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Dolls House Grand Designs in Sudbury helps people rekindle love for miniature models during coronavirus lockdown




From an early age, Emma Waddell developed an enduring passion for dolls houses.

As a young girl, her imagination was captured by her own miniature toy home.

“That’s where I escaped to when I lived in a council flat,” said Ms Waddell, from Sudbury. “It was very neat; it had stairs and a balcony – everything I didn’t have then.”

Emma Waddell runs a dolls house business from her workshop in Sudbury. Emma's daughter, Beatrice, aged 14. Picture by Mark Westley. (34615551)
Emma Waddell runs a dolls house business from her workshop in Sudbury. Emma's daughter, Beatrice, aged 14. Picture by Mark Westley. (34615551)

Having worked in corporate banking for three decades, Ms Waddell made the bold decision to change careers and establish her own creative business, which sees her design and refurbish dolls houses as a full-time job.

“I recognised a gap in the market,” said the 51-year-old. “I have always been interested in model making and architecture.”

Operating out of a workshop in Rubens Walk, Ms Waddell offers an extensive range of tailor-made creations at Dolls House Grand Designs.

Inside a Georgian-style dolls house which Emma Waddell has designed. Picture by Mark Westley. (34615538)
Inside a Georgian-style dolls house which Emma Waddell has designed. Picture by Mark Westley. (34615538)

Since establishing the business in 2010, Ms Waddell’s unique set of skills has attracted clients from all ages and professions, with their treasured dolls houses helping to provide a form of escapism from the reality of everyday life.

“After working in a stressful environment, they just want to lose themselves and tinker around with their dolls houses, because, in their heads, they live in them,” said the mother-of-two.

Projects undertaken by Ms Waddell can vary considerably, from a few modifications to a full restoration, with the cost of the work dependent on the skill and materials involved.

Inside a Georgian-style dolls house which Emma Waddell has designed.Picture by Mark Westley. (34615540)
Inside a Georgian-style dolls house which Emma Waddell has designed.Picture by Mark Westley. (34615540)

Witnessing the delight on people’s faces is a rewarding aspect of the trade for Ms Waddell.

During the coronavirus lockdown, people have contacted Ms Waddell for advice on how to approach restoring their dolls houses after rekindling their love with the miniature models.

Keen to encourage more individuals to find enjoyment in their own miniature toy homes, Ms Waddell highlighted that the craft does not have to involve a large budget – even if some of her bigger projects have attracted interest from some star names.

Inside a Georgian-style dolls house which Emma Waddell has designed. Picture by Mark Westley. (34615535)
Inside a Georgian-style dolls house which Emma Waddell has designed. Picture by Mark Westley. (34615535)

A luxury jewellers has hired one of Ms Waddell’s own Georgian-style dolls houses for a photo shoot to showcase its extravagant diamonds; while the largest of the two homes is set to feature in Kingsman 3 – an action spy film starring actor Ralph Fiennes.

Ms Waddell has provided key advice to a close friend of a celebrity, who is crafting a miniature room design for his 60th birthday gift.

And the businesswoman was commissioned by the BBC to create a dolls house to star in a documentary exploring the work of Dutch painter Rembrandt.

Inside a Georgian-style dolls house which Emma Waddell has designed. Picture by Mark Westley. (34615533)
Inside a Georgian-style dolls house which Emma Waddell has designed. Picture by Mark Westley. (34615533)

The model in which the television presenter was superimposed raised vital funds for the BBC’s Children in Need charity initiative after being auctioned off.

To find out more about the business, go online to http://dollshousegranddesigns.com

Inside a Georgian-style dolls house which Emma Waddell has designed. Picture by Mark Westley. (34615539)
Inside a Georgian-style dolls house which Emma Waddell has designed. Picture by Mark Westley. (34615539)

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