It’s true, I built my dream house without ever leaving my apartment. With its elevated floor plan, glass walls and deceptively simple shape, the Farnsworth House has long been my favorite example of Mid Century Modern architecture. Of course, the version I built is only at 1:150 scale (cue Zoolander reference, “is this a Farnsworth House for ants…?”) but I feel just about as proud as Mies van der Rohe right now, having completed this museum-worthy miniature.

There’s nothing like a creative project to break the boredom while we’re all sheltering at home. If you’re ready to graduate from puzzles you have to pack away again to something you can show off for years to come, head over to Modern Landmarks and pick up a Farnsworth House model kit of your own. The company also carries a kit for the Guggenheim Museum, which my husband poured over for a solid Sunday, as well as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple. Just in case you need extra temptation, they’re offering 25% off on Farnsworth House and Guggenheim Museum model kits through May 31 with the code AR62. 

Building A Model Kit

By nature, I’m a tinkerer and do-it-myself project lover. I adore details and I’m patient with precision. It took me about seven completely engrossing hours to complete the Farnsworth House kit, and I loved every second of it. But if this is not your idea of a good time, you can purchase the model pre-built and no one will be any the wiser.

For the rest of us who love getting absorbed in a project, I’ve got a few tips that might come in handy!

Guggenheim Museum Model Kit made of wood on top of a book
The scale of the Guggenheim Museum model kit is 1:500, perfect for perching in a bookcase.

1. Consider your kit

The Guggenheim is faster, easier kit to build with few pieces, the Farnsworth is a bit more involved and the newly released Unity Temple kit has the most pieces of them all. There’s no need to be intimidated, however, because the instructions included do an excellent job of guiding through the process.

Supplies are included in the kits. The only items I needed to provide are the cutting board, Elmer’s Wood Glue, and X-Acto knife.

2. Lay out your supplies ahead of time

With the exception of a blade and glue, just about everything you need is provided in the box. The laser-cut sheets and loose pieces are all numbered and lettered for easy identification, so I spread them out in order before I got started to ensure nothing got lost as I went along.

Many of the pieces have peel-and-stick adhesive, but a few will need PVA glue. I used Elmer’s Wood Glue and decanted a bit into a small bowl and added water to thin it out. The kit comes with a toothpick for pointed glue application, though I ended up swapping the toothpick for a tiny paint brush I had on hand.

Mid Century Modern model of the Farnsworth House kit half completed
Remember while you drink your latte, you’re just following directions

3. Read the directions

All of them. This isn’t a Billy bookcase from Ikea, so don’t skip over anything because you think you have a general idea of where the build is going. The directions are thorough, well illustrated and even include coffee breaks!

A self-healing cutting mat can take a lot of abuse, unlike your Danish dining table or desk surface.

4. Cut on a safe surface

I recommend using a cutting board from your kitchen, or a self-healing craft cutting mat while using the X-Acto blade. The wood pieces are laser cut in sheets and attached by thin phalanges holding the pieces in place. Don’t be tempted to pop them out, just give it a quick cut with the knife and everything is good to go.

mid century modern model Farnsworth House kit in progress with tiny fireplace
The details are all there, including a tiny fireplace with wooden flames

5. Enjoy the process!

Whether you like to draw a project out for as long as possible, or you’re like me and love to finish up all in one go, it’s fun to put on some music or a good audio book and let the time fly by!

Finally, I recommend protecting the finished product. I don’t want to dust around the tiny details, and I do want to show them off to their best advantage, so we’ll be covering them in the custom-sized acrylic cases. You can find the cases and kits at ModelLandmarks.com, and don’t forget to use AR62 for 25% off. 

Looking for more fun mod projects to keep you busy? Check out these mod games and activities. 

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