If you have ever wanted to attempt a bold creative scheme but felt tentative about splashing the paint about in case it doesn’t suit, a dolls house could be the answer.
Dolls’ houses: a brief history
- Dolls’ houses – or baby houses as they were also known – first came around during the 1600s in the Netherlands and Germany. They were grand, expensive and architecturally sound pieces that were meant to idealize interiors and illustrate how domestic life should be played out.
- They enjoyed something of a boom during the Victorian period, with many wealthy families installing one in their nursery.
- It was in the early 1920s that the British public really fell in love with the idea, after one was commissioned as a gift to Queen Mary. The idea was to create the ultimate dolls’ house.
- Built to 1/12th scale, Queen Mary’s house involved many great artists of the time. A sewing machine from Singer, clocks by Cartier, china by Doulton and cars from Rolls Royce were all made for the miniature masterpiece. There’s even a 500-word short story by Arthur Conan Doyle, printed in a tiny book in the house’s library.
- Still on display in Windsor Castle, this spectacle of interiors was the catalyst for a notable increase in miniature hobbyists over the course of the next century.
See for yourselves…
We love these miniature interiors, which were designed for the V&A museums Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls’ House exhibition back in 2015. During which 20 of London’s best artists and designers were asked to create magical miniature rooms to make one ‘Dream House’.
Ranging from an underwater bathroom to a picture-perfect library with scaled down Liberty fabrics, the rooms are a vibrant reflection of the designers’ interiors fantasies.
Here are some of our favourite designs…
Offline Hideaway by Dominic Wilcox
Artist and designer Dominic has created the ultimate escape with his room. ‘I saw the room as the set of a scene from a story about a young woman turning her back on technology for a moment of escape. The digital world is all around us now and I have a feeling that we would have to go to great lengths to escape it.’
Home is Bear the Heart is by Mister Peebles
‘Brown bears are big travellers, but they also return home’, says illustrator Helen McGinley. ‘The idea of a dream house for me is somewhere you want to go back to. This little room is decorated with objects that will remind the bear of his life’s adventures.’
Library (A Recent Plan) by Liberty Art Fabrics Interiors
Emma Mawston, Head of Design for Interiors at Liberty Art Fabrics, based the room on her dream of one day having a library in her home. ‘We are about to embark on a furnishing collection based on dolls houses. It is inspired by my younger daughter and my love of interiors of any size. When our room was finished we wanted to pull out a book and start reading, and hope others will feel the same’.
For more miniature inspiration take a look at the other ‘Dream Rooms’ below.
I Always Dreamed of an Underwater Aquarium Bathroom by Katy Christianson
If a Budgie Dreamed of Being a Magpie by Bethan Wood
A Night in the Studio by Ina Shin