the house i'm building

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I've always loved dollhouses, ever since I saw Faith Bradford's tiny world as a girl at the Smithsonian. I even admired the kits when I went to the toy store. Nothing quite like a Huguette Clark obsession, but still. Now, truth be told, my parents were far more practical than me, so we never built a house. But now that I have an excuse (my own child), I've decided to indulge myself with a project that will probably overwhelm our tiny Japanese apartment. Hey, it will make for one beautiful heirloom - here's hoping. When I asked my husband if this was a good idea he said, "well, you've never been a practical person, so why start now?"

So first, let's talk inspiration. There seems to be two schools of thought in dollhouses - pure miniatures for admiring and then there's those for playing. I'm trying to integrate a little bit of both. Meaning, I'm going to try for some authentic period details, moldings, floorings, wall coverings and trims. But at the same time I want to keep things kid-friendly. The most clear ideas I'm excited about are chinoiserie papers, inspired by this classic bedroom of Lucy -Rhian Pauline de Rothschild and the fresh colors in the bedroom by Jayne Design Studio.

And of course by Chinoiserie Chic's Dollhouse

This is the paper that I've picked. At first I was thinking of breaking it up into panels that would be surrounded by trim... but then I decided to go all in and just envelope the room.

The other detail I've fallen for is Jim Coates' miniatures, especially his fireplaces. I want to put one in the sitting room. Look at these lovelies which can be found here. I still haven't decided which one I'm going to go with - I love them all!

The house will probably have skirt molding for the baseboards and casing. Wish me luck, I'm no expert in molding and trim so we'll see how this all turns out. I also decided to do tile in the bathroom. Maybe marble? This man has some amazing miniature floors from scratch, even if you're not into dollhouses. As far as more details, I even found some old wrapping papers, like the one on the far left from Martha Stewart. It is a pale green that I think would work nicely for wallpaper. I ordered a few fun ones from Rifle Paper, just for kicks, we'll see how the scale looks.

As for the dollhouse itself, I've hemmed and hawed on this. Do I go smaller and more manageable? Or go big since I don't plan on ever doing this again and hope it can be passed down? Victorian? Georgian? Colonial? Italianate? I came close to buying a Georgian townhouse kit, however it turned out to be too big to ship here. Now I'm torn between this smaller one.

Or this giant, which has more (and larger) rooms. I think I would change the trim a bit to be more child-friendly. They're both by Real Good Toys.

I love the color scheme of the Owens Dollhouse by Heather Aspinall. Amazing! I'm inspired to stick with a white washed house, perhaps with a slightly darker roof.

Something like this

And believe me, I've even thought about crazy things like a wood paneling, inspired by this miniature. I just don't think I have the skills.

But you say, "isn't this for you or your daughter?" Well, before you think I've forgotten all about her in my mini madness - this is the furniture. We will start with wooden sets by Plan Toys, Hape and Ryan's Room intended for the preschool set. I plan to use plain craft paint to add some more decorative finishes, but still very play-friendly. As she grows, and if she's interested, we plan to allow her to pick out nicer, more collectible furniture allowing her to personalize it a bit more.

And who will live here? Why Calico Critters, of course. They're very popular here in Japan, but I think kids back home love them too! I've seen lots of Pinterest dollhouses for these little guys, so I think they'll be perfect while she's little since she can play with them when she turns three. Let's face it, this thing will probably take until then to finish!

As an aside, our daughter became very sick over a week ago; she's doing much better but we're still shaken. Life is so precious. I don't share much on the blog but I'm sharing this to ask that you please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, thank you.

Parnassus said...

Hello Ann, I am so sorry to hear that your beautiful daughter was not well, and I hope that she recovers very soon.

I would imagine that Japan would be a great place to shop for materials for a doll house or other miniature. A miniature Japanese house might be interesting, perhaps resembling the one in Totoro. Another possibility is a modern one, which could express ideas you might use if you were building a real house.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

so sorry to hear about your daughter but glad to hear she's recovering!
This is a fabulous and fun idea. As a kid my grandfather and I built a dollhouse and fitted it out and donated it to charity -great bonding for us actually. But it was so fun, I used popsickle sticks for wood siding and the cut off rounded ends for shingles on the roof. Inside I cut out oriental rug ads from architectural digest, etc. and mounted them to cardboard which were the perfect scale! We got to-scale wallpapers from the hobby store. The furniture was all from play-mobile -so plastic but really cool. I wonder if they still make it? You could check ebay too. It was all such a great experience! I just wish I had pictures of it.