At some point in her life, almost every little girl plays with a dollhouse, and perhaps that’s where the fascination began for neighborhood resident Samantha Murray.

But what she does today isn’t kid stuff.

“The type of stuff I collect is not the stuff that little girls play with,” Murray says. “Some of the furniture is more expensive than anything I’d pay for to put in my house, but it’s a type of art form. The detail on these pieces is incredible.”

Murray constructs dollhouse furniture on the side and sells it at miniature shows, but she jokes that it’s only enough money to support her habit. (Her “real work,” as she calls it, is faux finishing and decorative painting.) Making dollhouses and room boxes, or one room of a miniature house, is mostly a hobby.

Murray’s mother introduced her to the art form roughly a dozen years ago, and now they travel as a mother-daughter team to miniature shows. They create sofas, chairs, tables — whatever the mood strikes, Murray says — and their pieces start at a quarter-inch tall.

“We’re talking tiny,” she says, adding the work takes “lots of patience and good reading glasses.”

Fifteen finished and unfinished projects are displayed throughout Murray’s home, mostly in her living and dining rooms. Her projects run the gamut: She’s currently working on an 1830s-era lighthouse, a Georgian-style townhouse and a bar.

“And we’re not even talking a nice bar,” Murray says. “We’re talking a New Orleans dive.”

But if you ask which is her favorite project, she doesn’t hesitate.

“My library,” Murray says.

It’s a gentlemen’s library with bookcases on three sides, marble flooring, a leather wingback chair and ottoman, even portraits of her two poodles. (The poodles are standard, the portraits miniature.) A blown glass wine decanter and two wine glasses as well as a tiny Waterford crystal piece add to the room’s décor. And the books are actual books, Murray says. You can read them — with a magnifying glass, of course. She paid a pretty penny for each piece — the wingback chair alone was $400, and the whole kit and caboodle is worth about $5,000, she says.

The Dallas area is filled with miniature collectors, and it’s a mishmash of age groups, says Murray, 46. Gayle Pompa, co-owner of dollhouse store Through the Keyhole in Preston Forest Shopping Center, says this is reflected in her clientele.

“I’m seeing a lot of college students getting into the hobby, parents buying them for their kids, all the way up to senior citizens,” Pompa says. “I’m getting new collectors every day.”

Whether a collector is 8 or 80, there’s something about the hobby that calls to the child within. That’s true at least for Murray.

“I just never grew up,” she says.


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