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 shop, where you will be able to view our products in more detail and purchase if you so desire. You are able to shop as a “guest” – no need to sign up and become a member if you don’t want to.
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 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 shop 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. 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 plywood boxes, which are cut from our designs using CAD/CAM (outsourced to a 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.
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 plywood boxes and furniture piecesof the Canal House are cut from our designs using CAD/CAM (outsourced to a manufacturer in Melbourne). The designs are again our own. 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.