November 6th, 2011

I’m nothing if not obsessive, ridiculously self-critical and weirdly competitive with that cheapskate thing layered in for extra fun. Not a great combo for basic stuff like a sense of contentment or feelings of ease and satisfaction. Unfortunately, I’ve been having trouble finding modern miniature stuff on my thrifty routes and thought that instead of buying a bunch of super pricey premade mini furniture that wasn’t quite right for my Dollhouse Challenge, why not just build everything from scratch? Which is probably crazy person thinking.

Especially considering that CERTAIN people do micro better.

So, all my art school tools got dusted off and the local craft store hit up for all that craft wood, felt and leather scraps usually only encountered in my darkest nightmares. Of course, now there is a giant mess in the dining room from experimenting with materials and substandard construction methods, because I learn mainly through failure. Screw research.

Wait, what am I going to do with all this mini stuff when this is over?


Let’s not think about the future. Let’s look at that mini gray sofa instead. LOOK. It’s made of felt and basswood and tears.

Or look! After only three failed attempts I built a leather sling chair and ottoman…which probably needs to be tweaked and remade to address a few problems. But it’s fine for now? Or until my self-critical crazy brain wins and forces a rebuild.

Hey, a bench.

Yeah dude, I totally hand cut and sculpted those balsa wood legs like a pro. Totally mitered the crap out of the corners and slammed a craft store birch plywood veneer on top.

That’s how I roll.

Worked so nice I did it twice. With a coffee table.

This chunky mini dining table is made from a 99¢ “mosaic plaque wood blank” with four pieces of balsa slapped on for legs. Less than 10 minutes and $1.50 to build.

BOOM. Done.

Check out my “credenza” that doesn’t open or store anything. It’s all an illusion, except for the brass legs. Those are real brass.

This reminds me that at some point I need to decide on finishes (stains? oil? paint?) for all this sad crafty birch-colored wood. Maybe I should upgrade to nicer woods? Oh, but that sounds like it requires some effort and more money…so nope.

Boom. Another bench? Shut up. I like building benches.

And yes this is “upholstered” in fine leather (which means I glued scrap leather to balsa wood). Luxurious.

Right after I photographed my mini sling chair I dropped it and boom, looks like my patented “throw more glue on it” method of construction didn’t hold up so well.

Luckily, since I’m a genius, I knew to throw more glue on it and now it’s like it never happened. Except for all the visible glue.

Speaking of, I’ve become pretty glue reliant. Why do things right when you can glue your problems away? It’s too bad glue looks sloppy on fabric (as demonstrated via my pillow experiments), so still looking to resolve the mini textile issue…but I despise sewing. HOW CAN ONE PERSON FACE SUCH ADVERSITY?

BTW, this headboard / sloped ceiling / bed frame conundrum still requires solutions. Among many other things…

Things in context. Glorious.

I’ve neglected to finish building the a-frame structure or decide on it’s finer details since finishing stuff or focusing on doing one thing at a time is for suckers. Chaos is way cooler.

OK. Only a million more mini things to do.

*BTW – if you enjoy mini stuff (or dogs), check out & follow thebrickhouse : instagram feed. Expect an overabundance of terrible shots of my mini experiments & the chihuahuas (or liquor & food).

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. tina on 11/06/2011:

    I love it! everything is looking mid century awesome!

  2. Cat'sMeow on 11/07/2011:

    Wow. It looks amazing! Too bad you don’t like sewing, all those wonderful miniature textiles to make, swoon!! (Can you tell I like sewing and knitting.. )

  3. Brismod on 11/07/2011:

    OMG! You are self-critical. Your furniture making in miniature is amazing. xx

  4. alex sunday on 11/07/2011:

    i don’t even know where to start on how cool this project is.

  5. THE BRICK HOUSE on 11/07/2011:

    Oh Brismod I know. It’s dumb. Always been that way and try to remind myself to relax.

  6. Helen on 11/07/2011:

    I think it’s coming along beautifully. I also think this is one of your funniest posts yet.

  7. caroline on 11/07/2011:

    I love it. When I was a wee girl, I used to flip through those American Girl books about making miniature furniture, foods, clothes, etc.

  8. Leena on 11/07/2011:

    Loving the furniture! Especially the credenza, can’t really specify why it’s my favourite. It just looks so real.

