The Doll House Mystique
By: J. Marlando
It’s one of those beautiful, sunny days that Southern California is known for—not too hot, a little ocean breeze and crystal clear blue skies. We get into the car and drive away from the house, my wife is driving, “Where are we going?” I ask. Not that I care, we often take drives just to get away from the house. I’ve always worked at home so it’s not unusual for us to drive from Thousand Oaks to Carpentaria for a hamburger or Santa Barbara just for the heck of it. Anyway, she answers, “Ventura.”
“Why Ventura,” I want to know.
“We’re going to buy something I’ve been wanting” she answers.
There’s a moment of silence in the car and then she says, “A doll house.”
It takes me a moment to recover. My wife of twenty plus years (at the time), a full grown adult woman with fully grown adult children is going to buy a dollhouse? I thought that was one of the most ridiculous things I could think of. I shook my head but didn’t make a comment.
We end up at a place called Larrianne’s—a big place really housing an unimaginable amount of miniature furniture, doll houses and other related items including dolls and so forth. Admittedly, I was impressed. Indeed, some of the miniature furniture was exquisite and obviously not for a five year old kid to have. This was art!
Now then, keeping in mind that I’m the type of guy who loves the smell of pool rooms and watching Sunday football, I was suddenly intrigued by my wife’s shopping spree. After all, as I looked at it, if a grown man can have his toy trains my wife could have her doll house. But, truth be told, I was becoming enthusiastic myself. “Hey honey, did you see the lamp over here—what’s it called art deco?”
Everything was great until it came time to pay for the doll house, all its furniture and having it wired for electricity, wall papered and so forth. While we spent a lot, it is possible to spend thousands upon thousands on a collector’s dollhouse and many people do.
Anyway, the dollhouse that we finally took home with us became the center piece in our bedroom and we both ended up really enjoying it!
A Touch of History
Doll houses no doubt began in the mind and hearts of little girls. Yet, the earliest known example for adult purposes began in the Old Kingdom of Egypt for religious purposes: intricate models of servants, furniture, and boats but even livestock and pets were placed in the Pyramids. It was believed that they would be of service to the deceased in the afterlife.
Adult European doll houses became popularized in the 16th century—like today the rooms were complete with detailed furniture and accessories and architectural detail. And…absolutely forbidden to the children to touch. Some of those miniature houses, however, cost, when furnished, as much as a real house can cost. Indeed, this 23-room masterpiece by Peter Riches who sold it for $69,900.00.
And speaking of extremely costly doll houses, here are a few rooms of Queen Mary’s doll house:
Actually extreme realism in doll houses began in the 18th century when artistic craftsmen began building to scale. Queen Mary’s doll house, (Rooms seen above) was made to 1-inch to -1-foot-scale during the 1920s.
I do not know when this house was built or by whom but certainly it is rooted in beloved Americana and no doubt stirs the imagination of young and old alike. There are few countries that do not have their most romantic pasts represented by endearing doll houses. Here’s an 18th century doll house based on the owners (real) house in Amsterdam. and can be seen in the Frans Hals Museum. And here’s a wonderful thatched, Irish cottage for the joy of some happy owner, a Victorian dollhouse made in Italy and a beautiful, colorful doll house made in Japan Indeed, the mystique of doll houses is everywhere and for all times.
In many ways owning a doll house is a journey back into the magical world of childhood when we drank from imaginary cups and felt that we could fly; when dolls became beloved babies of little girls not much more than babies themselves and little boys traveled in toy cars to exotic places without ever leaving their yard. The child who existed in those imaginary worlds is still within each of us and the doll house has a way of taking us back into that enchantment.
More Miniture Fruniture to Enjoy
Indeed, the doll house can be a few moments of freedom from the micro-world of challenges and anxieties that unfold in our daily lives; a little adult therapy from the obligations and routines we all endure as we walk whatever paths that we’re on.
The world of miniatures can be so artful and detailed that the furniture itself becomes exquisite and beautiful; one furnishes their doll house with as much interest and concern as one furnishes the house where they live but of course a doll house maintains its own reality…and the reality that you give it.
If you’ve never had a doll house you can probably find a doll house store in your area but if not, the internet will guide you to a selection of dealers. If you are an artisan you can build your own but there are also those who will custom build for you or you can buy shelf models; you can also make your own furniture or purchase your furniture by shopping for it locally or internationally. Remember, there are doll house rug makers to lamp makers so there’s a virtual world out there that you can choose from.
You can be like my wife and I keeping your doll house in the privacy of your bedroom or make it a central conversation piece for your home. Whatever you decide to do you will almost certainly enjoy.