I don't consider reading a guilty pleasure (let alone reading Dickens--come on, now...). But one of my favorite undergrad professors gave me some useful advice: have a hobby that isn't related to your work, so that you can actually--gasp--relax. He gardened. I know several people who knit; one of my colleagues sculpts; quite a few people play video games. Many years ago, I did a lot of drawing, but stopped during graduate school (my students who have seen me scribble on the board would be shocked to hear I got an "A" in a life-drawing class, I suspect). Anyway, a few years ago I decided that I was an adult with a salary, so I could do something that I'd always wanted to do--which was to build dollhouses. I've rehabbed a couple; this relatively small one, however, I built myself.
One of the things I learned the first time I rehabbed a house was that there were always...surprises. In this case, there were two key surprises. First, I was working with an old plywood kit (my primary interest in it having been "hey, this is listed for almost nothing on eBay"), and some of the wood turned out to be slightly damaged and/or warped. Therefore, while I pride myself that the house is much better squared than those I rehabbed (including the one built by a professional cabinetmaker...sheesh), it still has some areas where there are slight bends/angles that don't quite work. Second, because it's an older kit, the opening for the entry door is not a standard size. If I had picked up on that early on, I could have fixed the problem easily by installing balsa shims across the top before painting the exterior and wallpapering the interior--but I didn't pick up on that early on. Hence the step down into the living room (there's also a front stoop hiding the gap on the other side). Moral of the story: measure the doors before you do anything else, I guess.
I based the house's look on the semi-updated older houses in this area. Imagine that it's been repapered and has some trendier paint upstairs, but it still has the older woodwork and flooring, with a thickly-textured "plaster" ceiling. The exterior is "stuccoed" (coarse gel medium + latex paint).
I've made a point of learning how to do something new for each dollhouse. This time, I used real wood flooring in the living room and bedroom, instead of vinyl or veneer sheets.
The kitchen, with an "older" vinyl floor and a slightly decrepit repainted sink (which I also did myself). I think you can see the texture of the ceiling a little better here. I have to say that my tiling technique has improved from the last time I tried it, although I haven't yet essayed tile that needs grout (next time, I think).
Bedroom upstairs. The railings and newel posts were assembled using a magnetic gluing jig to hold them in place.
And the bathroom, with old-fashioned black-and-white checkerboard tile. You can see here that I dyed the cedar shingles, which was also something I hadn't done before.
One of the things that makes this hobby really convenient for an academic is that you can't do very much of it at one time--this house took eight months--because so many things have to dry before you keep going (each row of shingles, for example), or have multiple coats of paint or stain, or be cut/trimmed, etc. So you can take a quick break from grading umpteen papers, install a row of shingles or tile, and then cheerfully go back to work.