Thursday, April 22, 2010

This One Is For My Boys

The lovely old dollhouse was far away being adored by my nieces when one day my older son returned home from a classmate's kindergarten birthday party and said "Mommy, I want a dollhouse!" Being a thoroughly Modern Mom, I only paused for a second or two before saying "Really? Well, I guess we can try to find one......" Of course, being a kindergartener, he meant right NOW, and I was thinking we'd look around and see what was available in local stores.(This was LONG before the internet made finding things so simple...) And since we lived waaay out in the country and the choice of places to shop was quite limited and because I really had no idea where we were going to "find" one, I started to think of building one instead. We had been doing nearly constant renovations on our old 1:1 scale home and therefore had piles of scrap material to play with, and the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea! So it was settled. Within five minutes of first entertaining the idea, I had decided I would build the dollhouse from scraps we had lying around! You must understand that this was before I was aware that they MADE kits for dollhouses, or I just MIGHT have encouraged them to wait for us to order one! But luckily, their expectations were NOT very grand and my skills were equally not grand, so it was a good match after all and nobody was disappointed!

So, I pulled out the trusty electric drill and the skill saw and very quickly had screwed together enough small scraps of plywood to resemble a rather rustic, "house that Jack built" dollhouse. And almost as quickly discovered that what my son was REALLY interested in was the electrical and plumbing systems rather than dolls. Fortunately it WAS a rather rough shell of a house and we were able to drill any number of holes in the walls to run experimental wiring and plumbing systems (made from tinker toys, as I recall). Where I was thinking of painting and decorating, my son really just wanted the electrical stuff! Fortunately, they were young and their imaginations were not too hard to please, and as my skills with wiring were far short of adequate, we were able to get by with running a string of Christmas tree lights through all the rooms, suspended from little hooks around the ceilings.

It took me a short while to realize just how easy their imaginations were to please! Once the house was built, the issue of furnishings quickly arose. He wanted a kitchen stove. I was racking my brain to try and figure out how to build something that would have a little oven door that opened, when he asked if he could have a scrap of old pine 2X4 we had lying around. I said "Sure!" And the next time I looked, he had taken his markers and drawn what looked like burners on the scrap of wood! That was when the lightbulb went on in MY head! The whole project took on an entirely different aspect! This was easy! Have Markers = Can Decorate! We "made" all sorts of furniture out of scraps of 2X4 and 2X6 in no time at all! Of course, I had to make a few tricky things like the stairs (staggered stack of blocks cut from 1X2 strapping) and shelves in the kitchen (strips of moulding tacked to the wall). I even "covered" 2X4 scraps with cloth to make a chair and sofa for the living room. The boys used a cut-off cuff of a tube sock over a scrap of 2X4 for a bed cover! They were very clever with scraps! Towels and rugs were easy! Soon the only thing the house lacked were the inhabitants.

First to move in were a couple of baby dolls that came in sets along with some furnishings. One came with a little bunk bed, the other came with a plastic bath tub. I am CERTAIN that the dolls were more for MY benefit than that of the boys. Each year at Christmas time some creature or other would arrive in their stockings destined for the dollhouse. First it was the Trolls. Remember Trolls? Well, my Sister and I had Trolls when we were young and spent hours sewing for them and playing with them, but somehow they had wandered off when we grew up. So HOW could I resist Trolls? Then there followed a batch of BABY Trolls!! Of Course! Too cute! We never had BABY Trolls! After that I think it was the Stuffed Teddy Bears.... then some BABY Stuffed Teddy Bears. Then some Beanie Baby Dinosaurs arrived........and you get the picture. MOM had definitely taken over! The boys were older and only played with LEGO sets, or Transformers or other action figures.

So here we have the Rustic House

The Rustic House with lights on!

Come look a little closer...

The Living Room

Two Babies on the bunk bed (behind that state-of-the-art computer and sewing machine)

Kitchen with Dinosaur at breakfast

Upstairs bedroom with Mouse and dinosaur babies (Sock-covered bed at back left corner)

Close-up of the two young-uns.

