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A miniature replica of a standard house
A dollhouse is a miniature replica of a standard house. They are most commonly associated with children's doll play, in which familiar domestic situations are simulated for play value, but the making, decorating, and display of dollhouses also forms a hobby for adults.
The term "dollhouse" is common in the United States and Canada. In UK usage, "doll's house" or "dollshouse" is usual.
As a hobby for adults, the craft may trace its origins to a long interest in crafting miniatures of everyday objects; it is known to have existed since Ancient Egyptian times.
The creation of dollhouses is a hobby open to many. There are a number of magazines on the subject, with supplies available from shops and elsewhere. Dollhouse clubs which meet regularly, and online chat rooms let you talk to other miniaturists.
Constructions can range from the historically accurate to a building that suits personal taste.
There are several ways to acquire a dollhouse. The majority of people buy a ready-made and decorated house first and proceed to more adventurous projects later on. The other options are to buy a house made to your own design (which can be expensive), build one yourself, or construct one from a kit.
The same principle applies to miniature objects to go inside dollhouses, such as books and clocks, items of furniture, interior decorations, and dolls. Although shop-bought items are generally of a higher quality, they tend to be more expensive. Homemade items are often cheaper and more rewarding to make as almost any material can be used.
If there are no dollhouse shops in your area, then one alternative is to use mail order. This is popular in Britain and America, but more so in the United States. Some of the mail order companies include the Dolls House Emporium, based in Britain, and Real Good Toys, an American company. 1/12th scale dollhouses can cost upwards of £2500. There are also dozens of miniature trade shows held throughout the year by various miniature organizations, where artisans and dealers display and sell miniatures. Often, how-to seminars are part of the show features.
If you are looking to fill a 1940s-1970s period dollhouse with furniture, you might try Renwal dollhouse furniture, as it was one of the more popular makers at the time. Although the company no longer exists, there is a strong trade in the antique market for their crafts.
One of the most famous and well planned dollhouses is Queen Mary's Dolls' House which was designed in 1924 by Sir Edwin Lutyens for Queen Mary ; it is displayed at Windsor Castle.
One of the most opulent dollhouses in North America is Colleen Moore's Fairy castle which has been housed as an exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois since the early 1950s.
Also located in Chicago are the famous Thorne Rooms, 68 miniature period rooms designed by Mrs. James Ward Thorne, who commissioned master craftsmen to create the furnishings for the rooms during the 1930s and '40s. The rooms are housed in the Art Institute of Chicago.
A lesser-known masterpiece is Tara's Palace, housed in Malahide Castle, Dublin. Started by Ron and Doreen McDonnell in 1980, it is based on Sir Neville Wilkinson's celebrated Titania's Palace, which he created in 1908. The house itself is built in 1/12th scale and is influenced by Castletown House, Leinster House, and Carton, the three prominent 18th century mansions in Ireland. The house has 25 rooms and was built to raise money for children's charities.
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