On Dollhouses

“Mary and I set up our house on the bottom bookshelf in the living room. We use matchboxes for tiny beds and make a desk out of toothpicks.”
Only One Year

So begins Sharon and Mary’s slow building of a miniature house, which they add to, improve, and modify for months.

I was not quite as creative as Sharon and Mary: I didn’t make my miniature furniture. Mostly I used Playmobil dolls and furniture, and an old metal dollhouse of my mother’s that was at least twice too big to be proper scale for the dolls I was using. That made it perfect, as I was not one to be satisfied with a one-family house: I turned that old metal dollhouse into a castle or a Jedi academy, and expanded onto the nearby floor—castles need medieval villages and academies need workshops and classrooms. They never actually got to learn, (or search for the holy grail), though; it was all about the endless arranging and rearranging, and imagining what they could do—for me, actually putting the dolls through the motions would have limited the possibilities.

As always, I’m curious about other people’s experiences—did you build or arrange or play with dollhouses? How and why?

4 thoughts on “On Dollhouses”

  1. Yes, yes, yes, LOVED my dollhouse when I was a kid! I used to save up for months to buy another piece of furniture, and also made lots of bits out of odds and ends. The white plastic Dominoes puts in pizza boxes to keep the cover from collapsing makes a great table! I didn’t use dolls, I used miniature animal figurines. And oh the stories–what happy memories!

  2. Yes, yes, yes, to echo Anne! I, too, loved my metal doll house and played intently with cutouts from the Sears catalog for my large winter and summer families. I had a few purchased items of furniture, but mostly created my own from bits and pieces…. long before there was a Dominoes pizza! When my first daughter was born, I designed (but, alas, never built) a dollhouse.

  3. I never cut figures out from catalogs, but I bought a lot of cheap Dover paper dolls, all of which were the same size so all their clothes were interchangeable. I’d then cut up their clothes and mix and match—a Navajo skirt with a Swedish shirt and Russian shoes, that sort of thing. I’d then actually glue the clothes to the doll—I wanted to make the perfect outfit, and once it was made I didn’t want to change it!

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