Good news, miniature lovers! Dollhouse Beautiful is back for Season 2. This time, House Beautiful gave six California designers the same midcentury modern dollhouse and $500 to decorate it any way they wanted. A whole lot of Krazy Glue, DIY accents, and miniature accessories later, we present Dollhouse Beautiful. Tune in every Tuesday for a new episode and to see how each designer created their miniature masterpiece.
As head of the Los Angeles office of design firm Massucco Warner, Melissa Warner Rothblum knows full well that no California dream home is complete without an outdoor space. And yes, this includes dollhouses. For the designer’s take on House Beautiful’s Dollhouse Beautiful project, Rothblum thought outside the box—er, house—outfitting not only her modern home, but the yard behind it.
The lilliputian project’s scheme began with the miniature De Gournay paper in the dining room—which Rothblum painstakingly cut and installed so the pattern aligned perfectly along the seams. “It started off like a regular project, where you find one piece that really speaks to you and you build around it,” says Rothblum.
“Being that the architecture of the dollhouse is a little bit midcentury, I like the idea of bringing some more traditional elements into it,” explains the designer. “I thought the chinoiserie wallpaper would be a really fun and unexpected twist.”
Plus, she says, “I love how there are so many colors in there—it allowed us to really pull out different tones in every different room.” Rothblum pulled the paper’s pastel colors throughout the house, punctuating more traditional staples (like wood floors and penny tile) with modern elements (hello, hot pink swing chairs!). And, since this is a play house, after all, there had to be some fun, unexpected twists: Can you spot a message in the outdoor floor tile? Or the world’s tiniest ping pong table?
“I’m all about function when I design spaces for my clients in real life,” Rothblum explains. “So one thing that I thought might be kind of fun in this case, was in terms of functionality, thinking, ‘The dolls won’t mind!'”
As for her sources for many of the miniatures (which her daughter enjoyed unboxing with her), Rothblum confesses: “I became best friends with Etsy. I really went down the Etsy miniature rabbit hole.” We don’t blame you!
Tour Melissa’s dollhouse below.
Rothblum balanced the delicate, traditional wallpaper with modern hanging chairs—custom colored in a pink paint by Benjamin Moore. But, like any good designer, she wasn’t content with off-the-rack options. Rothblum custom-made the hanging chair pillows with a strip of grosgrain ribbon. It was one of several DIY tasks she taught herself throughout the process. “I definitely had to watch some videos,” laughs the designer. “I had to Google ‘how to make a dollhouse pillow,’ so thank you Google for that!”
The kitchen houses a pink range complete with miniature copper pots, set against a farmhouse-style sink and cabinetry.
“When I first learned of this project, I thought, ‘It will be a dollhouse. It will be simple.’ And shortly later I learned that it was hard for me to treat it like it wasn’t a real house,” laughs Rothblum. “So I think I became a little particular about making sure the scale was just so, and that things were just right, that everything coordinated like it was a real house.”
The living room is where Rothblum made her biggest install-day change: “We were planning on keeping this room white, and then as the furniture started to go in, it felt a little lonely,” she says. “I felt like it needed a little extra color in its life.”
But, with the clock ticking on install day, “we didn’t have actual paint to wall paint.” So, Rothblum improvised: “I did a little magic with watercolors and now it’s a soft lavender and I feel like it suits the rest of the space better.”
Rothblum also assembled the bed, wrapping the headboard in a lavender fabric which ties the piece into the watercolor paintings on the wall. “I was really excited to hang the art in the house,” says the designer.
A horizontal stripe wallpaper gives the bathroom a more contemporary look, especially when paired with a clean, white vanity and playful wall art.
While the dining room is eye catching, the home’s real star may be the backyard, where Rothblum laid down a carpet of AstroTurf and “installed” a miniature pool, cabana, and ping pong table. “California is all about outdoor living and outdoor entertaining, so having an outdoor space I think is really fitting,” she says.
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