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.


13 comments


  • My granddaughters love playing with the miniatures. The detail is amazing. They look a lot like the vintage finds I have in my home. Thank you!

    MIchelle Van Dyke on

  • Love Rachel Ashwells style and think this is simply beautiful. I have several dolls houses which i have refurbished with vintage style wallpaper and handmade white wooden floorboards too. I also make my own Room Boxes and can let my love of Shabby Chic run wild..many many more years of stunning inspiration from you Rachel 💕

    Jules O on

  • So excited to see this ! I have a new baby granddaughter and I can’t wait till she’s big enough to play with this !!

    Shelley on

  • I only learned of the Doll House line today in the Sept. 2018 issue of Romantic Homes. I am so glad you are a part of the magazine now Rachel! The detail in the doll house pieces are amazing! What a “sweet” line, that will be fun to watch grow.

    Lynne Daniels on

  • Beautiful !

    Debra Christine Deering on


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

© 2017 Rachel Ashwell