My biggest piece of advice is to obtain a house first and then buy furnishings and accessories that best fit the house. I started collecting modern minis before I had a specific place to put them, and now that I'm filling my houses, I'm realizing 80% isn't what I want and just sits in boxes.
Step 1: Do your homework. :D There are more and more great mini mod blogs out there but I recommend reading MiniModern and The Shopping Sherpa to start. Most modern mini bloggers would credit one of them for inspiring them to create their own blog. The more you see, the more you'll be able to pinpoint what you want. There is also an extensive list of modern and contemporary dollhouses that Modern MC has collected over the years in the lower right column of her blog MiniModern.
Step 2: Find a house that best fits your personality, skills, time, budget and space. Do you have the patience, skills, time and tools to build a kit from scratch, renovate a house or build your own? Do you want a finished, but blank canvas to paint and wallpaper? Do you want a shiny, new, already assembled house ready to drop furnishings and accessories in? What kind of space do you have for mini storage and to display your house(s)?
Below are readily available modern dollhouses on the market and hard to find ones as well, enjoy.
Out of the box and ready to go
Emerson House 3/4 scale ($299) by brinca dada. Brinca Dada also sells furnishings and accessories.
The Arne Jacobsen Minimii Dollhouse 1:16 scale (840 EUR -pre order end of July, in stores Oct 2010) by Minimii. Minimii also sells furniture (more photos). Rumor has it a 1:12 scale kit is in the works. I'll keep you posted when I know more.
Villa Sibi 1:12 scale? ($750-$850) by Wolfgang Sirch and Christoph Bitzer. Search online for best price and dealer in your country. Callsmall says it's slightly smaller than 1:12 but accommodates 1:10 furniture.
Småland 1:18 scale ($170) by Lundby. US distributor cheekymonkeytoys.com. Some minor assembly required. Småland Dollhouse ($170), Småland Extension Floor ($90) and Småland Garden ($50). Furniture and accessories are available but sold separately.
Kits: Modern and ContemporaryClearview 1:12 scale (kit £395) by MIAIM based in London. Miaim also sells furnishings and accessories.
1, 2 & 3 Waterside Way 1:12 scale (kits start at $250.24) by The Dolls House Emporium.
Lake View 1:12 scale (kits start at $179.52) by The Dolls House Emporium.
Contemporary Ranch Dollhouse 1:12 scale ($162.95) by Real Good Toys
Merrimack 1:12 scale ($238) by Earth and Tree Dollhouses and Miniatures.
Celerity Summer House 1:12 scale ($121) by Aztec Imports and Town Square Miniatures.
Custom, Commissioned, OOAK
Go to your local dollhouse shop/hobby shop/toy store, they might know someone who could assemble a kit for you, or someone who could design and build a OOAK (One Of A Kind) for you.
Put an ad on craigslist for a custom modern dollhouse. You might be able to find an interested architect/wood crafter/design student that could build you a one of kind within your budget.
Please send me websites of other builders, but here are a few that do custom modern houses and roomboxes.
Mark Turpin, custom architectural replicas & roomboxes since 2000 (at least).
Henry Colbert, UK. He doesn't have a website, and last I heard he has a 2 year plus wait list. Since 1997, Henry is most known for his three Art Deco style houses The Amyas Petite, Grande and Deluxe in 1:12, and his modern 1:24 scale Sun House.
Tom O'Dea, The Doll House Shop of Richmond, VA. Custom houses and furniture since 2001.
Budget Friendly Finds
Here are a few easy ideas for getting started without breaking the bank.
Custom Foam Core House 1:12 scale by Mini Pig. Get creative with supplies from your local art or craft store and see what you can build on your own. Check out Mini Pig's blog to see this house being built.
Auction sites, ebay, craigslist, garage sales, etc.
Look for an older dollhouse you can refurbish. Check out Craigslist, as many people don't want to deal with shipping so you might be able to pick up a gem.
Search auction sites for discontinued houses
Kaleidoscope House 1:12 scale (discontinued) by Bozart Toys - Laurie Simmons and Peter Wheelwright. The Pool Pavilion was never released, if you find more photos of the prototype please send them my way.
Citadel 1:12 scale (discontinued) by Lolly's Dollhouse and Miniatures. Lolly's is near Chicago, IL. If you look at the last photo on the shop page, you can see two Citadel's on the shelf. I'm not sure if they are still there or for sale.
Highland 1:12 scale (discontinued) by Artply
Step 3: When you get a dollhouse, PLEASE share your photos. Start a blog or add pictures to the Modern Miniatures Flickr group. We just can't get enough!
Step 4: After you buy the perfect house, inevitably something better will turn up shortly after. It's easy to end up covering every flat surface of your house with this hobby/obsession. With enough money and space, we could all be so lucky to end up with a basement like Mary's Dollhouse Nook: