It’s A Small World – The Charming Life Of Miniature Furniture

Dolls houses have enjoyed a revival in the last few years which was hard to predict. The new found popularity of toy ranges such as Sylvanian Families seems to illustrate this, and it seems like every single Tom, Dick and Peppa Pig has their own abode to call home these days.
I didn’t ever own any Sylvanian families, but they’ve been going for over 20 years. I find their sweet cherubic faces and tiny clothes absolutely enchanting.

Image by Maxwell Hamilton
I can’t even walk by a toyshop window if they feature the Sylvanian’s either on their holidays, at the Regency Hotel, at dinner in a restaurant, being poorly in hospital or celebrating at a wedding!  All those little moles, honey bears, wild boars, monkeys, penguins and red pandas getting down together in the marquee, while the naughty badgers make off in the horse and cart. Way too cute!
Life in Miniature
You can’t possibly fail to smile when you see the tiny rabbit family at sports day, running round the tiniest orange cones ever, with their tiny little hockey sticks!  On the beach, marvel at the minute wind breaker, and for camping fanatics there is the Cath Kidston-esque floral tent, with almost invisible pegs. I love them all!
They can live in any kind of home, from a farm, to a cottage to a manor house, making it the perfect place from which to stage your own Wind-in-The-Willows meets Downton Abbey blockbuster. Some of them even live on canal boats, the hippies!
But most adorable of all is the tiny furniture! You even get a choice of wicker, pine, mahogany or oak dining room sets, complete with miniature cushions.
For the table, are teeny-weeny fried eggs and sausages, so small you could probably get three whole plates onto your thumbnail. The coffee table is so teeny that the miniature coffee cups would be almost invisible to the naked eye.
Barbie on the beach, anyone?
The famous Barbie’s ideal home turns out to be a beachside mansion, in wall to wall pink, with 360 degree views of the ocean.
Along with the usual rooms in a house, Barbie gets her own star gazing balcony, complete with her own tiny telescope. Pretty impressive.
More amazing; did you know Barbie’s got her own fridge? It is massive, pink (of course) and full of treats for any self-rewarding Princess!  Fitted with its own frozen yogurt maker (very figure-conscious is our Barbie) it is mostly filled with naughty treats such as strawberries and whipped cream (presumably low fat) – so maybe Ken’s in for a treat.
A step back in tiny time
But for some, the world of miniature furniture is a serious matter. Vintage dolls houses go for thousands of pounds at auction and have a level of attention to detail that boggles the mind, as it is so tiny and precise.
Suppliers such as KT Miniatures can sell you a 1930’s metal fireplace (actually made in 1930!), a vintage leather swivel chair, a 1950’s wooden TV set with cabinet, or a 1940’s metal helmet to protect your dolls from those Blitz attacks! No plastic in sight!
What could be more ironic than their dusty box room, to be found inside one of the old Tudor style houses? See the incredible detail of the teeny water jugs, old handwritten letters spilling out of a box, old sepia photographs, peeling off wallpaper, and even an old dolls house in the corner, covered in cobwebs. Absolutely mesmerising!
Do you own any dolls houses, or have you kept any from the past?
Sarah O’Neill is a traveller and ponderer who likes navel gazing. She writes articles for The Great Furniture Company, who supply oak furniture for all rooms in the house.