From Broken to Better, This Project is Done! Well, at Least for Now.

I’m considering this little project complete for now. When I last shared this room, one of the little Dept. 56 lit houses I had purchased on eBay had not arrived. There’s a story about that–I’ll share it toward the end of this post.

For the picture below, I had the shutters in the office closed and all the lamps in the office turned off. I lit a couple of candles to help my camera capture the lit houses. Unfortunately, photos don’t really show how pretty they look lit up on the shelves.

Dept. 56 Lit Houses Added to Bookcases in Office


It was a big job again removing all the books from the bookcase on the far right and from the center bookcase to run the wiring once again to add the third house. (See how I ran the electrical cords from bookcase to bookcase in this post: Cozying Up the Office with Dept. 56 Lit Houses.)

The houses got moved around a bit as I decided where each looked best. Satis Manor from Great Expectations is a good bit bigger than the other two. I wish they were all the size of Satis Manor, it’s the perfect size for a lit house, I think.

Dept. 56 Lit Houses on Office Book Shelves


A few close-ups…Dept. 56 calls this house from the book, Little Women, the “March Residence.”

Dept. 56 Literary Classic, March Residence from Little Women


This one is Satis Manor from the book, Great Expectations.

Dept. 56 Literary Classics, Satis Manor from Great Expectations


And this one, the house I’ve been waiting to arrive is Aunt Polly’s house from the book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. So here’s the little story about this house and why it’s taken so long to complete this project.

Initially, I was just going to place one lit house on the bookshelves here in the office, and Aunt Polly’s house was the house I purchased on eBay for this project. When the house arrived, the fence on the side of the house was broken. Arggg.

I requested a “return” from the seller with a return label, then immediately ordered it again from another seller on eBay. The return of the first house was approved and I dropped it off at the post office using the return label sent over by the seller.

Dept. 56 Literary Classics Aunt Polly's House from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer


It took a while for the second house to arrive, the first one had arrived lightning fast. When the second house finally arrived, I couldn’t believe what I found when I opened up the box and slid the house out. The same fence was broken again! What?!!! It’s supposed to be attached where you see the little sharp, jagged white things sticking up from the grass.

Receiving two broken Aunt Polly houses, broken in the exact same spot, made me wonder if Dept. 56 had a big warehouse sale where they sold off a bunch of defective houses, and maybe both eBay sellers bought from the same sale. So weird that they were both broken in the exact same place.

Again, I requested a return and messaged the seller letting them know I needed to return the house due to it arriving with a broken fence.

Broken Fence on Dept. 56 House


Discouraged by two failed attempts to buy Aunt Polly’s house, I didn’t immediately search on eBay for another one to reorder as I had done the first time. The next day the seller approved my return request, only they didn’t send a return label.

I couldn’t figure out how to reach them since the house was no longer showing under the “Purchase” tab on eBay. (Later found out when you request a return, the order shows up under the “canceled” tab at eBay.)

Since I wasn’t sure how to reach the seller since I couldn’t find the order, I called eBay to ask how I could message the seller to inquire about a return label. eBay said the seller was an “experienced seller” and had selected the option to just refund the cost of the house and didn’t want the house back. I guess they didn’t want to spend the money for the return shipping of a broken house.

I hated to just toss the house out, so I decided to try gluing the fence with super glue. It worked better than I expected. I’ll just need to be super careful about how I move this house in the future since I’m not sure how well my repair will hold if it’s handled very much.

I tell ya, I’m snakebit when it comes to buying or selling on eBay! (See this post if you’re not sure what I mean: Almost Scammed as a Seller on eBay)

Fence Repair to Aunt Polly's House, Dept 56.


So, I’m calling this little project complete for now. I love how the houses cozy up this side of the room. There’s just something about a little lit house that gets to me every time!

Dept. 56 Lit Houses Added to Bookcases in Office

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  1. Donna vaughn says

    Love the little houses tucked in your bookshelves..have you ever used batteries with a remote for Dept 56 houses?

    • I don’t think they work on batteries, I’ve only seen them with electrical cords. Currently, I have them plugged into a timer, so they automatically come on in the evening around the time it gets dark.

