Dolls' Houses Past & Present

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

A Japanese style house in a lamp by Lis Garner

I was driving past a skip & saw an interesting looking piece of what I thought was wood peeking out, so I stopped to look & found a broken but gorgeous lamp. It was in pieces, but after around 30 mins of digging I had found all the bits & it was safely in my van! On closer inspection back home I began to think about turning it into a dolls house rather than returning it to it's original purpose.


After a good clean up & removal of the light fittings I had a bare shell to work with. The panels were tricky as it looked as if a busy little child had poked their finger thru EVERY paper section, these all had to be removed & repapered!!


I thought about making it have 3 rooms but ultimately it just didn't work out, so after much deliberation I settled on just 2 rooms which worked beautifully. The floors are artist's paint boards cut to size & covered with sticky back wood grain. The fire pit is the same placed into a cut out on the floor for the proper depth. The hardest part of the conversion was carefully removing 2 of the panels in order to hinge them & make doors!





I already had a tiny 4 inch tall Geisha doll in Japanese kimono so I used her for a scale (perfect for 16th scale!). She was originally given out by the Yamaha company as a promotional gift in the 70s, I think - she came to me in the 80s on a black wooden stand with a Yamaha sticker on the bottom.

I had all the bedroom furniture already which has been collected bit by bit over the years with the intention of one day having an Oriental theme bedroom in another house - the living quarters shelving, low eating table & cushions I made. All of the little bits I had already, a mixture of vintage & modern. I even managed to find an older lady to keep my Geisha company!

The lantern in the bedroom & the fire pit have been lit with battery operated lights (on a string from the £1 shop), they needed a little trimming & rewiring but worked nicely. The chain & pulley (for the cooking fire) is suspended from a kebab skewer (!) in the ceiling & works too. Thanks to the youngest daughter for finding a black chain necklace to donate to the project.

I am very pleased with the end result & hope you like it too.

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