Dollhouses For Adults – Really?
Yes – REALLY – Dollhouses for adults are a really big deal – just bear with me.
Back in 2002 I did an illustrated magazine spread about dollhouses .
Newsflash – There is a link to four free printable dollhouse wallpapers at the end of this post
My research really piqued my interest – not enough to get my own dollhouse but, I loved seeing the work of other people who had got their own houses.
A magazine had commissioned me to write about dollhouses for adults and so I searched out some owners.
It wasn’t that difficult – I began with my Aunty June, who I knew was a proud dollhouse owner.
But I hadn’t really taken that much interest in her dollhouse – shame on me!
Because it was a beautiful house with three floors and a lovely atmosphere.
Perhaps I thought dollhouses for adults were not cool – (just sayin’!)
But then I discovered a whole new world of miniature making and realised the skill involved in dollhouse crafting.
My Aunty June and her partner Stan were completely absorbed in making miniatures for the dollhouse.
They produced some very beautiful pieces for their house and, to sell at fairs.
Stan was a woodworker and June was a needlewoman/upholsterer in the world of miniatures.
When I finally took an interest in their work, it amazed me.
The two images below show a small part of their extensive work.
It was fascinating seeing how much work they put into their tiny house and how much joy they got out of it.
For the first time, I could see why dollhouses for adults are a thing.
You can fantasize about and create your perfect house and your perfect furniture.
And I suppose, your perfect people – but we will come to that later.
When I looked into the history of dollhouses, I learned that dollhouses were found in the Egyptian pyamids 5000 years ago.
According to Wikipedia, the Egyptian dollhouses had wooden models of servants, furniture, animals and boats and were probably religious in nature.
So possibly not for Egyptian children to play with, much like the European Baby Houses of 16th century Europe with ‘baby’ meaning small.
The adult dollhouses back then were the domain of the wealthy and most certainly kept away from children.
And really, when you’ve put your heart and soul into creating a beautiful miniature, little chubby hands need to kept away!
That’s why we now have Playmobil dollhouses – beautifully indestructible, in my experience.
Writing about June’s dollhouse made me look for other dollhouses for adults.
I think it was through June that I found the Stowmarket Miniatures Club and I was introduced to Audrey R. and Sylvia M, Phil W. and Joanna C.
And they just about blew my mind with their creations. This was back in 2002. I did try to find these wonderful women again as I wrote this 21 years later but it appears the club has disbanded.
There has been no update on their website since 2016 – what a shame.
But thanks to modern technology, I had all the precious pictures I took of their work stored on CDs.
And by some miracle, the CDs worked in the disc player I plug into my Mac.
So here are some of the beautiful miniature creations made by Audrey and Sylvia at least 21 years ago.
The four images below show Audrey’s meticulous work.
The images below show Sylvia’s amazing miniature knitted creations.
This incredible knitting was the icing on the cake for me.
How on earth do you knit in 1:12 size? Well the picture above shows how.
With piano wire.
I remember Sylvia telling me how frustrated she was with size 19 & 20 knitting needles.
She explained that they kept bending and she was frustrated with constantly straightening them.
So with the help of husband Vic, she turned to piano wire and the rest is history.
I wrote my feature – which actually turned into two features for two different magazines in the end – and then left dollhouses behind.
Well that was then – so fast forward 21 years and my interest in dollhouses for adults has been nudged back to life.
This time it was by my dear friend Mal who is a dollhouse owner.
And I’m sure she will forgive me for saying her approach to dollhousing is quite quirky compared to the hard core enthusiasts I met before.
Mal’s approach is very different to the owners I met through my writings in 2002.
I will explain.
Everyone else I encountered had ‘people’ living in their houses. Mal does not. Or so it seems anyway.
Her dollhouse sits on a sideboard in her lounge and no one is home. In the dollhouse that is.
No one is ever home. So are we to assume no one lives there?
The rooms are usually tidy and the house has an air of the occupants being at work.
With the other dollhouse ‘landladies’ I’d met, people were a big feature in their houses.
