Comments : 29

Hello and happy Thursday! I started a new series, The Style File a few weeks back (click here if you missed the first) where I will feature a host of assorted taste makers of all different varieties. Today’s post is all about the person behind most exquisite dollhouses I have honestly ever seen.

Amy of Maison Decor is the brains and talent behind them. I have had the pleasure of meeting Amy and she is as sweet and down to earth as she is talented. I was immediately smitten when I saw when she first started delving into the world of dollhouses. But then she went “next level” with  her French maisonette version. And there has been no stopping her since!

 

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Forewarning- looking at these pictures will make you want to move right in, admittedly my mind started racing and I found myself daydreaming about living in one of these incredible creations. Her attention to detail is nothing less than perfection and this is clearly a labor of love. I was so happy I had the chance to ask Amy a few questions about just what goes into the world of dollhouse making, since I know nothing about it (except that I want to move into one)!

I think you will really enjoy this and will most certainly be able to appreciate the tremendous about of tedious work and attention to detail that goes into making such an extraordinary work of art. Here is Amy below working on one of her amazing detailed elements, it all starts from scratch believe it or not! Let’s get started-

So, Amazing Amy how did you get started building the ultimate dream doll house?

Let me begin by saying I was never a dollhouse person. Miniatures never came into my mind until last year when I noticed Rachel Ashwell ( famed Shabby Chic entrepreneur) was having her antiques recreated into miniatures for dollhouse enthusiasts. These enchanting little copies caught my attention. Months later while in a home furnishings consignment shop, I noticed a big green dollhouse sitting on a shelf, but I left it behind.

The next time I visited, it was still there and I thought again of Rachel’s unique miniatures and said to myself, why not create a French dollhouse? That was the beginning of my miniature journey.

 

I would imagine this is very much a niche market, and would love to know how one gets the word out about what you are doing?

Since I had zero experience or “friends” in the miniature hobby world, I was unaware that so many people actually make and decorate dollhouses. It is like a secret club out there! They have conventions all over the world!

I was truly shocked as I uncovered an entire world of miniature fanatics with skills from simple to expert. People are passionate about this hobby, and many have multiple dollhouses. I started sharing pics of my progress on Instagram and using hashtags #frenchdollhouse #dollhousedecor etc., so people found me and I them. There are many talented miniaturists who have blogs, so now there is a Miniature blog roll on my blog, Maison Decor, to highlight these miniaturists.

Most people don’t see this level on detail in their “real house”

How long does it take to from conception to the finishing touches, create an average dollhouse?

Creating a dollhouse from scratch, means you would be building the structure first, either from a kit or from raw materials. Then the decorating comes after the build. I felt lucky to find a well made dollhouse that someone had built from scratch, but the interior had never been touched. It was just waiting to be decorated, which is the best part! From my experience, it will take about a year to finish my dollhouse.

Lots of things need to be done with the lighting, flooring, wall coverings, furniture and accessories. In the beginning when I became so excited I would spend one entire day on the weekend working on the house and a few hours here and there during the week. Now my pace is less furious as it is coming towards completion.

Apparently someone else likes the idea of moving in as well:)

Not all doll houses are created equally (clearly the case with yours) so what makes yours different than others?

Most people have a preconceived notion, like I did, about what a regular dollhouse looks like. When I began, my impression was that dollhouses were kind of junky, when I pictured the houses that parents might make for their kids.

You have seen them! Stuffed with too much furniture, walls and floors covered in different patterns, they were busy and unappealing. My initial thought after impulsively buying this dollhouse was to create a house that would be less cluttered with items and patterns, and that would have a defined, realistic and beautiful French decor style. One thing that personally drives me crazy is the overuse of wallpaper and different types of flooring side by side!

I have tried to be judicial in what is added, but also to add enough to make it look lived in.This is why I think I am getting a good response from “regular” people, as they haven’t seen dollhouse decorating like this. (“Regular” people defined as those not being exposed to the miniature universe, lol! I was formerly a “regular” person.)

