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Tallgrass Creek dolls up

Enchanting dollhouse display delights and dazzles

Created date

August 20th, 2013
Enchanting dollhouse display delights and dazzles

For irrefutable proof that good things come in small packages, check out the intricately detailed, fully electric dollhouse on display in the living room of Tallgrass Creek s Audubon Clubhouse. Resident Sally Smith, chief architect and designer of the three-story, elaborate miniature, has always been intrigued by dollhouses. My grandfather made one for a cousin when I was about six, and I was hooked, says Sally.

A designing woman

Sally s interest resurged about eight years ago when the daughter of a good friend bought an Overland Park retail store that sells anything and everything for dollhouses. Sally started spending time at the store looking at all the unique dollhouses and furnishings and, once again, she was hooked. When the store offered a fully constructed but unfinished dollhouse at a charity auction Sally and her late husband Bob attended; she bid on it and won. The dollhouse was a five-room, two-story Swiss chalet, and soon, Friday afternoons were spent at the store where the owner allowed Sally to work on her mini project. I learned to use the tiny tools to apply wall paper, carpet, paint, and flooring, says Sally. But not electricity. I let Laura, the store s owner, do that. It took Sally about six months to finish the miniature home, and, when completed, she gave it to her granddaughter Dacotah, then 17. That meant her other granddaughter, Simone, 12 at the time, needed one, too. I bought a second unfinished dollhouse at another auction a couple years later, and it was back to work, says Sally. This dollhouse was a southern mini-mansion with six rooms, two stories, and a sweeping front porch. Again, the search was on for tiny kitchen appliances, wall decor, furniture, chandeliers, and, naturally, a porch swing for the front porch. Accessories in the young girl s tiny bedroom included a Kansas University cheerleader s uniform, pompoms, and a trumpet. Simone, a trumpet player, was delighted with the result. With two of the dollhouse masterpieces under her belt, Sally decided it was time to build one for herself. And she did from the ceiling up using a dollhouse kit Bob gave her in 2006 for Mother s Day. The house came in three boxes, and the building started with it being upside down so I could paper the two-story foyer s ceiling, says Sally. It was quite a lengthy project. For three years, Sally spent many Friday afternoons at the dollhouse store, painstakingly constructing (with her friend Laura s help) the 13-room, plantation-style mini home that has been displayed in Tallgrass Creek s living room. She even made all the plants, trees (using real twigs), and flowers that border the home.

Small house, big reaction

The elegant, pillared mini mansion has caused many oohs and aahs among staff, visitors, and neighbors as they marvel at the home s flower-lined sidewalks, sunny solarium, elegant sunning deck, cloud-covered nursery walls, and intricately furnished rooms. You just can t quit looking at it, says Tallgrass Creek resident Harlan Brockman, a longtime friend of Sally and Bob. You keep seeing things you haven t noticed before. The living room has two miniature portraits of Sally and Bob when they were children, along with a tiny replica of a Smith family portrait. On the library walls are three miniaturized pieces of art painted by a longtime family friend.

One more time

Though Sally thought the Georgian creation would be her last, it was not to be. She spied a holiday cottage depicting Santa s workshop at the dollhouse store and decided to duplicate it. Her friend Laura had constructed and furnished the cottage starting with two old Hallmark ornaments found online. The ornaments were an old stove and refrigerator, and they were perfect for the cottage, says Sally. We went online and found the same ornaments for my cottage. As with Sally s other creations, the cottage s minute furnishings and design are charmingly detailed. Santa s Workshop has been on display during the last two holiday seasons in the community s Audubon Clubhouse and will soon be on display again. The Georgian dollhouse will soon move to Tallgrass Creek s sunny first-floor marketplace where residents enjoy coffee, snacks, and reading the newspaper. It will eventually be given to Sally s son and daughter-in-law who live in Liberty, Mo. It is easy to see why some dollhouse enthusiasts might be slightly intimidated when comparing their creations to Sally s. But Sally says all dollhouses have their own particular magic. There s not a dollhouse that isn t adorable, says Sally. It doesn t matter if they re elaborate or simple. They each have an interesting, magical personality all their own.