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Miniatures: House, Furniture, and Other Handcrafted Miniature Collectibles

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As a child, dollhouses fascinated me. There were more of them around in my days, built from scratch, made with fine workmanship.

Today’s Barbie dollhouses may be the modern interpretation of miniature houses and furniture but traditionally, handcrafted miniatures served various purposes and were not a child’s plaything to trample on, break, throw around carelessly and eventually get bored with. Rather, furnished miniature homes with all imaginable household items like porcelain, napkins, and tea cosies, served majorly as:

  1. Moral instruction tools used to teach young girls domestic and home improvement skills that they required for their own homes when they got married.
  2. Priceless collections of wealthy adults who loved, truly appreciated, and collected these intricate works of miniature art.
  3. Entertainment and conversational display structures to delight their guests and show-off their superb taste in art collections.
  4. Investments in keepsakes of extremely high value (antiques and vintage).
  5. A personal fascination for the miniature world of unimaginable and luxurious living and an unexplainable satisfaction of seeing familiar things in miniature scales and sizes.
  6. An element of voyeurism in having the ability to play god and master of a tiny, yet distinct world.

These beautiful and breath-taking works of handcrafted art are perhaps the most cherished collectors’ items that date back hundreds of years. Today, miniature enthusiasts who have constantly invested in this type of collectables, including those who craft them, can successfully sell these mementoes for great sums of money.

There are dozens of miniatures trade shows held yearly by miniature collectables organizations where crafts-persons and dealers display and sell miniatures worthy of becoming treasured collections.

Why Do People Love Miniature Collections?

They are intriguing objects. Beautiful works of art that always tells a unique story. Museums and other exhibitors of miniature objects attest to the fact that these collections are very popular among visitors and enthusiasts. It’s amazing how spellbound viewers appear on seeing these beautiful works of art. From the Gothic to the Victorian; country to contemporary brand models, miniatures hobbyists are either purchasing them to add to their collections or crafting them as art pieces of high value.

If you are a collector or die-hard enthusiast, you will agree that making miniatures is a painstaking task that requires creativity, patience, perseverance, and a deft and nimble touch. If you love and admire them, it’s because you are in awe of how anyone can craft such minuscule objects and tiny parts. And because the craft involves making exact prototypes of buildings, humans, interiors, furniture, furnishings, land, sea, and aircraft, for instance, the craftsman’s pieces must be detailed, the right scale, and realistic, to create enchanting, captivating and delightful pieces.

A two-room miniature house with simple furniture and furnishings. A beginner miniatures crafter can start off with a projects as simple as a 1 or 2 room space to gain the required skills.

A two-room miniature house with simple furniture and furnishings. A beginner miniatures crafter can start off with a projects as simple as a 1 or 2 room space to gain the required skills.

Miniature House and Rooms

A miniature house, popularly called a dollhouse conforms with an architectural design which may be period architecture or contemporary. They are created as single, double, or three-storey with one external side exposed for a view of its interior. Some miniature collectibles also come as single room set-ups and or two-room designs.

To collectors, having an architectural style in mind is part of the essence of collecting miniature homes. While some collectors only go for closed crafted miniature houses without a view of the interior, others love viewable rooms, where each room is intricately designed with furnishings of different period styles right down to the wallpaper and light fittings. Some of the popular choices of architectural styles of traditional miniature houses include:

  • Colonial house designs
  • Victorian-style homes
  • Art Deco architecture
  • Edwardian styles
  • Mid-century designs
  • A-frame house designs

Some notable antique and vintage miniature houses are the Stettheimer Dollhouse constructed between 1916 and 1935, Queen Mary's Dolls' House designed for Queen Mary in 1924, Titania's Palace, hand-built by Irish Cabinet Makers, and Tara's Palace that consists of twenty-two rooms and took 10 years to build.

A collector's item - A Victorian style miniature house with details typical of the 19th century home of the wealthy.

A collector's item - A Victorian style miniature house with details typical of the 19th century home of the wealthy.

A mini-house can take many years to build; reasons why they come very expensive. On the other hand, individual rooms are easier to build, take less time to create and are generally less expensive, depending on how well and intricately furnished it is.

Not many hobbyists like traditional style miniatures though. Some die-hard lovers of this craft will rather go for modern architectural and interior styles because of their clean lines and sleek interiors while mini modernists, unlike many antique dollhouse fans favour the more intricate and ornate Edwardian, Victorian, and Tudor styles.

A simple and modern miniature house with a front face that can be opened and closed. The structure's interior is furnished with well crafted furniture and furnishings.

A simple and modern miniature house with a front face that can be opened and closed. The structure's interior is furnished with well crafted furniture and furnishings.

Miniature Furniture

People’s impression of miniature furniture and furnishings is the rich and opulent traditional house styles with their Victorian and Edwardian era interior design and decoration comes to mind. They imagine interiors that roomy, ornate, and plush with high ceilings, wood panelling, and heavy elaborate furniture.

There are various types of miniature furniture for mini-houses and their purposes differ. There is small play furniture that is not as tiny as miniatures and serves as toys children can play with at home or at nursery schools. These types are basically little tables, chairs, and stools, about half size real furniture. Mini-furniture which are essentially tiny objects are made for miniature houses of adults and collectors.