  9. Kara K on 11/07/2011:

    Looking at this on my iPhone, I thought you got a new couch. Everything looks amazing. (Yes it does.)

  10. Tony-Paul on 11/07/2011:

    I absolutely love the photograph of the collapsed chair in that mini living room. Seriously, you should have it enlarged at a very large scale and framed. It reminds me of pictures by Jeff Wall/Thomas Demand/Michael Snow…

  11. Rachael on 11/07/2011:

    Wow, this takes alot of patience, patience I don’t think I have. Cool stuff!

  12. Call of the Small on 11/07/2011:

    You SUCK. Non-dollhouser creating all this awesome, envy-provoking stuff. HATE you. LOVE this. If you are looking for a repository for your minis post-challenge, won’t you pretty-please consider moi??? P.S, haven’t yet done a thing and the deadline is looming. Considering Google sketchup route.

  13. erin@designcrisis on 11/07/2011:

    Feeling much better about my panicky self loathing this morning.

    Not feeling better about how lazy I am… this is awesome.

  14. Tonia on 11/07/2011:

    Oh wow, beautiful.

  15. Jay on 11/07/2011:

    Wow, this is really awesome!

  16. sara on 11/07/2011:

    Awesome mini furniture! And the picture of the broken sling chair – when I saw it, I heard my doll’s heart break and a small droplet of a tear roll down her cheek.

  17. Desi on 11/07/2011:

    That stuff is off the hook. I love the benches. I was watching this stop motion video where they clipped off pins and made the ball portion into birds and I thought of you dollhouse folks. I thought clipped pins might make a nice mid century clock or coat rack.

  18. Desi on 11/07/2011:

    OK I see where this crazy self critique is coming from. I went over to one forty three. His light lights! Come on. I would have a tough time with that. You doing a good job keeping it together.

  19. Karey on 11/07/2011:

    i STILL want to live in your miniature house.
    have you considered artwork for the walls? i think a macrame piece using embroidery floss (or something) would be freaking awesome.

  20. THE BRICK HOUSE on 11/07/2011:

    Oh yeah. I have some art plans brewing. Macramé plans too.

  21. Christina on 11/07/2011:

    you don’t give yourself enough credit… not even a smidge. the sofa and credenza are my favorite. can’t wait to see the finished product.

  22. Meagan on 11/07/2011:

    Dude. “Why do things right when you can glue your problems away?”
    Because… work smarter, not harder. That’s why. I went the no-sew route on my sofa, too. I’m making a ton of mini crap without the skills to back it up. On the bright side, our results are surprisingly decent, no matter how much glue/tears hold them together. If something goes awry, blame the dog(s). Strong work, man.

  23. Alison on 11/07/2011:

    boom. another bench? shut up.
    your best line ever.

  24. heela on 11/07/2011:

    OMG!!! So when are you posting how-to instructions and a list of tools needed so idiots like me can follow along?! (what did you use to “miter” the little tables?!) I cannot figure out how to make an A-frame. You should sell a PDF how-to file…

    this is TOO cute. I am so jealous

  25. louize on 11/07/2011:

    how cool is all of this – I would move in in a heartbeat… oh, except I am too big! Super work, fabulous designs!

  26. cammie on 11/07/2011:

    AMAZING. My childhood was clearly missing balsa wood. As is my young adulthood.

    I wholeheartedly encourage this behavior and can’t wait to see more.

  27. holly | bijou lovely on 11/07/2011:

    You are making me want to build a dollhouse and furniture to go with it, stop it! This all looks amazing, regardless of the amount of glue it took you. If you need someone to sew some mini textiles for you, let me know!

  28. Chaucea on 11/07/2011:

    Awesomely mini-cool shit! Love it! 😀

  29. emily henderson on 11/07/2011:


  30. Susan on 11/07/2011:

    So impressive!! I’m always participating in the challenge…so much fun. I’ve been heavily reliant on glue as well. 😉

  31. Susan on 11/07/2011:

    Meant to say “also” participating…sheesh, sorry.

  32. Everything looks great! If you need any help with mini pillows, just let me know. I would be more than happy to sew you some!!

  33. christine on 11/07/2011:


  34. Cynthia on 11/07/2011:

    I don’t want to be a ball buster (neither one of us have them but this preface is still appropriate) but I think I see that you are using balsa wood for some of the components (chair arms, coffee table legs). Why? It’s so soft! Yes, balsa can be sculpted easily but it’s grainy. And it splits easily. Basswood is better.

