Q. What does the word “Huisje” mean and how do you pronounce it?
A. “Huisje” is the diminutive form of the Dutch word for house (Huis) - it literally means "little house". In the Dutch language “je” is added to the end of the noun for things that are smaller, or littler, in some way. The closest phonetic English pronunciation for the Dutch word Huisje is “house-ye”, with a little more of an “o” sound as in nose and a nice strong “s” as in snake. The noun “Huisje” can be also be used for a real-life house that is small, for example a small cottage or a holiday house. We like to think of our Mini Rooms as being like the “Zusje” ("zoos-ye"), or “little sister”, to the Canal House (the “oo” is pronounced a bit like our English “zoo” and the same strong “s” is used again).
Q. Where can I buy Huisje products?
A. If you click on the “Shop” menu on the Home page of our website you will be taken directly to our Huisje Design “Etsy” shop, where you will be able to view our products in more detail and purchase if you so desire. For those of you who don’t know about Etsy, it’s is an online marketplace for handmade items – it’s like an online craft market. You can also find items on Etsy which are “vintage”, as well as unique factory-made items and various craft supplies – it’s awesome! You are able to shop as a “guest” on Etsy – no need to sign up and become a member if you don’t want to.
You will also be linked directly to Etsy if you click on any of the product names below the product photos.
We also, from time-to-time, set up a stall at various craft and design markets around Melbourne – it’s great to meet our customers and followers face-to-face, to allow them to see and feel the products in person AND provide a way for them to make purchases which skip postage costs. If you follow us via Facebook or Instagram, or subscribe to our email contact list (scroll to the bottom of this page) we will let you know when our market stalls are coming up.
Q. I see in your photos some furniture pieces that are not yet available for sale – also the decorated Canal House. When will they be available?
A. We are working hard to get the bathroom and kitchen fittings and furniture pieces and the decorated Canal House dolls house ready for sale. We are also working on “Decoration Kits” with which you will be able to add flooring and windows to the Nude kits, AND kits with which you will be able to make some of the furniture pieces yourself. See the “Coming Soon” page.
Q. I love all the accessories shown in the photos but it looks like they are not all available for sale. Where can I buy things like this?
A. It’s amazing what you can find online these days. Hop onto the net (eg. ETSY, Ebay), type “miniature (anything)” into the search bar and you’re on your way. Croissants, candelabras, tea pots, wine bottles and glasses, just to name a few - be careful, this can become a serious addiction!
Q. We have bought the canal house kit. How can we furnish and decorate it?
A. You can buy the Huisje Design furniture pieces, as mentioned above either via Etsy or at our market stalls. But there are also some great ideas on the internet for simple furniture pieces which can be made from corrugated cardboard and other items around the home – take a look at our Huisje Design Pinterest board. The Canal House Decoration Kit is also in the pipeline (see the “Coming Soon” page). The walls (inside and/or out) can be decorated with paint, coloured/patterned paper, crayons, adhesive vinyl, etc. Strips of white paper make great window frames; you could paint the ceiling assembly flaps brown to make them look like wooden beams. Carpet or lino off-cuts can decorate the floors, or even self-adhesive woodgrain vinyl that can be purchased from your local hardware store or online. Fabric, felt, fake fur, etc, are also fun and look great. You could use white paper or self-adhesive vinyl to add skirting boards and/or picture rails, paper doilies make great ceiling roses! Brickwork can be drawn onto the outer walls with a white pencil or thin chalk. Magazine cuttings could be fun additions to the walls, e.g. pot plants, flowers, etc, on the outer walls; works of art, light fittings, shelf ornaments, etc, on the inner – again, check our Pinterest board for inspiration.
Q. Where are the dolls?
A. We haven’t yet mastered the ability to make (affordable) dolls for our dolls houses but you should be able to find some elsewhere. Have a search around on the net (ETSY, Ebay) or head to your favourite bricks and mortar retail store which stocks quality hand-crafted products. We like to avoid mass-produced products wherever possible, but must admit that Barbie’s little sister (Kelly dolls) and the German-made equivalent (Simba dolls) do fit perfectly - you can also take their clothes off, which makes perfect sense when they need to use the toilet or take a bath! Unfortunately, production of Kelly dolls ceased in 2010 but you can still find them on Ebay. Kelly dolls were replaced with Chelsea dolls – same size but less toddler-looking – unfortunately you can’t always remove the Chelsea dolls clothes.
