It’s A Great Big Miniature World!

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I’ve always loved dolls. I know plenty of grownups with a doll or two (or an entire collection, from Barbie to American Girl and everything in between). While I loved my dolls, I spent much of my childhood playing with my dollhouse.You’re never too old to enjoy miniature scale dollhouses! There’s an entire world of serious adult (women and men) miniature collectors. I’ve recently discovered it’s a great big miniature world out there…

My best childhood Christmas was circa 1977. My dad had a “workshop” in the backyard. Daddy was a traveling salesman; woodworking was a hobby. I’d happily play outside, frequently popping in to see what Daddy was creating. One day, I was no longer allowed in the workshop, the doors locked. Being a curious elf, I tried peeking, but to no avail! I didn’t know what was being built, and curiosity was killing me!

That Christmas Eve, I was so excited I couldn’t sleep! With tree lights twinkling in the living room, a shadow was cast on my bedroom wall: the silhouette of a dollhouse!

Daddy built an amazing dollhouse: a saltbox with shutters on the windows, a hand-carved chimney and porch lights repurposed from cufflinks. Mama bought beautiful, handmade realistic furniture to go inside, and a family of German-made dolls.

On special occasions my parents would take me to “World Toy and Gift Shop”, a toy store in the Houston “Village”. My dad shopped there when HE was a kid. The store was amazing – much of it “old stock”- with a miniature section like no other. My parents were thrifty, but when it came to toys, I had the best.

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My dollhouse, circa 1977

My dollhouse had tiny, choke-worthy pieces a small child wouldn’t be allowed to play with nowadays, but I learned to take care and cherish it. Sadly, when we moved in the late 80s, my dollhouse got lost! I only have the one old photo, with my teenage brother making a funny face through the window (cracks me up to this day).

As an adult, I never forgot my dollhouse. For years, I’d search eBay thinking, maybe someday, like a needle in a haystack I’d catch it for sale.

This is the first dollhouse I have seen that reminds me of the one my dad built.

This is the first dollhouse I have seen that reminds me of the one my dad built.

Recently a vintage dollhouse popped up on a Facebook tag sale that looked similar to mine, and my family thought it’d be a great Mother’s Day gift. I’m amazed how much it reminds me of MY old dollhouse, learning from the seller that the original owner was my age and that her father built it circa 1977! As a bonus, it came with several boxes of furniture and accessories, some the same pieces I had as a child! It’s like it was meant to be.

Sewing the little pillows to the right scale and knitting small blankets and throws wasnt easy.

Sewing the little pillows to the right scale and knitting small blankets and throws wasn’t easy.

Miniature scale can be 1:48 (¼”), 1:24 (½”) or 1:12 (1 inch) scale (like mine). Larger scale, or “play scale” is 1:6. It’s relaxing and fun setting up the dollhouse, now sitting in our living room. I especially love MAKING miniatures!

“Printies” are sites with miniature printables you can print. I’ve printed out posters and photos, and made books, comics and jar labels. I’ve made hat, match, food and cleaning supply boxes. Open desk drawers and there’s bills, letters and even a mini passport! A few of my favorite “printies” sites are printmini.com and jennifersprintables.com.

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I’ve created dish towels and curtains from ribbon and scrap fabric, making curtain rods from barbeque skewers and beads.

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The circa 1977 dollhouse was electrified when we got it, but too scary to plug in. I find that LED lights work great and are easy to move around. I use a tin of candle sticky wax to attach to walls and ceiling.

The circa 1977 dollhouse was electrified when we got it, but too scary to plug in. I find that LED lights work great and are easy to move around. I use a tin of candle sticky wax to attach to walls and ceiling.

Old rags became towels. I made a shower curtain from fabric and the wire egg holder from a box of Easter egg dye. A thimble became a waste paper basket. I’ve filled jars with real flour and bath salts, and there’s actual soap in the soap dishes.

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The master bedroom was fun to set up. I knitted the rug and bedding using size “1” needles.

The master bedroom was fun to set up. I knitted the rug and bedding using size “1” needles.

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The porcelain kitten  in the little girl’s roomwas mine as a child, and part of my original dollhouse.

The porcelain kitten in the little girl’s room was mine as a child, and part of my original dollhouse.

The boys’ attic playroom. I created a half wall by repurposing scrapwood from a home repair project.

The boys’ attic playroom. I created a half wall by repurposing scrapwood from a home repair project.

Every home needs storage!

Every home needs storage!

I love the “sewing room” the most, because I was inspired by my own sewing room in my real house.

I love the “sewing room” the most, because I was inspired by my own sewing room in my real house.

I made much of my own minis for my sewing room, including patterns stuffed with real pattern paper, and a felt tomato pincushion using felt glued around a pencil eraser.

I made many of my own minis for my sewing room, including patterns stuffed with real pattern paper, and a felt tomato pincushion using felt glued around a pencil eraser.

I’ve repaired old, broken furniture and and made new bedding and pillows. I’ve taken mass produced items and “dressed them up”. I’ve knitted and crocheted throw rugs, blankets, doilies, and winter wear for the coat rack using the tiniest needles and yarn, usually while drinking my morning coffee.

