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You may have heard about the tiny house trend, but what about the miniature house trend? Where all your favorite things, ranging from teeny tiny kettles to pocket-sized pillows are at 1/12 scale (and sometimes even smaller)!
Chelsea Andersson is a maker and miniaturist with a background in landscape architecture. She uses miniatures as a 3D vision board, experimenting with interior design styles, furniture design and as a way to test out new craft techniques.
I’ve loved miniatures ever since I was a kid. I spent all of my free time making furniture and outfits for my dolls. It wasn’t ever something I thought could be a career and so my love of tiny things sort of fell to the wayside as I got older. It wasn’t until I was working full time as a landscape architect and building scale site models that I remembered how much I enjoyed it. From there it quickly became a way for me to design and imagine furnishings and home decor that I couldn’t fit or afford in my tiny Bay Area apartment.
Just about anything can be miniaturized, and miniatures cross so many different techniques, styles and mediums. It’s impossible to get tired of something with so much diversity. One of my favorite projects in miniature was the Replica series. I worked with artists from dozens of different mediums including paper, wood, fiber and ceramics—and worked with them to better understand their methods in order to recreate their work in miniature. It was a way for me to learn about dozens of new materials and simultaneously celebrate my favorite makers. The options are limitless!
1. Experiment. The best thing about miniatures is that they can easily be changed. They don’t require a ton of time or materials, so you have the ability to change your design easily and quickly. You can be bold and bright one day, and neutral and natural the next.
2. Use what you have. Miniatures can easily be made out of scraps (or samples!). It’s a fun challenge to use recycled pieces and found objects in your mini home.
3. Find inspiration in the real world. I often look to furniture pieces and decor that I wish I had in my real home. It’s a great place to start when brainstorming what to make for your mini home.
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I love Spoonflower’s removable Peel and Stick Wallpaper because it is so easy to use. I wanted to show how quickly you can remove and replace the patterns as your style changes. I loved selecting unique patterns and determining which styles worked with one another. There are so many amazing Spoonflower artists to choose from and a seemingly endless amount of patterns.
When I make miniatures I want them to look realistic. This can be especially difficult to achieve when sewing because fabric doesn’t drape the way it would at full scale. To achieve bedding that had a bit more “weight” I filled the blankets with sand. This made them a bit heavier and easier to fold over the sides of the mattress. To drape the curtains, I actually soaked the fabric in a glue stiffener mixture for similar reasons.
I’m teaching a class all about creating miniatures on Domestika! If you’ve always wanted to learn techniques for miniatures—this course is a super fun place to start!
Deborah is an amateur miniature maker and performing arts teacher.
I’ve always loved tiny things and bought Ashton House about seven years ago. However, during the first UK lockdown I decided to revamp it and document the renovation on Instagram and from there my obsession grew. I now have four houses as well as lots of smaller projects.
For me, miniatures are both a creative and therapeutic outlet. Tucking myself away at my workspace and losing myself in creating tiny details is the best medicine. I’m inspired by other miniaturists to continue pushing my abilities and love learning new techniques. I’ve got a million ideas in my head that I want to bring to life in miniature.
1. Create a mood board. I always like to create a mood board before I start a room. It helps me to get all my ideas down on paper/screen and plan my budget. This hobby can get expensive! Keep samples of fabric, paint and household odds and ends. You never know when they’ll come in handy. I built my hot tub from a yogurt pot and lolly sticks.
2. Make it personal. My favourite thing to do is include meaningful miniatures in my tiny homes. The nursery in Ashton House has my son’s favourite childhood books, other items in the house also have links to family holidays, and the dance studio is an ode to my time as a ballet teacher.
3. Remember there are no rules! It’s your house so let your imagination run wild!
I’m about to start on a new project building a Spanish house inspired by our families’ many trips to the island of Mallorca.
Jess: My obsession with minis goes all the way back, but Robb finally talked me into finding a dollhouse to remodel in 2019. At first I pretended that it was just going to be a cool, modern hangout for the kids’ action figures, but we were all hooked in no time.
Robb: Jess lured me into miniature creating with the prospect of new and varied creative adventures. And, of course, new tools. I’d been wanting to dabble in 3D printing and laser cutting, so it didn’t really take much convincing.
Jess: It’s honestly the perfect fit for frustrated remodelers. We’re always in the middle of changing up something in our full-sized homes. It is time-consuming and expensive. By comparison, working in miniature offers fresh, fast results. Plus, with three little boys running around the place, sometimes it’s nice to create a little space that looks nearly tidy.
Robb: I love that we are always having to come up with new solutions. One of our family mantras is that everything is figure-out-able and working with miniature really forces you to embrace that.
1. Choose your big moment. Keep the rest calm and complementary. If you want to go with some bold wallpaper, do it! But maybe tone down rest of the space to really let the walls shine. – Jess
2. Don’t over-decorate. It’s a bit tempting to smush all of the “cute” little things into one space, but that can feel overwhelming, even in miniature. Plus, if you are looking in at a dollhouse with all of the rooms visible at once, it helps to have somewhat of a consistent theme throughout the whole space. – Robb
3. Revel in the imperfections. In miniature, the temptation is to go a bit precious. It can’t be helped. But definitely try to find moments to add those realistic touches. Laundry baskets, dirty dishes, a craft project left out—have fun with it. – Jess
We are currently in the middle of a custom commission. It’s pretty much the most fun ever, but we don’t get to share it quite yet.
Betsy is a writer and stitcher who joined the Brand Marketing team in July 2021. In her spare time, she talks to people about their choice to make things by hand and related lessons learned for her project Dear Textiles. She also aims to befriend all the dogs she meets and is forever looking for the perfect dress pattern with pockets.