    • Donna, Kathy just left a comment saying she has purchased battery operated lights on Amazon to use in a Dept. 56 houses before when she wanted to use one in the centerpiece of a table. So you may be able to find those on Amazon.

    • Donna, just heard from Kathy and she gave me the link for the lights in case you are interested. These were the lights she used:

  2. What a great idea to display the houses on the bookshelf! Love it! Glad you could glue the fence!

  3. That looks so cozy and so sweet!! I am moving my bedrooms around and will soon have a new to me Master bedroom….you have inspired me once again, and will have some ‘little’ lamps in the bookcase!! xoxoxo

  4. Bobbi Duncan says

    Bookcases turned out so nice, Susan, and I know you’ll enjoy the coziness they incorporate any time you’re using your office. I especially love how you used a complementary book beneath each house–great idea! We’re supposed to get temps in the 70’s and I can’t wait for fall. I like the warmth of summer but this one was the worst one of any we’ve had since moving here 18+ years ago–so muggy and so much rain since April. Hugs!

  5. Who doesn’t love those little lit houses? Ironically, I was at a church function last week and the fella I was sitting next to said hello to someone I also knew. I asked him how he knew her and he explained they were in a club for people who collect Dept. 56. Did you know there was such a club? I sure didn’t. Anyway I told him about your buying the literary houses and he knew exactly which houses I was talking about. He said he has so much Dept. 56 he has run out of room to keep it all. Wonder if he has Aunt Polly’s house with an unbroken fence? LOL Your houses look great on the book shelves and I especially like how you have them atop books that go with their story or style of house.

  6. Looks good. I completely understand the feeling of being snake bitten.

  7. Donna zoltanski says

    I agree with you. The soft lighting on the shelves is soft and pretty. Dept 56 products with detail makes them must haves. Enjoy!

  8. They look absolutely perfect now. I love them!

    BTW, I don’t have the patience, but my husband has been known to do some miraculous things with super glue. He’s also blessed to be able to see things clearly an inch in front of his face. Ha!

  9. Me, too!!! Looks amazing…you will enjoy for years…I have!! franki

  10. Mary from Virginia says

    I love this idea, and I too am smitten when it comes to miniatures and little houses with lights! I’m sorry about eBay. Your repair job looks great AND your Social Work skills came in handy to catch your almost scammed purse!

  11. I love Dept 56 houses! Have many in the attic. I’m fighting the urge to purchase The Griswold House! Yours look adorable tucked in with your books. Sorry bout your EBay experiences.

  12. I think it looks lovely. I have always used small lamps in strategic places to create a cozy warmth for a room, but with the death of cute little gift shops, it becomes almost impossible to find small accent lamps.

    I am so happy to have my little rooster lamp in my kitchen for the last
    many years.

    Aunt Polly’s house is my favorite from your three because it glows all over, not just from the windows.

    Beautiful project, well worth the time, and now the bookcase is dusted too.
    Enjoy your lovely room!

  13. The bookshelves look great and I love the Dept 56 houses. We have a large display of Christmas houses and a more modest Halloween group. I love them, but it is quite a job to set up. Luckily for me my husband does the hard work. I agree that the scale of the houses are not always the same and it changes how we place them. I enjoy all your posts and love seeing your home.

  14. Sarah Pierce says

    I wonder if it was the same seller under two different names?

  15. This is such a creative use of the houses, and your double-books pairing is spot on! I know the sun has been setting earlier for months now, but seems so accelerated in September. I need to set up some faux candle lights on timers soon; thanks for the reminder 🙂

  16. Years ago, my husband set up a huge area above our TV in the the family room just for my Dept 56 village. He even made a mountain landscape! Like you, it was set on a timer so that we could enjoy it year round. We had so many compliments from friends and family; it was nice to see them enjoy the houses. It even sparked up a conversation or two. We have since down-size, so sadly, the houses are boxed up an in the basement collecting dust. Thank you for the inspiration and the memories.

  17. I like how you paired a book underneath each house, but I couldn’t see what you chose for Aunt Polly. What happened to Third Time’s The Charm. lol The houses look solid but the accessories seem to me what could get broken easily. Great fix with the fence! I learned a lesson with eBay. Always scroll down to the very end of an offer and be sure of what you are ordering. I thought I was getting a mop and extra mop cloths because that was in the picture accompanying the item. Oh no, I received only the mop cloths. Wasn’t worth messing with a return. Bookcases look wonderful with a “glow”.

