What is Quarter or "O" Scale and How Can I Tell if My Building is That Scale?

Quarter scale scratchbuilt farmhouse
Quarter scale scratchbuilt farmhouse with detailed landscaping. Photo © 2008 Lesley Shepherd

What is Quarter Scale?:

1:48 or Quarter scale doll houses are catching on in popularity as more and more laser and molded resin miniatures become available. In this scale 1/4 inch = 1 foot. Long a main railroad scale for toy trains as "O" scale, parts for house exteriors are easy to come by from Model Railroad supplier who have also created 1/4 scale dolls'house kits. The scale appears to be most popular on the West Coast.

But is also gaining ground in the UK where Petit Properties have introduced a range of very reasonably priced kits.

Advantages of Quarter Scale:

The main advantage of quarter scale for dolls' house collectors is its size. The 1:48 scale house pictured above occupies 6 x 7 inches and has three rooms, a porch and a garden. This is a fraction of the size of an equivalent 1:12 scale house. The scale is much easier to adapt to than most people imagine. Plans for simple 1/4 scale houses are available in several back issues of Dollhouse miniatures magazine, including July 2003 (Americana House) and December 2003 (Visions of Sugarplums ) both by Debbie Young who also produces lovely examples of vernacular North American architecture as kits through her quarter scale business Young at Heart Miniatures

Viewing Quarter Scale Buildings and Dolls' Houses:

A number of collections of quarter scale houses exist online.

Anna - Carin Betzén's quarter scale pages showcase projects and samples of her 1/4 scale houses. Sue Herber has whole villages available as kits and Petite Properties in the UK is developing a range of very reasonably priced 1:48 scale cottages. The large dollhouse shows listed below also showcase the work of 1/4 scale artisans.

Laser Assisted Design and Resin Castings and 3D Printers :

With the emergence of laser cut furniture and house trims,resin castings and 3D printed designs,  furniture for 1/4 scale dollhouses is becoming increasingly detailed. Bespaq now have a line of 1:48 scale furniture.  Pamela Junk Miniatures , Susan and Andrew’s Miniatures, Debbie Young, (see above for link), Karen Cary , Petite Properties (see above for link)   and Jean Day have a wide variety of detailed furnishings and accessories. . Increasing numbers of wallpapers, fabrics and accessories are also emerging in this scale. the old days, where people modified brown plastic furniture kits to adapt to their tiny interiors are now almost a thing of the past. Almost every style and period are available, from food items to poseable dolls, and delicately cut doilies and curtains.

Easy to Try:

The scale is surprisingly easy to work in with a satisfying amount of detail. There is even an online miniaturist’s club, the Quarter Connection. and several large miniature shows have workshops and 1/4 scale artisans. You can start with furniture kits or building kits from any of the links above, or begin with online projects or articles from magazines.

Landcaping is often completed with standard railway model materials, although an increasing range of plant kits are also available in this scale.  Build a Christmas village, or your version of a historic neighbourhood. The scale lets you collect and store a wide range of buildings easily.