    I don’t want to upset you because your furniture is stunning and my days of architectural modeling building have long since passed, but hobby wood (4″ wide planks) also come in mahogany and teak–it is stunning.

  35. THE BRICK HOUSE on 11/07/2011:

    I use some balsa and some basswood because it is soft and a lot of what I’m doing is done by hand…so soft helps.

    I’m not a real miniaturist or modeler, so I’ll take the ease part over the durable part.

  36. Trude on 11/07/2011:

    Holy crap this is all looking way better than I would have done! That sofa = awesome. Love!

  37. jamie on 11/07/2011:

    damn, woman.

  38. marg on 11/07/2011:

    They look so awesome very impressed with your workmanship.

  39. Robyn on 11/07/2011:

    Your dollhouse furniture is nicer than my real furniture.

  40. 2226Modern on 11/07/2011:

    So awesomes! I just thought of an eames hang-it-all made from the pins, the one with the colored ball tips! Not sure if the scale would be appropriate, though. Just a thought. Can’t wait to see everything accessorized.

  41. kim on 11/07/2011:

    the first line of this post is awesome. i’m the same way so i just might have to quote you someday…even the cheapskate part which makes the aforementioned characteristics all the more challenging.

    what are your thoughts on adding some fiber art up in there…how about this:

    just some simple knots right? 🙂

  42. max on 11/07/2011:

    Far out, they look brilliant, especially the credenza. So true about glue. My best doll house ideas have occured because of glue intoxication I’m sure of it. I’m so excited to hear about your mini macrame plans; I just have a mini macrame mess

  43. Dan @ Manhattan Nest on 11/07/2011:


    Looks so damn good. I’m loving following this on instagram, and your pictures on the blog are super gorgeous these days.

    (Also, can we just talk about this for a second? Sling chair? OMFG.)

  44. John on 11/07/2011:

    That furniture looks awesome. It’s coming together quite nicely. I’m excited!

  45. Logan on 11/07/2011:

    Man, I need to wrap up the house construction too, I got distracted with furniture. That sling chair is very cool. Minwax is good stain, and the tinted Danish oils look good.

  46. captain kk on 11/08/2011:

    so freaking amazing!!

  47. Lisette on 11/08/2011:

    One word: WOW!

    (I’m speechless and overwhelmed by all the beauty of what you’ve made – fan-effing-fabulous!)

  48. Dana on 11/08/2011:

    so amazing!!! you’ve inspired to go build the mini trailer “dollhouse” I bought 6 months ago and never glued up, just so I can finally fill it with adorable tiny furniture and even more adorable pillows


  49. Maria on 11/08/2011:

    You rock! I love it. Can I please live in your doll house? I’ll sign the lease as soon as I have found a mad scientist who will shrink me to the appropriate size. D’accord?

    Greetings from Germany,

  50. Kate @ change of scenery on 11/08/2011:

    High five for all that furniture building. Like you, I have chosen to challenge myself by making all of my furniture vs. going broke by buying less than ideal already made stuff. I also chose to build my entire dollhouse because I couldn’t find anything on the cheap. I haven’t started in on it yet as I’m still working through “laying down hardwood floor” and finishing the third floor. AAAAAHHH! Glad to see it is doable and it’s not just in my mind.

    Keep up the great work!

  51. CK on 11/08/2011:
  52. Lunaluna on 11/09/2011:

    Said it before and I’ll say it again YOU ARE A TRULY TALENTED GAL, yes I’m shouting, just so’s you’ll hear me over your self doubt. Every piece is perfect!! Of course what you’ll do with them when ‘this’ is all over is you’ll keep them for your kids. How awesome would it be to be able to say ‘My mom made these’.

  53. annieb on 11/09/2011:

    fusible interfacing on fabric instead of glue. or have you tried any of the special fabric glues?

  54. Kelly S. on 11/09/2011:

    Shut. Up.! (And giving you a big Elaine shove.)

  55. Robyn on 11/09/2011:

    that is seriously the coolest. and i’m not even a dollhouse/mini fan really.

  56. Kimberj on 11/09/2011:

    That is the most bitchin dollhouse EVER!!! You have totally inspired me to finally redo the ranch dollhouse my dad built me for my 9th birthday and the dollhouse my mother bought when she got married to put under the Christmas tree 🙂 Thank You and quit kickin yourself, you’re amazing.

