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Dolls' Houses
Past & Present

A website and ezine about dolls' houses: antique, vintage and modern.
Plus furniture and accessories.

Issue 10 (August 2011)

Collecting Dolls Houses and Miniatures on a Budget

Thoughts from Valerie Towers

1) Learn from other people's mistakes

The first mistake I made was believing my husband when he said Bournemouth was only 1 and 1/2 hours from here and it was OK to bid on a house on eBay. The house cost £6.00 but the petrol was £49.00 because he was wrong and it took 3 hours there and 3 back. So do your homework!

2) Job lots

These are a good way to start off as they can be very cheap and contain a lot of useful bits and bobs and often some gems. I got a Twiggs bedside unit and a Twiggs dressing table, recently, for £3.20 plus £2.48 P&P along with a lot of filthy plastic items that once they were washed were not too bad. The plastic items I will put back on eBay.

3) Do it yourself.

You might think making it yourself is a cheaper option and it is, provided you have all the ingredients. I have probably spent so much on bits of broken jewellery, buttons, beads etc. that I could have bought a Pit-a-Pat suite outright!

Above and below: legless sideboard with replacement legs made from chess piece bases (the back legs will be painted to match)

One of the most useful items I did buy was a cheap chess set. These have lots of uses: I cut the tops off the Bishops to make legs for a handsome sideboard that was cheap because it was legless; a pawn with its top cut off, turned upside down and stuck into the top of a Castle makes a good plant stand; or, with a large button or Tiddlywink stuck on the top of the Castle, you have a small table for a lamp.

Chess piece pedestals

Clocks made from buttons, with clock faces cut from a catalogue and stuck on thin card; and hobby horse with chess piece head

If you want to have a go at DIY dolls house style I recommend the books by Patricia King which are my constant companions as I strive to keep my spending under control.

They are:

  • Making Victorian Dolls’ House Furniture
  • Making Dolls’ House Furniture
  • Dolls’ House Fireplaces and Stoves
  • Dolls’ House Bathrooms Lots of Little Loos

Creations inspired by Patricia King:

Lamp with pink shade, and oriental lamp as a work in progress

Scent bottles

Two oil lamps and two trays