Doll Room Decisions


A few months ago I published a post about how I created Kirsten’s “cabin”. I was really excited about it and was bursting with ideas for making more doll rooms. If you missed that particular post, it is basically just a trifold of plywood, painted to look like a log cabin. I was certain that these collapsible, tri-fold rooms were the answer to making sure that all of my dolls had a bedroom of their own, a place for their furniture, and a great place to set up scenes for photographs. My husband heartily disagreed. He normally is hugely supportive of my doll projects, but this is one that he protested pretty hard. “It’s so BIG,” was his constant refrain about Kirsten’s cabin. I eventually conceded. In my mind, I had rooms of the same size and construction planned for Molly, Abby, Caroline, Rebecca, Addy and Ivy. In my mind, they all would be set up at once against the wall in my sewing room/doll room. In my mind, they were the perfect alternative to the giant doll houses that I’ve seen others have constructed for their 18 inch dolls–at least these could come down easily if needed. Plus, not being contained inside of a roofed box made it easier to photograph with better light.

I am here to confess that my thoughts have changed a bit. As much as I love Kirsten’s cabin, I simply do not have the space for these creations.

My mom spent countless hours last spring building Kit’s attic. It truly is a masterpiece, but it is HUGE. And heavy. We’ve used it for a number of photo shoots (it has become the clubhouse for The American Girls Club) so I’m glad she has it…but I’m also glad it’s not in my house!

Over the past few months one of my main photography goals was to become better at indoor doll photography, with or without an actual doll room background. I’m still pretty shaky at it, but am starting to learn a lot. I have a nice blank wall in my doll/sewing room where I set up these scenes below, which I was relatively pleased with. I’ve found that this goal has had partly to do with using my camera, but mostly to do with just finding the right spot. I realized that if I waited to use all of my great doll furniture in photos until I have actual specific doll rooms in which to display them, I would be waiting a while. I liked that this spot required no extra scenery, or special doll room, but it had almost no natural light:


After my mom finished her Kit house creation, she moved on to a new interest, which was using photography backdrops (the kind a photographer would use in a studio) for doll photography. They can be purchased relatively inexpensively on eBay and she has created quite a collection. I really enjoy the number of creative scenes that you can design using these and have started utilizing them whenever I am at her house. I think they are a nice alternative to a room, and certainly easier to store. You can easily take them anywhere too, including outside! The picture below was taken with the background draped over the railing of the back deck. I was happy with how Melody looks in front of this background:

My mom had two of Samantha’s Scenes and Settings from Pleasant Company years ago (it’s so sad they don’t make them anymore) and has given one to me. I haven’t done much with it because I don’t have Samantha. I was in my kitchen after work a couple of weeks ago and I realized what excellent natural light was coming through my window. It suddenly occurred to me what an excellent opportunity that I had to easily create a scene to utilize that natural light if I were to use the Scenes and Settings book. I realized how excellent it was to have  a background that is portable… I can move it to wherever the light is best. This picture of Rebecca used no flash or artificial light. I was totally thrilled!

The next thing I knew, I had ordered Molly’s scenes on eBay! This picture was taken in my doll room (not great light) because I didn’t feel like dragging all the furniture downstairs. Next indoor photography challenge: make Molly’s room less…red. As you can see, the red of her room casts a very red tinge on the dolls!

In conclusion, I am excited to have found some alternatives that will give my dolls some great rooms and scenes without having to have a giant doll house, or even a giant foldable wooden room like Kirsten’s cabin. I have always wanted to collect the Scenes and Settings, but just never have. I actually really wish I had them as a kid. When I finished setting Molly’s bedroom up, I just felt this woosh of excitement–I was sitting in Molly’s room! It looks just like the book! The details in the scenes are outstanding artwork. I am out to get all of them now…I am totally and completely kicking myself as I had the chance to get Addy’s at the benefit sale this summer for a VERY reasonable price that I will absolutely never find on eBay. I think Felicity’s will work quite well for Caroline. I’m happy with how some of Samantha’s scenes work for Rebecca and her time period. Kirsten’s is probably the lowest priority for me right now since I already have made her a room.

What do you do for your doll rooms/spaces? A doll house? A blank wall? I’ve had fun trying all of these different options!


