Primer. That’s the first step I took in renovating my dollhouse. Every room got a fresh coat. I wondered if I should restore any of the rooms to their original design. The bathroom had a painted tile floor, white with black lines to separate them. The kitchen had speckled flooring and one of the bedrooms had wallpaper my mom had added when I was little. Should I keep these things or start fresh? I decided a clean slate was in order. The design would be my own, inspired by real colonial homes.
The first room I began to work on was the bathroom, but it just wasn’t speaking to me. The master bedroom was. My own bedroom had always been my place of refuge, my hang out spot, my place to be alone. I love to be with friends, but I like my own company too. When I was young, I would play alone in my room. My grandma, Ardis Hillman Wheeler, had taught me how to play jacks and had even given me her set of jacks and her big black ball. She had told me how she and her friends would play jacks on the sidewalk until their knuckles were scraped and bloody. She would only go inside when her mom called her in for dinner. Sometimes she would play until dusk and she couldn’t even see the jacks anymore. I brought the set home and would play in my room, by myself. Toss, scoop up a jack, bounce, catch. Toss, scoop up another, bounce, catch. When I mastered that, I would see if I could scoop up two jacks at a time. How about three? I could play for hours and loved to challenge myself. That room, in the first house I ever lived in, was a beautiful old room; hardwood floors, odd nooks and crannies, a fluffy white rug in the middle.
As I got older and we moved into the log house, my bedroom was where I did my homework, listened to music, and talked on the phone. I probably spent most of my time there. I’d get home from school, go to my room, close the door and not come out until dinner time. The teenage years. In college, I’d sit on my bed, studying for exams or reading books. For as long as I can remember, my favorite part of the day is when I crawl into bed at night and lay my head on the pillow. With a smile on my face, I let out a big, contented sigh. I wish my favorite part of the day was waking up in the morning, ready for a new day, new challenges, new adventures, new joys. I do like that, but climbing into bed gives me such a cozy and comforting feeling.
As I was designing my dollhouse bedroom, I wanted to make the kind of bed that just felt beautiful and the kind of room I would want to spend time in. My refuge. I looked through my favorite colonial book, American Colonial; Puritan Simplicity to Georgian Grace, and was inspired by this photo. I loved the softness of the bed and the combination of colors; the dark wood, the white trim and fabric, and the salmon pink walls. I never liked pink growing up, in fact, I hated it. It was too girly and I wasn’t that kind of girl. Sure, I liked dolls and things, but I also liked playing G.I. Joe with my brother and making roads for Matchbox cars in the grass. I liked building forts and getting dirty. I laugh when I share the story that in high school, I would wear my brother’s jeans to school, baggy gray Carhartts, and my Doc Martens. My son can’t believe it; Mom wore boys’ clothes! I answer back, “That’s ok. My brother wore my skirts!” They were long, crinkly, hippy skirts. I think he did it mostly for the shock value, and they looked good with his orange mohawk. Those were the 90s. A lot has changed. As I’ve grown older, I’ve started to embrace my femininity and not only decorate with pink, but wear pink too and I love it! It’s still not the pink pink, the girly pink, but dusty pink and salmon pink and it just feels right. Mixing some shades of paint together, I got to work on my dollhouse room.
Designing my bed was fun. I’ve never had a canopy bed, but love the idea of it. I save scraps of fabric and fabric people are giving away and I remembered I had this beautiful, lacy tulle in a box under my bed. I glued it around a brie cheese box and pinned it to the ceiling. I posted on freecycle, looking for dollhouse furniture and got a gorgeous antique bed along with several other amazing items. I sewed a blanket for the bed, made a bolster pillow and wrapped it in the tulle, sewed two other pillows to add some color. I put it altogether and wished I could climb right in. I remember sitting up late at night, right after I finished it, just admiring, breathing deep and feeling such a sense of peace. For a few days afterwards, I’d walk by the dollhouse, look at it lovingly and daydream.
One day shortly after, my husband and I moved our bed away from the wall, to vacuum the dust behind the headboard. There was a window behind the headboard, we never opened the curtains of it because it was so dusty and the headboard was blocking it anyway. Once we moved the bed and vacuumed everything, we discovered the view out that window was beautiful. The neighbors had done some landscaping over the past few years and it looked fabulous. We wanted to look out that window too, so we moved the furniture around in our room. Once we did that, I decided it needed a fresh coat of paint. One thing really does lead to another. I headed to the hardware store, colonial book in hand, and had them make up a batch of paint to match the color of the photo. I then got to work on our bedroom. Life inspiring art, inspiring life. Though much smaller and less fancy, it gives me that same sense of peace that the room in the dollhouse does. Being that time of night, I think I’ll go crawl into bed right now. I’m so looking forward to it!