A Fixer Upper

One of my very earliest memories is of our house in New Jersey, the one we lived in when my little sister was born. It was the first house my parents ever bought and I can only imagine how exciting it was for them to buy the BRAND NEW 4 bedroom, 2 bath colonial with a big yard on a cul-de-sac. Something about being a homeowner just feels so grown up, even more than kids or a minivan or health insurance. I spent oh so many hours running around that neighborhood or playing on the swing set or cutting my own hair and then hiding under a chair so Mom wouldn’t yell at me reading quietly in the family room.

It was a good house.

One of my OTHER earliest memories is sneaking downstairs right around Christmas to find my parents and an aunt and uncle or two huddled around this:

Charming starter home on spacious lot, great location & schools

They were putting the finishing touches on the doll house as a Christmas present. My dad was SO DISAPPOINTED I saw it before Christmas morning. I still remember him rushing me back upstairs and telling me I was absolutely NOT allowed out of bed again no matter what. I tried super hard not to even think about the house – and I know I didn’t talk about it – until it was officially mine, although I don’t think anyone tried to tell me my presents were “from Santa” after that.

Center entry, formal living and dining rooms

The doll house is an exact replica of the actual house we living in in New Jersey, from the floor plan and carpet color right down to the wallpaper. There was no kit or plans, just my dad and a tape measure and his amazing attention to detail.

Even though we moved to Long Island after a couple of years…and California a few years after that…and then Massachusetts…and finally to Virgina, my parents had this GIANT doll house shipped with our stuff EVERY TIME. Dad built a special crate and wrapped it in packing paper and Styrofoam so not a single wall is cracked or damaged even though it’s been almost two decades since it was uncrated.

And ever since I announced I was pregnant the first time my parents been dreaming of the day the dollhouse is no longer their problem. Baby #2’s girl parts sealed the doll house’s fate (although Baby Evan has already greatly enjoyed putting various items in the windows – Attack of the giant corn! Watch out for the tiny killer dump truck! On noes we’re all going to be eaten by the singing frog!) so now it lives in my dining room.

House has great bones, but some cosmetic repairs needed

As well as it was taken care of, NO house can hold up to 20 years of abandonment. Peeling paper, moldy carpets, and water damage all abound.

I’m sort of conflicted about fixing up the doll house – I want it exactly as I remember it (even though it’s already not) and it feels disloyal to my parents to tear apart even a minute of their hard work. But some of that decor is in really bad shape.

Orginal 1980's kitchen and baths. In case you're into "vintage".

Like that middle upstairs bathroom. Yikes.

And I don’t think anyone ANYWHERE still sells that wallpaper, so matching it is out of the question.

I guess I’m going to be redecorating.

FIREPLACE! The highlight of every realtor's tour!

And hey, since I don’t have the time and/or money to redecorate my entire REAL house (again) right now, this is a great place to channel my creative energy. Tiny rooms to paint! Tiny rugs! Tiny appliances! All new tiny furniture! And the best part, there’s only a tiny bit of wallpaper to peel off and carpet to tear up.

Stay tuned for the very exciting renovation coming soon.

Damn, I was hoping for hardwood.

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10 Responses to “A Fixer Upper”

  1. bellegourmande says:

    Oh my gosh, I also have an amazing dollhouse! My dad didn’t build it but my mom decorated the whole thing. I looooved it. My sister was not at all into that sort of thing but maybe my son or a future daughter will be! It still lives at my parents’ house, in my closet. I bet they’d love to pass it along to me. Have a great time decorating yours! You are so crafty and creative that it will be quite a fun project, I imagine.

  2. Meg says:

    Oooh, I’m so jealous! I love dollhouses! I had a cheap, crappy one for a while as a kid. Maybe someday, when I’m rich, I’ll have a really nice one.

  3. Adorable! Have you figured out where you are going to put it yet? Does this mean that you are def. turning bedroom #3 into the 2nd nursery? (so that the house can have it’s own room???).

    • bebehblog says:

      We’re going to turn the 3rd floor into a master bedroom & make our bedroom a second nursery/playroom, which is where the dollhouse will go. It’s a good solution, so the guest room will still be closest to the bathroom and not right next to a kid and our current master has nice child-friendly carpet and the built in shelves for toys and books. I am VERY excited. I cannot wait to have all my clothes actually IN MY ROOM instead of in the baby’s room. Plus I can leave my cute guestroom the way it is AND I get to paint/decorate a girl nursery.

  4. I’m so excited that bebehgirl gets your dollhouse. Have fun redecorating!

  5. brigidkeely says:

    Ooooooh! How fun!

    My mom built me a dollhouse when I was teenytiny. She picked up carpet and wallpaper samples at hardware stores and used those.

  6. Audrey says:

    I have asked Christopher if he loves his daughter as much as your dad clearly loved you. In other words…when is HE going to make an exact replica of OUR house?? :D

  7. Other Erin says:

    Let me know what you learn from fixing up the dollhouse. I have a similar one with a similar story. It was hidden in my mom’s office in the basement which I went into to throw something away on Christmas Eve. I didn’t tell anyone I saw it but apparently 6-year old Erin couldn’t hide the lack of surprise Christmas morning. It’s still totally awesome though and I really want to restore it.

  8. Stacy says:

    I LOVE this! My grandpa made me a dollhouse as well and it’s one of my most treasured items! He even hung a wedding picture of my parents above the fireplace (hint! hint! your daughter will LOVE IT one day!!!)

  9. Cole says:

    What a gorgeous dollhouse!

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