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The dollhouse, miniature, and diorama hobby is going strong. The Facebook group, “World of Dollhouses and Miniatures”, has over 13,000 members! My mini’s theme is 1930/40-something, and while cute, it’s “rough” compared to some of the amazing work of some! I think ours looks pretty good, considering we only started working on it in May.

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“Miniature Conventions” take place around the world. In June, my daughter and I attended the Molly Cromwell Dollhouse Miniatures Festival in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. We were amazed at the jaw-dropping detail! All the artisans showed immense talent, but our favorite booth was that of Lisa Meyer and Stephanie Watt, known as “Mini Maniacs Miniatures”!

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Mini Maniacs Miniatures (“MiniswithMusic” on Etsy) has everything 1:12 scale to decorate for Christmas – realistic tabletop trees, decorated mantels, wreaths, and dreamy Christmas trees (complete with lights). There’s “mystical” items, too- miniatures can be any theme, (think “Harry Potter”, for example). Their detailed work also includes one-of-a-kind vignettes and music boxes featuring miniatures.

Stephanie and Lisa, two very creative and talented ladies, with some of their miniature creations

Stephanie and Lisa, two very creative and talented ladies, with some of their miniature creations

Lisa, Production and Recruitment Coordinator for the Deparment of Music (as well as a professional singer and choral conductor), and Stephanie, a concert pianist and full Professor and Director of Theory and Piano Studies in the Department of Music, became friends after meeting at Long Island University, where they both work. Lisa loved dollhouses as a child. She got started creating miniatures in 2006 while making a gift for her mother, after finding that the pieces she was in search of were too expensive or not available. By 2011, miniatures was a serious passion for Lisa and the Etsy shop was born.

Lisa loves how the world of miniatures has limitless possibilities, able to transport the beholder to any time or place. She finds all mediums can be used, including wood, fabric, and paint. Both Lisa and Stefanie have won awards for their miniature work. Lisa’s creation, a wizard’s castle, won second place in November 2017 at the Philadelphia Miniatures Show!

Inside the wizard’s castle Photo courtesy of Lisa Meyer

Inside the wizard’s castle
Photo courtesy of Lisa Meyer

Lisa and her award winning castle.  Photo courtesy Lisa Meyer

Lisa and her award-winning castle.
Photo courtesy Lisa Meye
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My teen daughter and I have enjoyed decorating and picking pieces for our mini-home at craft stores, Etsy and at a delightful miniature store in our state, Whimsies Dollhouse Shop!

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We can keep adding to the house, looking forward to decorating it for the seasons, too!

Hope you enjoyed this peek at the world of miniatures! Leave me a comment here so I know you stopped by. Wishing everyone a Happy Fourth of July! 

*Here’s a video if you’d like to see the dollhouse in greater detail:

Suburban Farmgirl’s Dollhouse

 

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

Leave a comment 22 Comments

  1. Beverly Battaglia says:

    I love your dollhouse!! I am impressed with how you made some of the small items! Enjoyed all the pictures. Love, Mother

  2. Rebecca M. says:

    Oh, I LOVE your dollhouse. I never had one when I was a child, but I always wanted one and made that comment to my husband once. So that year for Christmas, I got a kit to make my own. I was thrilled and worked (and played) with it for years, but it’s been kept on a shelf for the past few years. Now (at 64) I’m going to get it out and try to make it beautiful like yours! Thank for the wonderful post.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thanks, Rebecca! Aren’t our husbands the BEST? Such a sweet gift. I love that I have inspired you to work on your dollhouse! Have fun! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Pat Gstalder says:

    Hi Nicole,
    My own fondest memory does indeed include a dollhouse. But mine (in the late 40’s) was all metal with everything printed on the metal including rugs, etc. But even after ALL these years I can still picture it and remember what joy I had when I got it for my 9th birthday. You have done amazing work…..and all since May!
    Well, all I can say is, “Wow”!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Pat, Thank you! I have seen those dollhouses like you mention. I think they are called “Marx” and made of tin. They are very cute! I also saw one in a magazine where it sat on the kitchen table at Christmas, all “done up” for the holidays. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Bonnie B says:

    Your post may have given me the incentive to not sell our dollhouse! It was a farmhouse kit gifted by my daughter’s grandparents in the 1970s. We put it together then and started furnishing it. Then about 5 years ago my granddaughter expressed an interest in it and we stripped off old wallpaper and redecorated it. Such fun both times! We’ve added more furnishings, but the granddaughter is now 19 and the interest has passed for her. It’s been for sale with no buyers and is sitting covered in the garage. :( I could make room in my living room for it and am thinking about it thanks to you.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Oh Bonnie, I hope you do put it up! It would be a shame to sell it. Even if your granddaughter shows no interest now, I bet one day she will want it again. I love the one I have because it reminds me so much of the one my dad made me in the 1970s. Thank you for sharing with me! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Judy says:

    Nicole, THAT dollhouse is just simply AMAZING!!! I’ve not seen anything like it. WOW!
    You have a lot of patience girl!
    Thanks so much for sharing!
    Hugs&Squeezles
    Judy

