Dolls' Houses Past & Present

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

My Cabinet House by Jill Friendship

For many years I have loved the pictures of the cabinet house of Sara Ploos Van Amstel,  now in a museum in The Hague.   A couple of years ago I drove from Paris to The Hague to see it.    The museum was closed for 3 weeks for refurbishment........

However some years back Martin found a cabinet for me, and gave it to me for my birthday, so I set about creating my very own. Using the pictures from the Classic Dollshouse book by Faith Eaton, these pictures show the results.


I am no carpenter I'm afraid,  but I had a go at making the chest of drawers for the shells, and the cabinet for the leather bound shell collections.    Some of the shells in the drawers are so tiny you can barely see what they are.   A dear friend of mine, now well into her 80's said one day "I've got something for you".  I had shown her the leather bound cases I had made,  and she gave me the tiniest shells I have ever seen.  She said she had collected them on a Cornish beach when she was a little girl  - had put them into a jar, didn't really know what to do with them, but kept them all those years - until I came along! She said she knew SOMEBODY would want them one day - but she didn't know it would be 80 years before the somebody turned up!!


The piano I made from wood  - painting it was interesting .....   Turned legs were beyond my capabilities so I used what what I could find.


The tiny cradle,  and the baskets, were made using the techniques in the wonderful Sheila Smith book, a positive inspirational  book if ever there was one.    


I made the beds - finding watermark pink taffeta almost impossible to buy - then I went to a jumble sale in a near-by village, and there was this bridesmaids dress.  50p.   FanTAStic.


I didn't want doors on the cabinets at the back of the kitchen, so I just made some shelves, and collected all the pots and pans and jugs over the years. I painted the larger cooking pots as per Sara's, and made the fireplace.  

My sister painted the silk on the day bed in the collector's room at the top, and I spent years, and a fortune, looking for blue and white porcelain for the porcelain room.   Some of the pots are as old as 1690, many early 18th century.  I love every one of them. 


An antique dealer friend found me the tiny ivory items in the cabinet in the music room,  and I bought the little carved walnut and the 2 abacus toys in the child's room at a local auction.

I know my cabinet house is only about a third of the size of Mrs Van Amstel's - but I'm not married to a wealthy merchant.   Not that it helped Sara much - she died when the coach in which she was travelling overturned  into a canal, where she was drowned poor girl.   But her obsession lives on, in the hearts of every one of us in Dolls Houses Past and Present!

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