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January 23, 2013

A Natty Michelle miniature house

I go to craft stores a couple of times a week. Most of the time I pop in for more watercolor paper so I can keep up with shop projects, but I tend to mosey around in other aisles. You know, the paint aisle, the fabric aisle...and sometimes, just maybe, the dollhouse aisle. 

Sources: Gold on Cream Mums paper via Paper-Source // dollhouse by Nicole Balch 
of Making it Lovely // dollhouse by Boldi-BO //  woman // Flocked Owls paper via Paper-Source

My obsession with all things tiny began when I was in elementary school, when my aunt and my two cousins started remodeling and finishing their family's 1960s dollhouse. I wish I had a picture of it. It was as tall as me, every room had working electricity, and many, many tiny cakes and books littered the tabletops and shelves throughout the house. It was fantastic. 

So of course, every time I would come back home after playing with my cousins' dollhouse I would whine to my mother, Can I puh-leeze have a dollhouse of my own?! Finally, after a couple of years of this, my parents bit the bullet and Santa surprised me with a dollhouse of my very own on Christmas morning, c. 1991. (Really, my father spent many nights after work before Christmas hunched over in our attic making it for me. Thanks, Dad!) 

Fast forward twenty or so years, and I'm reading Nicole Balch's blog, "Making it Lovely," and literally drooling all over my keyboard at the modern, whimsical, beautiful touches of the dollhouse she made for Emily Henderson's "I'm a Giant" challenge last year. I thought, hmm. I wonder where my old dollhouse is? Maybe I could give it a makeover and stick it in our nook! Yes, that sounded like a lot of fun to me. I called my mom, who reported that not only was my dollhouse in their attic, but all of the miniature goodies that went inside were up there somewhere, too. The dolls, the furniture, the teeny tiny books and cakes. Ooooh, I squealed, I'll take it off your hands!

Immediately after hanging up the phone, I daydreamed how I would renovate my childhood dollhouse.  It would be like decorating a life-size house, but with miniatures I could take risks. Bold colors? Crazy wallpaper? Why not? We never added any flooring or wallpaper to the insides, so it would be like starting with a clean slate. The furniture was made mostly of dark wood, but like Nicole, I could give it a fresh coat of paint to give it an updated look. I was excited. 

Well, when my parents dug the dollhouse out of their attic, they reported that they had a bit of bad news. My once-pristine blue dollhouse had seen better days. It was sitting in the corner of my parents' attic since I entered middle school about 17 or 18 years ago, and Georgia's hot southern summers had given the structure quite a beating. The walls are warped, shingles have disappeared and the front stoop is bound to give away at any moment (not to mention two of the front columns have mysteriously disappeared...) 

But, my mom said, everything else looks okay. 

So the next time I saw my mom, we joyfully dug into the old box of dollhouse furniture. The little stove! The kids' bunk beds! The ice chest and the small bottles of Coca-cola! They were all there, just as I remembered. And yet there was so much in the box that I didn't remember, so it was fun to sort through everything. There was so much of it! And it was all in mint condition. 

Well, I packed up the box, put it in my back closet, and somewhat forgot about it. I go thrifting often enough, and I thought I'd find a dollhouse someday on the cheap, renovate it and then have a little crafting adventure. Little did I know my mom was scheming...

She found a dollhouse like this one -- still in the box! -- at an estate sale. She held on to it until this Christmas and surprised me with it as a gift. (I know, I know -- I am the oldest woman in America to get a dollhouse for Christmas.) But I'm so excited to build it myself and decorate it just the way I want to -- I can paint and wallpaper the walls, decide whether or not to add the gingerbread detailing, the shingles, the shutters. I can add wood flooring, paint my old dollhouse furniture bright, bold colors, and of course, scour through Pinterest for ways to DIY little miniature touches here and there for fun.

And for those of you who find dollhouses creepy and grandmotherly, well, I'll be the first to admit that they can be. But I'm choosing to look at this project like my ultimate little work of art, full of home design touches that are all my style -- vintage, contemporary and eclectic -- just like I've decorated our cottage we live in today. There will be no dark, grandma-style lace curtains and crazy floral wallpaper going on inside this dollhouse. No sir! And when it's finished, it can sit on a table in our nook in front of the window, just like I originally hoped, like this. One day, when I'm older, maybe I can pass it down to someone special in our family to live on for a future generation to enjoy. Or, you know, Harper can come over and play with it (because by the time I finish it, she'll probably be tall enough to see through the top windows!) 

I still feel a little bit like this wanting to take on this kind of craft, but you know what? It's ok. Because....

I'll be checking in here and there, sharing my plans for the house and documenting my progress along the way. Maybe I'll turn those posts into a small Blurb book to go with the dollhouse when I'm finished. Resolution #4: check!

Now...let's see how long it takes me to finish this project. Since I have a ton of miniatures already from my childhood, that will help keep my budget and time crafting to a minimum. (Even though I not-so-secretly want a set of these to add to my collection.) Free time is not a-plenty these days, but I'm looking forward to diving in when I feel the itch to get crafty!

Are y'all are as excited as I am about this? 

Until next time, you can follow my inspiration board on Pinterest right here. As Emily said, it's about to get weird, in a very small way. 


  1. I've always wanted a doll house! This project looks like it's going to be so much fun! I can't wait to see your progress!!

    Ergo - Blog

  2. So fun! I had an enormous dollhouse growing up and loved it. Sounds silly, but I think it played a major role in me becoming an architect. Good luck with your project. I can't wait to see the progress!

  3. ooohhh I always wanted a mini doll house...what a great project! Can't wait to see you fix it up!


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