Sunday, July 10, 2011

Betsy McCall House

Thanks to this network of modern miniature lovers, a Betsy McCall dolls house has made it into my collection. The McCall house was sold via plans in the mid 1950s, and cost 60 cents at the time. It is named for the McCall Corporation, founded in the early part of the twentieth century for namesake Scottish tailor James McCall. The company published many influential magazines, including Popular Mechanics and Redbook, and produced popular sewing patterns.

I am sure that the dolls house appealed to many little girls (and probably some boys too) because it resembled the popular split level houses of the day, and it could be entirely customized. The structure is simple, with plentiful windows and lovely mid century lines, and certainly holds appeal for THIS girl ;) My house came from Laurie of Long Island, New York, and I picked it up last week on our way out to a family reunion. This is not the first time the kids have had to share our minivan with a guest:

It's good the house is so sturdy!!

Laurie owned the house as a girl growing up in the 1960s and used it to hold her many lovely miniatures. The house was built by Laurie's neighbor, and she filled it with minis from her travels and with pieces from Petite Princess, Dol Toi, Renwal, and Plasco. I found Laurie and her house via a recent post on Megan's blog, Modern Mini Houses, where I also read about the McCall house and its history last year. That particular post demonstrates the fun process of discovering origins and sharing information in this generous community; at least four collectors provided input that led to the definitive identification.

Laurie's house is actually a mirror image of the plans, with the exception of the car port, which is still on the left. In addition to purchasing the house from Laurie, I also purchased all of her miniatures, which included the original plans and cut guides, and even an order form!









And now the house itself...






The drawer exists, I took it out to take the photos. Laurie used it to store her miniatures.



You can see how her neighbor flipped the orientation; Laurie is not sure why, but I don't think it has an adverse affect. In terms of the exterior, Laurie told me that she decided to do the front of the house in the manner of many of the houses in her neighborhood, which had similar grey stonework and pale blue paint. She did not take her decorating further into the interior, with the exception of papering some of the rooms. and putting down some flooring. In both cases, all the materials were 1:1 scale repurposed for her house.

I love the punch of red on the door, chimney, and in the car port.



What's next now that I have fully explored the nooks and crannies? Well, the house needs a good cleaning, and is a blank slate for wallpaper and flooring. I want to honor Laurie's ownership by maintaining the grey stone, although I think I will put more stone further up to the top of the small window on the right hand side (Laurie gave me the extra stones she had). I also think that I will paint over the blue on the exterior with a dove grey, to pick up on the stonework. I like the red of the door and the white window and roof trim. Not sure about what to use for the roof material yet. I do love the fish wallpaper in that one room, and think I will paper it with a similar one I have from the Paper Source. And what of the large opening on the back of the house, on the ground floor...sliding doors? Another wall of windows? I will likely put a planter out front, under the large window by the door.

Any other ideas? Please share! You can post a comment here, email me at call-small(at)call-small(dot)com, or post on my Facebook page.

I know I will take some inspiration from Melissa Johnson's renovation of her McCall house -- Megan posted on it here. Seeing what Melissa did reminds me that I have a l o n g way to go until mine is complete!

By the way, I am selling some of the miniatures from Laurie's collection on eBay now. Have a look!

17 comments:

  1. You are really lucky to have found this house. I can't wait to see what you do with it!

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  2. Congratulations on your purchase! I've seen this model of house in other blogs, it is very beautiful. Thank you for telling its story. I wish it'll give you a lot of fun.

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  3. Hiya, Casey! I did debate getting it, since I really have no space for it, but then I knew I would regret it. Also, it was on the way to our vacation, so I had very few excuses! ;)

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  4. Thanks, Eliana! The house really is great, and I am going to have some fun decorating. Now I just need to find the time!

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  5. Yay! The bones of the house are in great shape. Can't wait to see how you decorate it! Congrats! I love that the plans are flipped, probably the only one of its kind. :D

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  6. I have read through all the posts I've missed when I was busy elsewhere. I really am admiring your commitment to this hobby! Finding the time to blog as much as you do, keeping score of everything that's happening in the miniature world and your house and furniture collection is pretty awesome!

    This is another great house, love the stone structure outside, and the low area inside, I can see a potential for many (of your) great scenes there!

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  7. Congratulations, Casey! I really love this house since I saw it long time ago, but I thing it's really big for me, now I have no space. Maybe when I move to a new house... I hope you enjoy a lot with it :-)

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  8. Hi, Mini Dork! Yes, the house is totally intact, and I am looking forward to decorating it. I like the flipped layout too! Thanks again for posting about it!

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  9. Hey, Pubdoll! Thanks for reading through the posts! It is really challenging to post every week, but I try to compartmentalize and get it done consistently. I will admit it is not easy with everything else going on! I am looking forward to many scenes in this new house...where to begin??? :)

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  10. Hi, Maru! Yes, this house is quite large, and it currently cannot fit in my real house! I have it in the garage so I can work on it. ;)

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  11. And... why I called you Casey? :-S So sorry, Chris.

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  12. No worries, Maru! Casey runs a great blog! ;)

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  13. I love this house too. I think the stone work on the outside really makes it. I have the Barton version of this house, from England, but yours is much more attractive. See it here on my blog for comparison:
    http://susanshouses.blogspot.com/2010/05/barton-model-home.html
    Susan

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  14. I have always loved the stair placement in this structure. It is smart and visually interesting without eating up a lot of decorating space. The space with the stairs and fireplace are my favorite. I can't wait to see what this place looks like after the Call Small treatment.

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  15. Hey, Shale! I do like the stone work a lot as well. I'm definitely retaining it, and hope to be able to add a few extra by that window. I've seen your Barton -- very nice!! I dig these model homes. I actually bid on a boxed Barton Lodge house kit on eBay this week, but lost it to someone else. Hadn't seen one before.

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  16. Yo, MC! I like the stairs too, even if they are placed differently. The fireplace is pretty awesome. I have some ideas for it. I really wish I had a whole stretch of uninterrupted time to work on this house. Yea, right! ;)

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  17. How awesome! As a young girl I use to play with the Betsy McCall paper dolls and had an entire collection, They came free in the McCall magazine. Congrats on a great find!

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