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Inside a magical doll’s house with serious interior design credentials

Yuki Sugiura

As a child, until I discovered fashion at thirteen, I devoted every penny of pocket money to my doll’s house. How strange then, all these years later to have this pattern reversed – and quite by accident. In December 2021, my son Kit and I visited the Kensington Dollshouse Festival with the vague notion of finding a present for his baby sister Bunny. We were instantly gripped with miniature fever and bought the first house we saw, which happened to be a twelve room MDF McMansion. I wasn’t confident it would even fit in the playroom. It definitely wasn’t a Starter Home. But I’m an interiors nerd and he wants to be an architect, so quickly the house become a shared obsession. The baby seemed disinterested.

Having taken a hammer to the façade to remove the laser-cut balconies, I had to find a way to rehabilitate it.

Yuki Sugiura

For a long time, we were intimidated by the size of the house and didn’t want to make a start. Instead, I busied myself with mood boards, covering a wall of my makeshift workshop with room schemes and writing extensive lists of tasks and timelines. I studied the history of doll’s houses, buying every book I could find from Oxfam and Etsy. And while I took inspiration from some of the finest houses in the land, our MDF shell remained untouched in the corner.

I am often asked, “Will she actually be allowed to play with it?” and technically, it’s full of “Collector’s Items” with aged 14+ warning labels but yes, of course she will play with it before then (while I hover, nervously supervising). I am grateful to House & Garden for photographing it in its pre-played-with state, it makes me feel far less precious now there is

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Raising a Decorating Genius? A Bold Nursery Is a Good Way to Begin.

twin cribs with matching valanced canopies in a nice brown against a dusky pink wall and on the whitish carpet is a series of small animal figures in a row and the ceiling is covered in a wavy yellow orange and white pattern with a large leafy off white chandelier at center

How to Design a Chic Nursery Paul Dyer

Above: A view into a nursery by Marea Clark in Diablo, California, with scalloped valances and taupe curtains over gold oak cribs.

At the risk of offending a flotilla of momfluencers, I’ll say it: Having an aesthetically flawless nursery does not matter. Not to the baby, at least. “We have to remember when we design these rooms that we’re human animals,” says New York designer and mother of three Celerie Kemble. “And the less perfect an environment, the more tolerant and flexible the child. Probably.”

To be clear, Kemble nurseries are fantastical visions that could have been dreamed up by Ludwig Bemelmans himself. But she tries to pare them back as much as possible. “The people who spent four months of their pregnancy buying everything they’re supposed to buy and getting lists from friends, I think they just end up with a wretched child,” she says. “It can’t sleep in daylight. A cold baby wipe on its butt and the night’s over!”

room with colorful cubbies a red rug and sleigh bassinet and matching chair and a light green roman shade on the window

Custom color-blocked cabinets, a Moroso -rocking chair, and a Cassina side table in a New York City nursery by Ashe + Leandro.Fran Parente/OTTO

Not that there isn’t plenty to aspire to. A nursery is part of your child’s entrée into the wider world, so a whiff of fabulousness is to be encouraged. One key, designers say, is to splurge on the things that will last. New York designer Rodney Lawrence recently sheathed the room of an Upper East Side firstborn in a silver-leaf de Gournay wallcovering bursting with mauve, pale lavender, and plum cherry blossoms. Once the crib—in this case, a brushed brass and shagreen piece from Kifu Paris—and other accoutrements are gone, you have “a beautiful wallcovering in a room that you can convert back

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