14 Comments Add yours

  1. jackylina says:

    That’s exactly what I do! I too started with Sam’s then I really wanted Molly’s kitchen so I bought hers (and I”m so glad because I use it all the time). I had to have Felicity’s too because I visit Williamsburg every year (my grandma lives near there) and her scenes and settings is exactly like taking a little bit of Williamsburg home with me. I got Kirsten’s at a great price and I use the school room and winter scene a whole lot. The only one I don’t have is Addy’s. I really think this is the way to go.


  2. Lovely post, Emily! Your indoor photography is spectacular! I haven’t quite grasped indoor photography but I’m really interested in it.
    I have an AG dollhouse which consists of two bedrooms, a kitchen/dining room, a living room, and a bathroom. 🙂
    Good luck in your doll room decisions!


  3. Flo says:

    I have a dollhouse, but it can be less than perfect for just the reasons you mentioned. Plus we have terrible natural light in our house because of small windows, so I almost always have to use a flash, especially there.

    As far as Molly’s room and the red–that might not be the problem. If you had any kind of incandescent light on (like overhead, table lamp, etc), it can cause the kind of color cast that I see in that photo. It tends to reflect orange/yellowish as opposed to a more white shade like you get from natural light. In comparison, fluorescent lightning tends to give a greenish cast. I wouldn’t give up just yet, I’d try a couple of different things. The room is just too darned cute and perfect!


  4. Jessa says:

    Your photos are amazing and so is Kirsten’s cabin! I have a PAX wardrobe with three rooms and a room on top, and a separate shelf for Kaya and her things. My husband is as eager to build me a big dollhouse someday when we have a house with the space for it. I think we’ll do boxes against the wall that could be converted to just bookshelves or storage if the dolls ever go.

    I had Samantha’s and Addy’s scenes and settings for a while but they didn’t quite work for me, though I love what you’ve used them for! I liked behind able to put my stuff up and away and the s&s just didn’t feel quite complete to me, but then I’m more interested in a home than a setting for photography. Good luck finding the rest!


  5. Gwen says:

    Don’t lose hope about Addy’s! I found mine for an extremely reasonable price and free shipping, right after I’d lost an auction for a different item I really wanted for my collection. It’s definitely worth it too, she’s got a lot of great versatile backdrops.

    Right now I’m kicking myself because I only brought Molly and Sam’s with me to my new place… I’m going to be reunited with the rest eventually obviously, but I miss having them around!


  6. Sharry says:

    Well, most of the photography on my blog is indoor. I do several different things. My most favorite is the project tri-fold. I have 4 of them in differnt colors, 1 school (I made), Julie’s bedroom, Danny’s bedroom, and one w/ wood grain contact paper for different purposes. I also use scrapbooking paper, and sometimes photos blown up to poster size. Sometimes I tape things to the wall, (w/ “green” scotch tape so I don’t take the paint off the walls). I do own Molly’s Scenes and Settings, but I have to enhance them for 70s dolls. I print things on my computer and tape them over the 40s pics w/ packing tape. A 70s bedroom, Camp Wilderness for my boy dolls, and I’m now in the process of making Woolworth’s discount store for Halloween out of the drug store scene.. I really like the way you fixed up Molly’s room!


    1. Emily says:

      Oh yes, you do have fantastic indoor sets! I’m always really impressed at how realistic your scenes look! Looking forward to seeing Woolworth’s!


  7. Julia Grace says:

    Wow your sets in photography is truly amazing! Mine is called the backyard 😉😄


    1. Emily says:

      Thanks! I definitely use my backyard a lot too, more than anything else actually!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. kaitlynrh1 says:

    Great post! You must have a huge dollhouse!


    1. Emily says:

      Thanks! I don’t have a dollhouse, actually, this post is just describing all the dollhouse alternatives I’ve tried!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. bennettv says:

    I love this post! I built a huge dollhouse in our playroom in the basement, but you are right, the lighting is not very great. Mostly it was just a place to corral doll things and to let the kids go play. I’m not a photographer anyway, but for a lot of my blog photos I just use a trifold on my kitchen island. I have a large window directly opposite that is just bursting with sunshine. Of course, there will be less natural light once Canadian winter hits. Then it’s back to indoor photos for me.
    You can check out our dollhouse here:


    1. Emily says:

      You have an amazing doll house! I would love to have one someday if I get enough space!


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