The popular book series The Borrows by Mary Norton has inspired the imaginations of both children and adults. This past year we took our younger daughter Emma to see the film The Secret World of Arietty, and I enjoyed watching her eyes light up as she was captivated by this fantasy world of tiny people. The Littles by John Peterson is another excellent children’s book series along the same lines.
I have always been intrigued by dollhouses and the "little" world that exists there; a beautifully done dollhouse can easily transport you into a magical miniature world.
The Carmel Doll Shop in California does amazing restorations of antique dollhouses, using authentic vintage wallpaper from Hannah's Treasures. These collectable dollhouses fetch a handsome price when restored and furnished with antique miniature pieces and decor hundreds of years old.
For as long as dollhouses have been created, leftover wallpaper pieces from the interiors of homes have been used to cover the walls of dollhouses. Nowadays you can buy contemporary dollhouse wallpapers that are scaled to a minature size, but authentic antique dollhouses could only use leftover pieces of real wallpaper, whether the print was to scale or not.
While traveling in Wales, my daughter Hannah visited the Errdig house, a historically preserved early 18th century house with one of Britain's finest collections of original antique furniture and décor. This dollhouse was displayed in one of the bedrooms. Notice the beautiful antique wallpaper in each of the rooms.
When restoring antique dollhouses, vintage wallpapers provide a more authentic look than commercially printed contemporary dollhouse papers. The best vintage wallpapers to use are the smaller florals and geometric prints.
Look closely at the wallpaper in the kitchen pictured above. Do you notice how this room has a little border at the top? The antique wallpaper in this room is paired with a cutting from an antique border. David from the Carmel Doll Shop told me about this technique, so using David's idea as inspiration, you can recreate this look on your own.
I acquired this small blue floral wallpaper in a collection that I recently purchased. The tiny print is perfect for a dollhouse.
And this sweet blue border already exists in my collection.
I cut out a section of this border and paired it with the blue floral.
These two papers look so precious together and recreate the illusion of a lovely wallpapered room.
Restoring an antique dollhouse takes a lot of hard work and research, but many people also create brand new dollhouses with a mix of new and vintage items.
Danielle creates roomboxes, a smaller version of a dollhouse that focuses on a particular room. Notice the tiny dollhouse on the shelf…how cute!
Incorporating both new and old elements into your dollhouse allows for a fresh, contemporary approach while also including vintage charm. For example, you can use authentic vintage wallpaper on the walls of your dollhouse and then fill them with new items. Etsy has a lot of wonderful sellers with great handmade miniature items.
MiniatureLane has the most precious bedroom sets for dollhouses.
I absolutely love these miniature shabby chic throw pillows from Memoriesnminiature.
And for the most charming mini sweets, you must visit miniaturepatisserie.
I thought you might enjoy peeking into these little rooms. It’s a wonderful, miniature life!