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Improving Official LEGO Modular Buildings on a Budget

SET 10270 – THE BIRCH BOOKSHOP

From 2007, LEGO have released the LEGO modular creator sets that have wowed LEGO fans of all ages. Each one has been unique and had different stories making each set worthy of being added to any LEO city. However, the modular buildings are not perfect and there is always room for improvements. I’m sure when we first saw the details of the modulars or when we started building them, we’ve thought of how we could add more details, or make the rooms larger or put personal touches to make them more interesting and unique.

This feeling holds true with the Birch Bookshop set 10270. The set is great and has a solid design. It can fit well into any area of a LEGO city. However, it is not without faults. With the stairs being inside the building and built in to the structure, the rooms felt smaller than they were and the pieces that would have been used for other furniture and details were used to build the stairs.

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While other people would usually go on a route of buying 2 sets and making everything bigger, not everyone has the resources to do that. So, to help beginners get the hang of modifying the original set 10270, I have written down tips of how to improve the aesthetics and theme of the Birch Bookshop without doing an alternate design or breaking the bank.

The Bookshop

The ground floor is detailed enough with the books on the shelves. I added a telephone on the desk as well as a few more tiles and books on the windows to show a busier façade. I also placed a printed money tile and a salesman.

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On the middle floor, I removed the sitting area and placed artifacts such as maps, swords, statues, rings, jewels and a phonograph (old record player). By putting them right next to the walls, the room looked more detailed but still had enough space to place minifigs. I also put tiles with the similar pattern as the ground floor to continue the interior look of the building. For the balcony, I placed 1x1x5 dark red bricks as posts to be able to extend the top floor up to the edge of the building.

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For the top floor, I added floor plates to extend the whole room by 4 studs. It is amazing how 4 studs could affect the room that initially only had a bed and a glass container for a pet chameleon. I rearranged the bed and glass container then added a desk with some micro modular buildings and a pen & letter. I tiled the whole room with dark red tiles and placed the chair & carpet which used to be on the middle floor. I added a coffee table with a mug and some sweets. As part of the roof, used white windows with ornate gribbles at the back to complement the facade of the building.

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The House

The crawlspace had a few items such as a sack, scissors and step ladder but it felt lacking. I knew I couldn’t turn it into a proper room due to it being only 3 bricks high. To make it more interesting, I put a washing machine, a water heater and a micro LEGO city on the desk. Another way to improve the crawlspace is to completely tile the area.

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For the living room, I chose the same tile pattern as the bookshop but used tan, white and dark turquoise to match the color of the building. I placed a small drawer near the front door and a telephone beside the nook. I felt the house was incomplete without a kitchen so I removed the cabinet and placed a small sink and stove then a wall to separate it from the fire place. It made the ground floor look complete without dividing it into smaller rooms.

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For the bedroom, I continued with the tile works and added a few more details like the microscale Eiffel tower and modular buildings.

Being one of the AFOLs that always want at least 1 toilet in each modular, I had to sacrifice the balcony and renovate it into a bathroom. It has a toilet, sink and shower as well as tile works that matched the bedroom.

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This part of the improvement is available as a free MOC on Belle-Ve Bricks. Link below:

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mldular house back

The Backyard

The buildings had a good-looking backyard with a pumpkin patch but other than that, it didn’t have much going for it. I used round plates and tiles in light bluish gray, dark bluish gray and reddish-brown colors to create a pathway as well as a seating are and a table. This way, it could become a nice hangout place for the neighbors to enjoy some pizza and drinks.

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Most of these modifications only require common pieces which may already be in your collection but the additional details they provide make the Birch Bookshop more interesting to look at.  I’m sure that there are more ways to improve the Birch Bookshop using a few extra pieces and enhancing its beauty both on the interior and exterior. This is a good way to practice being resourceful and innovative which will lead to you becoming better at MOC’ing and modifying.

If you have your own suggestions, please leave a comment below so others may also get some ideas for their own Birch Bookshop. I intend to post more improvements for the other modular sets so be on the lookout for other blogs. I hope this post has been helpful for you. Until next time, keep building and having fun with LEGO!

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belleve bricks sig fig scaled
Written by Matthew Mitchell
I am an engineer by profession. Aside from an almost full time hobby of LEGO, I also listen to music, play the piano, do art sketches and watch movies. After about 27 years of my dark ages, I came back to LEGO in Feb 2020. I mainly collect and design modular buildings with a bit of Harry Potter, Ninjago and minifig-scale vehicles.  I started digital designing in August 2020 and have not stopped since. As inspired by one of my favorite youtubers, my usual design concepts focus on diversity and density. Creativity and resourcefulness go hand in hand with LEGO MOC design and creation. Always do what you can with what you have.
About Matthew Mitchell
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