Creating 1/4 scale flooring for $4

After going round in circles for while figuring out how to make a realistic-looking treehouse floor, I finally stumbled on something that seems to be working.

For something to work for me, it needs to be:

  • Easy
  • Cheap
  • Realistic-looking

I’d dismissed the stick-on parquet tiles, because I doubted the girls would install parquet floors in the treehouse, but once I found a grey, weathered parquet floor, I realized I could change it into weathered boards with a few snips.

Here’s part of a vinyl parquet floor tile I picked up at Home Depot for $0.89.

It doesn’t look right in scale as it is, but you can easily cut along the lines using pruning shears (my cutting tool of choice).

And then clean up along the edges using a utility blade.

And then lay out the individual pieces on a solid piece of wood.

And it looks like some old planks of weathered wood that the girls might have found.

Here’s Olive working on laying out the floor.

And here she is relaxing (in a way cool $10 chair from WalMart on top of a $1 placemat from Goodwill)

Covering the whole 21 x 21″ piece took four pieces of parquet flooring, so about $4 altogether.

For 1/6 scale dolls, I recommend the vinyl oak parquet flooring tiles. Here’s one in red oak next to the tile I used:

The wood pieces are much smaller, and the less weathered look is more appropriate for indoor flooring.

I’m really happy with my solution, and I think I’ll start using the 1/6 scale flooring to create some of my second draft rooms for the Mia Fiorello girls.

Back to the treehouse

While the Mia Fiarello team is making their way to Camellia, let’s check in with the treehouse sisters.

When I started working again on this story, I realized how incredibly slapdash and haphazard I’d become about setting up for episodes – just grab a few items, set up the camera, and shoot.

I *could* do that for the treehouse, but I’m expecting them to spend much of the next year there, so I think I have to slow down and really create a space that works.

That task has become somewhat harder because of my inability to find a tree that really works as a 1/4 scale treehouse. The trees in my yard that have the right kind of branch arrangement are far too big to work at 1/4 scale, and the ones that work at 1/4 scale don’t have the kinds of branches you could build a treehouse in.

For example, here’s Olive standing next to one of my (fruiting) cherry trees:

which looks great, in scale. But the branching on the cherry looks like this:

with really no place to build a level platform.

That means that I’ll just need to show them working on a treehouse in one of my outdoor trees, but that any building of the actual treehouse will take place in my workshop.

So, let’s look at what I have.

Because I want a permanent space, I need something solid to use as a base. For my 1/4 scale dolls, I find that Ikea Lack side tables are just the right size, and dirt cheap at $8 a pop. The top of the table (which I’ll use as the floor on the Overhead treehouse and as a side wall for the In the Picture rainforest house) is a 21 1/2″ square. The legs (if you use them) are 17 3/4″. That’s plenty big for the In the Picture space, since the legs define the depth of the of the space, but it’s not quite big enough for the Overhead treehouse, since the legs form the upright corners and the dolls themselves are almost 18″ tall.

Fortunately, it’s a treehouse, so I can slot in some sticks for the four supporting beams. That would look something like this:

The table comes with four double-sided screws and pre-drilled holes

so all I need to do is find three more corner supports for the walls.

The flooring is a little more difficult. I can’t leave it as is, but I haven’t found any rough wood surface that really works for this scale. What I’d really like is some kind of wood that has a distinct grain, but where the knots are not overly large for this scale. I’d thought of just using small branches, but nature isn’t in the habit of producing a straight line, so I can’t really lie them flat or have them join nicely with each other. Really, no one wants to live in a treehouse where the floors look like this:

I have some contact paper with a wood pattern, but it looks both unnaturalistic in close-ups and far too precise for a tree house. Same thing with the parquet floor squares that I use for my 1/6 dollhouse floors. I’ve yet to see a real treehouse with parquet floors.

What I’d really like is scrap wood, but from a 1/4 scale house. Cast off cupboard doors and table tops would be just perfect, but I’d need a 1/4 scale house to start from and, once I found a 1/4 scale house, I’d never scrap it.

I’m going to take one more look around Goodwill to see if anything looks right. If not, I may have to mock up the wood grain.

In any case, the girls aren’t going to have a completely built treehouse this week, although they are going to start working on it.