Friday, April 30, 2010

The "Someday" Cupboard House

This one is for me.

I have no idea how long it was after the old dollhouse went to live with my nieces that I realized that I still wished for a dollhouse of my own. Perhaps a "grown up" version where I could assemble all the lovely delicate items I had made and collected in my youth, as well as indulge my creative side by making even more elaborate ones yet to be imagined. But I'm pretty certain it was quite a long time. Because I was in denial about my own obsession with dollhouses and everything miniature. After all, I was an adult and didn't really have time for playing with my childhood "toys". There was the boys' Rustic House to keep me occupied, or distracted from, any urges that might sneak up on me. And I always thought that "someday" I would find the time to get back into the miniature world. But someday was never "now", and time kept moving on.

But just because I was in denial about my dollhouse dreams, that didn't mean I stopped collecting litle things for my "someday" dollhouse! On the contrary! Because I was in denial, I had less awareness of just how much I was collecting! I might spot some tiny trinkets and think "Oh that would make a perfect dollhouse ____ (fill in the blank with anything you can imagine!)" I am sure you all have experienced this.....the fine-tuned awareness of everything miniature that makes dollhouse scale things just JUMP off the shelves of stores into your basket, or leap off the forest floor or the seashore into your hands just crying out to be in a dollhouse! It is impossible to resist. It is futile to try! And so I continued to gather stray items whenever they presented themselves to me, always with that lovely little rush of excitement that here was another lovely little thing that would be just PERFECT for a doll house! Cloth scraps with lovely little patterns, tiny books, bits of leather for making things, tiny pieces of jewelry or hardware, little picture frames, beautifully patterned paper, bits of wood scraps, tiny ANYTHING was carefully gathered and saved for the eventual "Someday" house.

I can't recall exactly when it was that I found the old doll, but I remember where she was quite clearly. We were cleaning out the attic of my then in-laws very old house. The attic was one of those attics antique collectors dream of. My in-laws had lived in that house their entire married life (better than 50 years), and the attic was HUGE. And it was filled with several life-times of discarded stuff. I was just one of many family members pawing through old boxes and trunks exclaiming over forgotten treasures. The doll was in an old trunk with piles of old linens and bedding. One can only wonder why it ended up there! My first thought was that she might be just the right size for a dollhouse. (She is a little tall at 6 inches) I really have no idea how old she is, she is most likely a reproduction made in the early part of the 20th century, but her costume is clearly of the middle of the 19th century. As no-one else was interested in her, I brought her home with me.

Of course, just because I had a doll it didn't mean I was any closer to having a doll house, or even admitting that I was wishing I had a dollhouse! I was still in denial. I really didn't have time for a doll house. Occasionally I would buy a set of furniture that was meant to go in the boys' Rustic House - but somehow it never made it out of the box - not that the boys noticed! But I didn't want them breaking the nicer things - and besides, the Rustic House was getting pretty full and they didn't play with it much anyway. At some point I even bought a kit dollhouse - but didn't build it (until many years later as you have no doubt recognized the "Folly"!)

I was in denial, but I didn't fool my sister at all. She kept the dream alive for me by giving me little gifts when I most needed them. One miserable winter she sent me this tiny box with this lovely invitation in it! Of course! I went to Tea! (She knows how I adore tea!)

She was fortunate enough to live in a town that had a dollhouse miniature store (a VERY dangerous thing for some of us!) and she sent me more than one delightful present.

One Christmas it was these tiny little rascals! After all, every OLD house has a few little mice!)

(This picture was supposed to be a blue tea set, but I uploaded the wrong one, and haven't figured out how to delete use your imagination, PLEASE!)

And after a trip to England she brought me a tiny blue tea set (just barely visible in the cabinet to the left below) which I stashed with my other mini tea sets in the little curio cabinet in my bedroom. A constant reminder that I still didn't have a dollhouse of my own.

