choose to paint the pieces you’ll need to widen the holes anyway to compensate for that little bit of extra thickness.

The easiest way to begin this project once everything is punched out is to think of the pieces as parts a puzzle, which is basically all they are. Just as you start grouping pieces by colors and patterns for a big jigsaw, you can group the pieces of the house into piles based on your own preference of organization. For example I separated mine into trim, exterior walls, roof, and there was a pretty big “no idea” pile at the beginning.

fantasy villa 4

This photo is from my first dry fit. I didn’t bother fitting all of the pieces, just the biggest ones to give me a rough idea.

Next … do a dry fit, even if it’s a partial. Start with the biggest wall pieces using the box instructions to guide you. This helped me see how it would come together (in which order) and what bits I wanted to paint specific colors. It also brought to my attention the approximate number of hours (exactly one zillion) I would spend filing the holes to make them at all compatible with the pegs that were supposed to fit into them.

After you’ve done your dry fit and you’re all excited about how pretty it looks half built… you get to take it apart again! :(

If you are planning to paint the house you MUST do it BEFORE you glue it together. After it’s fully assembled you’re simply not going to have the space to get your hands in there to paint it. An alternative to painting would be staining. If I ever did another one of these I would probably stain most of it and then I would paint the accents.

Before I started anything I did a Google image search for “fantasy villa” for inspiration. It brought up several houses that people had built and decorated in a number of ways. Some even modified the interior to include a second floor room on the right hand side where the stairs are which made a lot of sense because…. there is a FLOATING DOOR in the middle of that wall. It’s the door that goes out onto the porch. (my biggest pet peeve of the kit)

I used inexpensive acrylic paint for the whole thing and I decided that I would paint a fake stone exterior. I also decided on a very limited color palate. My palate consisted of  four solid colors (dark grey, light grey, white and purple) however, I did also paint on the stonework which only upped my color total to 5 with the addition of a smidgen of black.

fantasy villa 5

Here are all of the pieces that are exterior facing (so you don’t have to figure it out on your own) I’ll do another entry about painting the fake stones… possibly with a video.

Before I could even think about painting any colors I spray primed. The reason why I primed was because prior to doing the house, I did the Woodcraft Construction Furniture and from that I learned how much this wood swells and warps with the application of paint or stain. So to avoid the swelling and the warping (especially considering those very large pieces) I decided to prime it all so that it would be sealed before the introduction of the acrylic paint.

I got a couple of the science fair type folded cardboard things, laid them out in my back yard and primed everything. I used nearly the whole can of paint, and it barely showed but it totally did its job, so I would strongly suggest that if you plan to paint the house, you prime first.

The final painting took me a long time. Probably a total of at least 20 hours (I lost track as it was over the course of weeks) but I was really meticulous about it. It might not look like a huge job to slap some paint on the pieces but each piece required 3 layers of paint, front and back and there is a TON of surface area when you consider all of the holes and sides. I also figured out after painting certain pieces that they should have been different colors…

fantasy villa 11

After everything was painted I did a dance of joy and glued on all of the trim pieces to the windows and the porch door. I was really happy about how the colors contrasted so there was an additional dance of joy to be had.

Unfortunately the dances of joy came to an abrupt halt once I realized that the actual building of the house was going to be an incredibly slow process. The reason why it was so slow was because every little bit needs to be dry fitted again, then sanded and filed. You also can’t glue anything into place until you’re sure about the order you need to assemble things in.

I didn’t really keep track of that because I kept changing my mind. It’s just something you need to figure out as you go. If you start by building up the parts you can build up separately from the main structure of the house (like the lamp, the windows, and the turrets) then move onto fitting the walls you’ll have a pretty good understanding of how things are meant to come together and everything else falls into place.

fantasy villa 10

Be prepared for some big gaps in certain places. See the annoying gap in the above photo? Could not for the life of me figure out how they expected me to fix that. I could have used some of the negative pieces that punched out of the kit to manipulate a piece that fit in there with some superglue but… I didn’t. There was also another gap between the front wall and the floor which was impossible to close, the pieces simply didn’t line up that way, even if I filed them into submission.  Luckily for me, I just carpeted over the gaps with the purple carpet I purchased (The Dollhouse Emporium brand). It’s like furry contact paper and it looks awesome.

There are also some gaps in other places that are impossible to manipulate into submission. Some I managed to fudge with a great deal of sanding and filing but others I just had to put my hands up for.

fantasy villa 14

 

 

The photos above are of the finished, carpeted rooms.

So after several sessions of dry fitting and filing and sanding I finally started to apply the glue and everything came together almost exactly as I’d planned. I just about wanted to crawl under a rock and die by the end of it but it was worth it in the end.

The furniture set that I had assembled initially to go with the house (as they’re allegedly the same scale) ended up being far too large for the house so I’m going to have to make furniture for it. That’s a project for another month!!!

If you have any questions about the kit or what I did to my kit to make this house I’ll be more than happy to answer in the comments section below.

fantasy villa 1

fantasy villa 2

fantasy villa 3

fantasy villa 4

again, I put the chimney on backwards…. despite what the photo on the box implies that hole is supposed to be a fireplace on the inside of the attic room … it just makes a hell of a lot more sense that way ;)

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10 Comments
  1. Gene permalink

    I just started this project and the quality of the kit is a real challenge. I have modeling tools including belt sander and drill to help with the matching of parts. I have spent about 20 hours and still only about 20% complete but I am very picky. This has helped me get a better concept, specifically the fire place location.

  2. holly permalink

    Thank you ever do much for writing this. In age had mine delivered in the post and looked at the instructions and I don’t understand them. I thought I was going to be one of them things that get shoved under the bed and never seen again. From your instruction I’ll have a go starting in the morning taking all prices out the wood template and put into pilesm. Thanks ever do much for posting this.

  3. Jorge Rocasalbas permalink

    It’s a shame I hadn’t seen this update before; I left a comment on the original description you had made.
    Anyway, congratulations!

  4. Pilar permalink

    Thank-you very much for the tips. Some time ago I bought the “Gothic House” and it was quite difficult to assemble, being my first doll house and all. Now that I’ve decided to assemble the “Fantasy Villa”, your photos and tips are soooo helpful.

    • Glad you found it helpful! I have the Gothic house in pieces at the moment as I’m painting it before the final assembly… (and I keep getting distracted) I have done a dry fit with it though and I do find it a lot easier than I found the villa, but only because there are no pesky chimneys. You’ll probably find the villa easier than I did though because they’re very similar in a lot of ways :)

  5. Dorothy Watkins (Johannesburg, South Africa) permalink

    I loved this write up! You picked up every single thing that’s wrong – and nice – about this kit. You’re so right – it’s a total ***** to put together. But the end result is divine. You just have to suspend belief a lot. I totally took the whole staircase out of mine, but made a very wide upstairs passage so that you can get into the tiny square turret room and out of the ‘floating’ door onto the porch. I did a second house too (sucker for punishment but it was much easier the second time around) – also with no stairs but with a second room upstairs on the right.

    • Thank you very much. Your houses sound great. Would love to see photos! I was talking myself into doing a second Fantasy Villa, but then I spotted the “Gothic House” woodcraft construction kit so now I’m in the middle of painting that one… it’s got fewer fancy bits but 6 rooms and better functionality!

  6. Kymberly Wilkinson permalink

    I am currently doing this not only am I painting the outside but I have wallpapered carpeted and laminated the inside now that got confusing but it looks great at inside I’ve also purchased some small border tiles that I am using as tiling for the floore outside, its great fun but I agree you definitely need patience! Your villa looks great hope your daughter gets hours of fun from it.

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