Mini fun in Finland

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Maria Malmström has filled an incredible 18 rooms with a marvellous mix of miniatures. Christiane Berridge finds out more.

Maria Malmström lives in Finland and her dolls’ house, Väinölä, reflects her native country. Look among the accessories inside and you will find the classic cylindrical tiled stoves, a Gustavian style wooden daybed and a pair of skis. Despite having an incredible 18 rooms to fill, Maria is actually short of space as this dolls’ house is simply packed to bursting!

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Set into a piece of furniture styled to suit the real-sized room in which it sits it incorporates two useful storage drawers. The dolls’ house includes both living accommodation (plus a separate flat under the eaves) and a series of shops including a café and a toyshop, always popular with the miniaturist. But Maria has also fitted out a hairdressing salon, a carpenter’s workshop, a dressmaker’s studio, a second-hand shop and a cobbler. Every one is fully equipped with the tools of the trade or a selection of items to buy.

Despite being a busy mother of four, Maria has found the time to not only create this wonderful miniature home but also to write project books and a blog. How does she do it? I got in touch to find out.

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When did your interest in dolls’ houses start?

I have always been interested of doll’s houses and all kinds of scale models for example trains. My husband Esa built me a doll’s house one Christmas (in 2000) as a present and it started this hobby. That doll’s house is now in for my daughter’s use.

Your dolls’ house, Väinölä looks to be a unique construction. Tell me more about how it came about?

My husband drew and built the house as his artisan-carpenter final work. The house is made from elm. And it is huge, over 170cm tall. It has been made to suit our home and furniture.

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 How did you go about decorating the dolls’ house; was it one room at a time or more of an overall approach?

I have been thinking about the decoration for a very long time. When I decided on the time period I also decided which rooms that I wanted to do. After I started, I did one room at a time and didn’t touch anything else until it was finished.

The dolls’ house is peopled with tiny figures. Tell me more about where these come from?

The dolls are old rubber dolls from Germany and are called ‘Ari’. I had a few of this kind of doll when I was a child and I thought that this was suitable for my 1950-60s period.
The Väinölä has been built to suit the scale of those dolls.

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Do you have a favourite room in the dolls’ house?

It is difficult to choose, but maybe it is the kitchen. It is the first of the rooms that I made, and somehow little kitchen items are so cute. But I like the little red kitchen (under the eaves) for the same reason.

Which is your favourite when it comes to items that you have made for the dolls’ house?

I have made quite a lot of items, but I think the carpenter workbench is one of the big ones and the little steam machine or tin toy car or rubber boots from the small ones.

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Why did you decide to include shops in the layout?

The house contains the apartment of the young family Väinölä (the grandparents live in upstairs in a small apartment). But there were so many rooms, so I decided that the owners rent the other part of the house for artisans or shopkeepers.

What influenced your choice of shops?

My husband has a second hand shop in real life, so it is also represented in the dolls’ house. He has also a dolls’ house and old toyshop, so I want to put it also in my dolls’ house. And who doesn’t want a cake shop full of yummies?

Do your children get to play with your dolls’ house?

Yes, they have always played with it. When boys were smaller, Indiana Jones and Star Wars figures were also suitable characters to live there.

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What do you like best about writing your blog?

The best part is the other bloggers and dollhouse hobbyists all over the world.

You can read Maria's blog at


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