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 April, 2016


The Whiteladies House is on exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum

More Art Deco – Whiteladies House


This Art Deco house was designed by Mrs. Moray Thomas as a record of 1930s contemporary life in miniature. One of the oldest charity houses, it was displayed at The Building Centre in New Bond Street in 1936 for the purpose of raising funds for the Middlesex Hospital.

It was also loaned to the Victoria and Albert Museum to be shown at the Children’s Exhibition in 1936. The inspiration for the project came about as a result of seeing a German dolls’ house dating from 1750 and observing how it reflected the lifestyle of the time.

The house was built by chauffeur and carpenter William Purse and the furnishings and inhabitants were made by Moray Thomas and Basil Hunt, a talented maker of models. The house can be taken apart for ease of travel and was clearly intended as a reflection of the lifestyle of the very wealthy.

The Exterior

This wooden modernist construction makes much use of glass and cream and green paint. The balcony was inspired by one that the artist Moray Thomas had admired in an Austrian house in the summer of 1935. There is a definite atmosphere of Mediterranean-style living – sun, fresh air and good health were encouraged at the time.

The pipe-cleaner inhabitants are among many items made by Thomas from inexpensive materials. Through the chromium doors, which can be closed in winter, is the sandblasted outside-dining loggia, with an incised design on the wall and stone furniture.

The Lounge


Whiteladies House Lounge

A two-story galleried lounge occupies the center of the house, with full-length windows opening onto the garden. It also connects with an open-air dining room on the side. The lounge is equipped with a glass cocktail bar and contemporary furniture in white sycamore.

The Master Bedroom


Whiteladies House Master Bedroom

The walls of this room on the upper story are decorated with scenes illustrating a day in the lives of the people who live in the house and their guests. There are two further bedrooms on this level: a maid’s room and a spare room. In a letter to the museum in July 1956, Thomas revealed that the mural decorations in the house were by Claude Flight and other artists, including herself.

The Garage


Whiteladies House Garage

In 1935, a car was a luxury that few people possessed.

The Kitchen


Whiteladies House Kitchen

The kitchen is situated on the ground floor. It is simply but adequately equipped, which is typical of kitchens at this time. It has a hygienic rubber floor and boasts some comparatively recently introduced household appliances, such as a refrigerator, an electric cooker, vacuum cleaner, and iron.

The Indoor Dining Area


Whiteladies House Indoor Dining Area

The indoor dining area is designed more for style than for comfort. The floor is lined with black and terracotta tiles. The chairs in the style of Mies van der Rohe are up to the minute. The delicate blue glass wine set was, like the chairs, probably made in Germany.

The Bathroom


Whiteladies House Bathroom

The bathroom has an air of luxury about it, with its contemporary mirror glass and silver fittings.


Photographs and Physical Description courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum

Other information provided by The Telegraph.


Susan Downing, with Patrick Owens


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Posted by Susan Downing

Categories: art deco, dollhouses

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