Thanks to Bethan Rees, our latest craft crush is putting a modern twist on miniature dollhouses. We chat tiny style, and achieving #interiorgoals.
You’re never too old to play with a doll’s house and Little Lucciola’s contemporary take on the classic toy is just as appealing to us adults as they are to kids.
Bethan Rees is the woman behind these grown-up toys and has been crafting everything from miniature teepees to tiny houseplants from her home in Dublin. And, what makes it more impressive is that she creates for her side hustle alongside working full-time and looking after her two small children.
In just a year, Bethan’s tiny creations have earned her an army of fans who are desperate for her to recreate their homes in miniature, or simply bag one of her travel dollhouses for themselves. We caught up with Bethan to discover how it all began, where she gets her interiors inspo from and why she can’t live without her trusty tweezers…
Hi Bethan! Where did the idea for your doll houses first come from?
My obsession with all things miniature began as a child making tiny clothes for The Borrowers on my mum’s sewing machine. I rediscovered my love for all things small while creating a doll’s house for my son. I purchased an Ikea house shelf, painted it white and painted a chalkboard roof. It was so much fun making little cushions, duvet covers, rugs and lampshades that I couldn’t stop, so added a few items to my little Etsy shop where I was selling purses and embroidered cards at the time.
The little items proved especially popular in Australia and the Netherlands, where the modern doll house craze is huge. I soon started making less purses and more miniatures and it grew from there. I then purchased a second hand doll’s house and did it up in girly colours so I could use it as a prop to photograph my miniature makes, as a lot of my items are pink and fairly feminine. Doing up a whole doll’s house took me months in between baby naps and feeding. It was only when I was contacted by Reena of Hygge for Home, who suggested we worked together, that I had the idea of scaling down and offering travel doll’s houses. I love to create on-trend miniatures of beautiful homes I’m inspired by and love working with companies to make miniature versions of their favourite products.
What was the first doll’s house you ever made?
The first bespoke travel doll’s house I made was for Reena of Hygge for Home. She liked the modern items I was making and wanted me to create something for her. I stalked her page so much I actually felt like I lived in her house! I made miniature pieces of favourite items and corners of her home, and the fun thing was that she had no idea what parts I was creating, so it was a total surprise for her to receive. It went down a storm, and I received lots of requests after that to create other peoples homes in miniature, particularly as moving house keepsakes.
What’s been your favourite one to make?
It has to be the recent commission for Mollie Makes – I could have burst with excitement! I tried to include as many mini crafts as possible, from mini balls of wool to knitting needles, rolls of pretty papers and buttons, piles of fabric and a clothes mannequin. It was amazing to see my little project in print, I’m going to frame it!
What’s the most unusual custom order you have made?
I’ve had a few unusual requests including a cat-themed room and a Japanese style ryokan, but since I don’t have a lot of time to work on my doll’s houses I prefer to work on projects that are in keeping with my style.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
I follow so many beautiful interior accounts on Instagram and am always saving pictures of details or rooms I would like to recreate in miniature.
Can you explain your design process?
It usually starts with a lovely print or pattern, or a piece of furniture that I’m excited about. Most rooms have some kind of theme, whether it’s a nursery or a night sky, so I keep things within a theme or colour scheme. I wallpaper and floor first then plan a rough layout of where furniture will go. After that I start looking at prints I want to include and usually Blu-Tac items on the walls to see how they look. I change my mind so much I only glue at the very end!
Do you make all the little bits of furniture?
I make as much as possible, but usually the wooden pieces such as beds and tables are sourced and I then paint and update them – it’s like miniature upcycling!
How long does it takes you to make a complete one?
It’s difficult to say as I don’t have much time to work on them and have to stop and start a lot. I’d say it takes roughly 3-4 days to complete a house, but this is spread over a few weeks.
Can you describe your workspace and why it works for you?
I have a small desk area in our converted attic room, but I usually spread out around the house leaving a trail of mess as I go! Even though my space is small, having a little area to call my own is absolute bliss. I have plans to make my workspace prettier, but I always want to use the little time I have to craft instead. My crafting stash is huge! I love stationery and paper and tend to keep little treasures, unusual wrapping and small objects that I could use in my houses. Friends also give me stuff, so the stash often takes over!
Is your home as stylish as your dollhouses?
No! I think I’m living my interior dreams through my miniature houses – it’s much easier to redecorate in miniature! Maybe I can wave a miniature wand at it and make it happen…
Who are your favourite makers and why?
Who would you like to make a doll’s house for?
There are so many people I’d love to work with to recreate their homes in miniature, including deecampling, tthese_beautiful_thingss, anettetalstad, littlebigbell – there are literally too many to mention! This Modern Life has a kids’ bedroom of dreams, I really want to make it in mini!
Name three things you can’t live without.
Jute string (I make rugs and little bags using this), my trusty scissors, and tweezers for getting into tiny corners of my mini houses.
Where are you happiest?
Apart from hanging out with my little family, I’m happiest when totally absorbed in creating. Having music on and a cup of tea nearby is such a pleasure!
What does making mean to you?
I can’t imagine what I’d do without making and crafting in my life. It keeps me sane! I do get a little nervous putting my makes out there. But, it’s so much fun seeing others enjoy the miniature rooms I’ve made.
To find out more about Little Lucciola, head to Bethan’s Etsy page or follow her on Instagram. To meet more of our amazing designer-makers, check out our meet the maker tab and discover some new favs. Every issue of Mollie Makes also includes a home or studio tour with a maker we love, so be sure to pick up your copy for some interior inspiration.