Dolls' Houses Past & Present

A website and ezine about dolls' houses: antique, vintage and modern. Plus furniture and accessories.

ARC Dollhouse by Chris Ferrara (Call of the Small)


It is always exciting to see new modern dollhouses come to the market. Back in the spring, I was so happy to hear about 3 Star Studio and their new ARC Dollhouse, and subsequent to that, their BUTTERFLY Dollhouse. 3 Star is clearly passionate about modern design and it is great to see them apply their skills to a small scale.


ARC Dollhouse. Photo © 3StarStudioArts


ARC Dollhouse. Photo © 3StarStudioArts


The 1:16 scale laser cut ARC Dollhouse, designed by Krista Peel of Three Star Studio, is intended to be a simple and sustainable canvas for dollhouse play. The house also comes with either baltic birch or walnut furnishings, and there are many possibilities for customization.

It comes flat-packed and requires simple assembly. Made of plywood and hardwood, the owner has a blank canvas of a house that they can paint or paper. While I was excited about the prospect of decorating my ARC, I knew it would be difficult to choose the decor (so many choices!). So, I let spontaneity be my guide for the most part. I did not have a particular color scheme in mind, but I did have some tubs of sample Valspar paint from Lowes that I bought some months ago because I liked the colors. So this is how butter yellow (nursery), dove grey (bedroom), and forest green teal (exterior) came into play.








The wallpapers in the bedroom and dining area were chosen intentionally for this house. I went to the Paper Source to find papers with a small scale pattern and loved these two. The other wallpapers in silver and creme are trusted designs from my collection, purchased at Kate's Paperie a few years ago.



The flooring on the ground floor is a placemat, and the bedroom upstairs has a delicate pattern from the Paper Source. I used a red patterned scrapbook paper for the nursery floor, but there was a previous iteration that didn't quite work out. I had a circle stencil and used the butter yellow paint to create a circular pattern, but I didn't care for the result. I think I should have done less circles...oh well.



The furniture was a bit trickier...the scale is closest to 1:16, but the curved floor and wall space made it challenging to coordinate pieces together. The bed and light fixture in the nursery are from the walnut furniture set sold by 3 Star Studio, and the rest of the pieces are from my collection. You'll see a mix of vintage Lundby (roof set and coffee table in living room), Strombecker (living room couch and chair and dining chairs), and Fisher Price (dining egg chairs).




I decided not to use the roof embellishments for now. I was thinking that I might use the railing as trim in the front; not sure yet. I like the roof bare for furnishings :)






All in all, this was an entirely fun and enjoyable experience. I also had the pleasure of hearing directly from Krista about the house and what inspires her and her husband Zak at 3 Star Studio.

What was your main inspiration for the ARC Dollhouse?

It was a convergence of two things that led to us making the ARC Dollhouse. # 1 - Having a kid and  #2 - Finding a lovely, little, wooden folding dollhouse at our local used kids-stuff shop for her to play with. 


It literally came to me in a vision. One night, while nursing our little one to sleep, I was keeping my mind occupied by thinking what kind of space I 'wished' she had to play with, and the shapes and layout simply appeared. I saw the interior/exterior space, the arc shapes and curved edges, and I wrote it down. The next day Zak and I started talking about sizes, pieces, lines, shapes, measurements, etc, until we figured it all out. Then we made some test models until we had it right.

How did you approach the design and layout of the house? Can you discuss the choice of materials and the 1:16 scale?

It needed to be very playable for a two year old. The house would need soft, round edges, open and accessible areas and be slightly smaller than a 1:12 scale house. 1:12 houses tend to be big and cumbersome, and not movable for a young players. We decided the modest size of the completed house first, and then found the right scale in miniature to fit that space, which was 3/4 (1:16) scale. Once we saw the size of objects and furniture in that scale, we really liked it and found it is a great scale for little hands. 

The size also lends itself to modest material use, which is an important part of any decision we make, in life and business. We use wonderful, natural hardwoods and plywood from a sustainable family farm in Wisconsin. 


ARC Dollhouse furniture: above, in Baltic Birch Plywood; below, in Solid Walnut + Clear Acrylic details. Photos © 3StarStudioArts



What has been the reaction to the house?

We were able to bring the ARC Dollhouse to a craft fair and show it to miniature fans of all ages. What was most enjoyable was hearing how many people asked how this could be a full-sized space. They immediately wanted to see this space in a life-sized version as they began to play with the small one and imagine themselves inside.  One of the main delights of miniatures is that all ages play with it, young and old love it. Somehow miniatures make it easy to play and enjoy.


What is next for you?

We are so excited to announce our next house - The BUTTERFLY Dollhouse. This is a 1:24 (1/2) scale house, and is also very playable for young hands. It's a little more detailed, but still sturdy.


 24th scale BUTTERFLY Dollhouse, undecorated and decorated. Photos © 3StarStudioArts



It also has furniture to fit - 


Furniture in 1/24th scale for the BUTTERFLY Dollhouse, in Walnut (top) and Birch Plywood (bottom).  Photos © 3StarStudioArts


And we've made miniature models of each of these - 


Above, the Mini Butterfly Dollhouse; below, the Mini ARC Dollhouse. Both in Cherry Wood.  Photos © 3StarStudioArts



We're now busy working on our newly released 1:12 design - The Reversible Rowhouse.


            Above and below, the 1/12th scale Reversible Rowhouse, undecorated.

                                                Photos © 3StarStudioArts


You can paint the floors/ceilings different colors, and then flip the entire house over, and change the look and feel of whole house! Among our favorite features of this unique home are the sunken and raised areas on the floors / roofs. We've had loads of fun with ours, and even use it on its sides!


The 1/12th scale Reversible Rowhouse, decorated. Photo © 3StarStudioArts


After making the ARC for our little one, we found it hard to resist making more for us and our fans. We've got many more designs coming down the pike, including a cabin, and can't wait to share them!

And a little bit about our ideas:

We hope to promote modest, beautiful, graceful, playful, sustainable living for all ages. We love smaller spaces, mid century design, modest living, indoor/outdoor home areas, DIY projects, thoughtful use of resources and - most importantly - intense beauty, cultivating the imagination and great comfort in life! We want meaningful, not excessive, living. We'd love for these ideas to take flight in playtime and family time so that it seamlessly fits into a way to see the world.  In these spaces, we hope that young and old try out all the ideas and colors and patterns and materials they may be hesitant to use in their own 'big' space.  Let's ALL play!  Perhaps this can translate into our 'big' life, too!


Thanks so much to Krista and Zak for sharing their work -- best of luck on future things, and keep those designs coming!


Except where otherwise indicated, all photos © Chris Ferrara,

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