House Tour: Kathy’s Miniature World of Glamour

updated Apr 15, 2019
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Name: Kathy
Location: Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
Size: 750 sq.ft. 3 rooms, no kitchen
Years lived in: 3 years


(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

As I climbed the weathered but beautiful winding wood staircase up the five floors to Kathy’s apartment, I imagined an ascent to a 19th century Parisian atelier filled with dust and clutter, but also a room full of gems. When I arrived I was not disappointed…

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


Kathy does not have a front door or a kitchen, and if you put down your glass of water, it is hard to find it again. But the chaos consists of a world of miniatures. At every turn, there are dollhouses–found on ebay, built by experts, salvaged from the street. And spilling out of those dollhouses are infinite varieties of miniature people, furniture, and accessories.

It was just ten years ago that Kathy spotted her first dollhouse. Unfortunately, the house she spotted in a store had already been purchased. The owner of the store was kind enough to lease Kathy the house for three days–enough time to solidify what would become a lifelong obsession. Since that first house, the fervor has only grown. Kathy believes there is a market for modern dollhouse furniture and has single handedly attempted to create and revive miniature mid-century pieces.

Her prize possession is a house modeled after Philip Johnson’s masterpiece that she had built by an architecture modeling firm in Los Angeles. She asked a friend, Mary Kennyto make the dolls and another friend, Susan Hunt Yule to make all the clothes. Others were kind and talented enough to custom make furniture and wire the lighting. A few of the mid-century pieces are vintage from a time when a few companies manufactured them.

Kathy hopes to find a manufacturer willing to take on this business, creating and marketing mid-century miniature homes and its interiors to those who like the mini world but want a high style option.

AT Meta Survey:
Style: Brownstone – over 100 years old.
Inspiration: Boho Slob
Favorite Element: The dollhouse

Biggest Challenge: I don’t challenge myself apartment living wise! Maybe I will again because I used to.
What Friends Say: They politely say I’m not such a slob. You know the truth.
Biggest Embarrassment: Near avalanche piles of stuff.

Proudest DIY: the studio curtains.

Biggest Indulgence: The dollhouse

Best Advice: Don’t be like me. Be more organised and neater.
Dream Source: Not relevant. Okay – an old cheaply made deco kitchen cabinet. I love that thing!

AT Dollhouse Survey:

Size: This is so cute! Because to answer the square feet question – it’s about 6 square feet and it’s a one bedroom plus den (that’s how it would be advertised in NYC if it were a real apartment.

Lived in: About 1 month – by a fictional family. The mom and dad are about 5 inches tall. The mom and dad are less than a year old and the baby is a vintage caco doll – about 60 years old.

Style: bauhaus, deco, mid century

Inspiration: A tin marx 50’s dollhouse, Phillip Johnson’s glass house. The dollhouse is named for my father, Paul V. Osborn.
Favorite Element: The butterfly chair made by two artists.
Biggest Challenge: Paying for the prototype. Another huge challenge was the curtain – getting the right drapiness may have been a breeze for someone but it wasn’t for me. It’s the best dollhouse curtain in terms of realism – I’ve ever seen – and boy do I know dollhouses.

What Friends Say: “Holy shit this is the best dollhouse on the planet. It’s unbelievable.” They ARE friends but I get the feeling they’d say the same thing if I wasn’t in the room.

Biggest Embarrassment: I’m worried about having to be a business person. It’s actually embarrassing. I just want to design because that’s what I know how to do, but if money ever shows up, if this becomes a huge hit – I want to be paid fairly. This raises a million questions I know. Does a brilliant idea/design have to be a great business person as well? What’s that have to do with Apartment Therapy – nothing!

Proudest DIY: Art directing the face and bodies of the dollhouse dolls. That isn’t a DIY and it was a true collaboration (with a woman named Mary Kenny), but that is what I’m proudest of, and thinking to make changes of clothes for the dollhouse doll. The world’s first dollhouse fashion doll. That doesn’t answer your question perfectly and it doesn’t fit with Apartment Therapy but I’m sure it doesn’t matter.

Biggest Indulgence: The house itself.

Best Advice: Ask me a year from now. I’m still not sure.
Dream Source: Ebay. Boring but true. That’s where most of the furniture came from. The guy who made the house made the oval dining room table, and a completely clear sliding door bookcase – J and G Models – and he’s making the bed room. I wish he’d hurry up about it!! I love his work. He’s amazing.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


Do you have an idea for a house tour? Let me know!
And check out our archives of past House Tours here!
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Before the modern house was built, this dollhouse got all of Kathy’s attention (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
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the full view of the ‘glass house’ (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)