Play Time & Make Believe

by Rachel Ashwell

A long long time ago, my Mum supported our family with a business of buying, restoring and selling antique dolls.  I have always credited her with teaching me (unknowingly) the art of imperfection, as I would observe her process of restoring her antique dolls and noting even once fully restored, her dolls always maintained their evidence of a life lived through chips and tears, but still quite lovely.

 While I was never much interested in playing with dolls, I did value the creativity in storytelling and playtime that her dolls inspired. From time to time, a doll’s house would cross her path for her restoration process.  So it’s not such a surprise when I come across a dolls house that speaks to me for restoration, I take it on as a labor of love.

I like to restore them to their original condition and even layer in additional details, that were perhaps never there, but still feel authentic (wooden floors, vintage wallpaper, primitively made furniture and miniature bedding).

Today there are a million more options for make believe and playtime for children, but the tradition of simple playtime within the walls of a dollhouse, to me, still inspires a creativity in a much deeper way than can be achieved on a computer. So as I find worn out and discarded dolls houses, I will continue enjoying giving these once cherished little houses, a whole new world for make believe in this real world we live.


7 comments


  • Omg! I love this !!!

    Tayday on

  • Love that you have started this line. Have always wanted a dollhouse, even though I’m a big girl now.

    Charlotte Coleman on

  • Love your new passion project. I have purchased two miniatures. I am still awaiting their arrival. I have loved Shabby Chic since you were on t.v. I wish you would get back on t.v. Loved watching your shows. I miss them as I watched them every Saturday. I live in Shabby Chic. I have I think all of your books. Love you Rachel and your dream. Hope to one day stay at your Prairie. So happy for you. When your Mother passed away I cried with you. As I took care of my Dear Mother 9-1/2 years while working a full time job. Blessings to you in all ways and many light pink roses to you today and always. LOL. Darlene

    Darlene Gardner-Philpot on

  • You have to know how very much I love this post. Thank you for all you fibro preserve the art of play and make-believe and wonder.
    Blessings.

    Christie Jones Ray on

  • Another beautiful idea resulted into reality!! There will be plenty of little girls and boys to enjoy the doll houses you work your magic on! They are just beautiful!

    Arlene Cocke on


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© 2017 Rachel Ashwell