Click to follow
Useful advice can be gleaned from Ashdown Publishing's Beginners' Guide to Dolls Houses and Miniatures (available free from Dolls House World on 01403 711511). Larger properties can cost a small fortune to furnish, it warns, and anything weenier than the standard 1in to 1ft (1:12) scale can be terribly fiddly when it comes to wiring and wallpapering.

Dolls' houses are usually made of timber with a hinged front that opens out like a cupboard to reveal the rooms inside. Prices start at around pounds 100 for a basic, two- or three-bedroom self-assembly kit, pounds 300 for a ready-made property.

The Singing Tree (0171 736 4527) at 69 New King's Road, London SW6, does a four-storey Georgian townhouse (wired for electricity) at pounds 450 and a Regency mansion for pounds 3,750. Brighton-based miniaturists Trevor and Sue Cook (01273 692 744) produce houses to order, including a mid-19th century Italianate villa in a choice of colours for pounds 920.

Former quantity surveyor Peter Mattinson (01904 413236) builds period houses on commission, from distressed lime, plywood, plaster and resin; they start at around pounds 10,000. Smaller projects take three to six months to complete. A current one (a Venetian Renaissance palazzo for a Berlin museum) will take nearly a year.

At the very top end of the market, Mulvaney and Rogers (0181 549 2097) make one-off palaces or mansions from pounds 75,000.

The Trading Post in Stratford-on-Avon (01789 267228) offers a vast range of houses and furniture by mail order. Its ready-built homes include a mock-thatched house complete with stone-flagged courtyard, stairs, fireplaces and internal doors for pounds 985.

Modern Miniatures (01932 228255) will make you an up-to-date mixer tap for pounds 7.50, a washing machine for pounds 50 and a complete, multi-appliance fitted kitchen for anything up to pounds 600.

The next major exhibition is The Big Dolls & Miniatures Show, opening at the Business Design Centre, Islington Green, London N1 on 28 January 1996 (01403 711511 for details).

Dolls House World (also 01403 711511) and International Dolls House News (01442 66551) carry information on auctions and shows, extensive lists of local suppliers and craftspeople, and small classified ad sections for vendors selling used properties.