A (doll) room of our own

Every doll collector knows that the only thing better than a new doll is new doll space. For those of us outside of the 1%, the biggest burden we bear as doll collectors is trying to find space to display the damned things. Dolls, of course, are like potato chips. … You can never have just one. Or two. Or two dozen. Dolls get lonely too. They need friends. And friends with benefits. And spouses. And kids. And mistresses. And extended family. And nemeses. They breed like rabbits. And they need their space.

space4
Surely I can squeeze one more in…
Perhaps not.
Perhaps not.

I am one of those lucky people with a “doll room.” Which, for me, means that the majority of my dolls are crammed into our small third bedroom. When my husband and I purchased this house–our first–eight years ago, I was delighted to finally have that “grail” that all serious collectors covet–a room of my own designated specifically for my dolls. My husband was more than happy to give this to me. In our former apartment, he slept in a bedroom festooned with dolls, including the 3-foot Himstedt that stood on his bed stand. He took the second bedroom as his “man cave” (which he would have to sacrifice three years later when our son came along, but everyone knows that doll rooms take precedence over man caves).

All lined up
All lined up

What my room lacked in square footage it more than made up in vertical space. I eyed those cathedral ceilings and envisioned tall display cabinets and shelving that would help me maximize what I had to work with. When I set up my doll room in my new house eight years ago, my collection had room to grow, and, over the years, I slowly filled up the space with creative display techniques that have enabled me to show off the majority of my collection at once. It’s an organized sort of chaos. Yes, it’s crowded, but it also feels like home. A futon in the middle of the room gives me comfortable space to stretch out and redress my girls while listening to the latest podcast of This American Life. (It’s a guest room too–for those who don’t mind 500 pairs of eyes staring at them while they sleep. On the plus side, it keeps down the number of overnight guests we get.)

I just about reached maximum doll capacity a few months ago. The one piece of real estate left was a bookshelf that contained a selection of my husband’s large military history book collection. (Doll collectors and military historians share a surprising amount of chemistry.) This was the last remnant of the “man cave” that predated my son’s entrance into this world, and I generally tried to keep my mouth shut about how cool it would be to have that space for the girls who had taken up residence in the garage due to the doll room’s worsening real estate crisis.

And then out of the blue the husband tells me he’s rearranging the house and is moving the bookcase elsewhere. It was like hearing that Christmas was coming twice this year.

I immediately began to make plans in my mind. I had my eye on a beautiful, tall, long-neglected walnut bookcase in our garage. Its deep shelves could accommodate 16-inch dolls, and I envisioned creating mini dioramas in them. All of the rest of my shelf space was filled to capacity with dolls lined up like toy soldiers. This space would be different–it would be my creative space, my in-progress space, where I would frequently rotate displays.

I’ve enjoyed playing with this new space during the past month, and I’m happy with the mini dioramas and small scenes that I’ve created thus far. I recently ventured into the resin fashion ball-jointed doll (FBJD) world, and I now have space to better access and display them.

I am so grateful for this little escape in my little townhouse in my little central Florida town. In this doll space of my own, I escape the sometimes difficult realities of a full-time job in corporate American and an obstinate four-year-old boy who is certain that my function on this earth is to please only him. After I close my computer for the night and tuck the little one into bed, I am able to get creative with my dolls for an hour or two before it’s time to head to bed and face it all again.

And that’s why we’re in this hobby, right?

6 thoughts on “A (doll) room of our own

  1. I just love this! My absolute dream is to have a doll room. My husband and I live in a three-room apartment and we share it with two reborn toddlers, four reborn babies, one reborn chimp, one reborn pug dog and one, soon to be two Tyler Wentworth dolls. I love the idea of a room, however small, where I could relocate the gang and have a futon to lounge on while I spend time with them. I also love the idea of your movable display shelving where you create scenes, that is so cool! Maybe one day I’ll have a doll room, right now I’m glad I have a supportive husband who never minds eyes watching him while he eats breakfast or works at his computer, or me oohing and ahing about my latest Tyler fashion acquisition. 🙂

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  2. What a fabulous post – enjoyed every minute of it! So, SO TRUE!! You made me laugh, and I agree with almost every word you said EXCEPT I’m one of the rare collectors that prefers her dolls in her bedroom with her – I love the view as I’m reading in bed, or waking up in the morning, and I miss them if they’re too far away. HUGS!

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  3. It’s interesting that your husband is a military historian! Mine, while not doing it as a profession, is a WWII Warbird enthusiast! (as well as being very interested in all of WWII history.) He recently owned and flew an actual P51 fighter plane (Hurry Home Honey) for several years, in which he enjoyed taking WWII Veterans for flights on his nickel, as a “Thank you for serving our country”. Most of them are too old now to climb into the plane, but many would get tears in their eyes just to come and see the plane up close and personal.

    Does your husband specialize in a certain area of military history? I would be interested to know more.

    Do you truly know other doll collectors who are married to military historians? I collect Gene dolls so I kind of understand why my husband and I have a connection, since Gene dolls have a strong connection to the history of the 1940’s. It’s difficult for me to see a connection though to other dolls. Do you have any theories? Intriguing! —- Judy

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    1. Thanks for your comment. When I implied that military historians and doll collectors have a lot in common, I was actually speaking in jest. My husband and I don’t share many common interests, and we joke about that a lot. Sounds like your husband is doing a great thing with his plane!

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  4. excellent…i have the dream of a doll room too…the problem is finding the shelving at a reasonable price. For Xmas my husband bought me a doll house for 18″ dolls…I plan to redo the walls to eliminate the background in place which favors the american girl (I have none)…right now the dolls are all over the house and I want one of my bedrooms to be a doll room and I will get there just as you have…great article and funny.

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