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Army Soldier’s Lockdown Hobby: Intricate Dollhouses Worth Thousands

Jen Lavery spends up to 30 hours a week creating museum-quality dollhouses inspired by French interior design.
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An Army soldier spent £9k ($11,436) and up to 30 hours a week creating a stunning collection of intricate lifelike doll houses.

Jen Lavery, 37, was looking for a relaxing hobby during lockdown in 2020.

After spotting a post of a life-like dollhouse on a Facebook group, she decided to give it decorating one a go herself.

The mom-of-one purchased a completely bare wooden house structure online and set to work designing a lifelike interior.

Spending weeks on each room, she went to extreme levels of detail to create each vintage French themed part of a house, inspired by buildings such as the Palace of Versailles.

The hobby has cost her around £9k ($11,436), with each completed dolls house ending up worth several thousand pounds.

Jen said she spends her whole weekends in her garage working on her dollhouses, up to 30 hours a week on top of her job.

Jen, who works full-time in the Royal Military Police (RMP), said people are shocked when they learn how she spends her free time.

Jen Lavery has spent thousands and all her free time creating intricate lifelike doll houses. PHOTO BY JEN LAVERY/SWNS 

But she has no plans to stop because she finds it an “escape” from her intense work, even though she is now running out of space in her house to put her six dollhouses.

Jen, from Telford, Shropshire, England said: “When I show people my work, they can’t believe it.

“I’m not designing a Barbie doll house, mine are museum-quality houses when I finish them.”

Jen first stumbled across the world of miniatures on Facebook where there is an online community of likeminded people.

It piqued her interest, and she ordered her first dollhouse to try as a lockdown hobby.

She orders them plain before completely designing, painting and filling the interiors and exteriors with tiny furniture and artworks inspired by Baroque-style French interior design.

Each dollhouse is a size ratio of 1:12 – the traditional size for scale models – and can take over a year to design and complete.

But Jen – who is mom to Darcey, nine – loves it so much that she spends every weekend, evening and day off doing it.

She orders her tiny furniture online or makes it herself if she can’t find what she likes – and upholsters it herself.

She designs every room and once she has completed the interior, will wire up the dollhouse with electricity with working lighting.

Jen estimates she has spent about £9k on the hobby: buying the houses, paints and furniture to complete them.

She said: “It is a very expensive hobby, I won’t lie. But I spend money on what I enjoy doing.

“The most recent dollhouse I completed took 18 months, it takes lots and lots of hours.

“I don’t really draw out a plan, I just get an idea in my head and go for it.

“I could never paint an artwork on a canvas, but I love painting furniture and intricate house details.”

Jen says her hobby is worth the time and money she spends on it – as it gives her “an escape” from her tough day job in the RMP.

Jen has spent 14 years of her life in the role, dealing with some of the most serious crimes in the military.

She said: “When I tell people about it, they can’t believe what I do.

“They say they would never expect someone like me to do a hobby like this.

“But I love it.

“I have a big house in my living room with the lights on every night. It looks lovely when it’s dark.

“I’ve got another big one in the dining room which I look at while I’m eating my dinner.

“I love when friends and family come over and I get to see their amazed reactions.

“Or when I show people a picture and they don’t even realize it’s not a real room, that’s the best compliment you can get.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

Edited by Saba Fatima and Newsdesk Manager

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