Welcome me to a dollhouse?
June 18, 2007 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find a good dollhouse (online or in NYC)?

My girlfriend recently mentioned her life-long dream of owning a dollhouse, as she never owned one as a child. Her birthday is coming up, so I thought I would get her one. I've done some looking online, but I don't know good dollhouses from bad.

Here's some details:

She's crafty as hell, and so assembly shouldn't be a problem (in fact, she'll probably enjoy it), so they don't have to come readymade.

We have a tiny NYC apartment, so small and cool beats big for us.

I'd like to spend under 200 dollars -- I don't have a lot of money.

posted by Bookhouse to Shopping (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A little googling comes up with Manhattan Dollhouse, which is now located in FAO Schwartz. It looks like you could buy a kit in your price range.

Has she been to see the doll houses in the basement of the Museum of the City of New York? That's definitely a cool doll house experience.
posted by craichead at 10:10 AM on June 18, 2007

This shop here is just around the corner from me although I can't vouch for it's goodness at being a dollhouse shop. It looks the part from outside though...
posted by merocet at 11:40 AM on June 18, 2007

Best answer: Here are some tips:

Pre-cut plywood instead of MDF and/or die-cut. She'll hate assembling MDF, and $200 for a small precut house should be enough. For die-cut I've made a cheap ($25) house and am working through a large Greenleaf (which is a good brand) and they were/are both doable, but she'll be spending most of her time with a razor blade, wood filler, and sandpaper. And maybe cursing. If you decide you are interested in die-cut, as a data point, my rather large 3-story Greenleaf Victorian was just over $100 on eBay.

Also, with that said, potentially save some of that money as sort of a "gift certificate" to go with the kit as she/you will discover the cost of lighting kits, fake shingles, whatever, but especially furniture.

For price and room considerations, consider a smaller scale dollhouse. Unless you know she's intent on a 1/12 house (the usual scale, which she may associate with childhood), 1/2" is the next smallest and is still common enough to find good miniatures for.

As an example of a good house, I found this Real Good Toys (a rather decent brand featuring pre-cut wood) house at $111. There the porch is what makes it unique and it's still traditional (assuming that traditional is what she wants. You can also get more modern house styles).

Now with ALL that said it occurred to me that maybe the real boyfriend thing to do would be to take her shopping for a dollhouse (or surfing for a dollhouse) since my post clearly hints at my feeling that picking a dollhouse is probably the funnest part of the process. ;)

For shopping online, miniatures.com is a good place to start to just see lots of models (and prices were better than other places I checked), then I would consider eBay, where there are a lot of deals for houses, despite shipping costs.
posted by artifarce at 12:27 PM on June 18, 2007

Amazing gift idea! Do you know what kind of dollshouse she wants? Does she have a childhood home you could find/make a replica of? I agree with artifice that maybe having her choose her own house would be the best way to go. I usually poo-poo cash or gift certificates as presents but in this case, if it was me, I'd prefer being the one to choose the dollshouse. Some online dollhouse porn to look through: Dollshouse Workshop (UK) and The Little Doll House Company (CA). Have fun together in your little world!
posted by saucysault at 12:50 PM on June 18, 2007

Best answer: I sell dollshouse furniture in the UK (link in profile), and right now I'm sitting next to one of these beasts... that's at the top end of the pre-made stuff.

If she wants something that won't overwhelm a room and is more interested in the house than the dolls and furniture, I'd go for a 1:24 scale house.

If the dolls, furniture and making things look "real" are more important, go 1:12.

A good pre-built house will be expensive (Dollhouse Workshop, linked above, mostly sell crap, IMO), but you can dive straight in with the furnishing. A kit allows you way more flexibility and creativity in the build process.

For creativity and kit-bashing, Greenleaf, produce better kits than anything available in the UK. The Fairfield is a great house and if you look around online you'll find some really good custom builds

If she values the furniture and the dolls more, then a 1:12 scale house.

Would she prefer a shop or a house? Is she interested in a particular era or style? (Tudor houses are very popular, and look great, but there's not much good tudor furniture until you get to the "minuature cabinetmaker with 6 months waiting list" level).
posted by Leon at 3:23 PM on June 18, 2007

Sorry, bit stream-of-consciousness that. Just follow the Greenleaf link.
posted by Leon at 3:24 PM on June 18, 2007

Response by poster: I never updated to say I had her pick out her own Greenleaf and she loved it! Thanks!
posted by Bookhouse at 11:18 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

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