I mean hello look at those wood floors, the door casings, the rug and that kitchen tile floor, feels like I am entering a beautiful old Provencal country home!

I could see myself cooking in this kitchen! Can you believe the details right down to the cooking utensils:)

Please tell me you are never too old for a doll house:) What is the average age for a doll house connoisseur?

Many people think that dollhouses are made for children, but this is actually a luxury niche hobby, mostly enjoyed by older women. Last month, the Sunday NY Times ran a great article dispelling the notion that dollhouses are toys.

This hobby has roots from the 17th century aristocratic society, where brides would receive beautiful empty dollhouses as wedding gifts from their husbands. Next, they would hire miniature craftsmen to build furniture and things to fill the dollhouse, very much a status symbol displaying their wealth. This was depicted last year on PBS’s show The Miniaturist. Nowadays, most of my fellow miniaturists are generally closing in on the retirement and empty nest age.

They have more time to devote to this hobby, and money to spend. It can get pretty expensive outfitting a dollhouse! I had spent a lot of time hunting down French style miniatures online in Etsy shops and eBay to find things priced in my budget. Remembering that I only get to have one master bed or one dining room table, so I would wait to buy what I would make me happy.

The stuff dreams are made of!

I want that dressing table and vanity and those scrumptious pink chinoiserie walls have me dreaming:)

What would your dream doll house look like?

A French country house with painted furniture from armoires to pianos and chandeliers. A little bit of a rustic and luxe mix with pieces recreated in miniature from my real life home. A big part of the fun of dollhouse decorating is dreaming up what you want to create.

What you would love to live in and adding things you know you could never afford in real life. It makes this journey a lot of fun and quite satisfying as it slowly comes together. For example in my French dollhouse kitchen, I recreated a miniature bakers rack that I bought at a Martha Stewart auction and filled with copper in my real house.

What I never had (and always wanted for my kitchen) was a fancy European cooker and hood. I made it from paper and wood scraps and jewelry parts and its my favorite thing in my tiny kitchen. Building miniatures has been so much fun!

Incredible attention to detail!

A kitchen any cook would be proud to cook in!

 

What gave you the idea besides the fact that you are obviously gifted creatively?

I was inspired by the miniature furniture I saw Rachel Ashwell doing, based on her real pieces. That made me realize that I could do a dollhouse and not have to fill it with “regular” dollhouse stuff. I use a lot of my real life skills with decorative painting to reimagine pieces on this diminutive scale. The creative part of this hobby is what is so appealing!

That chair- simply incredible!

The details right down to the fabulous “marble” countertops do not cease to amaze

Is there such a thing as doll house competitions? If so, without even seeing the others, you would win hands down. But seriously, are there and would you enter?

This was an interesting question, and I had no idea if there were competitions. It turns out that yes, there are competitions, from the Iowa State Fair to contests sponsored by miniature supply companies. However this wouldn’t be for me.

I can’t see how something so unique can be judged against something else, also unique. A French Chateau vs a Wilderness Lodge? It would be a subjective judgement. I probably wouldn’t be happy if I thought people didn’t “get” my style or appreciate my efforts. I get lots of encouragement when I share bits of it on my Instagram page and blog, and that is enough for me!

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Have you ever! Aren’t these simply amazing (hence my name Amazing Amy). I am not sure if you are like me, but when I look at these, I find myself daydreaming about moving in and never leaving! I remember when I would go and see big Christmas Village displays at a local shop, I would stand gaze WAY longer than the average person as I found myself lost in a fairy tale imagining living in “those times”. These dollhouses affect me the same exact way but with a bit more frou frou and sophistication!

The attention to detail is awe inspiring and makes me want to go spruce up my own house:) Amy, thank you for letting us come into your incredible world of dollhouse making and showing us all what it looks like to take it to the “next level”. Completely wowed by these works of art.

If anyone wants to reach out to Amy to talk about dollhouses or possibly creating a custom one of their very own, you can reach her via her Instagram or blog.

