I tried to start this from how it began, but there’s really no way to tell this except from where I am now which is far gone–deep in the rabbit hole of dollhousing. Oh, you didn’t know dollhouse was a verb? It is now. Let’s get this over with…
My name is Kelle, and I am addicted to dollhousing. Whew, there. I said it.
Let’s just say a few Calico Critters for Nella’s Christmas present led to a bigger house for them for her birthday. And that’s about where it ends with Nella because I then took over. Lovely house there, girl. Can I have it? In all fairness, I have every intention of giving it back to her. But only after…
This is the house we started with. We don’t have a lot of room for things to go against the wall in our house, and I knew I wanted it to fit against the end of Nella’s bed without rising above the foot board. This one is perfect, and I like the size proportions of each room (the two big rooms are so much fun to decorate!).
It was a perfectly good house to begin with, but as we started arranging the Hedgehog Family into their bedroom and placing Mrs. Hedgehog’s appliances in her new kitchen, I saw some opportunities. These walls would look great with some wallpaper.
Let me tell you something right now. Take it as a general rule in life–dollhouses, real houses: the words “These walls would look great with some wallpaper” never lead to anything good. Wallpaper is the gateway drug to hiring a contractor to rip your entire house apart and redo everything. It’s like swallowing the blue pill. You can never go back.
One trip to Hobby Lobby to “find some wallpaper” later, and I was standing at the checkout with a basket full of things I didn’t even know they made for dollhouses. Itty bitty base trim molding! A teeny tiny working sconce light! A miniature fish bowl with the smallest goldfish you have ever seen!
“Wow!” the sweet girl at the checkout exclaimed as she rang me up. “What are you working on?”
“Oh, just fancying up a dollhouse,” I replied, beginning to own the job like the true obsession it would become.
“Must be for someone really special,” she noted as she scanned 18 scrapbook paper options and a tiny set of drinking glasses.
I locked myself in Nella’s bedroom that night, measuring and cutting scrapbook paper, carefully brushing wallpaper glue and smoothing the new patterns in place.
A strange satisfaction settled in from how quickly and easily I could obtain the kind of room makeover that normally takes weeks and effort and money to obtain in my real home. I don’t have wood beams and crown molding on my own ceiling, but for the small price of $4.95 and a bloody finger from the bread knife I thought would suffice for a miter saw, I have them in my doll house.
And can we talk about the creative joy?! Once the crown molding was in place, my mind started spinning with ideas. And then I searched “modern dollhouse accessories” on the Internet. AND SHIT. GOT. REAL.
It’s been one week since The Renovation® started. I’m now following 13 new dollhouse enthusiast accounts, am waiting on a shipment of miniature kitchen cabinets to arrive from Hong Kong, researched how to make a miniature fireplace from Sculpey clay and actually consulted Brett on the very important decision of “stainless or white?” for the dollhouse fridge.
Every time Heidi calls, she asks what I’m doing, and when I say “nothing,” she says, “You’re lying. You’re working on the dollhouse, aren’t you?”
I’m printing tiny magazine covers to make coffee table books.
Cutting cloth napkins into curtains.
Crocheting tiny baby blankets for the itty bitty crib that now stands in the hedgehog home.
I’ve lost my cool filter. I started talking about the dollhouse renovation at the gym the other day! TO WORKOUT GUYS! I EVEN PULLED UP A PHOTO OF THE NEW CURTAINS ON MY PHONE, WHAT IS HAPPENING?!
As my trainer so eloquently put it, “If you are that balls deep into renovating a doll house, what kind of shit are you avoiding in your real life?” Whatever, go eat a protein bar.
Brett actually gently nudged me the other day, “Babe, do you think we could work on our real house today?”
EXCUSE ME, CAN’T YOU SEE, I’M BUSY FOLDING A TINY KINFOLK COOKBOOK THAT TOOK ME THREE PRINTINGS TO SIZE RIGHT!
I now see dollhouses like that kid in the Sixth Sense saw dead people. Suddenly all the design accounts I follow on Instagram look miniature. I actually zoomed in on a planter the other day, interested in adding it to the dollhouse, and got disappointed when I realized it was life size.
Of course this is appropriately timed with Marie Kondo’s rise. Everyone else is ridding their homes of unneeded clutter, and I’ve accumulated a pocket-sized telephone, a whisk for Mrs. Hedgehog’s kitchen, a cutting board the size of a thumbnail, six miniature Coke bottles, a 3-inch ukulele, a bag of popsicle sticks to make floating shelves, and an itty bitty custom kitchen on its way from Hong Kong. At least I share her rule of thumb….IT SPARKS JOY.
Which brings me to the moral of this unfolding story.
Yes, it started with a gift for my kid; and yes, I kind of took over. But that’s a far better gift than a dollhouse for her…a mom with a passion to make, who gets lost in the creative joy of a hobby, who finds delight in simple tiny things. When I first shared this, I had several ask (most totally in good fun) if Nella would be involved in the decorating choices and renovation process. And my answer is…Nope. I don’t always involve my kids in all my creative passions because I think being witness to my creative endeavors is just as important, if not more, than being invited to be a part of every one. My mom played the piano for herself growing up, sewed dresses and doll clothes without attempting to teach us how, baked brownies and cookies and birthday treats without scooting a “cooking helper stool” by her side for us. She did it to feed her own creative soul, and for that I am thankful because she taught me to do the same. With three kids to take care of, the youngest (ahem-yours truly) who made a habit of climbing in the dishwasher and eating Christmas ornaments, she needed something to stay sane. I don’t worry about inviting my children to be part of all my creative projects because I know they already have enough creative opportunities and choices and freedom to dabble in this home to make them confident happy little artists.
In the end, Nella will be handed a renovated dollhouse, and I’ll have to find a new hobby. But everybody wins.
Especially Mrs. Hedgehog who’s about to have a nicer home than all of us.