  57. Stella Starlite on 11/10/2011:

    We had a Salvation Army store open this past Saturday in a northern suburb of Atlanta (we call it Salvation Armani) and they have a knock off Le Corbusier chair that is $59.99! Awesome. You would so be buying that!!

  58. Süsk on 11/10/2011:

    Balsa, bass…all I know is this fiddly and too-small-for-my-chipolata-sausage-fingers awesomeness is pretty RAD.

    I now imagine you have very long, very slender Jafar-from-Aladdin fingers, too.

  59. cathy on 11/11/2011:

    Love the way this is shaping up.

    You mentioned that you were struggling with how to arrange the furniture. This is from an AT house tour I really liked (for an A frame):

  60. EmZed on 11/12/2011:

    You’re definitely getting this mini-designing down! Have not read all the comments, but a suggestion for finishes, try orange pekoe tea…on balsa or basswood it looks like teak. (But won’t work well on glue). I used to just rub the wood with a wet tea bag, several coats, before gluing. Pantone Markers work too. You can make hardware or hinges with steel straight pins, the kind you use for sewing. It’s going well!

  61. Neomi on 11/12/2011:

    All the furniture and structure are truly amazing! love the bench and slide doored sideboard!

  62. melinda on 11/13/2011:

    “Wait, what am I going to do with all this mini stuff when this is over????” ummm I would die for it how about a blog lottery? can I enter 100 times a day? well don proportions are perfect

  63. amy w on 11/14/2011:

    Now I totally want to build my mini dream house! Genius, I’m in love with the slanted balsa legs & sling chair. Everything looks amaze in the house!

  64. jeannie on 11/15/2011:

    seriously awesome.

  65. Christina on 11/16/2011:

    Totally incredible. Any updates for us? I can’t wait to see more.

  66. Modern Mini Houses on 11/16/2011:

    HOLY SMOKES!!! Wow Morgan, I’m speechless. Just fantastic!! It’s a good thing I don’t know where you live otherwise these might disappear. 😉

    If you are looking for any other mid century modern furniture inspiration ideas you might like the work of Paul MacAlister. I blogged about a bunch of his collection that was sold on ebay earlier this year. He had the first design TV show in the 50’s and used his patented Plan a Room miniatures to teach design. He painted wood to replicate fabric on some of his pieces. Pretty cool to look at. Your style reminds me very much of him.

    You also might like the lamps in his smaller 1/24″ scale:

    mini smiles,

  67. Grumble Girl on 11/17/2011:

    I’m beginning to hate you a little bit more every day, Morgan. (Except I love you more than the hating. So. You can live to see another day…) 😉

  68. Eva Marie on 11/26/2011:

    I think the solution to not want to to sew and glue looking crappy on textiles is fusible web. You can get it at any fabric store. Go for the thin stuff, not the heavy duty stuff. My local quilt store carries one called vilene, that is super thin. It’s double sided so it will stick two pieces together, without the bulk of a seam.

    Your furniture is amazing.

  69. fremontfaris on 03/24/2012:

    Is this challenge still going on? I was having fun watching the progress and then… nuthin’. Has anyone ever finished a dollhouse? My unfinished childhood dollhouse still sits in my Dad’s basement. We had such high hopes for it. I never should have been allowed to see the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the AIC, as a kid.

  70. Hanna Lovinda on 05/26/2012:

    Holy cow this is the most awesome thing I’ve seen! It feels like a guilty pleasure for enjoying looking at these miniatures as much as I do. This is awesome, and you are too.

  71. car loans with bad credit on 08/04/2013:

    Like, an erroneously reported delinquent payment can decrease your
    credit report by 50 to 100 points and you will land in blemished
    credit, depending on several factors in your credit
    report. Avoid relying upon a Credit repair tips supplying weblog that appears to be selling some thing.
    Remember that the behaviors acquired in childhood
    are those that stay with us forever.

  72. sondra on 09/30/2013:

    I wish, more than most things, that we could be best friend/neighbors, crafter muses. Your blog is truly inspiring- and exactly what I needed after going off my Zoloft. Attempting to build a mini sofa for my dollhouse/therapy. Wish me luck, and thanks again for your work, Sondra

Comment It Up!