Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Did Someone Say Dollhouse?

In my mind, there is truly nothing better when the enthusiasm for minis catches fire. When you are wrapped up in this hobby, you sometimes lose perspective on what hooked you in the first place, whatever it may have been: the smallness of it all, the control, escapism, realism, beauty, fun...

Today, the lovely and funny Emily Henderson, winner of the HGTV show "Design Star" and host of her own very cool show, "Secrets from a Stylist," launched the "I'M A GIANT CHALLENGE." The challenge entails decorating your own dollhouse, be it a store-bought one, a vintage tag sale one, or a DIY one. Parameters are broad: you can do just about anything and let your imagination run wild, as long as it is in miniature. Joining Emily in the challenge are six design and DIY bloggers: THE BRICK HOUSE, Design for Mankind, Hommemaker, Girl Domestic, Little Green Notebook, Making it Lovely, and Simply Grove. Each will be participating in the challenge, using their own spin on miniatures and decorating, and will post on their progress all along the way as they finish everything by December 15, 2011. There will be a celebratory event  in Los Angeles in January 2012, where houses will be on display and there is the potential for magazine coverage.

And YOU can participate too! Anyone can join in the fun. You can read more details on Emily's blog, and she even shares the start of her mood board:

Both images from

Cool! I had the opportunity to meet Emily at a blogger event in New York City in August, and she was great -- so inquisitive, funny, and smart. A super down-to-earth and a regular gal.

We talked miniatures and she hinted she was working on a dollhouse-related "thing." This is BIG! There's a wonderful, collaborative spirit to the challenge, and I think it is great that Emily is leveraging her growing popularity to shine a light on the hobby, enlisting other bloggers in the process. Bookmark their web pages, too, because they already started posting. For me, it will be most interesting to see how non-hobbyist adapt to the mini world -- I am sure lots of amazing ideas will emerge.

I'm IN. Who's joining me?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Highland by Artply

I had a hunch earlier this week that I should cruise Craigslist to check out the dollhouse listings. I usually search in New York City and the Philadelphia area, and I saw this in a town not far from me:
The pictures were not great, but I could immediately tell it was something special. The price caught my eye as well: TWENTY BUCKS! I quickly realized that it was a Highland dollhouse by Artply!!! Artply is no longer in business, and this house, sold as a kit in the 1980s, is long discontinued, making it pretty collectible for a modern structure. The original catalogue shot:

Courtesy of More Minis
The seller wanted it to go to a collector or someone who would appreciate it as much as his daughters did when they were children, so he decided not to put it out on the curb (doesn't he know us collectors have been known to cruise curbs, as well??!). The price was unbeatable, which did make me a bit nervous that this might all be a sham, especially after reading Susan's heartbreaking Craigslist story.

All went well...I didn't get abducted (the guy was super nice and normal) and came home with a Highland for a cool twenty. The house needs lots of aesthetic work -- plexi is torn, dust and cobwebs abound, and wallpaper and flooring are fraying. But, that's OK, since I would want to change it all up anyway. Structurally it is completely sound; no cracks, breaks, and the only missing parts are the garage and front doors, as far as I can tell.

Some shots of my new acquisition--looks quite like a 70s haunted house!

Don't know what to say about this wallpaper choice...flooring is likely a keeper, though.

Intended as a a parking spot for cobwebs!

Much of the house's plexi looks like this, or is completely missing.

Not in love with this treatment.

Wallpapers definitely not to my liking.

Totally dig the staircase!

Kitchen is haunted, for sure!

Flooring can stay, but wallpaper has to go.

Bath in need of an upgrade!

In addition to resolving the layout of the interior spaces, my biggest dilemma is what to paint the exterior...I do not care for the humdrum brown scheme at all. What about cool greys? A muted white? Wood paneling? The dramatic rounded entryway also presents challenges! It is currently covered in grainy sand and it is not working for me. I have been looking through pictures of other Highlands, like the ones below, to see how others approached their houses.
Courtesy of the Greenleaf forum -- kinda dig this approach

Courtesy of Mini Modern's blog, from an eBay listing
A completed house by Nana's Minis
What do you think? I'd love to hear your ideas so that I can perhaps make this one of my fall projects (in addition to painting my Betsy McCall house). And please do share your own Highland adventures with me...I'd love to see even more examples of this house.

Lastly: many people have asked me how many houses I own, and the Highland makes it 15 (does my unopened Fascination Station kit count? If so, then up the number!).

STAY TUNED for an exciting GIVEAWAY that I am planning for my blog, in celebration of approaching 500 followers! I'll be offering not one, but two, awesome products! I will share more soon!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Never forget. Confusion. Contact. Reminiscing. Life. Work. Darkness. Light. Time. Bright. Shadows. Moved. Shaken. Changed.


Credits: Chair and mirrored planter are vintage eBay finds; desk is composed of two lucite boxes from Muji; flooring is scrapbook paper from Michaels; Manhattan skyline is a card from the Guggenheim; clock is Lundby. Accessories are Re-ment, from our local toy store, ELF Miniatures, Mighty World, AG Minis, and doll house store finds.

Re-ment: The Rubiks Cube is by Megahouse, from the Family Game Collection #6, and is large for 1:12. Totally realistic, even turns!

The time it took me: 33 minutes

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Citadel Rink Table

A trip to the Crate & Barrel outlet in Cranbury, NJ, never disappoints...for 1:12 and 1:1!! We were shopping for some new pieces for our kids' rooms, and I left with a few cool items to repurpose from the clearance bins. I cleaned out the main living space in my Citadel house and set up a scene guided by a new silver and bronze-edged metal circular votive holder ($2.50). Looks like a magical skating rink! I filled the center hole with a vintage wooden bowl and moss, and for a base, I used a lava lamp cover, which suited it pretty well (its previous incarnation was as a modern pendant light fixture).

I wanted to bring together all sorts of textures, so I added a piece of burlap from the Paper Source and covered my Kaleidoscope House kitchen counter unit in one of my favorite papers from Kate's Paperie. The artwork on the wall is a silicone coaster from Crate & Barrel, also on clearance (.75). For the other side of the room, I used a vintage German table and chair and some Fisher Price tables on the wall, with a sweet Eames elephant and an AG Minis plant.

Like it? The lighting was totally rigged, by the way. One of the beauties and challenges of the house is the dramatic overhang -- the space below can be a bear to photograph without some light through the windows. So...

Ugly, but it works!

Credits: Table and wall art are from Crate & Barrel; chairs and kitchen counter are Bozart; bike is Maisto; desk table and chair are vintage German; Eames elephant is Reac; light fixture and green rug are by minimodernistas; burlap rug is from the Paper Source; plant is AG Minis; wall shelves are vintage Fisher Price tables; magazines and file holder were handmade by The Shopping Sherpa; books were a gift from Margaret. Accessories are Re-ment, doll house store finds, craft items, Mighty World, ELF Miniatures, and vintage German eBay finds.

Re-ment: The water bottle is from Sushi Bar #2, and is good for 1:12.