Sunday, 2 March 2014

Who could live in a house like this?

I start this post with some trepidation.   Not only is it over two weeks later than I promised it, but I fear it is going to raise some hackles.   In fact it almost raises my hackles because I have done something I never thought I would - I have fallen for a host of little creatures that are totally out of scale, not only with each other, but with their surroundings as well.

Long-time readers of this blog might remember a very early post on the subject of scale when I was rather scathing about the Sylvanian Families.   Well, strangely it was another of my passions - this time for reading mystery stories - that led me to look rather more carefully at the actual animals.   The protagonist's daughter in a book I read recently collected them, and the descriptions were so enticing I decided to take a closer look.   My granddaughter was with me at the time I was trawling the internet, and she pointed out how cute the meerkats were.   I felt the same about the hedgehogs.

I am fairly sure that the only families I set out to acquire were these two.....

So how, pray, did this lot also get in on the act?

And someone must be hiding because I can only see 28 in the photos but there were 30 when I counted them in for the photo session.....

I am actually quite impressed with these little figures - scale aside of course.... in the third photo that's supposed to be a bear in with the mice.   They are very well made, arms and legs move, you can sit them down (tails permitting), pose them, and all the clothes come off.

I did, of course, also invest in a couple of houses for them - well, one small house and two shops actually.   I mean, how could a dolls house collector resist this one?

It was pure coincidence, however, that a very different sort of house came along at the same time as this host of animals.   For nearly forty years I have craved one of the Triang Art Deco houses which were made in relatively small numbers in the 1930s. Whenever I located one, on ebay or elsewhere, they were way above my price range.   I had more or less reconciled myself to continuing with my standard patter in Small Worlds;  I show off my group of Triang houses, seen here with some others,
and then open up the replica of a 1930s Triang catalogue, pointing out the Art Deco houses and saying "... I wish I had one of these". 

But, wonder of wonders, not long before Christmas one of them turned up on ebay and because it had been renovated rather than restored, it was not really of interest to the purist collectors    And it was collection only, which always reduces the numbers of people interested - remember my Essex Haul?  So I was delighted to get it at a very reasonable price.

My brother kindly arranged to have it picked up from the seller, who lived near to him, and I first saw it "in the flesh" just after Christmas.   To begin with I was so astounded by the quality of the renovation that I thought it was a modern house, built to the same plan as the Triang.   There were a few things about it that didn't seem quite right, although the work was all beautifully done.   But once I had got it home and my daughter and I could examine it properly, it was clear that it was an original, but substantially made over, in particular inside.   It came complete with furniture.

I wanted to find out a bit more about the house and contacted the seller, expressing my delight in it.   He replied:

"Glad you are pleased with the dolls house. It was my wife's in the early 1950's and then was relegated to various attics and finally our damp garage where it remained for the next 20 years or so. Originally it was painted cream but with the years it suffered from neglect. A very dear friend of mine enjoyed model making etc as a relaxation and was very clever at coping with small items. He happened to see the battered dolls house and asked to take it away to refurb. He made all the small pieces of furniture and the individual parquet flooring and generally upgraded the house to its present colours and standard. He started putting in lighting but decided that it was something I should do (which I never did of course). Unfortunately he is not with us anymore but you now have the product of his fine skills. We have 2 granddaughters who, although they have played with the house and furnishings on visits, probably found their electronic toys much more exciting than a wooden old dolls house. As their parents did not wish to take over the house it went on ebay hoping to find someone to give it some tlc. There are several existing art deco sun houses in this area and I believe they were inspired by a Daily Mail Home exhibition modern movement in the mid 1930's. There is one fairly close to us painted white with green windows and this may have prompted my friend to copy the colour scheme".

Since I am not a purist collector, and in any case have enough houses that still need substantial restoration, I am greatly relieved that any work that needs to be done on this one can wait indefinitely.   I've always said that working with dolls houses and miniatures is a 'one day hobby', as in "One day I shall make the Shakespearian theatre, create an Edwardian Department Store, make an Olde Englishe Pub....".

