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Modeling a Californian Residential Neighborhood, 1954

May 31, 2008

Most of this article is very useful for anyone modeling any American residential neighborhood, especially the section about details.

I chose to add some very region-specific details too, to add a strong sense of place in my layout.

Here’s one half of Olive St. In the Foreground is a Rix products Maxwell Ave. Home, availble here: The 1940 Plymouth is from Classic Metal Works, and the nice looking Spanish-Style 1920’s era bungalow is scratchbuilt. Note the house address “50” (Olive St.) on the Rix house, right above the sunflower, which is from Busch. I made the address number from a kit sprue number, which can be kitbashed to make larger numbers by collecting more than one set of numbers and sticking them together.

Here’s the Backyard, all the details will be listed at the bottom in a second diagram.

One lucky teenager has the priveledge to drive his rich uncle’s Jaguar XK120. He brought over some attractive help to wax the car.

This closeup shows the large window of the spanish style bungalow. The inside needed to be detailed, so I built a stucco fireplace and added a wood floor with a rug, cut out from a catalogue I had lying around the house. On the walls, which are made from cardboard, I put some REALLY tiny photos of scenery and people, to act as wall decoration.


The Maxwell’s are having their house painted. You can see the faded “antique white” paint, the sanded wood, and the new, cream white paint. The Ladder is from Central Valley Model Works. I added a smokejack from an old TYCO building kit that I broke up for parts. The cool looking classic driveway was makde using shirt (light, non-corrugated) cardboard, painted a cement color.

1. Coiled Garden Hose made from fine florist’s wire, painted olive green, and with a tiny silver tip.

2. Ladder from Central Valley.

3. Window Curtians from Craft Store RIBBON section.

4. Smokejack from TYCO kit.

5. Window Glazing from Paper Supply Store, clear plastic used on Overhead Projectors.

6. Metal old-style push lawnmower.

7. Walther’s Fence

8. Clothesline Towers.

9. Garden house made from florist wire, garden sprinkler made from plastic sprue left over.

10. Essential, but often forgotten detail of this half century, a TV antannae. Availble from a variety of sources, google around for more information.

11. Electrical Meter and Gas Meters are a MUST for any building.  

12.Garage from ancient AHM offering, but the point here is to match the style of the garage to the style of the house.

13. A Sun porch is a nice addition to ANY American house, easy to build, I used windows and doors from an old Atlas signal tower kit.

14-15 Outdoor Patio, Covered with cheap post-war aluminium roof, from Bachmann Plasticville house kit, they’re actually nicely detailed, and come with chaise-lounger chairs.

16. Backyard Workshop. Easy to scratchbuild, fun additon to any backyard. Heck, there might even be a Lionel model railroad inside the workshop!

17. Fruit Trees are a VERY pleasant addition to any home, research native fruit trees for the area you’re modeling, obviously these are Orange trees, for this is Southern California after all!

18-19 Driveway made from light carbboard.

20. The Garden is another very pleasant addtion to the backyard, mostly made from Woodland scenics clump foilage, and Busch Sunflower kits.  


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