A miniature dream

I love dollhouses.  When I was a kid I had quite a few of them.  I believe my first one was a Fisher Price or Playskool when I was very little.  Then there was the Barbie Glamour Home and the Playmobil Victorian Mansion.  And there were, of course, the numerous customized Lego houses I built.

You can imagine I’m thinking about these again because we’re having a little girl.  Yes, you are right.  And I *think* Mother T has packed these precious relics away for safekeeping until the day we can pass them along to Little Girl Haggard.

Beyond these beauties, there is one other dollhouse.  I’ve had it in my personal possession the last few years.  And it is the one I hold dearest to my heart. There is a story to it, of course.

When I was around eight or nine we used to make routine trips to a place called Frank’s Nursery & Crafts.  I loved going there.  Mom would look for flowers and I  meandered the aisles looking at art supplies.

The best spot in the entire store was the aisle that had wooden dollhouses displayed on the very top row.  They were build-it-yourself kits, and let me tell you, they were not for the faint-of-dollhouse-heart.

They were all intricate, with ornate details and individual cedar shingles.  And these were the unpainted, un-dazzled-up, empty versions.  Looking up at them, I would imagine what a completed, furnished version of each one of them might look like.

I don’t know how long it was before I convinced my parents to buy one for me.  They were not cheap.  And I would need Dad to work with me on it.   I remember how huge the box was when we brought it home.  Yes, this would be quite a bit of work.

Our house in Minnesota had a detached two-story garage and the upstairs included a shop/storage area.  This is where we began the project.  I remember sitting there impatiently watching Dad glue the base together, put down each small piece of wood for the flooring, and then stain it a deep, dark color. I’m pretty sure we got in an argument that time because I wanted to help more and he was intent on getting it perfect.

We didn’t get much farther than the base and the main walls before I lost interest and it got lost in the mix of life.  All the pieces still sat there on the shop table and when I would go upstairs in the garage to play, I would remember and feel overwhelmed by the task and discouraged that we hadn’t finished it.

It was probably two years later when I got up the gumption and decided we were going to finish it. I guess those two extra years were what I needed. It felt like this time around I could figure out more of the directions and complete the steps myself or with some extra instruction from Dad.

It was only a matter of a few months and the house was almost done.  I moved it to our basement and that’s where I glued on each individual shingle and painted it.

Here is the finished product.  I will say, it’s almost 20 years old and has moved from Minnesota to Idaho to Seattle and is still in pretty darn good shape.

[Bring back any memories, Dad? And because of your hard work, the hardwood floors look amazing to this day! ]

You can tell the exterior needs some love.  Railings are broken, window panes are gone, and I’d like to repaint it.

You don’t even know how excited I am to give it all the love it needs.  Yes, this is the project I’m undertaking for Little Girl Haggard and really, for myself.  Even just pulling it out has brought back a lot of memories of what it was like to be a girl and to like girl things.

When I unveiled it for Jason his response was “Wow, it’s big!”  I set up all the furniture inside to show him, but I think I got more enjoyment out of that than he did.

During that process I realized it will be really hard for me to just focus on the exterior.  When I was a kid, though I ended up really enjoying the building, it was also the part I had to get done so I could devote myself to decorating it and making up stories inside of it.  I spent a lot of time collecting the furniture and miniatures (again, not a cheap endeavor for my parents).

And let me tell you, finding dollhouse stores is not easy to do.  This was back before internet shopping and let’s just say there aren’t a whole lot of people out there obsessed enough with dollhouses to try to make a living off of them.  But if there were those people in the early 90s in Spokane and North Idaho I was bound to find them!

But back to the project at hand.  My next steps are to find some photos for inspiration and visit the dollhouse shop that just happens to be minutes from our house.  I have always wanted to go there and now I have a great reason.

In my initial internet search this afternoon I came across a photo of the same dollhouse, which I was so excited to find–in France, of all places (scroll down to last photo). It’s given me some ideas for exterior accroutements that would really change the whole look of the house.  Though we will see, I’m not sure my budget allows so many do-dads.

That is it for now, but I look forward to updating here as the project continues.  And, I will leave you with one little sound bite from my dollhouse unveiling on Saturday night:

Jason: Since you already have this dollhouse, what project will her and I have to do together?

Me: When I was a kid I dreamed of a whole neighborhood of these houses!  If she’s anything like me, you’ll have plenty to do.

Secretly, I hope I get to be involved, too. 🙂


6 responses to “A miniature dream

  1. That is so awesome! I would’ve loved to build something like that! I loved LEGOS too! 🙂

  2. Love it! Let me know if you need some pieces of real vintage wall paper 🙂 Have fun!

  3. Amazing!

  4. That was from Brenna, not David….and I really need to find out how to change that little picture icon!

  5. Elisabeth,
    I have wonderful memories of this and the fact that your daughter will play with it is great. Ian can play with it, too. Perhaps we should build a two story garage to go with it!
    Love, Dad

  6. Oh my goodness, what memories this brings back. I had totally forgotten my yearning for a dollhouse when I was little – an intricate, beautiful dollhouse. My professor in college (a sweet, quirky widow in her seventies) actually refurbished dollhouses as a hobby. What a great hobby!

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