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 16 May, 2016


The Spanish Mansion Dollhouse, French doors open.

Spanish Mansion Dollhouse

The Spanish Mansion dollhouse was made in the late 19th century. It is 4 1/2 feet tall and features a facade with 12 French doors that open to reveal three stories of elaborately furnished rooms. They including a nursery, gentleman’s study, lady’s sitting room, and private chapel — a status symbol for wealthy Spanish families. Carolyn Netter Sunstein added the Spanish Mansion dollhouse to her collection in 1983, paying $20,000.


Spanish Mansion Dollhouse Facade, found on LiveAuctioneers

Collector & Producer

Carolyn Sunstein began collecting dollhouse miniatures in 1945 when she bought a miniature brass chandelier. She also acquired a passion. By the 1970s, she and her husband had assembled 17 dollhouses and 55 display cases filled with miniatures fashioned from silver, ivory, china, and crystal.

Mrs. Sunstein founded the Philadelphia Miniature Show in 1975, which she produced for twenty years. Carolyn Netter Sunstein passed away in May 2009 in Audubon, Pennsylvania. She was 87.

The Rooms

All of the rooms in the Spanish Mansion dollhouse are loaded with outstanding furnishings and accessories. The following descriptions are extracted from the auctioneer’s detailed description.


Spanish Mansion Salon, found on LiveAuctioneers


The Continental styled kitchen displays many interesting original features such as an open tiled range and sink with faux enameled finish, painted tile floor and walls. Extensively furnished with an extraordinary number of useful accessories including a folding ladder chair, round pine table, Spanish work table with drawer and two side chairs. Smaller items include a set five porcelain cups and saucers, wooden cutting board, baskets of fruit, parsnips, asparagus, a picnic basket, cast metal sausage stuffer, 3 plaster deserts, tin tongs, dough trough, and a glass and cast metal hanging oil lamp.


The most elegant room in the house is decorated with many fine pieces of ormolu. Even the silk drapery panels are crowned with ormolu lambrequins! Other ormolu furnishings include a fireplace with mirror, a three-tiered corner stand, a mirrored étagère, and a desk with graceful cabriole legs. Additional furnishings include a five-piece gilt-painted wooden parlor suite with pink silk upholstery and a blonde wood piano with gilt paper trim. There is a wealth of ormolu accessories include a pair of Art Nouveau hanging wall mirrors.


This room is decorated with a delicately tinted enamel paint finish and furnished with a six-piece blonde furniture set. The infant’s bed is metal with a canopy. There are the usual accessories you would expect to find in the nursery of a well-to-do family. Two charming bisque dolls are dressed in matching sailor suits. The room is illumined by a blown-glass chandelier; there are also two soft metal sconces.

Gentleman’s Study

Furnished in German oak Renaissance Revival style furniture, including desk, settee, and chair. Accessories include a soft metal bird cage, hanging book shelf, lined wastepaper basket, ormolu ink stand, a crank telephone, and a wall-hung calendar. The room is lit by a delicate hand-blown glass chandelier.


Spanish Mansion Dollhouse Chapel, found on LiveAuctioneers


The private chapel is handsomely outfitted with a painted wooden altar with recessed panels and applied decorative decals, and a matching kneeling rail, flanked by a pair of prie-dieu behind the elaborate chancel screen. There is also a painted wood confessional. Appropriate accessories include a pair of pewter candlesticks, an ormolu holy water vessel with angel decoration, ormolu covered album, and a German cardboard candy box planter.

Sewing Room

The furnishings in this sewing room are practical, including a bed for when the lady needed a nap. Metal accessories include a sewing machine, folding sewing basket, wall pocket with silk lining, framed picture, plant stand, and small wall clock with pendulum, and a pitcher and bowl, candlestick, and several pieces of luggage. This room is also lit by a hand-blown milk glass chandelier.

Water closet

This small but functional room is outfitted with a built-in toilet with porcelain bowl and removable lid, a rare cast-metal japanned ice water dispenser on a stand with a small blown glass cup.


Spanish Mansion Dollhouse Sitting Room, found on LiveAuctioneers

Ladies’ sitting room

A feminine retreat furnished with three blonde wood chairs with Dresden paper trim, a soft metal multi tiered stand with frosted glass top, and a cast metal figured table lamp. Also, a German oak cabinet with soft metal hardware and a pair of bent wood rockers with woven seats. Additionally, a number of soft metal and ormolu accessories are included.

Second Floor Bed Chamber

Comfortably furnished with a German half-tester bed, a pair of upholstered chairs, footstool, small upholstered table, and a cabinet with marble top (all with old gold over-paint). Ormolu accessories include a large wall mirror, swivel dressing mirror with sconces, hanging wall pocket, small pendulum clock, plant stand, service bell, flower vase and beaded chandelier. Additional furnishings include a needlepoint rug, a parlor table, six paper and ivory playing cards, a German magazine with holder, figured table sconce with gnome, German kid-covered dog.

Dining Room

Elaborately decorated in the Art Nouveau style, the furnishings are larger scaled than the other predominantly German furnishings in the house. The marble-topped sideboard is 13″ tall, with glass upper doors. The room is lavishly decorated with many ormolu accessories and unusual oriental porcelain theatrical masks.

Entrance Hall

A formal entrance hall is centered on the ground floor and features a glazed vestibule with original etched glass panels and gilt metal decorative mounts. Decorated with a pair of Spanish hall chairs painted with pink enamel and decorated with metal filigree inserts and gilt decoration.


All dolls are bisque and appropriate to the rooms in which they are placed.


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

Print Friendly
Translate »