Dollhouse Decorating

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

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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 26 October, 2015

Colonial-Kitchen-Williamsburg

Reconstruction of a colonial kitchen at Williamsburg, found on The Cross and the Kitchen Sink

Colonial Kitchens

The colonial period is a favorite among miniature enthusiasts. Unfortunately, some of us don’t sweat the small stuff when we try our first period piece. Let’s look at the basics of the colonial kitchen.

Since the cave man left the cave, dealing with fire became first on the list when building a shelter. The same was true with the colonial home, both to keep warm in the long northern winters, and in designing the cooking facility.

The Hearth

In early colonial days (from 1607-1699), they used open hearth cooking in a straight-walled fireplace. The oven was at the back, with a carved wooden door cut to fit. The wealthy used an iron door, which survived longer than wood and reflected heat into the room.

Furnishings

Furnishings consisted of a trestle table, which could be dismantled and set against the wall to provide more workspace in the single room. Along one wall there could be a board set on a chest or a crude frame for food preparation.

Shelves were mortised into corner posts. No curtains, no rugs, one chair for the man of the house, one or two benches for the wife and children, stools, a spinning wheel, possibly a food or pie safe. (see the picture above of the full-sized Williamsburg reconstruction).

 Colonial-Kitchen

Colonial Kitchen, found on Jenn’s Mini Worlds

You would see tubs for washing, but no sinks, dry or otherwise. Pots and pans were cleaned by singing them with fire, or sometimes sand was used as an abrasive. This is not so far fetched. When I went hiking with the Girl Scouts, water could be scarce in the high mountains. We used dirt to clean dishes and dusted them off with our shirttails. My mother was mortified when she heard about it; my aunt, not so much. She waved it off with, “We all eat a peck of dirt in our lifetime, anyway.”

late-colonial-fireplace-dollhouse

Late Colonial Fireplace, found on Jenn’s Mini Worlds

Late Colonial

In late colonial period (1700-1776) it was much the same, but there were some design improvements. The fireplace now had slanted walls to reflect heat. The oven had been moved to the front where it was handier and safer.(as in the picture of the walk-in fireplace on Jenn’s Mini World).

The walls were covered with a lime wash to reflect light. Almost everyone had a food or pie safe to protect edibles from vermin. Mop boards – what we now call baseboards – were in most homes.

And if you did not have a long-legged stand called a Bible Box to hold the family Bible, you risked getting stern looks from visitors.

 

Susan Downing, with Patrick Owens

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Posted by Susan Downing

Categories: Colonial


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