So one day I shall redo the bathroom in this Art Deco house, and possibly remove the green painted balustrade round the roof and balcony which is not part of the original Triang, but not for the moment.  

The second thing that struck me was the sheer size of it.   I had thought it was going to be the same scale as my other Triangs, about 1/16th, but this was clearly much bigger than they were.   Someone on the very useful website Dolls Houses Past and Present  was able to enlighten me and I now know Triang made these houses in two sizes.   Quite how we are going to get it into Small Worlds I don't know!

We have actually started on the bathroom - I pulled out the tiny bath that was there and replaced it with a charity shop find - one of a set of dishes for serving dips. 

But the whole room will eventually need to be redecorated in true Art Deco style - once Mama Hedgehog has finished combing her hair perhaps, which could take a while.

The centre dish of the same dip set is doing sterling duty as a paddling pool on the roof, with yet a third about to become a flower bed up there.

However, wholesale residence by a troupe of animals is not my long-term intention for this house.   When the house moves to Small Worlds in April this year, the families will remain in England and move into their much more modest accommodation (though I am still trying to source a reasonably priced Sylvanian caravan to reduce the pressure of over-crowding when that happens).

I should like the Triang to be peopled with elegant souls from the 1930s.   In particular, I am on the lookout for some bathing beauties to grace what will eventually be a much larger pool on the roof. Something along the lines of the swimming terrace at the prewar Barrandov Film Studios in Prague perhaps - or a pool like this one, but up on the roof.

I currently have bathing beauties on an ebay search but so far nothing just right - or affordable - has surfaced. 

Nothing quite as risqué as these perhaps....... 

Though I fear this young lady is a little too demure...

I will now round off this picture heavy post with some more scenes of Sylvanians settled happily in their very stylish home, blissfully unaware of what awaits them in the near future.



The sharper eyed amongst you will have spotted a stranger in the bedroom - Anne of Green Gables has managed to sneak in for a quick peek in the mirror.   And blog readers from the Chalet School Bulletin Board should note that I have kept my promise to reveal one of Tom's houses, complete with car(s) and library.....(Apologies to other readers - an in-joke.)

The modern picture frames on the landing are from a set of three called KVEK from our favourite Swedish furniture store - they even serve the mini-world!

And last but not least, older British readers will probably have identified the source of the title of this blogpost - but for old times sake here is a link to what was a cult programme in its time - the less said the better about the modern remake.

Thank you for following me once again.   I hope to post before we set off for Small Worlds at Easter - it seems quite a way off, but I know that the time will whizz past so I make no promises.   

In fact, perhaps I should wish you all a very Happy Easter, just in case!


  1. The meerkatasare adorable and are most definitely my favourite! They are darling!
    The hedgies run a close second!!!

    That house looks fabulous!

  2. The collection of creatures is adorable-I love all of them:)

    The green and white house is like the one that our doctor lived in when I was a child. In those days one of the rooms was of the house was his 'surgery' and it always felt like a grand visit when we walked down the slope to the beautiful house. We didn't go very often as you had to pay to see the doctor then--how times have changed. I am pleased to see that yours is inhabited by different kinds of 'people' and has such a friendly air about it.

    Happy Easter to you too-it will fly by I'm sure

    Love Chrissie x

  3. I refuse to watch the remake myself!! Love the house, well done on getting it. A great read today.

  4. Oh. My. Actual. God. Literally LOLLED when reading this.

    The Triang house is astonishing - did the cars come with it? I feel a little Hercule Poirot (perfectly to scale, of course) would fit in perfectly. I appreciate what you say about the authenticity of the makeover, but talk about high spec!

    Do I need to phone The Social again? Those Sylvanian families are completely at home, and now you tell me they are to be evicted - have they been given proper notice? Is their new accommodation satisfactory? (What is it about them that makes me laugh so, I wonder? Partly it is the tableaux you have cleverly made, but I do think they are intrinsically amusing)

    Kindly explain what on earth is going on in Prague. I can see a river, but no other swimming opportunity. Were the people catapulted into it from the terrace? Or is there a tiny pool at the bottom of that alarming cliff?


