When I was growing up, we moved frequently because of my father's job, and my dolls only had rooms in shoeboxes or on an occasional shelf ...
.. or in an upturned apple box. I recall my father putting a shelf in a crate similar to this for a second floor. I cut out curtains from Sears and Montgomery Wards catalogs and made rugs from paper and my colored pencils.
My parents had a subscription to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram one year, and I LOVED the Mopsy paper strip because she had such gorgeous clothes, and on Sunday, there was a paper doll. I used to cut out those paper dolls and then use my colored pencils to draw her new clothes.
My Mopsy paper dolls lived in that apple box, along with my little thread spool tables and match box beds. I regretted having to leave that apple crate house behind the next time we moved, and always envied girls who had "real" dollhouses, and I missed making furniture and designing doll clothes after I grew up. I suppose that little-girl dream was still with me when my daughter was small.
"Dawn" dolls were popular in the early 70s, and Dana got one.
She came to me one day and said, "Mama, my Dawn doll needs a bed," and I found a little cardboard box (I think it may have held blank checks) and we covered it with fabric and made pillows. Next her doll needed a sofa, then a chair and table which I contrived. She accumulated more Dawn dolls, which were close to twelfth scale, from her aunts and grandmothers, and one thing led to another and then she said she wanted a sorority house so they could all live together.
For her Christmas present, my husband secretly built a long box that would fit on a bookshelf in her room and divided it into rooms where all her dolls resided. We had such fun making things and looking for things in those days before miniatures were widely available, raiding Granny's button box and MeMaw's jewelry box and searching through things in thrift stores. I will never forget our excitement when we discovered a glass case filled with Chrsynbon items in a local toy store.
Eventually, she tired of her little dolls and their sorority house and it was passed on to a cousin and disappeared over the years. A few of the items from that house remained with us, including the sofa I contrived out of cardboard and fabric, a rocking chair from Knott's Berry Farm that was a gift from an old family friend (now in Miss Minnie's house), a few pieces in Miss Myda's house, etc. She still has the Dawn dolls in her doll collection, too.
In the 1980's when I discovered miniatures, one of the first things I did was to buy a kit which became Miss Minnie's House, and then came my McKinley wallhanger, great for those with limited space, both of which I enjoyed immensely. Susan Sirkis had a series in Nutshell News from September through December, 1984, on building and decorating The McKinley. I can hardly recall a time in my life when I was happier or had more fun following her through that process as I worked on my house, as well. I still think that her techniques are some of the best for creating fixtures and appliances when regular purchased ones won't work. Because that house is not as deep as most dollhouse rooms, I made all my cabinets, sink and stove from her instructions.
She decorated the house for the seasons, as well, and that's what I did, too, for many years, which was fun for me and for those who visited our house.
Over time, however, even though I still love those two houses, I have discovered I am not really a dollhouse person, despite my childhood dreams. I am primarily a storyteller, and now I only enjoy making whatever small setting is required to tell a story. Plus, I don't have a lot of room, either.
But here are the dollhouses which have resided with me since 1984.