08 November 2022
We have an in-depth chat with leading miniaturist Kathleen Holmes about her incredible dollshouse.
Retired psychotherapist, marriage and family therapist Kathleen Holmes lives in Harrison, Arkansas in the United States. She has long been mini mad! She explained how she first discovered the hobby: “Many years ago, when I was living in Anchorage, Alaska, I wandered into a dollhouse and miniature store and was immediately hooked. At that time, in the early ‘90s, there happened to be a high-quality miniature store in Anchorage and I was fortunate to have access to some wonderful artisan pieces.”
Kathleen continued: “I bought my original dollhouse as a kit back in the ‘90s. Eventually that dollhouse was enlarged, but over time I outgrew it with my collection of miniatures. Almost ten years ago, my husband and I designed my current OOAK [one of a kind] dollhouse and he built the shell for me. It took me three years to finish it and in the nearly six years since it’s been done, it has gone through various changes and upgrades. I’m often finding something new to add or having an idea that would enhance its overall appearance.”
Kathleen's miniature kitchen
What I really love about Kathleen’s house is that it takes on different identities according to the season – both inside and out. Like many of us, Kathleen spruces up her miniature house for Christmas and gets out the tree, baubles, presents and so on. Kathleen, however, takes it a step further. I asked her whether she decorated her diminutive home for other occasions: “Hmmm….other holidays that I decorate for? Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving… The question is, is there a holiday that I don’t decorate for?” Clearly not!
Kathleen's miniature pumpkins
“I am passionate about designing realistic miniature scenes and I love decorating my dollhouse for the seasons and holidays. Rooms inside my dollhouse change during the year, with different decorations added depending on the occasion. My dollhouse is not a static museum display. I try to present it in such a way as to reflect the dynamic activity of everyday life.”
A miniature Christmas
The kitchen is a particular focus for seasonal activity. Love is in the air on 14 February, when the kitchen display reminds us that it’s St Valentine’s Day. Heart-shaped biscuits and confectionary, and a cookery book showing romantic recipes, adorn the table. A bunch of red roses and a Valentine’s tea towel in the background leave us in no doubt as to what is being celebrated.
For St Patrick’s Day on 17 March you’ll find all things Irish set out on the table: a green cake decorated with shamrocks, St Patrick cupcakes and cookies, and green table accessories to complete the Irish-themed look. Kathleen’s Easter table tableau features pretty pastel iced bunny biscuits, colourful chocolate eggs, and even egg painting.
The seasonal changes can also be seen in the garden. “My dollhouse is landscaped and I change bushes, flowers and trees to reflect the current season. I ‘plant’ tomatoes, beans and sweetcorn in the summer months,” explained Kathleen, “and pumpkins in the fall. Strawberries appear in the garden in the spring. However, I don’t do much in the winter though,” Kathleen added. “One year I tried to add snow, but it was so messy!”
A winter garden
Kathleen has had an Etsy shop for a couple of years now, where she sells a few things that she makes. “My tastes lean toward more vintage-looking pieces and the items in my shop reflect my style,” she explained. “I’ve had requests for some unusual commissions, but generally only remake what I’ve made in the past if it’s not currently for sale.”