People who know me know that I am prone to the superlative. (“Sweet Home Alabama was the best movie I have EVER seen!”) But here’s a statement no one can contest: In the history of the world there has never been anyone who has enjoyed dollhouse play more than my six-year-old. As far back as I can remember, Abby has been creating little worlds for herself — and it doesn’t matter if those worlds exist inside $250 Playmobil Victorian Dollhouses, on top of antique marquetry boxes, or on a restaurant table where the only dolls available for play are fashioned out of sugar packets. (I’m not making that up.)
So she is the genius behind our kitchen’s hidden dollhouse. Last year, I walked into my living room to find her lying on her stomach in front of a row of my favorite magazines — all opened to stories about decorating. There was one open to a photo spread of a sunlit, cheerful kitchen, one open to a Malibu patio with a pool, and one open to a baby nursery. Her paper dolls were hopping from one “room” to the next, lounging on teak patio chairs, cooking on Viking stoves, and cooing with babies sleeping inside Netto cribs. (Yes, ripped right from Cookie’s premiere issue.) In other words, Abby had constructed her own two-dimensional, temporary, composite dreamhouse.
And I wanted one, too. One that might even get her to stick around the kitchen and talk to us while we cook. So we set to work tearing out pictures of rooms from Ikea and CB2 catalogs and old issues of Martha Stewart, Domino, and Cookie. Once she had her faves, I used blue painters tape to affix each “room” inside an accessible kitchen cabinet door. (You know how I like my cabinet doors.) Then I used the tape to outline each room.
Turns out Abby wants nothing to do with me while she gets lost in fantasy land, but I still love that she’s right there underfoot while I’m making dinner.
“Ariel” practices tendus in her bedroom, courtesy of a Calico Corners ad.
We keep some of her paper dolls in a bud vase on the shelves inside the cabinet.I taped the dolls gently to the dollhouse to take these pictures, but Abby usually just holds them up in front of the door to play. (Btw, this is also the cabinet where the “OK Shelf” lives.)
Best thing about this dollhouse? When she’s done, I close the door. All gone.