Click here for her Instagram

Click and here for her blog

Thanks as always for stopping, hope you enjoyed this as much as I did putting it together and thank you Amy! Until next time………..

 

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Eve B on

Amazing! What a talent.

Eileen on

Enchanting. What inspiration for my little empty dollhouse!!

Jann on

I wish Amy would have responded to my two separate enquiries. I sent them long ago asking questions but sadly no response

Bonnie G. on

I have been following Amy for a few years now and also am very impressed with her skill of creating dollhouse furniture and accessories! Watching as Amy has worked on this reminded me that there is a dollhouse in the attic that needs some love so now I plan to revive it.
BTW, for those who haven’t seen it, The Miniaturist is definitely worth seeing.

Peggy Wilkins on

How adorable! I feel like I could walk right into this pretty chateau and begin living!

Gay Lundin on

The trays with fretwork have always melted my heart, I hope to save for one!

sally on

Thanks for sharing this beautiful dollhouse! We have one in our family that was made for our daughter by her grandfather, refurbished by me, and passed on to our granddaughter. It’s not nearly as elaborate as this one but was fun to work on!

Donna A. on

Beautiful work! I fell for miniature doll houses about twenty years ago after seeing Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House at Windsor Castle. It’s an extraordinary work of art and fully operational. Working lights, running water (flushing toilet), monogrammed linens (Tina), a stocked wine cellar and a library of original books from authors like A.A. Milne and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Google it – Amazing!

Coco on

Very interesting! What an amazing talent. That house was so beautiful and I just cant imagine HOW one makes the furniture, rugs, wallpaper etc. Thanks for bringing that to our attention.

Anne Marie O'Connor on

Amy’s work is amazing. She must have a lot of patience to do such intricate work. Very talented ! Thanks for sharing. 🌸

Peggy Thal on

Love the dollhouse so much. Working slowly on mine. Just need to take time. Right now doing our home .

Rose Lee on

Tina, you share so graciously your time and expertise with all of us followers. I find your e-mail a delight every morning. I learn so much and I feel connected to the thousands of other women who follow your blog. The extraordinary dollhouses you featured today really hit home. Since a little girl, I have been drawn to playing with miniature furniture and decorative pieces and arranging them in their setting. It was a surprise to learn that the largest following of dollhouses is middle age and older women. Thank you for adding beauty to the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

Amy Chalmers on

Thank you so much Tina for featuring my latest passion, the world of dollhouse decorating! You are such a dear friend to me in this world of blogland and its been fun to meet in real life on a couple of occasions.

Nancy on

Tina! This was magnificent! I do needlepoint so perhaps had an even greater appreciation of the craftsmanship and pure creative talent that produces these works of art. Just breathtaking. Thank you, thank you for posting!

Jo Shafer on

I was so taken with Amy’s dollhouse-in-progress that I had to email today’s Enchanted Home post to my teenage granddaughter. For her Christmas when she was about three, I made and decorated a Victorian doll house, down to fine details yet meant to be played in; hence, fine copper kitchen utensils I held back until later years. Yes, some wood pieces were stepped on and broken, but they’ll easily replaceable.

Since then, I’ve been working, off and on, with my adaptation of Mount Vernon based on a premade house I ordered. Imagine the south and north “wings” folded over the middle rooms, but including the inner passageway, you have in mind my scale. Some of my furniture pieces I had to order from Germany or Holland, but well worth the expense and the time waiting to be able afford each new piece.

Unlike Amy, I worked on each wall separately before beginning to assemble the house. This 18th century design demands wood mouldings around the ceilings and doors and windows, as well as ceiling medallions. Bare pine floors are varnished, the walls of the central passageway downstairs is varnished, but the rooms are painted in period colors produced by Sherwin-Williams. Next on my to-do list is 18-century draperies for the drawing room, fashioned from fabric pieces, heavily starched, then folded in accordion folds while still wet, weighted down until they almost dry, then shaped to fit around the top of the windows. I need warmer days for that work so the curtains don’t mildew!

