Super-sizing the killer kitchen



October 5, 2014

Wouldn’t you love to go into one of these little rooms and get a closer look?

In the Small Stories exhibition, you’ll be able to do just that. We are re-creating rooms from two of the houses life-sized (or thereabouts).

You will be able to help out Henry and Betsy, working in the busy kitchen of the Killer Cabinet House, as they get the dinner ready, hang out the washing and tidy the table in the 1840s.

Kitchen of the Killer Cabinet Dolls' House, W.15-1936 (c) V&A Museum, London
Kitchen of the Killer Cabinet Dolls’ House, W.15-1936 (c) V&A Museum, London

Or, would you rather join Jenny and her neighbours for a party in her 1960s flat? The views out the window are breath-taking, and the music is perfect for dancing.

Jenny's party room, from Jennys Home dolls' House, B.360-2013 (c) V&A Museum, London
Jenny’s party room, from Jennys Home dolls’ House, B.360-2013 (c) V&A Museum, London

Historically, the scale of dolls’ houses and furniture has been inconsistent, with each custom-made baby house being built to its own rules. Nowadays, many collectors follow a strict 1:12 scale in their dolls’ houses, which gives an illusion of shrunken reality.

Many of the houses in the Museum’s collection harbour a hodgepodge of different sizes and scales, as furniture was collected over time, or from different places. We’ll try to capture that in the re-created rooms.

With the help of LASSCO (The London Architectural Salvage and Supply Co.) co-curator Sarah Wood and I found lots of quirky antiques to put in the Killer Cabinet kitchen, which will hopefully make it feel real and inhabited, and maybe a little bit strange.

Yes, it’s a tough job, but we knuckled down to a hard day browsing in antique shops.

Inside LASSCO Brunswick House
Inside LASSCO Brunswick House

In the dramatic and surreal surroundings of LASSCO Brunswick House – a Georgian interloper among the high rises of Vauxhall – we found meat platters, stoneware jugs and a warming pan which will fit perfectly in the Killer kitchen. We also saw an oak dresser with lots of small compartments with sliding doors – made for keeping chickens in!

Inside LASSCO Brunswick House
Inside LASSCO Brunswick House

This amazing building seems like a full size dolls’ house itself, with a flat symmetrical front and rooms full of oddly matched surprises. If you ever need half a dozen malachite Doric columns, a weathered Chesterfield or Victorian shower-heads, this is the place to go.

Inside LASSCO Ropewalk
Inside LASSCO Ropewalk

Then we sped across town to LASSCO Ropewalk in Bermondsey. This sprawling den of treasures specialises in twentieth century architectural salvage and reclaimed materials. They agreed to make us a kitchen table from Victorian pine floorboards, and we also rummaged around in the railway arches and found a bottle jack (perfect!) and some humungous saucepans. I knew straightaway that Betsy the housemaid would approve.

"Betsy" the housekeeper. This is her approving face. W.15-1930 (c) V&A Museum, London
“Betsy” the housekeeper. This is her approving face.
W.15-1930 (c) V&A Museum, London

Their display of 1960s stuff was also really inspiring for Jenny’s party room, and we decided we’d definately need a cabinet to show off some modish cups and saucers.

1960s cabinet, LASSCO Ropewalk
1960s cabinet, LASSCO Ropewalk

Thanks LASSCO for furnishing our Killer kitchen – I can’t wait to get in there and play house!

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