Close-up of Mouse and Dinosaurs and dust. (More about the Dust later)

Close-up of the living room with the Christmas tree still up!

The Bear Family, waiting for bed-time stories, I think....

The Trolls sharing the easy chair, resting now that the little ones are tucked in bed

Who is this? Blossom Babies too? And a Star Trooper?

Well, I guess there's room.....

The House at night


Troll Baby tucked in bed

Another close-up of dinosaurs' dinner

So I promised to mention more about the dust.... well, as you can see, the Rustic House became the gathering place for all the small beings that wandered into our lives (well, maybe not ALL ....but more about that later) and whenever I found some stray creature that looked at me "THAT WAY" into the dollhouse it went! Occasionally the action figures would swoop in and take over for a while, but they never stayed for long, which was probably a good thing.... they aren't very CALM, and usually left a lot of chaos behind them which had to be put to rights!

The house sat in the corner of the living room (the playroom really) for the longest time, ocasionally played with by a visiting child or two, but my boys forgot all about it. Eventually it moved out to my studio when the livingroom space was needed for more important things like computers and punching bags. The boys were growing up. But I somehow never found the time to "pack up" "THEIR" dollhouse! It collected DUST. Lots of it!

There it sat, until it was time for me to sell my house and move to a much smaller one where space was limited. I thought it was TIME to let it go. I tried to find it a new home with another family, but no-one seemed to need it. I thought (VERY briefly!) about taking it to the "Dump" where it would be recycled.....but couldn't bring myself to do it. I took a lot of pictures of it with my then-new digital camera so that I would always have it just the way it was......

Filled with tiny beings who just wanted a home.........

And somewhere along the way I realized that the dollhouse was MY dollhouse. Perhaps it always had been. Had my son really asked me for a dollhouse? Or did I just Dream that? But no matter, it was Mine and I knew I couldn't part with it!

So I packed all the furniture and the small creatures up and put them in a small box labeled "Boy's Dollhouse Furniture". And brought them and the Rustic House with me to my new home.

But wait, who is this? Cinderella? Where did SHE come from? And what is she doing HERE?


You are a long way from the Palace!

You are late! You missed the PARTY! The Prince is gone!

And where is your pumpkin?

For my boys, with Love


  1. This dollhouse is no way near as slipshod-put-together as you had suggested! It is VERY well made, my dear :). I am very impressed with your stairs! And all the furniture! Are you sure it was a "marker" job? I am glad you kept the house. I would not throw it away either.

  2. This is truly one of the most beautiful dolls' houses I've ever seen. It's real, in its own way. I love the inhabitants.

    Your site is becoming a series of essays on childhood, through our toys, as seen through the lens of adulthood. I can't tell you how much I enjoy your work.

  3. what a lovely story and I agree with the others it really is beautiful.

    It was put together with love and that really shows.

    How old is your son now ?

    And yes I remember trolls...had dozens of them I got rid of the all but I did have a much larger ( abut 10 inches) crawling one which I kept :-)

  4. Thank you Sans, for your lovely comment and for not seeing the rough bits - the photos hide the holes and gaps :)! And of course, while I could see in my mind the things I never got around to fixing...nobody else can! Maybe someday I will finish it!

  5. And Thank you Nina for your appreciation of my house and my blog...I am a very great admirer of YOUR project and consider myself to be such a novice at all is wonderful to have encouragement to keep the blog going! As for the dollhouses - I am only at risk for having too many going and none ever done!

  6. And Thank you Tallulah Belle! It's fun to encounter people who remember the same toys! A little link that was forged in our childhood that we never knew was there....

    My older son is now almost 25 and my younger son is they are no longer boys even though they will always be so in my heart! And now when you do your math you can imagine how many years worth of dust had collected....! :)

  7. ...traigo

    desde mis


    CON saludos de la luna al
    reflejarse en el mar de la