Then there is furniture for different social stratum based on the type of mini-house design they collect. For example, a miniature farmhouse will have the barest essentials of furniture and furnishings while a sleek modern house can be fashioned after an abode for the rich and have streamlined sofas, Le Corbusier chairs, leather loungers, glass tables, rugs, and ’expensive’ wall art.

Some of the popular interiors loved by modern collectors are more eclectic by nature and have miniature furniture and decorations that look comfortable and lived-in look.

Every mini-house, its occupants, and its furniture should tell a story of its own.

A miniature Victorian style nursery interior,  Notice the furniture, little baby sitting on a high-chair, a crib, and a rocking horse.

A miniature Victorian style nursery interior, Notice the furniture, little baby sitting on a high-chair, a crib, and a rocking horse.

Building a Miniature House? Here are Tips for Beginners

If you want to start collecting miniatures houses, you can have them custom made to your own requirements or purchase them from toy and miniatures stores at internet auction sites or from online toy sellers. As well as stores like Mini Modernista and Brinca Dada.

  1. If you want to build a furnished one, you can begin by building an individual room and furnish it to tell its story. If you like a traditional setting, go for the impressive classics like a Victorian parlour or a countryside home kitchen.
  2. To make your house lived-in, add household occupants (miniature dolls) that fit in perfectly with your theme. Dress them up appropriately and place them in the room, for example, add a parlour maid serving tea to the lady of the house.
  3. Your mini-home must be as detailed as is possible and everything within it must be the right scale and proportions.
  4. If you are unsure on how to start out, you can get a beginner‘s guide. If you are not a skilled craftsperson, trying to build a miniature house with furniture without a guide will become a trial and error approach.

It is good to know that crafting miniature dollhouses for the first time can test your patience so if you don’t wish to encumber yourself with the challenging task, start off simple and create your fantasy house.

Further Reading

Miniature Furniture Handtools

Modern Barbie Doll House with Elevator

© 2010 viryabo

Comments

viryabo (author) on February 12, 2012:

Hi Gary, to make a miniature house like that is simpler than it looks.

There are books that can guide you on how to build both modern and traditional miniature homes. You will benefit much from reading such.

Basically, it all boils down to the type of finishes you use, in this case white panels for the walls, predominantly white furniture and furnishings with modern pieces, which you can build or purchase.

The monochromatic scheme also adds much to making it look very modern.

This is a wonderful gift idea for a loved one, and a unique one too.

Thanks for the visit Gary, best of luck, and best wishes for a great future for the both of you.

GodBless

Gary Yeung on February 08, 2012:

I'm planning to make a miniature house with miniature furniture for proposing to my girl friend. Can I know more details on how to make one like in the first photo?

c seeds on January 16, 2012:

check out four generation miniature

viryabo (author) on January 12, 2012:

Thank you for your very nice comments Alocsin. And thank you for the positive ratings.

Blessings

viryabo (author) on January 12, 2012:

Miniature building craft is a wonderful art and you are so lucky to have had the opportunity of being around your dad whilst be was crafting such beauty.

It is so good that you are passing on the love and interest to your children, passing on a passion their grandfather had.

Thank you for the visit L.I.P. and for finding time to leave such beautiful comments.

GodBless

Lady_in_Pants on January 11, 2012:

Wow, so beautiful and awe-inspiring!

I've been interested in doll-houses and miniatures since I was about 5 and watched my dad make his furniture for millionaires first in 1/3 scale before he took on the final product. Unfortunately he never let me keep any of the 1/3 scales, and I never got to own a doll house, but I drew many many different designs of tiny houses, their insides and what should go where etc...

Now I have kids of my own and am in the process of making my daughter her own doll-house with furniture etc... It is a challenging endeavor, but having some skill in furniture making myself, and in sewing and embroidery and art, I think I can do it.

When I finish my daughter's doll house, I hope to make my own - hopefully before I'm 30.

Cheers and thanks for this wonderful post!

:)

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 04, 2012:

Some of these are beautiful. Unfortunately, I already have enough hobbies without getting into this one too. Voting this Up and Beautiful though.

viryabo (author) on March 07, 2010:

So so good to see you G. How's it going?

Thanks for visiting and your (always) nice comments.

I know you will enjoy this craft and your daughter will find it awesome and very interesting building with you this unique form of craftworks.

GodBless you richly.

GPAGE from California on March 06, 2010:

viryabo.....VERY cool!!!....all the different styles and ideas......thank you for this wonderful hub! I'm hoping to do something like this with my little girl one day as a hobby to do together.....it would be really fun! Best, G

viryabo (author) on March 04, 2010:

Im glad you found a few useful tips here prasetio, and im glad you enjoyed this hub.

Thank you so much for your visit and your nice comments AND for the UP rating.

Cheers my friend.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on March 03, 2010:

I can't say anything. this hub is amazing. Thanks for showing me those miniature. Only talented person and have interesting with kind of miniature can make this beautiful things. You also give us useful tips here.

PS: If you din't come to my hub and not telling me that you have collective hub about miniature. Maybe I don't know that you have beautiful hub about miniature.

Good work Viryabo. I rate this UP! Thanks