The Thing about the Dollhouse
Updated: May 19
I’m currently occupying a peculiar space on my timeline. You know the one I mean... That time in every young woman’s life where she spends her days, relentlessly restoring her childhood dollhouse, funneling time and money into a home she will never be able to inhabit.
I should probably be making better use of my time. I could learn to play the piano that has been bitterly neglected since I received it 12 years ago. Or write the play I’ve told everyone about, that hasn’t quite made it to the page. But meticulously glueing tiny floorboards is so much more enticing and I remain ever devoted to the dollhouse.
The great thing about decorating a dollhouse is you can leave out all the convenient, yet unsightly appliances. The big flat black rectangle? Gone. Dolls don’t watch television. The exercise bike, the blender, the vacuum cleaner… are all of little use to a doll whose days only consist of puttering from room to room and perhaps hosting the occasional dinner party. How I wish I could erase the useful things from my world and only retain the aesthetically pleasing. Some enthusiasts feel differently, paying extravagant prices for miniature cereal boxes, tickled by the tiny bits of corn flakes included inside. They will shell out for polymer plates with remnants of clay food on them as though someone has abandoned their pie halfway through the meal. Here's the thing: If a doll wouldn’t finish a perfectly good slice of strawberry rhubarb pie, I don’t think I'd want to know that doll. In fact, I wouldn’t let them in my meticulously decorated house with such an wasteful attitude. Only grateful, hungry dolls may come in. Dolls with manners enough to finish their pie and put their dishes in the sink.
To solve this problem, I’ll eliminate all dolls. Mine is more of an interior design project anyway. A tiny space where I am a giant contractor and can complete projects in record time. I’m a ninja removing entire panels of wallpaper in one swift tug, my spackle scraper pushing ahead to force stubborn bits of glue. I meticulously replace the spindles and lay floorboards as though I myself will be moving in soon. If I stick my head in just so, I can make believe I’m 5 inches tall, standing with my hands on my hips surveying the wall before me. I’m deciding how to hang some artwork. In a minute, I’ll shuffle downstairs to the kitchen for some strawberries. I grew them in my garden out back. Past the garden, you’ll find my pottery studio where I threw all the dishes in our house. Seems like a lot of extravagant detail, but that’s the beauty of the dollhouse.You just have to imagine it’s there. The dollhouse renovations are so much cheaper than the shelves I put up in my actual apartment, or the hoards of plants I brought in to add some life. All I need is a few leaves and this place is a tropical oasis, even Tarzan would feel at home. So it comes to this: spend $20 on a new throw blanket for the real couch, or $20 for an tiny, sage velvet couch for the dollhouse? I can use the blanket on the real couch, but I can imagine I’m laying on the doll couch, sprawled in opulence, tiny issues of The New Yorker strewn over the hardwood floors. The choice isn’t a hard one and I once again, favor the perfect 1:12 scale world inside the dollhouse. If you need me, I’ll be perched in front of a 3 foot victorian, waiting for the real housing market to crash, or someone to invent a shrink ray. Equally okay with whichever comes first.