Welcome to the Dollhouse: This Instagram User Is Constructing a Delightful World of Miniatures

hands inside a dollhouse

Mike Hogan has captured Katie’s imagination with his gorgeously curated, teeny tiny worlds.

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with Instagram (the first step is admitting you have a problem, LOL). I’ve met so many amazing and talented people through IG, and I wanted to share some of my favorite accounts with you all! I hope you enjoy these incredible individuals as much as I do, and as always, share with me what your favorite Instagram accounts are by dropping me a line at info@katiecouric.com.

Mike Hogan, of dollhouse_miniature_interiors, knows cute. This unique interior decorator collects artisan minis from around the world to construct 1-inch scale, realistic dollhouse scenes. From piano rooms to teeny tiny boutiques, Hogan builds the kinds of miniatures that ignite that special feeling of childhood magic. So when you scroll through his posts, don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel very excited to play. Because Mike is both a designer and a collector, Katie was excited to ask him about how his overlapping interests and skills have aligned with such splendid, admirably Instagrammable results.

Michael, I love your Instagram account — your work is amazing! First things first: How did you become interested in designing dollhouses and their interiors?

I’ve loved and appreciated interior design and architecture my entire life – I still remember getting my first dollhouse as a young child for Christmas. I wanted to study architecture when I went to college, but I don’t enjoy math, which is very important in architecture, so I went into journalism. Now I work in the PR for a broadband connectivity/cable company. Designing dollhouses is just a hobby.

Until about six years ago, I wasn’t familiar with dollhouse miniatures as a phenomenon. But I came upon a dollhouse at a local auction and fell in love with it. It happened to be a Lawbre Rosedawn dollhouse that was originally made in Chicago. The Lawbre brand is considered the Cadillac of dollhouses for its realism and museum quality. That find turned out to be the perfect opportunity to dive into architecture and interior design.

Do you make all of the furniture and accessories?

I actually don’t. I consider myself a “mini” architect-slash-interior designer. I come up with a budget and the design — usually by looking at different design magazines and Instagram pages — by drawing it out almost like a floor plan or blueprint. Then I scout out the building products, like lighting, windows, and doors.

Artisans from all over the world create furniture and accessories for dollhouses. They often have a special focus, like lamps, furniture, florals, paintings, or pottery. Their pieces can sell for thousands of dollars for one small item, because of the amount of work and attention to detail that goes into the creation of each piece. Some full collections have sold at auction for half a million dollars.

For example, Francisco del Pozo Parés in Spain makes all my staircases and metal furniture, like coffee tables and lighting. ELF Miniatures in England makes all of my realistic stainless-steel-looking kitchen appliances. Mable Malley in Canada creates all of my stunning Christmas trees when I decorate my room boxes for the holidays. A room box is a single room that displays a collection of miniature furniture; many people collect room boxes because they’re more manageable than a full dollhouse and they take up less room. The talented Bill Murphy in Florida upholsters all of my sofa and chairs. I also find pieces on online dollhouse auctions, eBay, and Etsy. Once I have the completed room box, the fun part is putting it all together and making it come to life!

Then I do a well-planned photo shoot — I’ve learned lighting is key! — so I can post it on Instagram and share it with the world.

Your artistry is unreal. I’m assuming you have normal-sized hands, so how in the world do you craft such teeny items?

It can be very tedious and frustrating. You need a lot of patience. All of my dollhouse miniatures are 1-inch scale — 1 inch equals 1 foot in the “real” world — which is the most common scale for collectors to work in.

I have “mini” tools, magnifying glasses, and headlamps that I use. I have to electrify any of the lamps in the photos you see, so I have to use small tools to make the positive/negative connection on the mini outlets, to make the lamps work.

I’m very particular about the artistry looking “real.” When I complete a room box, it literally has to meet my own “quality standards test,” which basically means if someone else looks at a photo, they can’t tell it’s miniature! That’s why I put my fingers in many of my photos, so people know they’re looking at a miniature. I try to set myself apart from other miniaturists out there by focusing on the smallest details and showcasing museum-quality designs to my audience. Even among non-collectors, I think my collection sparks a fascination.

Is your work therapeutic? It must be very calming on some level, but also nerve-wracking!

It is calming and I like that I can use my creative side. I love coming up with different designs and as you can see from my Instagram, I love all design types and periods, from colonial and primitive, to traditional and modern. I like mixing old with new and expensive with not so expensive.

Where do you sell your pieces?

I sometimes sell my pieces on eBay if I no longer have a use for them, otherwise, I store them for later use. I currently have about two dozen room boxes and four large dollhouses

Besides my Lawbre Rosedawn dollhouse (which of course, was my first dollhouse and is still not completed because I had to strip the old wallpaper and learn how to electrify it) and my dozen or so room boxes, I also have a Cape Cod dollhouse that was built by the late Pam Throop who I consider the finest architects of miniature dollhouses. The details–from the molding and shingles to the doors and windows–are amazing!

I also have a Spanish Revival dollhouse I designed and had built by the amazing Jose Diaz. It has a beautiful in ground pool. It has an interesting concept. I had the dollhouse designed so you look down into it (basically through the roof). I also have a beach house, with a lot of white, gray, and blue hues. It reminds me a lot of your home, Katie!

I also have to give a shout-out to my partner Todd, who supports — not financially though, lol — my hobby. I’ve literally taken over half of the basement den to showcase my creations. He also attends many of the dollhouse miniatures shows with me, including the Tom Bishop Chicago International Miniature Show.