When my granddaughter visits in July, we’ll work together on this project and, maybe, finish it to display in my dining room.

franki on

Small is Might!! Incredible!! franki

Charlene on

Amazingly beautiful and fun💞💙💞

Dominique B. on

Exquisite and incredibly wonderful. Unbelievable details! My dollhouse when I was a little girl was nothing like this. Everything about these are spectacular!

Deri Terry on

Tina,
Thank you so much for doing a post on Dollhouse Miniatures! I am a miniaturist, and most people are unaware of the art form. I have been fascinated with tiny things since I was a young child. None of my local friends share this interest. It has been a lonely hobby. It wasn’t until my room boxes and dollhouses were featured in American Miniaturist magazine and Dolls House World(UK), that my family and friends realized that this is an art form. Even though there are so many famous examples such as The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute Chicago, Queen Mary’s dollhouse, Colleen Moore’s famous Castle, also in Chicago(Museum of Science and Industry), people still think Miniatures are for children. Some miniature pieces actually cost more than full sized pieces. Many designers collect perfect miniature pieces of furniture. In fact, Charles Faudree had many miniature pieces of furniture he would place as accessories, and even an antique dollhouse he hung on the wall. I remember him placing a miniature French ormolu desk on top of a couple of books on a coffee table. Miniatures are perfect for anyone interested in interior design. You can create any interior you dream of on a smaller scale. Pinterest and Instagram are good places to find inspiration. Collecting Miniatures is such a fascinating and rewarding hobby. If you don’t have room for a dollhouse, make a room box, or make a space between two books on a bookshelf and create a fantasy room. Thank you so much for bringing the world of Miniatures to your readers! I follow Amy on Instagram and love her dollhouse!

Pam on

I can’t choose a favorite room. Each one is so unique with charming details. She’s so talented. Thank you for sharing her.

Barbara Morris on

The miniaturist was one of the very best movies I have seen this year. I have a dollhouse that my father made for my daughter and we purchased the furniture for it. It still has a place of honor in my granddaughters bedroom at my home after 40 years. Amy is so very talented……what an art!

Tiffany on

Absolutely adorable dollhouses- exquisite detail and charm. Wish all little girls could have one. I remember mine that my grandfather built and my mom decorated. Thank you for sharing- would make for a wonderful Easter, birthday or holiday present!!

Debbie on

What a lovely post! Amy is a talented artist, and a very special person. Your blog is beautiful!

Alicia on

That kitchen!!

Léa on

Dear Tina, Thank you so much for talking about the world of miniatures that is a real other world in art univers!
When we are miniaturists, we feel very lucky to live in our small worlds, far from the real world, sometimes so cruel.
Amy’s miniature house has a lot of charm, just like her full-size interior. I was happy to follow her tests on her Instagram, she has great taste and eye for details.
Miniature houses are a concentrate of all the passions and know-how that can be expressed, it is the reason why they are endless stories.
Kind regards from France ♥ Léa

elizabeth s on

A short while ago, I happened to stumble upon Amy’s blog and was immediately hooked by her excitement over her new dollhouse! As a long time miniature enthusiast, I’ve totally enjoyed watching her translate her full-sized sense of style and her eye for placement and proportion down to 1/12th scale; creating a uniquely “Livable home” in miniature.
Watching her furnish her house with exciting mini treasures both old and new, and seeing how she is now passing her new passion onto her grand-daughter is what will keep this fascinating hobby alive, from generation to generation.

Cheryl Winkler on

I loved this!

Shirley @Housepitality Designs on

Amy is truly an amazing talent and an amazing person. Her French inspired Dollhouse is beyond incredible!!

Jan Veiga on

Amy, thank you for sharing this incredible doll house with us. You have inspired me in so many ways over the years ! My doll house furnishings are about to have a face lift ! The whole project is so beautiful and creative.

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