From Dollhouses To Dream Homes

Margaret O'Meara

Since the release of the Barbie movie, many of us have revisited our old Barbie dolls. I’ve enjoyed the delightful trip down memory lane, reminiscing about the countless hours, days, and weeks I spent "playing pretend" as a child. It's fascinating how the magic of childhood play often has unexpected parallels to our adult lives. In particular, the imaginative world of playing with dolls has many similarities to real estate’s home-buying process.

As a young girl, playing with dolls and dollhouses provided me with an enchanting escape into magical worlds. Armed with cardboard boxes, duct tape, and the couch cushions, I could imagine and craft an exciting life through the eyes of my dolls. Though Barbie was popular, American Girl dolls captured my attention even more. Perhaps it was because their accessories and furniture felt more life-like? (Or most likely, it was because my mom appreciated the educational value in each doll's historical backstory and accompanying book.)

In the realm of childhood play, the dollhouse became our canvas for imagination to run wild. With miniature furniture and tiny accessories, we meticulously arranged rooms and imagined ourselves living in the cozy spaces we created. Last summer, I returned to that world, when I had the pleasure of spending a weekend with my aunt and mother on Lake Michigan. My aunt tasked us with an important project: to build an entire American Girl doll town! Yes, you read that right! The aim was to create a playroom for my aunt's little nieces when they came to visit. Each doll career and establishment had its own dedicated area – a post office, bowling alley, ski store, country-music hall, 1950s-style diner, movie theater, church, flower shop, and two sweet shops, just to name a few. We took great pride in our design – pasting wallpaper, laying faux-flooring, and meticulously taping down all the little accessories that complemented each set.

Fast-forward to today (and the human world), as prospective homebuyers embark on their journey to find their dream homes, they too envision their ideal living spaces. Each potential home serves as a blank canvas for its next owner to imagine and make their own. And just like in our childhood explorations, every neighborhood they visit becomes a realm of discovery. They immerse themselves in the amenities, charm, and unique character of each locality, much like we did in our play.

Interior design played a significant role in our dollhouse adventures. With a keen eye for detail, we spent countless hours thoughtfully decorating each room. Whether it was adorning the bedroom with a miniature canopy bed or setting up a cozy living room with plush cushions, I loved the creativity of design. Interestingly, in the real estate market, the concept of home staging serves a strikingly similar purpose. It transforms properties into inviting spaces, allowing potential buyers to envision themselves living there. Each staged room becomes a canvas for imagination, just as we once imagined our dollhouse rooms as cozy retreats or vibrant social spaces. In a way, I like to think of staging as playing with an adult dollhouse.

The enchanting connection between our childhood play with dolls and the magical experience of finding a dream home is truly remarkable. Both journeys are sprinkled with hope, wonder, and the joy of discovery – and ultimately lead to cherished memories that last a lifetime. At The Patterson Group, our team embraces the magic of this connection as we assist our clients in their home-buying journey. It's where the dreams of childhood and the aspirations of adulthood beautifully converge within the walls of a place called home!


The Patterson Group is one of the most experienced and trusted real estate teams in the area, serving the community of Alexandria, VA for more than 30 years.

Contact Us
Follow Us on Instagram