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 03 January, 2016


The Catherine Palace Amber Room found on The Magical Dollhouse

Robert Dawson, Miniature Artisan

When Kathleen Savage Browning announced the acquisition of The Catherine Palace, I was pleased that a work by Robert Dawson would be at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center. I run across his name often, when searching for article ideas and thought this would be a good time to learn more about him.


Catherine’s Palace Chinese Room by Robert Dawson, found on his Facebook Page, The Modelroom.

The Catherine Palace

Collector Carole Kaye commissioned Robert Dawson to create the 1:12-scale reproduction of this opulent castle. Ms. Kaye donated it to the Museum Center. This storied dollhouse has never been exhibited before. Click on the photo of the Amber Room for the full story.

robert-dawson-Neuschwanstein-bedroom-miniature-Ludwig II

The Neuschwabstein Bedroom in one of Ludwig II of Bavaria’s lavish castles. Found on the Guardian.

Planes, Trains & Tanks

Robert Dawson’s father, a model enthusiast himself, was involved in television production. Robert learned about model stage sets and props where his Dad worked and began making plastic airplanes, trains and tanks models himself. They were good enough to be shown on a BBC children’s show, Blue Peter.

Going to his Dad’s work place as a child paid-off as an adult. One of his first jobs was with the English National Opera, making models in the set design studio. He had familiarized himself with architectural models using plasticine, resin, and polystyrene cement. Master model maker Philip Wood taught him to create intricate models with balsa wood.


Robert Dawson in his studio at Modelroom on Green Dragon Lane, Brentford, Middlesex. Found on ArtistLondon

The Modelroom

Dawson founded The Modelroom to produce fine quality miniatures of houses, rooms, and palaces. Probably because of his theatrical background, each project he works on tells a story. His work can be found in a number of museums and private collections around the world.

I find the subtlety of Dawson’s Chinese Room breathtaking. Here’s what he has to say about it on his Facebook Timeline, February 27, 2014: “Another visit to the archives; this time the Chinese Room from the Catherine Palace. We hand-painted onto silk to replicate the delicate wall coverings and learned to shade veneers for the inlaid floor by scorching in hot sand.”

Scorching hot sand? How do you do that?


Linda Young making an adjustment to the Catherine Palace for its premiere on January 26, 2016

The Benefactors

At a Kensington Dollshouse Festival in the early 1990s, Robert met a couple of American collectors, Carol and Barry Kaye. They were planning a miniature museum, which they eventually did build on Wiltshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The idea was to show a whole range of models from a 1:12 scale Fontainebleau Palace to a fairy dell. With the financial support of the Kayes, Robert embarked on making a model of the Doge’s Palace and St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Robert’s collaboration with the Kayes stopped when the museum closed January 1, 2000.


Patrick and I visited the Barry and Carole Kaye Miniature Museum in 1995. It was outstanding. Besides the amazing individual pieces, like St. Peter’s Basilica (this was the first time I heard the name Robert Dawson), I remember a darkened room that held a 1:12 scale replica of a Pennsylvania mill town, perched on a hillside above a running river. A waterwheel, needing lubrication, squealed and groaned as it turned. Muffled thunder could be heard in the distance. Lightning flashed on a cyclorama behind the town, and a misty rain fell (up-stage, not on the visitors) and the houses and streets glistened from the varnish used to simulate damp conditions. It was dusk. The streets were gas-lit, the houses too.


Carole Kaye, from the Barry and Carole Miniature Museum catalog


I was so sorry when the Museum closed on January 1, 2000. The collection was supposed to have been passed on to The Naples Museum of Arts, now the Baker Museum, here in Florida, but their website has no mention of it.

Congratulations Kathleen and the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center, on your wonderful acquisition.



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

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