Betsy McCall House

Thanks to this network of modern miniature lovers, a Betsy McCall dolls house has made it into my collection. The McCall house was sold via plans in the mid 1950s, and cost 60 cents at the time. It is named for the McCall Corporation, founded in the early part of the twentieth century for namesake Scottish tailor James McCall. The company published many influential magazines, including Popular Mechanics and Redbook, and produced popular sewing patterns.

I am sure that the dolls house appealed to many little girls (and probably some boys too) because it resembled the popular split level houses of the day, and it could be entirely customized. The structure is simple, with plentiful windows and lovely mid century lines, and certainly holds appeal for THIS girl ;) My house came from Laurie of Long Island, New York, and I picked it up last week on our way out to a family reunion. This is not the first time the kids have had to share our minivan with a guest:

It's good the house is so sturdy!!

Laurie owned the house as a girl growing up in the 1960s and used it to hold her many lovely miniatures. The house was built by Laurie's neighbor, and she filled it with minis from her travels and with pieces from Petite Princess, Dol Toi, Renwal, and Plasco. I found Laurie and her house via a recent post on Megan's blog, Modern Mini Houses, where I also read about the McCall house and its history last year. That particular post demonstrates the fun process of discovering origins and sharing information in this generous community; at least four collectors provided input that led to the definitive identification.

Laurie's house is actually a mirror image of the plans, with the exception of the car port, which is still on the left. In addition to purchasing the house from Laurie, I also purchased all of her miniatures, which included the original plans and cut guides, and even an order form!

And now the house itself...

The drawer exists, I took it out to take the photos. Laurie used it to store her miniatures.

You can see how her neighbor flipped the orientation; Laurie is not sure why, but I don't think it has an adverse affect. In terms of the exterior, Laurie told me that she decided to do the front of the house in the manner of many of the houses in her neighborhood, which had similar grey stonework and pale blue paint. She did not take her decorating further into the interior, with the exception of papering some of the rooms. and putting down some flooring. In both cases, all the materials were 1:1 scale repurposed for her house.

I love the punch of red on the door, chimney, and in the car port.

What's next now that I have fully explored the nooks and crannies? Well, the house needs a good cleaning, and is a blank slate for wallpaper and flooring. I want to honor Laurie's ownership by maintaining the grey stone, although I think I will put more stone further up to the top of the small window on the right hand side (Laurie gave me the extra stones she had). I also think that I will paint over the blue on the exterior with a dove grey, to pick up on the stonework. I like the red of the door and the white window and roof trim. Not sure about what to use for the roof material yet. I do love the fish wallpaper in that one room, and think I will paper it with a similar one I have from the Paper Source. And what of the large opening on the back of the house, on the ground floor...sliding doors? Another wall of windows? I will likely put a planter out front, under the large window by the door.

Any other ideas? Please share! You can post a comment here, email me at call-small(at)call-small(dot)com, or post on my Facebook page.

I know I will take some inspiration from Melissa Johnson's renovation of her McCall house -- Megan posted on it here. Seeing what Melissa did reminds me that I have a l o n g way to go until mine is complete!

By the way, I am selling some of the miniatures from Laurie's collection on eBay now. Have a look!