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Judy, Thanks so much! We did a lot of the work on it the week we had no power after the big storm here. I still could use details, like there is dollhouse wallpaper and I’d love to put the tile sheets on the floor of the bathroom. They look like real tile and just stick to the bottom! So many neat details. My daughter and I can’t wait to decorate it for fall. We will have a cup of coffee together and discuss what to put where. Thank you for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Denise says:

    Love your dollhouse! how sweet they did that for you and what fun to get to “play” with it. I loved the toy horse, used to have one of those as a kid. but that will be fun to decorate with the seasons. enjoy!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise, thank you! Wasn’t that a sweet thing for my husband and daughter to do for Mother’s Day? When my daughter was little, I always wanted to get a dollhouse for her like the one had, but didn’t know where to look. Now she’s sixteen, and we have enjoyed the miniature hobby together as a hobby. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Deb Bosworth says:

    Nicole, this is such a sweet post. I love how you’re always drawing inspiration from your childhood days. I feel like I could step inside each room and go about my daily routine. You’ve done a wonderful job of re creating that time. The era you have decorated in must be fun to find mini’s for! What fun there is also a community for doll house enthusiasts. Of course there would be!
    I used to follow blogger Cynthia’s Cottage a few years ago when I first started blogging. Her style is cottage roses and her miniatures were/are so charming. Not your style, but beautiful all the same. Here’s the link for you just for fun! http://cynthiascottagedesign.blogspot.com/

    Happy Summer Nicole!
    Deb

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Deb, OH MY GOODNESS! Cynthia’s dollhouse is divine! I love the “shabby chic”. I could just sit in there and have tea! The white and pink is just yummy! I recognized some of the same little pieces, like the “cherries” jar that is in mine. So much fun to see. Thanks for the link!
      The dollhouse I have came with two big crates of furniture and accessories. Some of the boxes of furniture inside they were never opened, and looked old. Some pieces were exactly like ones I had in my original dollhouse! I don’t want to start “collecting” dollhouses. I just want to enjoy this one, as a nod to mine I had. My daughter has an idea to do one, if we find another good deal on one somewhere, with a completely different theme. I have seen modern ones, and ones done up like miniature stores, etc. It is an amazing hobby with no limits to what you can dream up.

      Good to hear from you; I hope your area was spared from the bad weather that hit our part of New England so hard back in spring. Wishing you a very happy summer, too! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Joan says:

    Totally impressive and so inviting!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joan! Thank you…it was so fun to set up! Have a great Fourth of July! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Joan Hendrix says:

    Okay, I have a dollhouse story too. I was an only child until almost 12. My parents didn’t want to spoil me so I did not get everything I asked for. A dollhouse was once of those things. In junior high, during a shopping trip, I spotted a dollhouse on clearance and my mother bought it. It was a weird futuristic- looking thing with 3 oval rooms that fit together in various ways. All the furniture was the same weird colored see-through plastic. I don’t recall having dolls for it. I played with it for awhile but it was not a real dollhouse in my mind. In my 20s I subscribed to a kit club and made many pieces of furniture for a house I didn’t have. My first husband bought me a kit but I had a baby and never built the house. Fast forward many years and I visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Abby Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and found a whole room of antique dollhouses! My friend and I just drooled and proceeded to seek out a local shop and make several purchases of dolls and furnishings. When I got home I purchased a dollhouse kit. It took me 8 years of work, off and on, but I finished it about 5 year’s ago. It sits in my living room and it’s really a bit large but I love it. Now it has landscaping! I’m 62! I loved your story. Thank you!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joan, Oh I love your wonderful story! How cool is it that you built the dollhouse of your dreams! I would love to see photos of it. I love that yours has landscaping, too…very cool!

      Today is rainy, and I should be doing housework and laundry, but instead worked on my dollhouse, LOL!

      I will have to put Williamsburg’s Abby Rockefeller Art Museum on my “must visit” list. Have you been to the Smithsonian’s History museum lately? We were there about two years ago and I loved seeing the dollhouse that President Carter got for Amy when she was a little girl. It was huge and pretty amazing.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. It put a smile on my face for sure. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Marlene Capelle says:

    What a beautiful dollhouse. I had one but had to sell it. We don’t have room for one but i do have a gazebo and a breast cancer survivor bed room that I decorate for Christmas. I’ve also started a butterfly pavilion but that is going to take awhile. I love miniatures. The Denver Museum of Dolls and Miniatures has a show coming up and I hope to volunteer for it again. I also make fairy garden decor but make it dollhouse scale so it could go either way. Thanks for sharing. Hope you post more pictures.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marlene! Your miniatures sound lovely! How awesome that you volunteer at the museum, too! I will post more pics when I decorate the dollhouse for the holidays, so check back! Thanks for reading and posting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Marilyn says:

    Thank You for sharing. The dollhouse and the rooms are lovely and so realistic. You did such a great job. I am happy for you that you have a new dollhouse to decorate. Enjoy.
    Marilyn

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marilyn, Thank you! It’s been so much fun to decorate. My daughter and I have found a fun thing to do together in miniatures, too. :) Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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