Dollhouse Decorating

Miniature Decorating Ideas |Articles on decorating dollhouses and the history of this artform


I have had a life-long love affair with dollhouse miniatures, and careers in art education and interior design. I hope to combine these life experiences to help other miniature enthusiasts get more out of this wonderful hobby we enjoy, a hobby that often reaches the level of an art form. Susan Downing

Posted on 08 August, 2015


Thorne Room Box – Model of a Virginia Dining Room, c. 1800, found on Amusing Planet.

Dollhouse rugs rule the space because they may be the single largest item in the room, and may dictate the placement of furniture. Over time, all sorts of rules have evolved about how big a rug should be, how many furniture legs should be on the rug, the dimensions of flooring around the rug and on and on. Interior designers break them all the time, of course. But before you try breaking them in your dollhouse, it’s best to know what some of the rules are.

All Legs On

If maintaining realism is important, be careful not to crowd the dinner table in order to keep the back legs on the rug. Better to revert to the Front Legs Rule, or buy a bigger rug, This rule is also useful with a conversation grouping in a large living room, or in an open floor plan where the rug defines exactly where the living room is.

A real room example of the “Front Legs On” rule, found on Maddie J. Howe Decor

Front Legs On

With this rule, the rug should be large enough to slide under the front legs of sofas and chairs in a seating arrangement. Put a coffee table in the center, with a sofa on one long side of the rug, a love seat on the other and a chair at each end. This is a classic conversation grouping where guests face each other and are able to reach for whatever beverage is on a coaster. If you are working in 1/12 scale, it works out that the rug should be 8” X 12.″

This standard arrangement is great for the average large living room, A long, narrow Victorian drawing room might have enough space for two of these conversation groupings. But what if there is a problem with the free-flow of traffic. Even though it’s a miniature, you still have to account for it. This “what if’ opens the door for an amazing number of broken rules.

Some Legs On

The size of the room may make it necessary to go to this hybrid rule. Put only the front legs of the sofa on the rug, for instance, while all the legs of chairs sit firmly on the rug.

Elayne Forgie’s room box “Elephants on Parade”

No Legs On

This rule is best for small groupings, with a 4” X 6″ rug in 1/12 scale. It is also useful in a nursery, where a small play space for an infant is desirable, and the ease of cleaning the surrounding area is a must.


Beautiful Closets, a real room example a flooring border, found on Home Design

A Few Inches Rule

In the above example, it’s about eighteen inches in a real room. That’s the amount of bare floor between the edge of the rug and the perimeter walls. The size of the room dictates the size of the rug, which being the largest object in the room, holds our attention. This is useful if the floor is not particularly attractive, or if you don’t want a wall-to-wall carpet look.

A “What If” Or Two

What if the focal point of the room is a fireplace and everyone wants to watch the warming glow while chatting and sipping something stronger than tea. Move the loveseat to one narrow end of the rug, both chairs shift to the other, the coffee table moves closer to the fireplace and the sofa takes command of the long side of the rug. This means the back legs are probably on the rug, breaking the “front legs on ” rule, right? No, remember the “Some Legs On” rule?
The same situation exists if you replace the fireplace with a picture window, or if it’s a long narrow room where the sofa-sitters would be facing a blank wall. Of course, you got around this faux pas by placing a stunning piece of fabric art or a mural on that wall.


Perhaps these rules should be called “guidelines,” except for this last one: The Cheat Rule. This rule is cut in stone. What is true in a real room may not be so in a room box, which we usually view from one side. So, in whatever scale you are working, the proportions have to be pleasing to the eye. That’s paramount, and if the measurements don’t fit any of the above guidelines …
Susan Downing, with Patrick Owens


I invite you to visit my Etsy Shop where I offer many accessories and pieces of furniture in 1:12 scale. Subscribers to this blog receive a discount on all Featured Products. Click here for details.


Posted by Susan Downing

Categories: carpets, rugs, space

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