Dolls' Houses Past & Present

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

A roombox with large-scale Dora Kuhn furniture - a dream in vermilion by Sigi Ulbrich


Recently I read in Living at Home: red ranks among the most popular colours, we link it with such beautiful associations as love, passion, romance and warmth. Thanks to its positive attributes, it is also very welcome in homes, where it provides a cosy and also exciting / thrilling atmosphere.

When I saw this furniture in an online auction, I simply had to buy it. I think these tables are terrific. I knew, of course, that they would be bigger than all the others I already had, but how much bigger, no, I had not expected that. When they came, I was busy setting up my little house, so I took these photos: The house on the table ...

You do not see such a thing every day. 

This comparison is perhaps a little clearer: the Edi doll standing by the table on the larger table is only 4cm high!


Until the 1960s, Dora Kuhn made furniture in five different sizes. It is not always clear which scale was intended, and so I cannot say with this furniture. What is certain is that a 20 cm Edi doll has moved into this room. She will now serve as the scale.

None of my roomboxes fitted these large furnishings, and so I looked for a suitable cardboard box. The furniture needed to have a "home" as quickly as possible. It was important to me that it was simply white inside and had not much printed on the outside. I found the right thing in a Lidl bread box.

It was just perfect in size and it took only a few cuts (the front side had to be cut out) to make suitable housing from it. This furniture set consisted of table, wardrobe, bed, oven, chest of drawers, 2 benches and unfortunately only one chair. The condition was quite good, the table and the seating area of the benches needed a slight restoration, otherwise everything could remain as it was.

Instead of a painted wall border, I stuck a red ribbon on the wall. I'd rather have had something more in the peasant style, maybe a dancing couple, hearts, or edelweiss flowers, but I could not get anything like that in the north. Incidentally, most of these ribbons are printed or woven with vertical patterns. If I find the ideal border one day, I will buy it and change it. At the moment, I am satisfied with this compromise.

I'm still not sure which piece of furniture is the centrepiece of this room. The choice could be any one of them. Certainly, the stove, the wardrobe, the bed, or the table.


The wardrobe has, like all wardrobes of its time, a latch above the right door. But the most attractive part is, of course, the painting of the inside of the doors. At some point, Kuhn discontinued this, and thus one can recognize the very first pieces from the newer wardrobes.


The left door has colour loss. I wondered if I would replace the colour - I think I could carry it off well. But I decided against it. The furniture is so wonderfully colourful, it’s only apparent on the second or third look.

The interior divisions are subdivided the same way as we know from several decades at Kuhn; whether there were once accessories inside, we can’t know. There are certainly no adhesive residues. The initials on the doors, on the left JHS and on the right Maria, are also unchanged.


The bed is at first glance exactly like all Kuhn beds. But look closely, it is noticeable that the bed posts are not turned. There are 4 timbers. Correspondingly, the bed feet are not curved, but straight.

The painting is much more elaborate than with the other beds, a second garland adorns the outer foot end and the fire, which comes from the heart, is almost recognizable as a fire.


The decorative edge below the canopy is missing in the later beds completely. For me, however, it was surprising that the bed from the blue 60s room was higher. Actually, I had assumed that this red bed would tower over all the others.

The bedding is very special. When the package arrived here, I first of all put the mattress and pillow into the freezer for a week. They are filled with straw and I had a queasy feeling at the thought that they might not be completely "uninhabited".


The large tiled stove is made of wood, so you cannot make baked apples in the firebox, but it is so beautiful, that the thought is enough. It is a front loader and lets smoke and soot into the chimney via a furnace pipe. In any case, it would do that in real life.

In this room it just stands in the corner, about one and a half centimeters from the wall, on the one hand because it has a short piece of stovepipe, and on the other hand, because the stove bench would otherwise be too long. It is made of solid wood and weighs 710 grams. It is 9.5 cm square and nearly 19 cm high. The dome and feet are glued on. The furnace body is made of one piece.


The beautiful table is, of course, the center of this room - not only because it is in the middle. Tables of this design are my favorite tables. A straight plain top, a bevelled frame and finally the ball feet. Of course, I could not resist and did a few comparisons in which you can recognize the size well. I had so far none in the collection of this considerable size.


