An interview by Julie Plovnick
Rarely do we come across vintage dollshouses in pristine or like-new condition. Most bear tiny tears, dents, scuffs, and scrapes that attest to their age and use by previous owners. Some are on their last legs, just steps away from the trash heap.
Linda Bancroft of West Midlands, UK, has lovingly restored a number of vintage houses and returned scores of mini furnishings to their former glory. Seeing pictures of Linda’s meticulous work prompted me to inquire about her inspiration and secrets.
JP: How did you first become interested in miniatures?
LB: I never had any interest in dollshouses or miniatures until 2005 when I discovered eBay. I saw a dollshouse I liked the look of, bid, won and collected it. It was an unfurnished Lundby Stockholm, so of course I just had to start buying furniture for it, and that was it, hooked on the hobby!
JP: Tell us a little about your collection: most treasured items, items you’re still wishing for, surprise finds, etc.
LB: At the moment I have five different Lundby houses, three Triangs, a Hobbies house, a Jean of Germany house, a 1/12 scale shop, and a 1/24 scale Victorian house. Unfortunately limited display space means this is all I can accommodate without husband moaning, but if I could I would have hundreds!
My favourite house is a 1960s all-wood Lundby Gothenburg furnished with items from the same decade. The house completely fell apart when I bought it. This enabled me to renovate it from scratch, trying to keep as much as possible to the original.
This is where I am so lucky, as my clever son is great with computers and has a laser printer. He scans and prints out any wallpapers or decals to replace the originals, and they look just like the real thing! My husband is good with woodwork and electrics, so I am set up.
I think all collectors must have a wish list as long as your arm! The trouble is, unless you want to complete a set you often don’t know you want something until you see it. I am looking for the white wooden Lundby wardrobe with red diamond-shaped pattern to complete a set. I would also LOVE a huge Tudor-style house in black and white, complete with beams and wooden planked floors, but that really is a wish!
JP: What inspired you to start renovating dollshouses?
LB: It was the renovation of the 1960s house that led me on to making over other houses as I was so pleased with the result. It’s nice to have a totally original vintage house, but I would rather have a “nice” looking house than a “scruffy” one!
Tri-ang No 50 Before and After Renovation
Next were two metal-fronted Triang houses, both with terrible rusty fronts. Husband stripped them back to the bare metal and spray painted them. Then I applied the newly printed flower decals.
Tri-ang No 65 Before and After Renovation
JP: Talk about your favourite mini renovation project or the one you’re most proud of.
LB: I think my favourite project has been the 1/12 scale shop with living accommodation above. This is because it was done from a new MDF kit, so a fully fledged dollshouse has emerged from plain pieces of board, and I love it!
JP: Can you describe some of your mini renovation techniques?
LB: Of course we all buy miniatures that are not perfect. They may be scratched, broken, or just really dirty, but often something can be done to improve the look.
Denture tablets are really great for cleaning material like Lundby curtains, bedding, and rugs, and they don’t bleach the colour out either. Just dissolve a couple in enough warm water to cover the items and leave to soak overnight. A quick rinse and hey presto, they look so much better.
Upholstered furniture that is not suitable for soaking can be cleaned by gentle rubbing with soapy water and drying with a hair dryer.
Wooden painted furniture that has minor paint chips on the edges can be improved by rubbing a wax crayon of a similar colour on the chip and buffing up.
I even discovered that the orange/red Lundby roofs will come up lovely and bright with a gentle rub with diluted cream cleanser. DON’T TRY THIS ON PAPERED ROOFS!
If you have access to a scanner and laser printer, then copying wallpaper to replace whole walls or even patches is possible.
Lundby House + Extension
JP: How do you tell if a dollshouse is really fit only for the trash? Do you ever find a use for such houses?
LB: Is a dollshouse ever only fit for the trash? I think this is down to personal taste, as some collectors like the original “lived-in” look. Personally, I don’t. It also depends on how old or rare the house is. A standard Lundby Gothenburg or Stockholm with damage and bad decoration is not really worth saving unless you want to renovate it for yourself. It won’t appeal to a serious collector. Selling the doors, windows, and stairs for spares can give it a new lease on life and improve a similar house.
JP: Thank you, Linda, for sharing your expertise! Your creativity and resourcefulness have inspired me, and I hope what you shared with me today will be an inspiration to others on this site.
Britains Floral Garden