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 19 September, 2016


The Killer Cabinet, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Killer Cabinet – A True Story

This gorgeous cabinet dollhouse belonged John Egerton Killer, of Manchester. He wanted to amuse the many ladies in his family by providing them with a baby house. Cabinet dollhouses were popular in the 1830s, so he ordered a copy of a favorite cabinet in his office. Guess his profession. John Egerton Killer was a surgeon!


The Killer Cabinet, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Cabinets Of Curiosity

The term cabinet was originally used to describe a room, rather than a piece of furniture. ACabinet of Curiosity could contain collections of unusual items: fossils, scientific studies, oddities gathered from newly discovered lands. These real rooms were often lavishly decorated, the treasures displayed in setting designed for maximum effect upon the guests when the door to the room was opened.

For whatever reason, rooms were downsized-sized to fine works of furniture. A Parisian cabinet-maker, Pierre Golle, had mastered the art of marquetry, inlaying veneers of ebony, rosewood, and fruitwoods with ivory, gilt wood, pewter, and brass. These cabinets were all the rage in Europe and were soon adapted to reproduce life in miniature.


The four rooms of the Killer Cabinet found on CDHM History of Miniatures.

Cleanliness Was The Theme

A black lacquer cabinet decorated in the Chinoiserie style, the doors open to reveal four stylish Regency rooms, also decorated in the Chinese style. But this was not just a pretty piece of furniture. Dr. Killer was a demon about sanitary conditions. He designed his dolls house to be a subtle teaching tool to show the ladies of his household, family, and staff, the importance of cleanliness. It tells the story of the servant’s ongoing struggle for hygiene in the industrial city of Manchester.

Status First

The Killer Cabinet is a late example of English taste in miniatures, where Dutch and German influences could still be seen. But by the mid-19th century, the English would switch their preference from depictions of real life, to miniature buildings on a grand scale that glorified their wealth.

The Killer Cabinet is part of the permanent collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood in London.


Susan Downing, with Patrick Owens


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Posted by Susan Downing

Categories: cabinet, dollhouses, Regency

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One Response to “Killer Cabinet”

  1. Thank you very much for your blog.

    I enjoyed reading this article.

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