When I set up a room, it can take days and weeks until I have everything I want. When I started with this room, I had crocheted carpets for my friend Sherri in Missouri’s doll house. Until then, she herself had always made her carpets out of braided cloth strips, which she then sewed together in shape. She has a blog in which she described how she did it. I read this and found it very interesting. However also quite difficult, because I had no suitable tool. I decided that I would crochet again, but then Sherri wrote to me that she would make me a big carpet for this room. Of course it was a huge pleasure for me. During the time she was making it she sent me a photo now and then - to show me that she was really hard at it.

Window frames for cutting

Until the carpet arrived, I could of course do many other things. I wanted in any case to have nice windows - which I also absolutely needed, in order to cover the unsightly pre-punched places in the walls. The size and position of the windows were determined by them. I made cutting templates and cut each window frames from a piece of white cardboard. For the landscape behind the window frame I searched our photos of hiking holidays in Bavaria and had quickly found the right "beautiful views". At the chemist’s I printed these in the larger format, glued the window frames on a clear film (the imaginary glass pane) and the film on the photos.

In my treasure chest I found suitable curtains, which I was very glad about, because I absolutely not can do fine sewing. I would have liked to hang curtain rods on the walls, but that was too risky for the cardboard walls. So I pulled white ribbons through the walls from behind and then tied them in front.


In my roomboxes, the pets are at least as important as the dolls. Luckily, I had just had a holiday in the Black Forest and found in a small junk store the Airedale Terrier Lady Yenna from Minnowstream with her children Lia-Mara and Lex-Juppiter. The trio immediately went into this room, and because she suited it so well, the carved kitten Birka from the Erzgebirge came too. The turtle has a little wiggly tail. How could I call it anything but Grommet? It is made of anodized brass. I received it many years ago from a friend and took it from my display cabinet for this room. The bird - perhaps a dove? - comes from an Easter basket which fell from the Easter bouquet last year and didn’t find its way back.


Flowers also belong in my rooms. Some time ago I bought a flowerpot with small plastic flowers in a cheap shop. Now I can put some in pots and vases. Here I put a bouquet into a clay floor vase.

The firewood or brushwood comes from the garden, not gathered, but cut. When looking at the photo, I noticed that I urgently need to fit some brickwork on the floor in front of and under the oven. Well, the chimney sweep has not yet noticed this negligence - he would have shut down the stove immediately.

The wooden shoes I once found in a Christmas package by Stefanie Ludwig. I still want to paint them in Dutch art style.

The angels are from the O G thrift store. My husband removed them from the small pegs and now they are beautiful shelf angels in my roomboxes.


The crockery is made of wood and does not come from the Erzgebirge, as I can easily guess for myself. It comes from Russia. It is worked beautifully. The coffeepot stands on the chest of drawers under the right window. It shares the chest of drawers with a fruit platter and a wonderfully kitschy holiday souvenir: Neuschwanstein Castle made from mostly genuine silver.

As I searched my treasure chests for small things, I noticed more and more that the table and the seats of the benches no longer fulfilled my vision. I have carefully sanded them off with handy sandpaper. When I was happy with the result I treated the "raw" boards with wax and polished them again and again with a soft cloth. Restoring wood is not my strength, but this "refreshing" of the panels was as simple as it was effective. I like the surfaces much better now. Sometimes you just have to trust yourself.

And then came the big letter from Missouri with the carpet, or rather, Sherri had even made a bed mat and a mat. I was delighted with them and, of course, hugely admired Sherri’s work. The large round carpet has a diameter of 32 cm. The whole room suddenly looks comfortable and cozy, and now, despite the white walls, it radiates warmth. Just as I have always imagined this room. This is not only my biggest room, it is my most beautiful and my oldest room. The furniture was manufactured in the early 1930s. In the approximately 80 years since, probably a little girl has played with it - and perhaps this little girl was as proud of it as I am today!


The room is perfect - or almost, anyway. I had intended to cover the outer walls with the same sheets of brickwork we have used for our model railway buildings, but the company has ceased production of it …. 

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