Q. Your products are quite expensive - why do they cost so much?
A. Of course there are LOTS of beautiful dolls house alternatives out there in the market, many of which are cheaper than ours, but we like the idea of providing a “warmer” and more interesting alternative. Apart from our boxes, which are cut from our designs using CAD/CAM (outsourced to a corrugated cardboard box manufacturer in Melbourne), all our production happens by hand - there is no “mass-production”.
Sourcing components for the dollhouse and furniture from within Australia keeps costs down (and supports local businesses), but while every effort has been made to this is, it’s not always possible. For example, the self-adhesive woodgrain contact is just not made in Australia – it comes to us from Germany.
We hope that our customers will appreciate the value of handmade items and will contribute to keeping this, what can sometimes feel like a dying tradition, alive!
Q. Do you make everything yourself?
A. The corrugated cardboard boxes of the Canal House and Mini Rooms are cut from our designs using CAD/CAM (outsourced to a corrugated cardboard box manufacturer in Melbourne). The cutting of the plywood used to make the furniture pieces is out-sourced to a Melbourne-based laser cutting and design company, the designs of which are again our own. We have our own a vinyl cutter. All other aspects of production happen by hand! Even the printed fabric designs are our own – currently printed in the US but hopefully here in Melbourne some time soon.
Q. What age-group is this product aimed at?
A. Any age at all! Although I guess that as an adult, you might feel the need to have a small person in your life to justify your purchase…! As Mum, I have loved indulging my passions for craft and for miniature things by making and furnishing my own Canal House dolls house and a number of Mini Rooms for my daughters, which they have enjoyed playing with since a they were very young. And as they have grown older they have loved decorating their own Mini Rooms too. My daughter's have created their own world - Draobdrac, please check out their instagram#Draobdrac & #DraobdracWorld. Please be aware though that some of our products do contain small parts that could be a choking hazard for small children. We recommend that you closely supervise young children when they play with these products.
Q. I’ve painted the walls of my Canal House Kit but the walls are warping – why? And how can I fix this?
A. You should have received a “Huisje - Painting Tips” brochure as part of the kit. Warping of the walls is probably due to the water content of the paint that you have used. Painting both sides of the wall with the same type of paint should help. Also flattening the walls as described in the “Huisje - Painting Tips” brochure (page 2) might hopefully help too.
Q. I’ve purchased a nude kit and would like to add floors and windows. What are the floors and windows made from in the decorated versions? Where can I source these products?
A. The “glass” of the windows is acetate sheet – remember the old days of overhead transparencies and projectors?! You can buy individual sheets from some art supply stores or boxes of multiple sheets from office supply stores. The black inner window frames are cut from self-adhesive vinyl, as also are the white outer window frames and decorative gabled attic facade, the coloured stained glass and the floors. Rolls of self-adhesive vinyl can be purchased either online or sometimes at larger hardware stores. We also have decoration kits in the pipeline (see “Coming Soon” within our “Products” page), which will contains instructions and materials with which you can decorate your nude kit Canal House and/or Mini Room kits.
Q. How have you painted the walls of the decorated Mini Rooms and Canal House?
A. The walls are spray painted while the boxes are still flat using “Sugar Artists Acrylic Spray Paint”, which uses water combined with alcohol sourced from sugarcane to replace the usual petroleum-based solvents as the aerosol component – safer for both the user AND the environment.
Q. Your dolls houses and box rooms are made from corrugated cardboard – how robust are they?
A. Of course our dolls houses are not as robust as wooden or plastic products, but they are still pretty strong. Rough and tumble play is great, but we believe that quiet, gentle play should also be encouraged, as should be a sense of taking care and showing respect for beautiful hand-made treasures. We love corrugated cardboard – it’s lightweight, looks great, is often composed of a high percentage recycled material, it’s recyclable, easy to source and work with for DIY projects - we were prepared to compromise on a certain degree of “robustness” due to these great characteristics!