And when toy shopping for the boys, I occasionally found myself coming home with a toy that really was for me. Like the miniature sized "Ken" doll below. (I have no idea if he really is a Ken doll)......but he seemed to be about the right scale for a dollhouse doll. And when I found myself buying dolls for a dollhouse I didn't have, and for the child that I wasn't, I was a little embarrassed (Denial!) and I did what anyone in denial about a habit does...... I hid him in a cupboard. It was a sturdy old cupboard, part of a dismantled kitchen cabinet set. I have two of them. Very useful for storing supplies for projects and other stuff. Fortunately, he didn't mind. Because it would be a long time before he was let out to play!

And my Sister, knowing just exactly what I love, kept sending me treasures. Like this (still) unfinished kitchen hutch - just waiting for my creative paintbrush. (I had just finished painting a full scale one for my real kitchen). But did I take the hint? *Sigh* Not yet.

Nonetheless, the collecting was relentless. Never mind the boxes (carefully labeled) of old things I mentioned in earlier posts. The collection was starting to be hard to hide. (As if any one would want to!) There were tiny Christmas wreaths for doors that didn't exist, little pots and dishes, packets with tiny food, kitchen equipment, mini radiators, tiny toy rocking horses, baskets.....items too numerous to list! Check out these baskets! Aren't they just amazing!

I even got so carried away in a hobby shop at one point that I came home with a set of kit windows that would be just PERFECT inserted in the front of the old cupboard doors... it would turn the old cupboard into a stately Victorian "Town House"! And someday they probably will. But for the time being, they sat in their packages INSIDE the old cupboard, carefully out of sight! And when it came time to move, they went into a box, carefully labeled.

But really, that idea was too good to ignore. The cupboard would make a lovely temporary dollhouse. Nobody needed to know it held a doll world inside. I could set things up, sort of, just to see how they might look all put together. The new dolls would have a home of sorts. Because, of course, there were some new dolls. The lovely old china doll (I think her name is Charlotte) has some very well behaved very Victorian children (they are very quiet)! Which is a good thing because nobody knows they are there!

They can't wait to be let out to play with their new sleigh - even though there is no pony to pull it and snow is a long time off.......

(Sometimes Christmas decorations make the lovliest dollhouse things!)

And every year I go to the ocean and comb the beaches looking for the tiniest seashells I can find because, of course, they would be PERFECT for the doll house!

I really have no idea when I realized I still wanted a doll house of my own.

I didn't have "Time" for one, but it sort of happened anyway. It wasn't perfect - far from it! It was just the shell of a dream, hidden in the back corner of my studio, unknown to anybody but ME......but there.... just waiting for "someday"

And it was even decorated for Christmas!

With a dining room all set for dinner!
(And a lot of other stuff just shoved in there out of sight)

It might not yet have any windows or doors but it looks as though Charlotte and her children have made it their home.
Is that cake and tea I see there? Would you like some too?

It seems as though THIS one is for me after all.


  1. Betsy, it is good that you were in denial and suffer from dollhouse automatism :) because over the years, you have collected some wondrous collectibles :). I will be in complete awe of you if you do indeed convert your old cupboard, put in all those windows and make it into your very own cabinet dollhouse :). So I hope you will do it :)

  2. Thank you Sans! I have a whole "list" of dollhouses that must now be completed...and the wonder of it is that I have started on some of them! They will be the subject of many future stay tuned and I hope it will not bore you! :)

  3. I can relate so much to your story! I wanted a dollshouse in my teens, but it was uheard of here at that time. Over the years I collected small odds and ends, many of which have been given away, some kept, but it was only when I started thinking about turning 50 (next year!) that I realised that I really really still wanted a dollshouse of my own. :) Coincidentally we have even picked the same blog decor :D I am looking forward to following your dollshouse journey.

  4. I loved reading your story and related to it so very much! It was only when a subscription dollhouse was advertised here in Australia that I as an adult well into my 40's realized how much I still wanted the dollhouse of my childhood dreams. And it led me to discover the world of adult miniatures. I've never looked back and even though there have been times when the passion has had to be put on the back burner for a time, it has continued to this day. Now I am retired it has once again burst into full flame and I am enjoying indulging to my heart's content. I will follow your journey with great interest.

  5. Your story is fascinating so far! I can relate to the 'someday' aspect myself! (Keeps reading)