Builder finds niche in downsized dream homes


September 04, 2002|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

DREAM HOME details planned with builder Pam Sites can include stained-glass windows, skylights, greenhouses, curved staircases and a kitchen island with shelves for cookbooks. Whatever you desire, Sites will build.

There's one hitch. Sites designs for a world where people would be 5 or 6 inches tall.

She creates dollhouses as if they were real homes, but scaled so each inch represents a foot. She makes tiny two-by-fours and roof trusses, wires 12-volt electrical outlets behind wallboards of acid-free mat board, installs stone fireplaces and ceiling fans.

Sites, who lives down Route 30 from Hampstead, in Reisterstown, knows how to build.

She spent years in corporate "dream home" construction, most recently at the Woodridge development in Finksburg. In 1995, she left the full-scale world to build tiny mansions with wood floors of veneer, wainscoting of cast resin, and custom embroidered rugs she designs to match client decor.

These dream homes start around $4,600, going up toward $10,000 before the miniature furnishings, such as wicker chairs, porch swing, fish tank or telescope, go in. She has a client list of about 100.

"I'm master of my world now. Sometimes I don't eat as well, but I really don't miss the suits and ties," Sites said.

Her treasure house is Marigold, a 10-room modernized Victorian house one can see in a collection of her homes on her Web site, www.tinymansions. com.

Marigold and a large collection of Sites' "Tiny Mansions" will be shown Oct. 5 and 6 at Fall Harvest Days at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster. She will give short talks about the dollhouses each day. The exhibit is free with admission to the event.

Models of shops and homes have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, and there is evidence that children played with them. The dollhouse, however, is a folk art dating back about 500 years, according to Sites. Children were given dollhouses to learn domestic arts and housekeeping at a child's scale, she said.

It became a fashion, Sites says, because Queen Victoria had a fine cabinetmaker style a dollhouse for her.

"If she visited, and commented on one of your miniatures, you were supposed to give it to her. It got to the point where people hid their best stuff," Sites said.

She also renovates dollhouses from generations past, replacing outdated wiring and repairing and redecorating. Recently, she renovated a dollhouse that had been a cute home for a hamster until it chewed through the window frames.

This spring, she taught dollhouse-keeping at the Montgomery County Historical Society's exhibit of 19th-century miniature mansions in the Beall-Dawson House. She showed how to wallpaper tiny rooms, apply paste wax to floors, and how to clean - with a miniature vacuum.

She'll be teaching techniques for assembling and finishing dollhouses at the Community College of Baltimore County at the Hunt Valley Center starting Sept. 25. For information on the course, call 410-771-6835.

Since Sept. 11, Sites has seen an increased interest in dollhouses. "People want to manipulate their own world," she said, "and dollhouses are dream houses. I can choose things I never would if it were a house shared by a human."

Information: 410-833-7315.

Basket bingo on Friday

Lots of interested callers asked about basket bingo planned by the Friends of Cub Scout Pack 790. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. Friday, with games starting at 7 p.m. It will be held at the Manchester Fireman's Activity Building, on York Street off Main Street in Manchester.

Longaberger collectible baskets are featured, including baskets no longer produced and the latest styles. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door, and include jackpot prizes, raffles and door prizes.

Food, snacks and beverages will be available.

Information: Maureen Laderer, 410-239-7398.

Recycling cell phones

The Hampstead Police Department welcomes donations of cell phones at its drop-off site at 1112 Main St., Hampstead. Cell phones and rechargers are sought.

The phones are programmed to dial 911 for emergency purposes and are donated to senior centers and the state's attorney's office for domestic violence and assistance programs.

Donations are tax deductible and a letter will be sent to donors.

Information: 410-239-8954.

Train station benefit

A second Locomotion Car Show will be held Oct. 13 at the Black and Decker manufacturing plant area off Route 30. The car show benefits the Hampstead Train Station Committee Inc., and the renovation of the Hampstead Train Station.

People are welcome to enter cars made before 1977 in the show, which includes 19 competitive classes. Registration costs $10.

Public admission is free, and includes live music, food concessions and other entertainment.

The rain date is Oct. 20.

Information: 410-239-0750.

Pat Brodowski's North neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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