Sneak Preview: Custom Designer Dollhouses

There has been a ton of happy, excited buzz in the dollhouse/miniature community (especially among us modern fans) about the forthcoming Kaleidoscope Ball auction to benefit the Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA, specifically its Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute. The reason?


That's right, TEN custom creations--spanning styles from modern to Italianate--as imagined by some of the country's leading interior designers, architects, and landscape designers. The houses are mammoth in scale, and measure roughly 6 x 3'. You can read more about the auction, designers, and other background on Mini Modern and Modern Mini Houses.

I traveled to Los Angeles on spring break with my family and *really* wanted to squeeze in some dollhouse time and get a sneak preview of the houses. By some miracle, it worked out! On Friday, I visited the warehouse of where all the houses are being fabricated. There were five houses on display, in varying states of completeness. Each of the houses was designed by Richard Manion and Robert Meiklejohn of Richard Manion Architecture.

The house that is farthest along is the "Contemporary Beach House Two," with interior design by Chris Barrett and the team of Ron Woodson and Jaime Rummerfield

She's a beauty, eh? The craftsmanship is amazing and the designers are putting some nice touches on the airy spaces. The furnishings were lovely, and came from a variety of sources. I immediately noticed gems by Paris Renfroe, minimodernistas, and ELF Miniatures, and then some pieces that were either made from scratch by the woodworking shop, or were re-imagined with new parts, like this dining table and this Arc lamp -- both were re-fitted with new pieces.

It was also cool to see pieces that were being painted, sewn, polished, and fitted for the houses.

While I was there, I met Chris Barrett and Jaime Rummerfield, and enjoyed seeing them work. It was interesting to observe the challenges that they were encountering (how to style that huge entertainment unit??), as well as see the obvious fun they were having designing these small spaces. They pointed out the custom modern artworks they created for the house, inspired by the work of Cy Twombly and Franz Kline, and they also accessorized the spaces with sculptures and other objects.

It was great to see such creativity and inventive use of materials, such as the glossed marble wallpaper and the steel door for the garage!

I also met Stephen Block, who was there working on the landscape design for the beach house. Here's his living "mood board":

He also spoke about the challenges of working so small, but deriving a lot of satisfaction as it continued to evolve. Here's a quick video of some behind-the-scenes work on the size of the property on the back of the house.

I cannot wait to see how it turns out!

There were four other houses in the warehouse that were getting ready for their closeup.

The Italianate House One (Lonni Paul and Adam Hunter)

Lovely stairwell! And that table...!

The Italianate House Two (Mark Cutler and Cari Berg)

The Georgian House Two (Tim Campbell)

The Contemporary Beach House One (Jeffrey Alan Marks and Elizabeth Dinkel)

There were five houses not on display: Modern House One and Two (sad not see those!); Georgian House One; Brownstone House; and Monique Lhuillier NY Flagship Boutique.

I am told that $20,000 is the expected price for each of the houses. Some of the houses will be available for bidding at the Kaleidoscope Ball auction on April 17, whereas others will be sold in a special charity sale on One Kings Lane. All proceeds for both sales will benefit the UCLA/Mattel Children's Hospital Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute.

Hope you enjoyed this little preview! I look forward to sharing more!