Dollhouses as well as the miniature furniture within it are scale models – which are physical representations of objects made a different size than the object itself – while still maintaining accurate scale relationships. Dollhouses are not the only scale models – they are also used in architecture, military command, film making, engineering and much more.
Scale is essentially a way of relating smaller or larger objects to each other. One of the most common scales that are used when building dollhouses is 1:12 scale. This was developed as a very easy way to scale objects using imperial measurements. The 1:12 scale became very popular when it was used to construct a dolls house for Queen Mary.
How Does 1:12 Scale Work?
When using this scale to construct dollhouses, one inch in the dollhouse is equivalent to one foot in real life. For example, if a chair is 3.5 feet high in real life, the chair in the dollhouse will be 3.5 inches high.
It is very easy to use this scale, because most rulers will display inches divided into twelfths. It is a very commonly used scale and it is not only popular with dollhouses but also with model railroads, high end die cast models, action figures and radio-controlled cars. The scale was also famously mentioned in Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift – used to compare Gulliver to the Lilliputians.
However, if you work with metric measurements you will not find this scale as useful – because it is not as easy to make the mental conversions. If you are working in metric, you could use a 1:10 scale which is easier to convert mentally. This scale became popular in Germany during the middle part of the 20thcentury and many dollhouses made there still use this scale.
Were Dollhouses Always Built on This Scale?
No, dollhouses were not always built on the 1:12 scale. In fact, dollhouses were not always built to scale at all. In the 17th century all the way up to the early 20th century, toy dollhouses didn’t usually have uniform scales – even for the dolls house furniture and other contents. During this time, many toy manufacturers would make miniature furniture and accessories – but they were not always made to a strict scale.
After the early 20th century, many miniature manufacturers started to make dolls houses that were designed to a 1:18 scale – in which one foot is equal to 2/3 of one inch.
Also, larger dollhouses are sometimes built which have a 1:6 scale ratio. This means that 1 foot in real life is equal to 2 inches in the dollhouse and it will make dollhouses that are twice as large as the 1:12 scale.
What Scale Should You Choose for Your Dollhouse?
When you are building a dollhouse of your own, how should you decide what scale to use? Once you choose a scale you will need to stick with it, because it will not work to use furniture of two different scales within your dollhouse.
Here are some pointers that you should keep in mind when choosing a scale for your dollhouse:
- How much workspace and storage space do you have? If you have a limited amount of space, you might want to choose a dollhouse of a smaller scale which will not take up as much room. If you have lots of space, you can build a dollhouse on a larger scale.
- Avoid starting a dollhouse project on a very odd scale. It is better to stick with the common scales, or you will have difficulty finding furniture and accessories that fit with your project.
- How good is your eyesight? Some people choose to work on a larger scale, because it is easier for them to add details and put together furniture when it isn’t so small. You might want to consider this if you don’t want to be staring at tiny furniture and straining your eyes.
- If you already have some accessories, dollhouse furniture or building supplies that you can use – you might want to use the scale of those items so that you don’t have to start building your collection from scratch.
Of course, in the end the decision of scale will depend on your personal preferences. Think about which scale you think looks the best and go with it – it’s your dollhouse project after all! As long as you stick to the same scale for the entire project, you will be successful in creating a beautiful and unique miniature world of your own.