    A x

    1. No, no the cars are Sylvanian (or Slyvanian as one ebay seller has them :-)). Even Alison likes the cars though she is adamant the families may not go to the CR with us. I can assure you they will be evicted with the proper formalities and yes, they do have accommodation available which undoubtedly fits today's somewhat restrictive criteria on bedroom numbers. And as I said, I am hopeful of a caravan....

      There is something extraordinarily appealing about them - as I said I was surprised when I got my hands on a set, to find how delightful they are.

      Trust you to pick up on the absence of the pool. And you have it absolutely right (well, not the catapaulting I assume.). There is indeed a small pool built in the rocks at the bottom of the cliff. Quite how people got down there I don't know - not exactly appealing compared to the terraces above!

    2. Oh and I forgot to say - did you spot the immediate use of some of your mystery package? Try the library....

      Won't Anne of GG serve as well as Poirot?

    3. LOL has turned to ROFL. I cannot think of a single characteristic shared by Anne of Green Gables and Poirot, apart from the fact they are both members of the (albeit fictional) human race. One is madcap, impetuous and chaotic (cf green hair amongst other escapades), the other is meticulous, tidy and analytical. So no, frankly, she won't pass muster as a Poirot replacement.

      That "pool" is hilarious - what can they have been thinking? Handy for defenestration, I suppose, although it's a fair old hurl from the nearest window.

      Still laughing at the Sylvanians.

      A x

    4. PS I think I spy a little baluster?

  5. Love the Twenties bathing belles! And I've found [and lost, and found again!!] the sheet of little pictures, so will get that in the post this week - Ruth.

    1. Ooh thank you. I am collecting old belt buckles from charity shops to use as frames and got a lucky haul of wonderful art deco shapes recently. So watch this space!

  6. Hello me again, I was so excited when I saw this post in my email, this Magpie looooooooves hedge hogs, we don't have them in Canada, I look for them every time I visit across the pond. I'm in love with the hedge hog family. The Meerkats are just beautiful, they have the most amazing eyes, the other animals are all so cute, what a fabulous neighborhood. their shop is perfect.. The new Triang house is fantastic, look like it come from an old 50 movie set where the rich and famous live, it's gorgeous..
    Thanks soooooo much for sharing all these phot's and stories, you have made my day, brilliant post, hope you have a wonderful week, ((( BIG HUGS)))

  7. Oh my! How much joy the little Sylvanian Family animals brought to my children in the early 80s! Now my neighbour's little girl is collecting the newer ones - her windmill house has a blue roof, my son's had a green roof, but they are exactly the same in all other respects.
    Scale is an adult concept and, when I mentioned it to my son, he gave me one of those withering teen looks and said, 'You have no imagination!' He was four years old. There's me put in my place!
    I didn't realize how much I had enjoyed them until I saw a family of otters in a charity shop and now I'm fighting the urge to see if Jake (son) still has any of his from 30 years ago..... bet I give in and ask him!

  8. I'm so pleased everyone is enjoying this dream house. I have added a bit about its history, gleaned from the seller. I meant to put it in from the start but this post had many strands!

  9. You have won the second prize in my giveaway :)
    Please contact me by email at
    Greetings from Poland,
    Lady F.

  10. I am glad you have fallen for the Sylvanians they are cute and some of the stuff is very detailed! I have a large collection mainly my Daughters from when she was young but I did buy the toy shop and the caravan cos they were cute! I love the Triang house!! I think I def come under the non purist tag too as I would rather have your beautifully renovated house than any old one with faded peeling paper lol! I appreciate the old houses but they are not for me but your is really lovely!!!

  11. The Sylvanians are such cute little creatures. They do look at home in your 1930s dollhouse. It's an exquisite house! Happy Easter to you too- just in case! :)

  12. It's the house that appeals to me - I adore Art Deco! Wonderful! Wish we were planning a trip to the CR this year so I could see it, but alas....