  18. Absolute perfect!! And well worth all your efforts, Susan! I can just see you cozy and warm enjoying your office after the first snowfall. You won’t regret all the work you’ve gone to, I’m sure!

  19. Susan, I have had great luck using epoxy to repair items that are ceramic. Hope it doesn’t break again but if something else breaks that you want to repair you could consider this.

  20. Hi Susan-
    The houses remind me of a cozy autumn evening. Charming!
    As for eBay, I encourage you to take heart. I’ve made over 1100 purchases over the last 12 years and I have only had a handful of bad experiences. I admit they were doozies, but the others were smooth, like buttah. eBay is my go-to place to buy, even before Amazon. I find most of the same things, but sometimes at better prices. Between these and Etsy, I can find just about anything. As for investment pieces, there are fine re-sellers that round out the rest. But of course, I’m preaching to the choir. 🙂

  21. I also ordered the same house that had the broken fence, only mine was worse. The fence was broken in half and had broken off from the house. So I think you were correct and that more houses were sold like that. I am trying to repair mine, but so far not looking very good.

    • I guess I was lucky that mine was just broken off of the house itself. It came that way both times. Mona, can you return it? I was thinking if I ordered it again, asking the seller to physically open it up and look at the house/fence first before shipping it. Maybe you should return it and try that. I think I’m going to just stick with the one I have for now.

  22. Kathy O'Rourke says

    Going to this site always gives me the inspiration I need. I have been needing to organize and clear out my office for over a month…I never even thought I could use some of the Dept. 56 pieces I have to have fun with the organization. Thanks again for giving me the spark I needed.
    P.S. I do have one battery operated light that I use when I use one of the houses as a centerpiece on the table. It works quite well. I think I bought it on Amazon. Dept. 56 makes it.

    • Thanks so much, Kathy! We might as well incorporate those cute houses in where we can, right. 🙂 That’s great to know about the battery operated lights…thanks for that tip, Kathy!

  23. Cyndi Raines says

    This calls for some snuggle time with a comfy throw, a good book and some hot cider! What a cozy glow your office has! So pleased for you that you were able to repair the fence. Another great project well done!

  24. I repaired a couple of Christmas village items last year (broken in the mail as well), and first looked up what adhesive works best, as I’d had failures with regular Superglue on village pieces as well as regular (porcelain) china. It was always too runny, and did not adhere properly.

    What I read–and this was either from a Dept 56 or Lemax site, was that specifically Superglue GEL works best for repairing these houses…it is able to form a tiny cushiony layer somehow that positions and holds much, much better.

    Also, as suggested, well, somewhere, I warmed the fresh repair with a blow dryer (not too close!), while holding the pieces together, for a short while to accelerate the ‘set’ of the glue.

    My repairs have improved immensely–they hold, and are almost undetectable.

    Love the idea of putting these pieces on bookshelves…thank you!

  25. I just LOVE this, Susan. I have a large collection of Department 56 houses from my parents, Christmas in the City and the original Dickens village. I hate it when I have to put them away after the holidays. This post has inspired me to pick out a few houses that I can leave out year round. Have you ever seen 1234 Four Seasons Parkway? It’s retired but can still be found on Ebay.

    • No, I hadn’t heard of that one but I just looked it up online. Sooo cute how you can change the decorations seasonally throughout the year! Love that!

  26. Susan, sorry to learn that the 2nd house was damaged but that you were able to repair it. They look so cozy amongst all your books and I do like the way you’ve placed them. Re repairing it; hopefully in time the glue you used won’t discolour (turn yellow) and reason why it is often best to choose one made specifically for such repairs. i.e.: An epoxy for ceramic or china. Also one can purchase a ‘finishing glaze’ that can be applied with an artist brush and used over damaged areas that have been cosmetically touched up with paint. (Both of which I have successfully used on a few collectable Royal Doultons; two of which were actually decapitated.) -Brenda-

    P.S.: Also thank you for all the tips re ordering from EBay.

  27. When if first read your post I was thinking to myself that super glue would be the answer. Glad that you came to the same conclusion, and that it worked for you.

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