If they made a chair, for example, a dollhouse doll would sit on it.
There would be ‘people’ to ‘use’ whatever they added to the house.
But in Mal’s case, her house is, to me anyway, always quietly waiting for the people to come home.
And I love that. I will get into why later on.
I’d known Mal for sometime before I asked about her dollhouse.
Dollhouses for adults are quite a personal thing for the owners.
I found that out when I researched the magazine feature and began talking to dollhouse enthusiasts.
We really need to be as respectful of their tiny houses as we would be in anyone’s actual house.
Visitors should really wait to be invited ‘in’ because people can’t just go barging in and picking things up,
And once in, ask if you can pick stuff up.
Armed with that knowledge, it was some while before I asked about Mal’s dollhouse, she was only to pleased to show me around.
I immediately asked why no one was home.
Quick as a flash she said, “I don’t like people, they make the house messy.”
(This is the wonderful quirkiness of Mal!)
I laughed my head off. “How do inanimate dolls make the house messy?” I asked
After a look around the house and seeing how much work Mal puts into decorating rooms, making miniature items of furniture, clothes, books and shoes, I was mystified.
There is a beautiful screen in a bedroom, made by Mal. And I thought, she goes to so much trouble for a house with no people.
These books were also made by Mal in 1:12 size for her dollhouse – but who will read them? Who will eat the bread and cheese in the previous picture?
The delightful bathroom, complete with handmade miniature toilet rolls.
The teeny toilet rolls made by Mal.
And what about those miniature mugs we see on a shelf in the kitchen of this house?
Well I saw a video on YouTube of a person showing how to make teeny little mugs for dollhouses.
And so I thought it would be fun if we had a go at making some and, they turned out really well.
We had a brilliant crafting session where we followed what Shyra of Queen City Minis did.
We had so much fun making these mugs in 1:10 scale, which is slightly bigger than normal in dollhouses for adults.
You can see the original video we followed here on YouTube. If you are into miniature making, you will enjoy this project.
Ok – so back to the question – who are these mugs for if Mal’s house has no tenants?
After a good look round the house and chatting further to Mal, then the penny dropped.
When she said dolls make the house look messy, Mal meant the dolls themselves look messy in the house.
And I totally agree. The one thing that let down all the other houses I have seen is the weird little dolls that people have in their houses.
With their stiff arms and staring faces; their stiff bodies that don’t yield to the curve of a chair.
And if they do perch on a chair, they are often laid out in it looking most uncomfortable with stiff arms and legs stretched out as if they are unconcious (or worse!)
Since starting to write this post, I have been looking online for dollhouse dolls and nothing really seems to have changed.
Etsy has loads of miniature dolls for sale. But all the dolls I saw online still have that stiff, vacant almost eery look about them.
And I don’t see anyway round it unless you can entice some real fairies or gnomes to move into your dollhouse.😍
How else will you find tiny, animated people that don’t look either demented or dead, living in a dollhouse?
I’m definitely with Mal on that one, if I had a dollhouse, I wouldn’t have people in it either.
But I also don’t like the thought of a dollhouse being devoid of ‘people’. Where is the incentive to decorate? To make furniture and knick knacks? To make mugs and rugs?
So I prefer to think that the family is out and will be home soon, eager to see what lovely things you have added to their home.
They come home after we go to bed, they get up and leave before we rise each morning and they are away at their cottage every weekend. Perfect. 😍
As I finished taking pictures of Mal’s dollhouse and before she closed it up, there was one real live visitor – Vivienne the cat!
How about you? Do you have people living in your dollhouse? Do you know of any really lifelike dolls that aren’t sinister or scary looking?
Find me on Instagram and let me know in a comment under the post about dollhouses for adults.
And for reading this far – you get some freebies!
These papers are free to download, print and use in your own craft projects. Before you download them, please read my Terms and Conditions. There aren’t many but please respect those I do have and I will be happy to keep creating free designs.
Happy miniature decorating!