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Choosing a Front or Back Opening Dolls House.

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Other than building style, what are the main differences between front and back opening dolls houses?

Open or Closed to Dust?

In general front opening dollhouses have a hinged front which can be closed, preventing entry of small children, cats, dust and insects and keeping the mess and unfinished rooms hidden. Front opening dollhouses are a bit like a cupboard house, but with the front of the cupboard serving as the dollhouse exterior. The majority of European dollhouses are designed to be front opening.

Rear opening dollhouses are the most popular form of dollhouse in North America. Most of these dollhouses have no rear wall, leaving them open to animals, dust and insects. A clear plexiglass or fabric panel can be fitted to cover the back of the house when it is not in use. These panels can be hinged to the back of the dollhouse, or can slide into a channel designed to hold them tightly against the back of the house.

Permanently On View

Front opening dollhouses can be stored flat against a wall and do not require as much space. The front openings are usually designed like a cupboard door to open and allow access to the interior collection.

Rear opening dollhouses need to be located out from the wall, or on a turntable if you want to see the front of the house but be able to access the back to see the interior display.

Special zero clearance turntables are available which allow rear opening doll houses to be stored against the wall, and pivoted on the turntable in order to view the interior.

Different Interior Views and Design

Front opening doll houses generally have no windows on the rear walls, making wallpaper treatments and furniture arrangement easier than in a rear opening house where the main wall has windows and may have doors which must be considered when decorating.

Rear opening dollhouses may have more natural light entering the house (depending on the design) as there is no back wall, and the front wall contains light admitting windows and doors. The doors and windows will serve as a backdrop to the room views.

In rear opening houses, depending on the size and number of windows, furniture arrangements may be restricted. Walls of bookcases or shop showcases will need to be placed at a right angle view to avoid blocking windows. This means the contents are not as easily seen as they would be if placed on a wall without windows.

Structural and Collection Management Differences

Hinges

  • Front opening dollhouses need good hinges to support heavy opening walls. Electricity for lamps on the front of the house must be wired through the hinges.

Wiring

  • Front opening dollhouses do not need to have the back of the house exposed, so wiring can be located on the back where it is easily accessed and fewer, more direct runs of wire can be used.

Exterior Finishes

  • Front opening dollhouses need the exterior front and sides finished but the back can be left unfinished if it is to be hidden against a wall.

Securing Contents

  • Front opening dollhouses (or rear opening dollhouses with a hinged wall) have to be opened, which may jar the interior contents more than a back opening dollhouse without closing walls (but not as much as using a turntable). Collections may have to be secured to keep them from moving when the house is opened.

Amount of Finishing Materials

  • Front opening dollhouses require more materials for the same size house. They have an extra interior wall to build and finish.

Protection

  • Rear opening dollhouses without closing walls will gather more dust and the contents are less protected from the environment (insects, dust, light).

Landscaping

  • Front landscaping must be adjusted to work with the opening sections of the dollhouse.
  • Large landscaping (trees) and large front gardens are easier to use against a rear opening house, as they will not need to move to accommodate opening walls. It is easier to landscape a front yard in a rear opening dollhouse.

Size

  • Front opening houses can generally be larger than rear opening houses as they can be worked on from one side and don't need to be set on turntables where weight can limit the size of the house.

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