Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Giveaway and a Getaway

A quick post to highlight my monthly ***FREE ALERT*** giveaways on the Call of the Small Facebook page -- the July one ends on Saturday, July 30, at 7 p.m. EST and yes, it is an opportunity to get a piece from my collection! Last month, I gave away a set of traditional furniture, and encouraged my Facebook fans to come up with a creative use for the pieces. I chose Margaret as the winner, with her neat inspiration board approach -- congrats again!

This month, I am giving away a rocking chair in the style of Thonet, as seen above: the chrome gives it a very modern vibe, no? If you are on Facebook, "like" my page, and just leave a comment for a chance to win! I'll choose the winner using the Random Integer Generator, and as of right now, chances for winning are pretty good -- less than ten of you have commented!

And, if you're not on Facebook, no worries. I am planning a giveaway on the blog for the near future (perhaps when I crack 500 followers!).

An endnote: a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond never disappoints if you've got your mini goggles on and your stack of 20% off or $5 off coupons. We went to replace our kitchen sink mat and came out with a bag of stuff completely unrelated to it, including this funky curved guest towel holder:

Room divider? Crazy ceiling accent? How about an outdoor trellis wall for a private outdoor getaway space? Here's the result in my Villa Sibi patio area:

I think I can feel the breeze! :)

Credits: Trellis is a towel holder from Bed, Bath and Beyond ($7.99 with $5 off coupon); table is vintage Brio; stools are stereo speakers; bench is by MitchyMoo Miniatures; plant is vintage German. Accessories are vintage German, Ryan's Room, and random eBay finds.

The time it took me: 11 minutes

Friday, July 22, 2011


I love when I see potential for a scene in a space rarely utilized in one of my dolls houses. My Villa Sibi, designed by Wolfgang Sirch and Christopher Bitzer ("Sibi!") is one of the few houses that inhabits our main living space. It was my first house, and the impetus for what is now my passion for collecting modern miniatures.

Did you know there is a pool attached to the Villa Sibi? It is a very neat, narrow rectangular box with two sets of sliding doors -- one set is white opaque, the other dark clear. As I walked by the house last night, I thought this little slice of real estate would make for a nice airy sitting room, much like you would find in modern floor plans, where it opens up directly to the outside.

So, I removed the white opaque panels, and in went my (new) vintage Lundby leather couch and chair (1:16 works best in this space) along with a vintage Swedish desk...a quick scene was born!

By the way, there has been a Villa Sibi up on eBay for quite some time now, for $499 BIN. This is certainly not cheap, but it is less than what they normally go for. I myself found mine on Craigslist for less than this amount, so it's always worth scouring online listings for a buy. It is a great house.

My love for the Villa Sibi has extended to Flickr, where I created a group for pictures of the house. If you are on Flickr, please join to add your own photos, or just to lurk!

Credits: Chair and couch are vintage Lundby; desk is vintage Swedish; wall art is a card from my buddy D; side table is a cork crafting item from Michaels; magazine holder is from a vintage chrome set of furniture; watering can is Bodo Hennig; Mini Cooper was a gift from my husband. Accessories are Re-ment, AG Minis, Mighty World, Lilu Shop on Etsy, ELF Miniatures, and random dolls house store finds.

The time it took me: 23 minutes

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Citadel Muck-About

I would not be surprised if you are confused by this room (what is it supposed to be, exactly??). I was very confused getting there, so it's not just you!

I had wanted to show you some progress in my Betsy McCall House, but no dice, and I instead decided to do a "quick" overhaul of this upstairs room in my Citadel. Not so quick as it turns out.

I was convinced I had to change the wallpapers that had been tacked up from the last scene I did in this room, almost exactly one year ago to the date (that's actually pretty spooky). I love the papers, but wanted to use a particular sheet of scrapbook paper for the floor that in no way matched and I got super stubborn about using it. I kept trying to match wallpapers, and cut and sized at least three different kinds and nothing worked. After a lot of back-and-forth, I decided to use the lovely geometric flowered paper on the back wall only and then a place mat for the floor. This worked much better. I then brought back the original two papers (yup) for the other two walls and proceeded to kick myself for taking them off in the first place.

By this point I was completely exhausted and puzzled about what to put in the room. I put in an old fashioned sink first and liked how nice it looked against the wall. Not wanting to do a kitchen, I decided to do a modern, clean, "muck-about" room, one in which you could tidy, eat, or read. My littlest son has "muck-about" Fridays at his preschool, where the kids basically do whatever they want in the playground. Mud and dirt are pretty popular, but they couldn't be happier. (By the way, I admit some inspiration for "muck about" from my adventure cleaning bubble gum out of the nooks and crannies of my dryer this weekend after a load of laundry emerged suspiciously streaked in pink!)

How do you muck about in your dollhouse??

Speaking of mucky, I acquired a Princess Patti kitchen sink unit as part of my Besty McCall house purchase, and it was in a pretty dirty state. I was really happy to get it, especially with its original set of dishes. I gently cleaned it up, but then saw that a lot of the gold paint had worn off and tarnished in places.

I recalled a gold poster paint Sharpie from a kid's project and set to work refinishing my Princess Patti kitchen sink. What do you think?

I also wanted to share another little treasure from my McCall purchase, which is actually in pristine condition: an unusual wooden Japanese tea set in a box, labeled "Shirokiya," which I discovered is a department store in Hawaii that also sold items in the mainland. Anyone ever see anything like this?

Credits: Sink is a dollhouse store find; wooden planter/receptacle is Manor House Miniatures, filled with a cut piece of natural sponge from the SFMOMA store; mat is a window shade sample from Lowes; Expedit shelving is by ELF Miniatures; console is PRD Miniatures; zigzag chairs are Reac; chair and table are Hall's Lifetime Toys; lamp is vintage German; magazine holder is Re-ment; topiary is AG Minis; flooring is a place mat from Bed, Bath, and Beyond; wallpaper is from the Paper Source; cork behind console was bought at a tag sale. Accessories are Re-ment, Nancy Tobey, AG Minis, vintage German eBay finds, ELF Miniatures, Chrysonbon, Manor House Miniatures, and random dollhouse store finds.

The time it took me: 2 hours (all that sizing and cutting of unused wallpaper! Blech!)

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!